Tips on the Fiction Platform
Guest Post by Heather Moore
One year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to write this post. I had been with a traditional publisher for over ten years, with book #12 coming out. I was excited about this new book because it strayed from my usual genre (historical fiction). This new release was a contemporary romance. Then I realized I had a problem. If a reader enjoyed my contemporary romance, they would see by my Amazon Author Page that it was the only one I had published. All my other books were historical fiction or inspirational nonfiction. Sales opportunity lost, potential long-term customer and fan lost.
I could write another contemporary romance and send it to my publisher, but that would take months to write and a year or two to hit the shelves. I needed something soon.
My Reservations to Indie Publish
- Image. At the time, “Self-publishing” still created a bad taste in the mouths of many a reader/writer, and I didn’t know if I was willing to become part of that “label.”
- Money. In order to self-pub right (and avoid the label problem above), it would take a financial investment for editing, cover, and interior design.
- Team. Who could I trust and work with to build a team (editor, proofer, cover artist, typesetter/designer) to create a professional product?
- Industry knowledge. I was at the bottom of the learning curve. Did I want to invest the time to learn the business?
- Courage. Was I brave enough to put out a product that didn’t have the endorsement of a traditional publisher? A book that “I” alone felt had value?
What Tipped the Scales
- Crossover marketing. I needed to promote my contemporary romance, and I needed to establish a presence in that genre ASAP.
- An idea I could stand behind. I came up with A Timeless Romance Anthology and invited two other authors/editors to join the board (Annette Lyon and Sarah M. Eden, who were also established authors with a readership in place). We would write romance novellas and invite three other published authors for each anthology. Instead of me saying, “Buy my self-published book!” I had a great product with a lot of cross-marketing potential.
- Confidence in team. I contacted various cover artists and designers, and with Annette agreeing to be the line editor, it was coming together nicely. I also spent time asking indie-publishing friends about publishing e-books.
- Quick release date. My contemporary romance was coming out in November 2012. I was able to release the first anthology in October 2012, the next in February 2013. Now Amazon showed three romance products by me. (Which also tells an excited reader to keep checking back for more.)
- Money. With the decision to do e-book only, the financial side only included investment in the cover, editing, and e-book interior. This was a nearly $1,000 investment (which can be on the cheaper side, depending on how experienced of an author you are and thus what level of editing is needed), but with the royalty-sharing structure set up with the anthology authors, that money would be recouped once 1,000 copies sold.
Would I Do It Again?
Yes! I’ve since become addicted to novella writing, and the fifth Timeless Romance Anthology comes out in November. Using authors who already have an established readership proved to be a smart move. And with the release of the fourth anthology, people are now saying they love the “series” and are becoming loyal to the brand, and not to specific authors. I have since indie published my own novella series (the Aliso Creek Novellas) and a historical romance (Heart of the Ocean).
Do This Now
- Study the market. Go to Amazon and see what’s selling in your genre. You can look up the publisher name on any book’s Amazon page and see if it’s self-pubbed, usually identified as Amazon or CreateSpace or the author’s name or another name that you’ve never heard of (which probably means it’s self-pubbed). Study prices. Study covers. Study marketing. (I spent about 100 hours over the course of a year doing research. Go to conferences and get help if your time is limited or the DIY drive isn’t in your blood.)
- Consider novella or short-story writing. This topic could be its own blog post—as to why this market is suddenly taking off—and you should consider having novellas in your publishing collection.
- Read these books: Make a Killing on Kindle without Blogging, Facebook, or Twitter, by Michael Alvear, and How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, by John Locke. I don’t do everything I read in books, but I get my own ideas from someone else’s experience.
- Attend a workshop or conference. Most writers’ conferences offer workshops in indie publishing and marketing. (Go here to see a list conferences; Precision Editing Group also keeps a running conference list on their sidebar: writingonthewallblog.blogspot.com).
What are your thoughts on indie publishing? Have you done it? What do you recommend? What do you want to know? Please share!
Heather B. Moore is a four-time USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than eighty publications in diverse genres. She is the owner of Precision Editing Group and the publisher of the popular Timeless Romance Anthology series. Her websites are hbmoore.com and precisione