I’ve been doing this for a while now, and my editor thought it would be nice if I were to write down a little something about the adventures of self-publishing and what I’ve learned from it. I’ve had several first-time indie authors ask me how to go about it, but you’ll probably be surprised that it’s not as daunting as you might think. The self-publishing platforms are really good at guiding you through a step-by-step process. Continue reading
I’ve got a post all written and ready to go called “An Author’s Guide to Self-Publishing.” However, before I publish that one, I wanted to do a precursor to it, because once you’ve finished your book, you can’t just jump straight into publishing.
Or—you could, but you shouldn’t. Continue reading
Release days are always exciting.
And nerve wracking.
Because no matter how many times I do this, my emotional attachment to these books and their success never wanes. Going to the Kindle page and seeing there are already several wonderful reviews less than 24 hours after it was released makes my little author heart sing. Continue reading
Hey y’all! Ready for the 4-1-1 on my new book? Well, here you go!
The story of Ginny and Alex will be coming soon (end of August or early September). It’s a novella—about 1/2 of the length of my other books—and will be priced accordingly.
Ginny and Devin have been best friends for most of their lives. They’ve relied on each other, laughed with each other, kept each other sane. Continue reading
AND! The Paperbackis available for purchase NOW. Yes, right this very minute.
Want to read the first couple pages??? Well, okay!
Left. Right. One foot after the other. Keep moving. Ignore the cold. This was a road, and despite it being the middle of the night, that meant that at some point someone would drive by. Please, let someone drive by.
The large tree on the horizon was my focus. I was determined to at least make it to that tree. It was starting to snow, and I knew that the lack of feeling in my feet was a bad thing. My ballet flats were insufficient for this weather. Everything I wore was insufficient. But when Silas had shown up this morning at the salon where I ran the reception desk, I hadn’t bothered going home to gather my things. I’d seen him in the parking lot before he could walk in and spot me. I had felt the blood drain from my face and for a moment I was rooted to the spot, barely able to breathe. Twice in my teenage years, I’d seen the people that Silas had dragged back to my father. They were always bloody, and I never knew if they made it out of my father’s house alive after spilling their secrets.
My mind had clicked into gear. I’d grabbed my purse and asked Janelle to watch the desk while I went to the bathroom. Then I’d speed-walked to the back room and ran to the door that spit me out into the alley behind the salon. The old car that I’d paid cash for was there waiting for me. My go-bag was in the trunk with all the money I’d saved while working at the salon, along with clothes and a few other essentials.
I had pointed my car toward Kansas City and the bus locker that held everything I needed to start over. But less than an hour from my destination, my car slid off the road. Now it sat sideways in a ditch, stuck in the snow. Black ice and my exhausted brain had landed it there. I’d been lucky to get up to the road before my clothes could become completely soaked through with the snow. Unfortunately, the trunk had been crunched enough that I couldn’t get to my go-bag.
This morning, I’d been living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now I was somewhere in the middle of Missouri, on an empty backwoods highway in the dead of night.
I didn’t know what time it was, but it had been dark for hours. My phone was in the dumpster behind the salon, the SIM card snapped in half and tossed along the side of the road a couple miles out of town. It had to be left behind just like everything else. I would need to use another name, like so many times before. Nothing traceable would go with me. I had planned to abandon my car as soon as I had the new ID and cash from the locker. So even if it were found by the police, it wouldn’t do them any good. I’d left behind my license, passport, and all traces of Maggie Lawrence, just like I had with Claire Maguire, Jenny Tolman and Emily Chandler.
This time though, my departure was even more panicked than all the times before. None of my father’s people had ever gotten this close in the past four years. Plus, this was Silas. He was my father’s favorite pit bull—and a police officer. One of New York’s finest—so long as you ignored the bloodlust and corruption.
I looked up to gauge how much progress I had made. The tree didn’t look any closer. Was I even moving? Glancing down at my feet, I realized that each step moved me forward only a couple of inches. Perhaps I’d be better off just sitting down. But the ground looked icy and hard, so I kept shuffling, my small purse bouncing against my leg with every step. It was important to keep moving, right? Wasn’t that what I had decided?
A hazy light flickered at the edge of my vision and I blinked, afraid I might be on the verge of fainting. The light grew steadily brighter, casting my shadow in front of me, and I realized it must be headlights coming from behind. I turned and stumbled into the road. Maybe that was idiotic of me, but it seemed the best way to ensure that the car would stop.
The headlights were all I could see, and they slowed as they came closer, then stopped. I blinked against the harsh light but could only stand there and wait.
A door opened.
“Miss?” a male voice called. His silhouette hurried toward me. He came right up to me and ducked to look me in the eye. He was tall and probably in his twenties. “You all right, miss?” He gave a little shake of his head, grimacing. “No, you’re not all right; you’re freezing.” He stripped off his coat and wrapped it around my shoulders, then yanked off his stocking cap and pulled it onto my head.
Oh, sweet warmth. I said thank you. Or at least I thought it. The words never made it to my mouth.
“Let’s get you in the car. I’ll take you where you need to go.” He put his arm around me, propelling me forward. I managed only a lurching step or two. “Are you hurt?” He looked me over, but I wasn’t bleeding, so he waited for me to respond.
I shook my head—a jerky, awkward movement. If I was hurt, it wasn’t enough to want to talk about it right now.
“I’m going to pick you up, all right? We have to get you inside the truck.”
Again, the words stuck in my throat, but I managed the slightest of nods.
He lifted me, and my mind wandered to his question. Was I hurt and just didn’t recognize it through the cold and shock? That would be very bad. True injuries required hospitals, and hospitals required names and a paper trail. There could be no paper trail.
My head lolled against his shoulder. He was so warm. Even though he was out of his coat and in this freezing air, I could feel the heat radiating off of him. I snuggled in, trying to get closer to the heat.
He sucked in a breath when my cheek touched the skin of his neck. “Sheesh. You’re freezing.” He fumbled for the door handle and got it open then hoisted me up inside. When he tried to pull away, my hand was fisted in his shirt and I was shaking so hard I didn’t know if I’d be able to let go.
“I need to get in the other side, miss.”
I shook my head, afraid of letting go of his warmth.
“We need to shut the doors. I’ll get in the other side and try to warm you up a bit before we start driving.” He didn’t wait for a response, but pried my hand away and shut my door.
Hopefully that gets you excited. I know I am. Here are those links again.
When Just Ella had been out for just a few weeks, Amazon took notice of the fact that I was selling a few copies a day, which meant I was quite a bit more successful than a lot of self-pubbed authors, so they picked it up and marketed it for me. That made all the difference. I had the power of the great Amazon marketing machine in my corner and my sales shot up.
Knowing that, when Keeping Kinley was published with Kindle Press, I was very excited. I would have the full weight and power of Amazon marketing on my side. I thought I would see a marked increase in sales over my last couple books. After all, surely the combination of my own efforts with the Kindle Press team would equate to many more sales than I had been able to generate by myself, right?
I have spreadsheets of each month of sales for each of my books. It was pretty disappointing to compare my Painting Rain first month with my Keeping Kinley first month and realize that it was pretty much a wash. The numbers were very similar, and if anything, my Keeping Kinley numbers were actually lower.
The why of those numbers has been bugging me, and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.
The eBook market has been an interesting thing to watch as it has developed, not only as a reader, but as an author as well. When Kindle, Nook, and iBooks came on the scene, they broke open the publishing industry. They made both consuming and publishing books as easy as a click of the mouse.
Prior to those platforms, any author who wished to be published had to either be chosen by a publishing company, or they could go the route of “vanity publishing.” My understanding is that it was known as vanity publishing because only people who were too vain to realize that their book just wasn’t good enough would be willing to shell out the money to have their own books published. Vanity publishing was synonymous with bad writing.
A lot of us had a front row seat as that changed. More and more authors who had been summarily rejected by the publishing industry became brave enough to publish their own books now that the big eBook distributors allowed you to do so without the need to cough up a bunch of cash.
When I first finished Just Ella and started querying publishers in 2012, the industry was just on the cusp of of changing. People were starting to read books published by the authors themselves, and it turns out that some of them were really well done. Thus the change from calling it “vanity publishing” to “self-publishing.” There was no longer a heavy stigma hovering over self-published work. After all, we live in a world of computers, and maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to change with the times. Perhaps we didn’t all need to be held captive by the publishing industry.
Looking back, I realize that Just Ella hit the eBook market at exactly the right moment. Readers were ready to give self-published authors a chance, especially when such books were usually priced at half the cost of traditionally published books. Just Ella was comparatively cheap and with the help of the ‘look inside’ feature that amazon offers, readers could sample the book before committing to the buy.
No one was more surprised by the success of Just Ella than I was. When my first day of big sales numbers rolled in, my husband and I both agreed that it was a technical glitch. But the sales continued the next day and the next. I slowly realized that it had been included in some emails that Amazon had sent to readers. The pump was primed, and I had jumped into the market at the opportune moment.
Since then, a lot of people have read my books. A lot of people have liked them. So with the success of my first, I anticipated that the launch of each subsequent book would be even more successful. After all, I’ve gathered a fairly loyal following and my name is known by a few people (at least in my niche market). However, that hasn’t been the case. Each of my book launches has been less and less successful. The numbers aren’t as high right off the bat, and the sales taper off more quickly.
When even Keeping Kinley (with the Kindle Press team on my side) didn’t compare to the success of Just Ella, I had to wonder: What gives?
My guess is this.
Demand for ebooks rose sharply when:
1) Self-publishing lost its stigma and those books started to be welcomed and anticipated by readers.
2) With the Kindle app and other eBook reading apps, people were given the ability to read anywhere they went. We now have access to hundreds of books from our phones and can consume books at a higher and faster rate.
This demand for more books was met with a response from authors.
1) Authors who had been too timid to publish before decided to give it a try. Many had multiple books finished and just waiting to be published.
2) As self-published authors learned how to navigate that world, they have banded together to cross-promote; they’ve teamed up on series and anthologies; they’ve taken an industry that used to be exclusive to the big publishers and they’ve figured out how to do it on their own. They write and edit and market from their couches and their home offices. Some do it full time, others do it as a hobby in their spare time. Regardless of how they got into this, self-published authors have claimed their spot in the publishing industry.
However, all of that means that the eBook market has been absolutely flooded with new content. The number of books published every day is staggering. Even just looking at the clean romance genre, which used to be minuscule, I now come across new books constantly. That’s great for readers. As a reader, I love it.
As an author, I have to adjust to it. And I also wonder how long this trend will hold. Is it already turning in a new direction? Will the demand for books stay high? Or will the ability to stream Netflix and other on-demand TV shows and movies right to our phones mean that consumers choose to watch their entertainment instead of read it?
If the demand for books does go down significantly, will some authors decide it isn’t worth their time and pull out of the game? I saw a Facebook post recently from an author who was disappointed with his sales numbers. He was thinking about throwing in the towel and not finishing the sequel he had planned. I wonder how many authors might do the same. Will that become a norm? Will those who can’t find an audience in a bloated industry back out altogether? Maybe.
So then, should other authors be leery of jumping into the publishing game? That depends entirely on what they’re after. Writing isn’t a way to make a quick buck. Books sell well when they’re great books, and it’s been my experience that the best books are the ones written by those who love the writing.
I wrote a piece several years ago about suffering for your art. My advice now would be a lot the same as it was back then. If what you’re doing is truly your art, you won’t mind the suffering. Writing keeps me sane. Writing is my time to think grown-up thoughts and interact with grown-up (though fictitious) people. Any author will tell you that if you’re in it for the money, you should pick a different career. But if you’re in it for the joy of it, for the sanity it brings to your life, and for the love of characters no one else realizes exist, then in the end, what the market does or doesn’t do won’t matter.
I could wonder, research, and try to understand the grand complexities of eBook supply and demand, publishing trends, and marketing, but nothing I learn is going to change the fact that I love writing books—so I’m going to keep doing it.
The paperback of Just Ella with its new cover is up and running. So if you’ve been wanting one for yourself or a friend, then have at it!
When designing print covers, the hardest part by far is figuring out how to do the spine. I’m so happy with how this one turned out though! It took a lot of experimenting, and a lot of me trying to explain my ideas while my husband looked at me like I was making no sense (because I was probably doing a lot of hand gesturing and not enough actual explaining), but we got it done!
I’m especially glad that I was able to keep the painting from the original cover as the background for the back cover. It all just works, and it’s so light and happy.
June has been great month. The launch of Keeping Kinley was successful, and I get excited every time I see a new review, whether it’s for Keeping Kinley or for any of my other books.
Perhaps now I can buckle down and focus and writing something new!
It’s launch day!
Keeping Kinley is officially released, which means that all you wonderful readers who pre-ordered should have your copies ready to read on your Kindle.
A big THANK YOU to all who nominated Keeping Kinley on kindle scout and then left reviews. I ended up with over 60 reviews before the official release, which is huge!
In celebration of this 5th (and probably final) installment of the Dalthia series, I’ll be giving away a free signed paperback.
All right, my friends. Here it is. My brand spanking new cover for Just Ella!
I feel like there should be a heavenly chorus singing sweet strains of music.
I do love it so.
So, SO pretty! Thank you so much to my model, Sabrina, to my sister and amazing photography, Jen (fausetphotography.com), and to my husband, Cameron, for putting it together. I’m absolutely thrilled with how it turned out!
The paperback cover isn’t quite ready yet, but I’ll let you know when it is!
The decision to create a new cover for Just Ella was not one that I made lightly. The original cover design was entirely my brain child. I scoured images, pulled together the background, the dress and the hair and then sent the cobbled together image to my sister, Cherise, so that she could paint it. The resulting painting was gorgeous, fabulous, exactly what I wanted. It was the perfect representation of my book, a cherished piece of art.
It did not, however, make a good book cover on its own.
I had forgotten about where I would put the title. I hadn’t considered what it would look like in a smaller size. I didn’t know how to make a good book cover, because I’d never done it before (learning curve of a self published author). I hadn’t thought through what it would look like in postage stamp size. And THAT is a very important consideration when your main format will be ebooks. My covers are my one big advertisement. They have to be able to catch a reader’s attention so that they will click on it to read more. If I can’t catch their attention with that tiny cover when they’re scrolling through the kindle bookstore, I get nowhere.
So when my husband and I were trying to take this painting and turn it into a cover, we had to manipulate the colors and change the image so that it read well as an advertisement. I hated that I had to change it. It felt wrong to adjust the colors that my sister has so painstakingly mixed and applied. I didn’t want to change my pretty painting. But it was what it was. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with the end result. I like my original cover, but it’s always bothered me that it wasn’t true to the painting that my sister had worked so diligently to bring my vision to life.
Over the past couple of years, she’s mentioned to me a time or two that if I want to redo the cover, I should. At first I dismissed the idea. That cover came from my brain and from her artistic hands, and I didn’t want to change it. However, as I pondered on the idea over time, I realized that if I ever got the opportunity, I should probably take it. All of my other covers are photos, and it would look better for continuity sake if Just Ella was a photo cover as well.
There was a catch though. If I was going to shoot anywhere, it had to be in the original location that inspired the cover in the first place. Wadley farms is down in Provo, six hours from where I live. So when I ended up planning a trip to a writing conference in Provo (in May, when the plants and greenery would be gorgeous), I knew I had to give it a try. My oldest sister, Jen (Fauset photography) lives in Heber. So I arranged to go down a day early so that we could get together and shoot.
The date was set. The plan was in motion.
Then I had to figure out the dress. I was determined to find a ready made costume so that I wouldn’t have to spend extra money on buying fabric and extra time trying to make a formal dress utilizing my limited sewing skills.
The best laid plans…
I went to a costume place, found something that I thought would work, brought it home, looked at it further…it wasn’t going to work. *banging my head against a wall* So I pulled out every formal dress that I had on hand, trying to see if maybe—just maybe—I could utilize something I had on hand. Make it over, make it gorgeous.
I pulled out a bridesmaid dress that I had worn when I was 15 and started tweaking.
This is what the dress looked like originally:
I went to goodwill and bought a cream prom dress that I could use for a contrasting fabric color and I started cutting. And stitching. And adjusting. And so much hand sewing.
I sew in the same way that I write books. I make it up as I go and cross my fingers that it works out. Then I re-do it when it doesn’t.
Good glory, but I am proud of this dress.
I was working on little last minute tiny details up until the morning that I left to drive down. I became a little obsessive about it. But it was very satisfying to see the final result when the model put it on.
Speaking of the model. Sabrina was amazing! Her hair was perfection and she was so fun to work with. She was happy to do whatever we asked (including climbing a tree) and we had a great time walking around the amazing grounds, going inside the castle (because they have a castle) and contorting ourselves to get the right poses and lighting. (I really wish I had a picture of me propping open the giant castle doors. Two hands on one door, bent over, stretching to keep the other door open with my foot at the same time.)
In the end, it was so much fun, and so worth it. I’ve almost finalized the new cover and will get it up as soon as possible. I’ve been using the other pictures on Instagram, pairing them with quotes from the book, and sighing over their perfectness as I do.