Thoughts from self-published authors & others in the biz

A week or so ago, I pulled out the list of e-book best sellers from the New York Times with the thought of exploring each of top-25 authors who are self-published. Having now spent the morning trying to discover their secrets, I’ve pulled together a few tidbits to share.
Colleen Hoover, author of Slammed (and others) on her first self-publishing experience (as reported on Russell Blake’s blog):

I saw a very small increase on a weekly basis the first couple of months.  By the third month, readers were recommending the book to bloggers.  Once the bloggers began releasing reviews on it, I saw a huge increase in sales.  Especially when a blogger with a large following would review it.  I think it helps that the books are contemporary romance, which has a huge fan-base.

Addison Moore author of Someone to Love (as reported on Wordpreneur):

The reason I decided to self-publish was partially due to the fact I really wanted to put out a lot more books than the traditional world was going to let me,” says Addison. In the two years she’s been self-publishing, she’s put out 10 titles, something none of the publishing houses would have ever done. “It’s simply logistics on their part. But on the other side of the fence, in the indie world, there was no limit to how fast I could put out a book.

Addison Moore on Jody Hedlund’s blog:

I find that most of my readers don’t have blogger accounts and it makes commenting difficult so I rely heavily on facebook for communicating with readers. I use my blog as a home base where readers can come and learn more about my books or read extra’s that I’ve written. But overall facebook is a far more fluid venue for creating interpersonal relationships with readers.

Jessica Sorensen author of The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, talking about self-publishing on Jessica Therien’s blog:

The first few weeks I sold a handful of books, but most were bought by family members. That’s when I began emailing review requests to book bloggers. I ended up with 20 to 30 book bloggers who were interested in reviewing The Fallen Star. So I sent copies out and my book slowly started popping up on blogs. This boosted my sales a bit. I owe a BIG THANKS to book bloggers (especially to Natasha and Delephina! You guys rock!). They really help me out by reviewing my books, reposting my teasers and release dates, and holding giveaways.

Along the way, I found another self-published author, RL Mathewson, who has written Playing for Keeps, talking about why she self-published and what makes for a successful experience (as reported in BellaOnline):

Too much stress to go the traditional route. Writing letters to publishers and agents and praying and hoping for a response isn’t my thing. I also don’t want anyone mutilating my stories. I like controlling my own work. I like being able to keep the price low, writing what I want, when I want and just being able to relax while I work with no worries about deadlines or contracts.
I think readers are more focused on a good story that they can enjoy instead of where the book was published … thanks to the internet they can research books before committing time and money on them. Flashy advertisements really don’t mean anything to most avid readers. They care more about reviews, ratings and recommendations than they do about ads telling them what to read.

Jason Boog, Editor of GalleyCat at Mediabistro Publishing hosted a panel talking about self-publishing:

The self-publishing marketplace. Bowker counted 235,000 print and digital self-published titles being released annually in the United States. That’s this year [2012]. And that number is only going to go up. It rose astronomically this year and it’s going to keep continuing to grow. Compared to 2006, that’s a 287 percent increase, so it’s a big, big field.

Marketing Manager Amy Martin, described Wattpad as the Youtube of stories or storytelling. Amy was also on this panel:

Basically, we see the future like this. It’s where readers are discovering, sharing, recommending stories as easily as they would a song or a video. New stories are streamed to readers just like episodes based on what they like and who they follow. This means for me, as a reader, I’m interacting with fans and the writer as I’m reading the story. It’s a new social dynamic that hasn’t really existed in publishing before. For a writer, it’s a way to build a loyal, emotionally connected relationship with the people who are discovering my work.

The third member of the panel was Chris Kinneally of Copyright Clearance Center:

I think in this new ecosystem, it’s the authors who are the ones who are about to take control.

Can we quote you on that, Chris?

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Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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10 Responses

  1. Great Article, Mary! I think the key word in self-publishing is CONTROL. The writer is the consummate artist that controls every aspect of the production process, from concept, to writing, to designing the cover, planning the marketing, public relations, everything. I think this generation’s star of the self-publishing world is really Tracey Garvis Graves (On the Island) who has mastered the art of gaining loyal followers, increasing demand and building up momentum for future releases. Although she landed a book deal and is technically no longer “self-published”, Tracey set the standard of “brand loyalty”.

  2. I really enjoy how research-focused your are, Mary. I appreciate these posts where you pull together industry information from various sources and research methodologies (primary sources, surveys, etc.)

    1. Thanks, Janna. Must be how my little brain works 🙂 I love research and analysis, finding ideas from one industry and applying them to another. Hopefully they help others as well as me.

  3. Great post, Mary. I haven’t done too much marketing – yet – of my first novel. I have the added problem of writing in different genres, but I hope to use GoodReads & Facebook to promote my work using giveaways to entice reviews. I’m thinking I’ll wait until I’m closer to publication of my historical fiction and then do a big marketing push for my contemporary family drama. I do need to investigate the book blogger angle that Jessica S. notes.
    Dean Wesley Smith & Joe Konrath (I think) keep telling us to write, write, write and publish rather than worry too much about marketing. The more you have out there, the more likely you’ll be ‘found’?

    1. Char – when you get a chance, have a look at APE by Guy Kawasaki. He has some compelling ideas on marketing and being an entrepreneur (the E of APE). I think he would have a different opinion from Smith and Konrath.

      1. I just purchased APE and wasn’t sure about it at first. But after diligent reading decided it’s a good basic reference. Although he puts a heavy emphasis on Google+ and perhaps I don’t understand it correctly – but it seems like another version of Facebook. Correct if I’m wrong ,folks. Yet another social media time sink? Right now I’m trying to see what works in my limited time available for writiing. The danger in self-publishing seems to be from turning into a marketing person, not a writer. I think this is what Smith and Konrath are alluding to.
        As always, thanks to you Mary, for providing this forum. Your research has enhanced my writing life.

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