Yay for Indies: both small and self published. But I want to give an even louder cheer – and do some cartwheels barefoot in my front yard – for well-written books. No matter how published.
Today is about paying it forward. Hence the whole INDIEpendence Day celebration. As part of the Indelibles, we wanted to celebrate self-published books that stand out and are selling well. So if you’ve been holding back because you’re afraid of what you might find in the world of self publishing then follow this blogfest for a huge selection of professional self-published books.
When I first saw the cover for Denise Grover Swank’s HERE, I knew I wanted to read it.
Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can’t ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
I finally read HERE and I absolutely loved it! Denise is doing incredibly well as you’ll find out in the interview.
So read on and then comment and tweet for a $5 Amazon gift card!
1. How did you get started in self publishing?
Like a lot of self-published authors, I tried to get an agent with three different books in three different series. I was close with two– HERE and CHOSEN, but both books are darker in tone than my rom com mystery. I realized if I sold either of the other two, the agent wouldn’t want my mystery. But I loved my mystery and didn’t want it to die on my hard drive so I decided to try to self-publish it. The official release of TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES was in July of 2011. My goal was to sell 1000 copies by the end of year. I hit 1000 in September. After seeing how well that book was doing, I decided to self-publish my other two books as well as finish editing and published the second book in The Chosen series.
***On May 29, 2012, Denise sold her 100,000 book.*** (Woo hoo!)
2. You have terrific sales! What have you found to be the most effective marketing strategy?
I’ve used multiple strategies. I’ve found blog tours that feature reviews have been very helpful with sales. I ran two blog tours back to back with my book adult urban fantasy CHOSEN which propelled it into the Top 100 in the Kindle store.
But the most helpful strategy is the KDP Select free promo. Although the promo isn’t as effective as it was back in February when I ran CHOSEN free the first time, it’s still the most effective tool I have at the moment.
3. I’d love to hear about the story behind HERE. (Where did you get the idea? Will there be a sequel?)
I had written TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES and CHOSEN, both adult books and wasn’t getting anywhere trying to get an agent. My then thirteen year old daughter begged me to write a YA book so she and her friends could read one of my books. I read a lot of YA at that point, so I told her I would but she would have no say in the book other than two things: She wanted a love triangle and she asked me to name the main character her name, Julia. (The main character of CHOSEN is named Emma, the name of my youngest daughter. It’s purely coincidental and there is a very specific reason for the character’s name that comes out later.)
So right away, writing HERE was different than my usual process. Usually, I come up with the idea, then ask what genre it is. I knew I didn’t want to write a contemporary, but I don’t do vampires, werewolves and witches in paranormal. So I thought about what books, TV shows, and movies I loved. I always go back to the television show LOST. I loved that show and I learned a lot about story telling from it. Then I thought about specific aspects and episodes I liked and WHY. That was how I came up with the topic, although I’m pretty sure no one would ever see any correlation.
I plan to write one more book in the series titled THERE and hope to release it the end of December 2012.
4. Any tips for the writer considering self publishing or just getting started? (What’s the biggest lesson you learned?)
Before you publish your own book, make sure it’s ready. You need beta readers and critique partners. And THEN when you think it’s ready and you really want to publish it, hire a copy editor. DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS STEP. Your book is a product and you want to present the best product possible. Also hire a cover artist. Your cover is so important. You want your readers to look at your cover and not realize your book is self-published. A good cover tells your reader that you have a quality book.
After you publish your book, don’t expect overnight success. It takes time to build sales and a reader base. I sold 220 books my first month but only because I had a strong social media platform. Self-publishing is a long-tail marketing strategy. Keep writing and publishing and eventually it will all add up.
Thanks Denise. I absolutely loved LOST and the different elements they brought into the plotting.
And now I’m going to share a little secret. Before reading HERE, I thought it was a ghost story. But it’s not. That’s part of the mystery and you’ll have to read it to find out!
Purchase link: Amazon
My website www.denisegroverswank.com Also I encourage my readers to friend me on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/deniseswank and follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeniseMSwank
Go back to the Indelibles post for all the links to the blogfest! And happy reading!
Don’t forget to comment and tweet for a $5 Amazon gift card! (And of course, leave your email too!)
Great interview Laura and Denise. Denise’s advice is great whether you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route. Thanks for sharing about her book too. It sounds really good.
Thanks, Natalie. I completely agree. Some people say they want to go traditional because they don’t want to promo their books so much. But the reality is you promo just as much for both publishing options. I just have more control over pricing and sales and an indie.
Wow, 100k sales, that’s fantastic! Great job, Denise. Great interview Laura.
I think independant authors are really making great strides in the publishing business. It’s a little rocky in the beginning as with most self-employed people, but the long tail is the key. With a good book there will always be repeat customers and if you keep writing and keep publishing, I think a good career will come out of it.
Congrats again, Denise!
Thanks, Anne! One of the benefits of self-publishing is I can release works at my own pace. In one year, I’ve released six books (four written before my first book was released) and two short stories. As sales taper on one book or series, I have new books that boost sales. But at some point, as long as I maintain moderate sales, I’ll have enough works selling smaller amounts that will continue to provide an income.
Love the idea of the blogfest. I’ll definitely be adding HERE to my TBR pile. 😀
Thanks, Stina! I hope you like it!
I loved the interview and the book looks awesome and I tweeted.
I am so impressed with Denise and her success! I’m off to add more to my groaning TBR!
Thanks, Susan! I work really hard at what I do, but I’ve never been happier!
YAY hpe to win 😀
Tweeted about this: https://twitter.com/gaby011421/status/219798761059270656
gaby891 AT YAHOO DT COM
Wow, that sounds like a great premise. I love mysteries like that.
Sounds terrific. Congrats on the success of the book too. Very inspiring.
Thanks, Patti! If you read it, I hope you like it!
Sounds like a very twisty type book and I love those. Great idea as well you guys, celebrating awesome Indie books! I’ll mark this one down to read. 🙂
Loved the interview! The cover is AMAZING and I would definitely love to get a copy of the book. It’s going on my TBR list!
The cover of Here is so creepy and just makes me want to read it even more! Reading about the self-pub process is an eye opener.
randomactsofbooksandmore at gmail dot com
Great interview! Thanks to you both.
Great interview! I always enjoy hearing people’s success stories. Congrats, Denise!
Wow! This book sounds great! Thanks for the interview!!!
That cover pulled me right in. Super interview, thanks for the advice.
The description sounds awesome! I got goosebumps.
Well done, and keep doing what you’re doing!
I have this book on Kindle and I have been dying to read it! Its been on my tbr list for a while now.
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/zaira_faith/status/220393409775538177
I haven’t read Here but have enjoyed other books by you. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one!
Wow, EXCELLENT interview ladies!
Congrats to your success, Denise! HERE sounds FAB!