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INDIEpendence Day and Denise Grover Swank with 100k sales.

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!)

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