Indie Publishing–Hit or Miss

Guest blog by romance writer Deb Sanders.

Every self-published writer knows the road to Indie success is fraught with bumps, chuck holes and deep chasms. Some of these are unavoidable, i.e.  bad reviews. You simply cannot please every reader. But the fact you elicited enough emotion to prompt a reader to review is absolutely remarkable. Chalk it up to a job well done. Compare it to an actor who consistently appears in roles that make us love to hate them. They’re garnering a negative reaction, but it’s a testament to their talent for us to feel so strongly about their character.

Writing is like that. Ups and downs. Hits and misses. Love and hate. It’s a fluid market that can change with a moment’s notice.

If you are an Indie published author, as I am, you probably understand writers must wear many hats. Some feel tight and uncomfortable. Some are a bit too loose and seem to flop around, forcing us to hold them tightly to our head. And others fit just right.

I enjoy Indie publishing. No, I THRIVE on it. It’s addictive. It’s fun. It’s all consuming. I’ve never felt so alive. Would I have the same elation with traditional publishing? Not so much. I had an opportunity to follow that route. I chose not to, and have not regretted my decision. In the first three weeks of January 2012, I earned more in royalties on two books than I gross in four weeks in my day job. These were manuscripts gathering dust after two years of repeated submissions to agents and editors. I released my first book in late November. My second in early December. I’m gathering 5-star reviews for both novels and a portfolio of glowing fan letters. Am I pinching myself? Oh, yes! I’m black and blue all over and loving it!

Let me expand by saying I watch my numbers daily. More like hourly. I pay attention to trends. I monitor discussion groups to see what others are doing and if they are experiencing the same declines or surges in sales. For instance, right after Christmas when many Kindle owners were learning to use their new eReaders, I noticed a higher number of returns. Mine were actually lower than many other digitally published authors’, but there was still a spike. Amazon makes it too easy for readers to press the “buy now” button, especially if someone is scrolling through selections on their smart phone. It’s since subsided.

I’ve enrolled both titles, Blood Storm and Stone Cold Justice, in Amazon Select. I’m a new writer. Barnes & Noble and Smashwords were simply not producing the number of sales I received through Amazon. With the new Prime lending library, it made sense to list my books on the site that pays the most. I earn more through the lending library than I earned in total royalties through the other two sites. I gave both B&N and Smashwords readers an opportunity to step up to the plate. They didn’t. I suspect if I were a recognized author, it would have been a different scenario. Since Amazon allegedly sold 1 million Kindles during each week of December, the sheer volume of readers in that format encouraged me to test the waters. I’m glad I did.

The Prime library focuses not on the price of the book but on the cover and blurb. When Stone Cold Justice took off like a lightning bolt and Blood Storm didn’t, I knew something was wrong. I lowered my price. Sales increased, but not substantially. I redesigned my cover and revised my blurb. Bingo. Sales went up immediately, as did the “borrows” from the library.

I love the fact I have total control over my published manuscripts. It makes each achievement more personal. Not every writer can design a cover or decide how to market their work. I understand that. It’s a classic example of why Indie publishing is NOT for everyone.

It works for me. I love it. I’m a control freak, so go figure!

Blood Storm and Stone Cold Justice–category length Romantic Suspense now at Amazon. The Gatekeeper–Urban Paranormal releasing February 14th.

Thank you, Deb Sanders.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK–The Lion The Lamb The Hunted by Andrew E. Kaufman.

7 thoughts on “Indie Publishing–Hit or Miss

  1. I’m heading in that “indie” route too. I’ve decided to try it with a romance book.
    Already self-pubbed print version of a nonfiction book that a publisher has out
    as an ebook (but wasn’t going to do print version).
    Good luck!

    • Good luck to you, too. Get back to us with the name of the book when you’ve got it published (or just before). I sometimes review books.

    • Thanks, Marianne. Just now checking messages. I appreciate your support. As much as I fantasized about snagging a contract with a big print publisher (and still do within certain parameters) I love indie publishing. Can’t imagine NOT doing this! I’ve got a non-fiction project on the back burner. I’ll have to pick your brain one of these days and see if there are differences in how one approaches the market. I appreciate you stopping by!

  2. Great post, Deb! I’m so psychedf for you and your success. And it’s proof that romantic suspense is still a hot genre! I know for myself that I could not go the indie route simply because I need someone else to handle some of the work. Luckily I have a great epublisher who does just that!

    • Thanks, Alexa. I’m equally as psyched about your venture into publishing. Make lots of noise when you get close to release. There are many of us anxiously waiting to offer support and promotion. Your voice is unique. Can’t wait to see your name out there! Hugs! I appreciate you stopping by!

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