(Brooklyn's intro) Although self-publishing is not a direction I see myself going any time soon, a lot of people I know are doing it....and most of them have no idea what they're getting into. They act like it's a new cult, they denounce commercial publishers from their pulpits and vow they're going to be instant celebrities and make a fortune. So when my good friend and critique partner, Jamie DeBree decided to self publish, I was concerned. Now after almost a year, I see that she's being successful, but I also see that she works her butt off and treats it seriously, like the business it is.
Now, when other friends talk about self-publishing I tell them about Jamie. And I will tell you all: If you are going to self-publish, do it right. Now that I've added my two cents, I give you Romantic Suspense author, Jamie DeBree:
Sounds kinda naughty when you put it that way, doesn’t it? And in some circles, it is looked at as a “naughty”, rebellious behavior, sort of like reading or writing erotica. I’ll admit, that’s part of its appeal in my case. I never have liked people telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I’ll be the one to decide that, thank you very much. ;-)
Brooklyn asked me to share a bit about my own self-publishing journey today. I’ve always wanted to self-publish my work. Even in high school, I just sort of assumed that if I ever wrote anything worth publishing, I’d put it out myself. I come from a line of crafters and artisans who take pride in making and selling their wares and artwork. To me, writing and publishing your own books is the same thing. So you can imagine my dismay years later when I finally thought maybe I’d seriously pursue writing not just as a hobby, but as a potential career, and everyone told me that self-publishing my work would be tantamount to career suicide. I bought into it for awhile, but my heart wasn’t in writing to suit a publisher, and all the months of jumping through hoops and waiting. Not really my thing. So I decided to find the fun in writing again, and do what I’d originally intended - write for the readers… That’s when I started posting free serial drafts on my blog. I knew they could never be published traditionally, and that took all the pressure off to write a certain way, or a certain story. I was still working on a manuscript to submit to a publisher at the time, but my heart wasn’t in molding it to fit the line. I ended up setting that aside, and focusing on my serials. I planned to clean them up and sell them on my web site inexpensively after they were done. I knew I wouldn’t make much money, but it made me happy as a writer - and that was the most important thing.
When I heard about authors self-publishing their work on Amazon, I started to get excited. I started studying those authors and everything they did. I paid close attention to those who were selling the most. They had covers that looked just as good as any publishing house had (sometimes better). The prose was polished and edited, and the stories were just as good as any I’d read from a large publisher. I read blog posts, I watched, I took notes.
I wanted to do that.
I decided to polish up my second serial novel to put up for sale as an “experiment”. I had a good friend with editing experience go through with her red pen, made the changes, and bought professional cover art (from another friend). I polled my would-be readers and found out at least a few still preferred print, so I researched and learned how to format a file for print-on-demand along with the formatting I was learning for ebooks. I was determined to make my book available to as many people as I could, and I spent hours tweaking and playing with the files to make them look like any other book on the market. I stumbled my way through my first launch, and was thankful not too many people were watching at that point, but I managed to get Tempest up for sale in print and digital formats in late August 2010.
As soon as I made my first sale, I was hooked. I loved everything about the process, and I was proud to have done everything I could to make my book as good as it could be, from editing to cover art to formatting and distribution. I decided very shortly after that I wouldn’t be pursuing traditional publishing. I knew from all my research that it would take awhile for my book to start selling, and it took about six months (note: I wasn’t always that patient, but I stuck it out, and I’m glad I did). Now Tempest is selling around 5-10 copies per day on average, plus a couple print copies per month. Not bad for a first book, and a novella at that.
I decided if I was going to continue publishing my books, I needed to be as professional as possible to instill confidence in readers. I set up a business - Brazen Snake Books - that would publish my own work under three names (three genres), and perhaps a few close friends who I could count on to produce quality work that would maintain the reputation I wanted for my label. I had my cover artist design a professional logo for me, and I decided on a publishing schedule. I bought a block of ISBN numbers to definitively tie my books to my business name. I read everything I could on publishing, marketing, and new releases, and I put that knowledge to work marketing my first book, and releasing my second and third. Because everything in my research suggests that those making the most money also have many titles out, I’ve established a publishing schedule that will help me end the year with a decent back list for each of my genres, and a nice beginning catalog for my company (13-14 titles total).
I treat my business like any small business. It requires capital for start-up costs, and I invest my own money (I still work a full-time day job) as needed to build it, though I’m making enough money now from book sales to pay for some of my costs. I fully expect the business to be self-sustaining by this time next year, and to be turning a nice profit within a few more. Will it be enough to live on? Impossible to predict at this point, but I’m optimistic. The more books I have out, the more likely something will really take off, pulling the rest of my titles with it. So my first priority is to write and publish more books, and my second priority is marketing.
That’s my publishing journey, in a fairly large nutshell. It’s not for everyone, but perfect for me.
A full-time webmistress by day, Jamie DeBree writes steamy, action-packed romantic suspense late into the night. Her goal is to create the perfect blend of sensual attraction, emotional tension and fast-paced adventure. Born in Billings Montana, she resides there with her husband and two over-sized lap dogs. She reads in a wide variety of genres including romance, erotica, action/adventure, thriller, horror and literary fiction. Connect with her at http://jamiedebree.com, and find links to her available books at http://brazensnakebooks.com.