Ginny Baird has published novels in print and online and received screenplay options from Hollywood for her family and romantic comedy scripts. Her fiction has been published in the US, Australia, Brazil, Denmark and Norway, and translated into several languages. She is an award-winning writer and the bestselling author of several romantic comedies, including novellas in her new HOLIDAY BRIDES SERIES. Enjoy!
- What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?
A big deciding factor for me in going indie involved timing. When you submit through the traditional route, it can take weeks (often months) to hear back on a simple query letter, more weeks (or months) to hear back on a partial, and sometimes up to two years (!) to get word on a complete manuscript. Then, there can be a year or more in editing and production time after that. Since I write contemporary romance, I wanted it to remain such, and not become outdated by the time it was published. J After experimenting with my first indie title, I realized that all that time wasted in a submissions queue might be better spent actually getting my book to readers – and earning money! And the money has been just as good – if not better – than when I was traditionally published.
I began by first offering my novels as ebooks in just a few platforms, then expanded to multiple platforms and started producing them as trade paperbacks as well. So far, it’s been a very rewarding experience for me.
- What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from a someone, could you share who?
Oh my goodness, the learning curve for me has been huge. Since I began indie publishing nearly a year ago, I’ve packed so much new information into my brain, at times I’ve told my husband I feared my head might explode. I started with a manuscript I’d had for some time and which had actually been accepted by a New York publisher before they decided to close that romance line and go in a different direction. That novel was The Sometime Bride, so I believed it had chops as a story. It just needed to find its market.
When writer friends began sharing indie publishing successes, I decided to do a “trial run” with The Sometime Bride. Very quickly, I realized I needed to hire a professional editor. Oh yes, and a cover artist. And, not so incidentally, learn how to format a file so it could upload easily to the principal sites. I was blessed to garner recommendations from other writers and build a solid team quickly, including two excellent editors and an absolutely wonderful cover artist — all of whom have extremely prompt turnaround. In order to present the most professional product, I understood I’d need to pay for these services, but thought it would behoove me to learn how to format myself. That was important because it gave me greater flexibility in updating book files. If I wanted to add new sample chapters or book links into the back of an existing novel, I could do it myself whenever the need arose… without having to wait in more lines for someone else to do that, and charge per each change besides.
When learning to format files for ebooks, I downloaded the free Smashwords guide and immediately wanted to crawl under a table. No way can I do all that, I cried. But fellow writers encouraged me, and eventually I crawled out from under that table and took everything one step at a time. But then I learned, files that work well in some places, don’t necessarily upload at others. Every outlet has its own requirements, including those for Print on Demand. Learning to navigate all that really has been challenging for me. But, I’m proud to say I’ve done it, and don’t have to rely on anyone else – for ebook formatting at least.
- Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?
I was just adding this all up the other night, and realized that – in my first eleven months as an indie author — my ebooks have seen nearly 200,000 downloads. Now that would be phenomenal if they’d all been sales, but the truth is, as a newbie in the indie world trying to make a name for myself, I’ve done a lot of free promotions. I’ve also participated in the Kindle Lending Library, so while those downloads don’t qualify as “sales” they did earn me money. Overall, I earned enough in revenues my first few months to encourage me to quit my day job in public school teaching. Earnings are not quite up to my full-time teaching salary (on a consistent, month-to-month basis), but the trajectory looks good that I’ll get there soon and, hopefully, eventually surpass that.
- What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
Don’t be a cheapie. Pay to hire a professional editor. You need to have a second set of eyes on your work. I mean, beyond your critique partners, mother, husband or friend. Also, take very great care with your cover art. A picture is worth a thousand words, and your cover is the very first impression a reader gets of you and your story. Remember, you’re not just creating an image, you’re crafting a brand. And that brand is what readers will come back to, once they’ve learned they can trust it.
The wonderful thing about going indie is you can learn as you go. If you make a mistake or have cover art that’s not perfect, for instance, you’re free to change what doesn’t work. Don’t be afraid to change! Don’t be afraid to grow and learn new things. Experiment with pricing and marketing strategies to learn what works for you. It’s a brave new world out there in publishing, but the cool thing is we all have the opportunity to be a part of it.
- What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?
I write short contemporary romantic comedies, and romantic comedy novellas. To date, I have seven books out, with book number eight on the horizon and due for publication any day now. My stand-alone titles are: The Sometime Bride, Real Romance, Real Romance and The Sometime Bride (Gemini Edition), Santa Fe Fortune, and How to Marry a Matador. There are also three books in my Holiday Brides Christmas novella series: The Christmas Catch, The Holiday Bride and Mistletoe in Maine (coming soon!).
- What do you love about the genre(s)?
I love stories that can just as easily make me cry as make me laugh. And that’s what I aspire to write: sweet, emotional romance, with a dash of humor thrown in!
- Where can readers find you?
My books are available for sale at many outlets online. Details on all my stories and links to various formats can be found at my website http://www.ginnybairdromance.com. I’m also on Twitter @GinnyBaird, have a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ginnybairdromance and keep up a blog The Story Behind the Story at Goodreads.
- Are you participating in any reader contests?
I’ve done Giveaways of my paperback books at Goodreads and The Romance Reviews, and am sure to participate in other opportunities in the future.
- There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that, and how should readers of self-published books decide what to read?
Well, I suppose there may be some shoddily created self-pubbed books out there, but certainly not all of them are. There are plenty of dedicated indie writers who take pride in their work and care in crafting professional products. And very many of them are becoming hugely successful. I believe, if a reader is judicious in choosing, he/she can find excellent indie work. Ask for recommendations from friends, read reviews (enough of them to get a balanced picture), but most importantly, read that free sample and decide for yourself! Is this is a story I’d enjoy? Does this writer pull me in? Does the writing appear clean and professional without repeated typographical errors serving as distractions? In the end, it’s about finding that special story that can sweep you away and make you forget your everyday worries for while. Next time you’re looking for that great escape, take a chance on an indie writer. He or she may very well surprise you!