- What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?
I started out my self-publishing journey be publishing my backlist of books—those books that had once been published by a traditional publisher. What a liberating experience! I enjoyed having complete control over the covers and prices and also the ability to change the content of the books if I wanted. That feeling of being in control of my career is what made me decide to start writing books that I won’t shop to publishers but will go straight to the self-published market.
- 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?
I’m lucky. The editor I worked with for the White House Gardener Mystery series, which is traditionally published by Berkley Prime Crime, works as a freelance editor. Since we already have a good working relationship, I’ll continue working with Brittiany Koren (http://www.writtendreams.com) for all my new work. Only now, I’ll be paying her. I wouldn’t try to self-publish without a good editor to stand beside me.
For my backlist books, I’ve created most of the covers myself, using images purchased from sites such as Shutterstock. If a cover doesn’t seem to grab a reader’s attention, I’m not shy in pulling it and using a new cover. Some of my books have had three or more covers since I’ve self-published them. As a self-published author I have the freedom to experiment. If something doesn’t work, I change it.
When I have purchased covers, I’ve bought them from Razzle Dazzle Stock (http://www.razzdazzstock.com/).
For formatting, I mainly do it myself. Again, I like the ability to be able to quickly make changes and upload new versions of my books. However, I have worked with a formatter to make sure what I’m doing is correct. I still find myself beating my head against the desk trying to figure out how to get the format perfect. If you want t
o avoid a headache, hire this done. There are so many changes going on in what formats work. It’s no longer as simple as uploading your Word document to a server.
- What did you do to promote your work?
Like I did with my traditionally published works, I promote on social networks as well as send out a newsletter whenever I have a new release in the works. In addition, I work with other indie-published authors to cross-promote our work. We will all put a book for free at the same time and promote the heck out of it. This cooperation with other authors during the free promotions has boosted my sales greatly. I highly recommend it.
- Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?
The biggest Pro of self-publishing is that I have control over the look and content of my books. If I feel like a price is too high (or too low) I can change it. Immediately. If I don’t like the cover, I can change it. If I decide the ending doesn’t work, I can change it. I love that the books are dynamic. I also love that I can offer my books at a greatly reduced price than many traditionally published books while making an equal amount, or more, in royalties.
However, self-publishing isn’t all wine and roses. There are Cons to self-publishing. I miss the feeling that I was part of a team that I got with traditional publishing. My self-published books don’t show up in bookstores. I’m only creating e-books. But even if I produced print books, I wouldn’t have the distribution channels that traditional publishers enjoy. I don’t have access to many of the reviewers that traditional publishers can send their books to. And finally, some people automatically assume that all self-published books are trash. Thankfully, that last one is becoming less of an issue as more traditionally published authors decide to try the self-published route.
- Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to he present?
I currently have ten self-published ebooks available for sale. Eight of them are for sale exclusively on Kindle Select. When I first started selling, and didn’t have that many ebooks available, I sold between 50-100 ebooks a month. And I was happy. Now that I’m cross-promoting with other indie authors and offering many of my books for $0.99, I’m selling an average of 5,000 books a month. I’m extremely happy with that number!
- What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
If it’s your first book, hire an editor who will tell you the truth. If self-publishing had been around like it is now when I’d finished my first book (it was never published), I probably would have published it myself. And that would have been a HUGE mistake. I didn’t yet know how to craft a compelling story. I still had tons to learn. So even though I loved (and still love) the book, it wasn’t publishable. I cringe when I look at it now and see the mistakes I didn’t know I was making.
Just because you finish a book, doesn’t mean you should publish it. Even now, I look long and hard at my own work, and have others look at it as well, before deciding whether or not it’s good enough to put out for sale.
When you decide that your book rocks and is ready to be published, work with other indie authors in order to cross-promote. That way you won’t be trying to gain interest and sales all on your own.
As Dorothy McFalls, I write historical romance, contemporary romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. As Dorothy St. James, I write the White House Gardener Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.
I have 12 books out with lucky number 13 (OAK AND DAGGER) due to be released April 2013. My goal is to write three books for the self-published market next year.
I have recently released a paranormal historical romance, TAKEN BY MOONLIGHT, exclusively on Amazon. I have a Christmas paranormal romance, A WIZARD FOR CHRISTMAS, that should get you in the holiday spirit. And my debut novel, THE MARRIAGE LIST, has recently been put on sale for $0.99 and is heating up Amazon’s best-seller list for Regency romances. As of this writing, it’s at #5!
- What do you love about the genre(s)?
I love tackling new challenges, which is probably why I write in so many genres. I can’t imagine being pinned down to just one genre. But I’m a die-hard romantic. So no matter what genre you read of mine, you’ll find a common theme of love conquers all. I promise you will get a happy ending.
- Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me in several places. My website: http://www.dorothymcfalls.com. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorothy.mcfalls. On Twitter: https://twitter.com/DorothyStJames. And on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/656571.Dorothy_McFalls.
- Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?
Print copies of my books can be found at most online bookstores. All but two of my ebooks are exclusively on Amazon. You can find them at: http://amzn.to/SK3l02
- Are you participating in any reader contests?
Yes! I’m going to be in an upcoming Free eBook Event. As part of the event, a Kindle and a $25 gift certificate will be given away.
February 6-7, my short cozy mystery, Birds in Paradise will be free along with ebooks by several other authors. You can find out more about the upcoming event at http://www.freepartay.com. The books that will be offered for free will be listed there a few days before the event is scheduled to begin.
What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?
If you’re not sure you’re going to like the book, don’t buy it. Instead, download the sample. Most ebook retailers allow readers to download a couple of chapters prior to buying it. Or if the author is offering a free book, download it. I’ve found several authors that are now auto-buys (like Tina Folsom) from downloading samples and grabbing up free ebooks.
This is a great time to be an author and a reader. Books no longer have to neatly fit into a popular genre. Many authors are now able to explore subjects that publishers didn’t know how to market or would only appeal to a niche market. No matter what you like to read, no matter how obscure, I wager you can find an author writing about it!