Today I’d like to welcome my good friend and fellow chapter mate, Laura Kaye! A New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Laura writes in several genres with both small and large presses. She’s ventured into the world of self-publishing and has agreed to answer my questions about her experience. Thanks, Laura!
- What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?
When the opportunity arose to get my rights back on two books with a small press, I knew it was the right time to dip my toes into self-publishing. So I started with two backlist titles as a way of easing into it. Both books, Hearts in Darkness and Forever Freed, are available as ebooks and print books.
- 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 someone, could you share who?
Since these were backlist titles, I didn’t have to worry about hiring editors this time around. However, I did go through both manuscripts and do some minor editing of my own. Amazing how our writing changes over the course of even a few years! I hired cover designers to create professional covers for me—for Hearts in Darkness, I hired Tricia Pickyme Schmitt, who designed the original cover for the small publisher; and for Forever Freed, I hired Hot Damn Designs. Both did a phenomenal job on the covers and that step was easy. I also hired Hot Damn to do all my ebook formatting and they really walked me through the process of acquiring ISBNs, the quirks of uploading to the various sites, etc.
- What did you do to promote your work?
A variety of things. Both books were well established before, but I still did major cover reveals, got my street team involved in shouting them out, featured them in blog hops and other blogging opportunities, and took out some advertisements, too. I didn’t do full blog tours since they were back list titles, but I do usually with new releases.
- What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?
Easiest was working with cover artist and getting great covers I love! And I adore the control over that process! Hardest was figuring out everything I needed to know and everything I didn’t know. I’m still not fully proficient, as evidenced by the fact that I’m paying someone to do my formatting, which more experienced self-publishers often do themselves. But I’m figuring out a little at a time so that by the time I can release fully new books, I’ll have a better handle on the whole process.
- Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?
The pros in my opinion are the control you have over the whole process, how quickly you can release a book, and the greater royalty rates you can receive. I think it’s also important that you can decide whether to also offer a book in print. Hearts in Darkness is a 30,000-word novella, and that’s not the kind of thing most publishers would take to print, but I can offer it as a self-publisher.
The cons in my opinion include the time investment required to do the business side of things, the lack of publisher support for promotion (which varies from publishers, of course, but there’s no one even built in to retweet or share my twitter or facebook posts, for example…), and finding a readership on your won. I think the latter is less challenging if you’re established, but it’s still a consideration.
- How long have your book(s) been out? How long between books if you have multiple sales—and if you have multiples did you see a bump in sales with subsequent publication?
Hearts in Darkness has been out for 5 weeks and Forever Freed just re-released. I currently have 13 books for sale or pre-order, and I definitely have had the experience of the sales bump with each new release. I saw it when I re-released Hearts in Darkness, too. Backlist is king.
- Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?
I have a short time line, and only sales to report on Hearts in Darkness so far. But, I’m selling 500 a month on Amazon, 100 a month on B&N, 100 a month on Apple, and 25 on Kobo. I’d recouped my up-front costs, which were mostly the cover and the purchasing of ISBN numbers, in the first few weeks.
- What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
Do it right and be professional. Hire editors, professional cover designers, formatters. No one should be able to look at the inside or outside of your book and know it’s self-published.
- What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?
I write in contemporary and paranormal romance and have 13 novels either out or up for pre-order. I have four series underway: Hearts of the Anemoi (South of Surrender most recently) , Vampire Warrior Kings (Taken by the Vampire King releases 8/1) , Heroes (2 out and 2 more coming in 2014), and Hard Ink (Hard As It Gets debuts this November!).
- What do you love about the genre(s)?
I’ve been interested in all things paranormal since I was a kid. I love the magic, the possibility that such things could be real, and the dark sexiness of paranormal stories. I also love contemporary stories because you could imagine them really happening and the characters being people you might actually know.
- Where can readers find you?
- Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?
- What works do you have coming out in the future?
My next books aren’t self-published, but include Taken by the Vampire King (August 1), Hard As It Gets (November 26), and Hard As You Can (February 25)
- Are you participating in any reader contests?
I’m almost always running a giveaway somewhere! The best thing to do is keep an eye on my Facebook or Twitter!
- There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?
I think there’s a range of quality among self-published books, with more and more high-quality books and established authors moving into self-publishing every day. You can find errors and weak stories published by publishers and self-publishers, so problems aren’t isolated to the self-pubbed. But I think self-published authors need to know they’re working against that reputation and need to do everything they can not to contribute to it.
- What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?
The New Adult books have really taken self-publishing by storm! And though many of them have been picked up by self-publishers, I’d still recommend Wait for You by J. Lynn, Easy by Tammara Webber, and Monica Murphy’s One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend. I’d also recommend books by self-published authors Eliza Knight (ahem!), Marie Force, Katie Reus, Laurie London, and Laura Wright, among others!
Thanks so much for having me here!
Thank you for being here, Laura! And for the shout-out *winks*. If you’re looking for an emotional, evocative, adventure, please download Laura’s books! She is amazing!