- I’ve published 12 novels, 4 story collections, and 2 boxed sets each containing three of my novels, for a total of 18 titles.
- I’ve been through about 29 different covers and cover variations (including having a pro put new lettering on cover art I was already using).
- My bestselling book over the last five years was Beneath the Canyons, followed by The Lost Book of Anggird, Urdaisunia, and Chosen of Azara.
- The store where I’ve sold the most is Amazon.com (not surprisingly), followed by Smashwords, AmazonUK, AmazonAU, and Apple.
In the last five years, I’ve met some amazingly kind, helpful, and talented people. (You can see links to some of their websites in the sidebar.) Technically, I suppose authors are in competition with each other, but the indie author community is the most cooperative and supportive competition I’ve ever seen, with so many people willing to share resources and tips, band together in marketing, and help each other along.
Sales-wise, I’m not where I hoped I would be at this point. But I’ve been correcting some things that might have been holding me back, and making new plans for moving forward.
Some things I’ve learned in the last 5 years:
- It’s hard to build a career on standalone novels. I love my standalone books, but from here on out, new projects need to fit into a series (preferably a trilogy, a nice, manageable series length) and/or into a world I’ve already written in.
- My books are not Romance. They do have strong romantic storylines that mostly follow genre conventions for Romance, but the emphasis is more on the fantasy storyline than the romance, which, I’ve learned the hard way, makes them less appealing to the Romance audience. So that led to some futile marketing efforts, and some covers that, while wonderful, were wrong for my books’ genre and real readership. But I learned something, so it’s all good 🙂
- My books are also very much not Paranormal Romance. When I first started out, I couldn’t really find anyone else writing the same genre mix of fantasy and romance that I write. Paranormal Romance seemed to come closest, so I got in with that group and again learned the hard way that my books don’t fit. Paranormal Romance has its own requirements and expectations – real world, mostly contemporary setting, and magical creatures like vampires, shapeshifters, or angels, none of which my books have.
- While the common wisdom is that most fantasy readers don’t like romance in their books, there are some who are hungry for well-done romantic storylines. Fortunately, there are now more authors who are writing high/epic fantasy with strong romantic storylines, so hopefully that readership will continue to grow!
- Typos get together and make baby typos when no one is looking.
- It’s too easy to spend all day fiddling around with “publishing tasks” when what I really need to be doing is working on the next book 😛
- It’s also too easy to spend all my money on books by the amazing authors I’ve met!
- Contrary to the above, promoting books to other authors is a wasted effort.
- Coding my ebooks by hand, while cool and kind of satisfying, also gets old and tedious. I resisted formatting by converting a Word doc for a long time, but I’ve finally given in, using Draft2Digital’s awesome formatting tool, and boy does that make life easier.
- While I’m competent to do my own lettering on my covers, it doesn’t come close to what a real book designer can do!
- I’ve also learned how to make international re-directing Kobo and iTunes links, to make things easier for my international readers on those stores. Just click and the link will take you to the right store for where you live! My Amazon links are also international re-directing links. (At least, this is the theory. Anyone from places outside the US want to click them and tell me if they really work?)
What lies ahead?
- Trilogies: Defenders of the Wildings (in the revision and editing stages), and one set in the Islands of the Wildings world (planning), and I’ve got my very first novel ever and its sequel printed out and waiting to be revised and for a third book to go with them to make that into a trilogy.
- I also have some thoughts on revisiting some of my older projects, to see if I can bring out more of their potential.
- I’m learning ways to make my email newsletters even more useful and engaging.
- Most importantly, what lies ahead is (hopefully) many more years of writing stories I love, the way I want to write them, and sharing them with readers who I hope will enjoy them as much as I do 🙂