For those of you who are beloved fans of Grace Watkins, you know what the deal is. But for those of you who don’t believe I am an author because I have no books to prove it, let me give you a semi-short explanation:
When I finished Turning Grace, my first ever novel, I did endless nights of research on how to get my books published. I read countless blogs and articles, all about the ins and outs of publishing, options for aspiring authors, and all the experiences of other writers out there. With my brain full of this information, it seemed it only confused the crap out of me. However, at the time, my passion was simply for writing. I didn’t care about whether or not I had the potential to be a bestseller. If only five people read my book, those five people were enough. The fact that I’d completed a full-length novel was accomplishment enough.
Self-publishing seemed the way to go. I was proud of my work and with self-publishing, I had total freedom with the content and the cover. If people didn’t like it, then whatever. I didn’t care. Until, that is, when people actually started reading it, and then actually responding to my work.
My first route was Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing with Createspace as my print-on-demand. It was great! There were very easy instructions on how to download my manuscript and cover, pricing options, and if you decided on KDP Select, you were able to create promotions to help get your book noticed on Amazon. I published my book and I quickly began receiving reviews from people around the world! Some were critical, but most were that the reader enjoyed Turning Grace and that was pretty freaking awesome!
Grace’s story wasn’t over, and soon Escaping Grace and Finding Grace completed a three-part series. I self-published those as well, only this time removing myself from being exclusive to Amazon and widening my audience range by publishing on Smashwords, which also publishes to other online bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
My sales volume varied, depending really on how I promoted myself. Now, this is the tricky part. It seems to be self-published, you must also be a guru at promoting and marketing yourself (that is, if your books aren’t an instant hit). At first it was fun to create little pictures with quotes from my books to post on my social media sites. I tried to run contests to win free copies of my books, made sure that my social media content related to the genre, and even had a Grace doll made for a potential reader to win. I signed up for free book promotions and did an online book tour. For four years, I tried and tried to get myself and the work that meant so much to me out there. But still, my sales remained low for the most part.
You can imagine how discouraging this can be. With The Turning Series actually developing fans, some of which had me do online interviews for their blogs, my passion was transforming. It was no longer just about writing for the fun of it. It was now…do I actually have something pretty good here? Are my books worthy of a spot on the bookshelf of the young adult section in Barnes and Noble?
I follow lots of authors on Instagram. I sometimes find myself researching them to learn about their author journey and I have found that many indie authors start out self-published, then get picked up by a publishing company and then poof! Their books are out in the world, for all the read.
Now, I recognize that just because I have a few fans, it doesn’t mean that my books demand to be read. I still don’t even know if Grace deserves to hold a spot in readers hearts, but it’s time. It’s time for me to do what I have to do to at least try.
Therefore, over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on sending my manuscript out to literary agents. In order to do that, I need to make sure I own the rights to my books. Hence, removing them from all online bookstores. I know that there are publishing companies that do accept unsolicited submissions, but I’ve decided to try for an agent because I am ready to get the help I need. Maybe the content of my books could be polished or my book covers need drastic changes. Four years ago, the confident me wouldn’t have had any of it. But present me knows that I am not Stephen King or Jamie McGuire. I am still a newbie to the writing industry.
So, there ya go! I’m a former self-published author trying to get her books out the traditional way now. If you guys are interested in my journey, I will be recording my updates, all the ups and downs…and the rejections that I am positive I will receive.
If you are an aspiring author looking for some advice, here are some links that have helped to answer some questions I have had over the years and, more recently, how to write query letters and a synopsis for your novel.
Thanks for reading!