Sunday, April 29, 2012

Author Monday: Delle Jacobs

Today we welcome best-selling author Delle Jacobs to Author Monday. Delle is a fellow 2003 Golden Heart finalist, but that's just one of her many finals and wins. She's also the one who finally convinced me Indie publishing was the way I should go, and I will forever be grateful.

FAERIE~Coming from Montlake Romances September 2012
Not your ordinary Faerie Tale


I have just spent the last three hours painstakingly writing out my story in publishing, with the thought in my head, "This is boring. It's just like every other e-published author's story. " 
And it was (with the exception that I finalled seven times in the Golden Heart and won three times). That is, of course, why computers have delete keys. And why you're not going to be reading it.

So let's just say the first eight years of my "seriously writing" career were pretty much the same as every other frustrated author. Not much success. Just enough to keep me from giving up my addiction. But unlike most, thanks to Laurie Alice Eakes, I gave in to the strange allure of e-publishing. If you know anything about the first ten years of e-publishing, you know at times it was hellatious. Even best friends felt privileged to impart to me the folly of my ways. And they were being kind, compared to what a lot of other people said. Well, you know all that. You know it's been a struggle. I did have some very successful (for ebooks) books. I even finally made the Published Authors Network (PAN) with a sale to Samhain. Exactly one month later, RWA changed the rules, though. 

But eventually I reclaimed the rights to my five original ebooks, but didn't know what to do with them. One editor told me she'd buy one of them if I'd completely re-write with lots more sex scenes. I thought about it. Didn't do it. By this time, the one thing I did know was that going with a traditional publisher was not the right thing for me.

The rest is Alexis Harrington's fault. In 2010, she persuaded me to re-work my books and put them on Kindle. The first month, with two books up, I sold 57, and I was ecstatic. I put up two more, then discovered Smashwords. Smashwords then acquired contracts with other retailers. And then, my BIG BREAK.

There I was, October 1, 2010, at the Emerald City Writers Conference, and turning in a little early. I checked my Kindle stats before crashing, expecting the usual 3-6 sales per book for the day. Something was wrong with the numbers. In order: 1847, 15, 17, 1932. Well, that was impossible. Went back and looked again, and the two high numbers had shot up another 30 or so. They were rising at 200-300 an hour! When I looked, KINDLE WAS GIVING MY BOOKS AWAY! Panic! 

I didn't know then, but soon learned, Kindle had a temporary program that gave away books of certain authors they thought were promising, but were paying the authors as if the books had sold. In those five days, FIRE DANCE and THE MUDLARK downloaded nearly 20,000 books. FIRE DANCE hit the top of the Romances list and onto the Top 100, barely topping THE MUDLARK. The rest of the month and year, sales stayed high. 
Seeing how ebook sales were advancing rapidly, and expecting the new Kindles to be a hot Christmas item, I decided my goal was to have at least one book on the Romance Best Seller list on Christmas Day. I re-priced all my books at 99 cents, and made my goal with three of my books.  Three days after Christmas, HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS started climbing the charts and remained a best seller for 4 ½ months, in the meantime pulling up the other books too. I'd forgotten what paying real income tax was like, but I sure learned that fast!

But it seems Amazon is always up to something. I thought so way back in October 2010. In the fall of 2011, an Amazon Montlake editor called me and persuaded me to submit a book that was not even finished. But what I'd seen and heard about Montlake was already impressing me. They do things very differently. So... it took a few months longer, but in February I signed a contract for three books. Two of them are FIRE DANCE and LOKI'S DAUGHTERS, which have had somewhere over 120,000 downloads each. The third is FAERIE, that first draft.  All three books will come out in September. And that's scary! And in the meantime, they're just fine with my self-publishing. 
I'm hoping to release three more books on my own, which I'm releasing in the next two months: THE PERFECT HEROINE, a Regency Historical Romance, BELOVED STRANGER, a Regency Romance novella set in the Peninsular War, and the most difficult, a new version of one of my best selling books, THE MUDLARK, ILLUSTRATED, with about 20-30 illustrations I've made using old engravings with modern photography. 

So am I telling you anyone can make a living (or a killing) by self-publishing? No. Not everyone should even try, and trying is no guarantee either. But here are some things you should consider- no, do- if you want to self-publish.

1. HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF AND YOUR BOOKS. If you know they're good, and ready to be published, believe in them, and in you. 
2. HAVE PATIENCE. It's too easy to give up. For most authors, it takes awhile. And things cycle, just like in traditional publishing. Maybe a lot faster.
3. HAVE THE BEST BOOK POSSIBLE. Don't submit any book that is just "good enough", because it isn't. You're in a huge competition, and readers will happily drop you and go to an author they feel they can trust more.
Make sure it's very well edited
Perfectly formatted
Has the very best cover you can afford. Your cover is the first page of your book. If readers aren't intrigued enough to look, they aren't going to ever get to the blurb, much less the story. 
5. PUT lots of time into promotion. Online is most effective. But while you're at it, 
6. DON'T SPAM YOUR FRIENDS. DON'T SPAM ANYONE! They will not buy your book, or any future book if you do. Learn what works. Be courteous. Share equally on social media. Give as well as you get.
7. WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG, SUCK IT UP AND FIX IT. It's ultimately your responsibility if the formatting on your book gets messed up after you uploaded a perfect copy.  Check for it. Encourage your readers to report any errors or problems to you.
8. DON'T BE AFRAID to try something different. The internet and ebooks readers have been uncommonly kind to authors who have given them something unique to read.
9. HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF. Oh, I said that? Well, not often enough. Let me say it again. And again...


Diana Duncan said...

Thanks, Delle, I really, really needed to hear that today!

Delle Jacobs said...

You're welcome, Diana! Yo know, half the reason I spout off so much is that I need to be encouraging myself! There's always so much to do, so much to learn, so much to doubt...

Tori Scott said...

Lots of great advice here, Delle. I know I've cried on your shoulder more than once since I started, but you're always the voice of calm and reason. Thank you!

Diane Gaston said...

Delle, your success is just terrific! It always makes me smile to think of the chances you took and how well they are paying off now!

Dr. Debra Holland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Debra Holland said...

Now to leave a comment that's not missing words!

Delle, you've been my self-publishing inspiration! Without your lead, it would have taken me a lot longer to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon. Think what I would have missed! I'm so very grateful to you!

AND, thanks for my beautiful covers. They're a big part of my success!

Heather Hiestand said...

Great post, Delle! I'm so glad Faerie is coming out soon!

Patricia Preston said...

Della, I wish I had known you years ago! Up until last year, I didn't even know there was such a thing as an Indie author. As an antidote to depression, I decided to have some fun and publish one of my funny short stories. I did have it professionally designed and edited. Today was its first day as #1 Kindle Best Seller in Comedy. My only regret is that I didn't do this sooner!