Oh man... how much time do we have? I'll say in all honesty I knew nothing, nothing at all, about self-publishing. Once I had this series in mind I did a little research and went with BookBaby because they were supposed to be a "one-stop" publishing option. I was doing a one-hour drama series and didn't want to figure out how to upload different versions of my book to multiple outlets. I used peer-groups and beta readers as editors and then uploaded. It was awful. The first version of August Fog wasn't ready to be out there and BookBaby was a terrible fit for me as a newbie and evolving writer. Their system doesn't allow you to make changes to your book easily and charges $25 every time you want to change anything... that includes the price. You can't just go in and put your book on sale for a week without emailing them to ask them to change it, pay $25 and then wait for them to get around to it. It drove me crazy and I wasted time and money trying to navigate the process. To top it off, they didn't show sales until almost 3 months later. At first I thought that publishing was just the last dinosaur industry working on net-60-90 systems, but then I realized it's just that particular company. So I pulled my book and moved to Smashwords, Amazon KDP & Google Play directly. I felt like an idiot for wasting time, but in the process I learned so much about marketing, tracking sales, and how to anticipate what works.
Pros - You get to decide everything yourself. Release dates. Cover design. Marketing plan. Promotion.
Cons - You have to decide everything yourself. Release dates. Cover design. Marketing plan. Promotion. There are times when I know having a team behind me to help through the decisions would make my life a lot easier. I just worry that my creative input would be stifled a bit by others.
Do you spend a lot of time researching for your books?
Yes. It's something we do in production too so it's instinctual to search for locations and motivations for everything. I love sinking things into reality. Someone reading the book may have a link to that place or subject that you could connect with uniquely.
One of the biggest differences between traditional and self publishing is the method of advertising. Have you found it challenging to promote and advertise your work?
Yes. It's so hard. Especially when you're just starting out. In this market there are thousands of writers cranking out stories. Some good, some not so much, but they've been around and built a following. The one thing I've learned is that no amount of advertising will replace time. You can spend thousands on ads or spam people with your newsletters, but if they don't know your work or know someone who raves about it, they're slower to come around and give you a try. There are also SO many avenues to suck your money away on promises of readers and sales. No one can deliver that, so be cautious about who you spend with. I'm still learning along the way what works for me. It may be different for you.
As a more experienced writer do you have any advice for new writers when it comes to researching, advertising, or editing your books?
Publishing still is a dinosaur in the sense that you have to plan way out in advance. If you think your book is ready to publish, then plan to do it six months from now. Not now. Take that time to build your marketing strategy. Get beta readers to post ARC reviews. Build buzz. Take the time to prep the launch with a base in place. Start a blog. Grab people's interest so you have a group to release your work to. Otherwise, you'll end up hitting that button and watching the sales graphs flatline. It's the worst motivation killer. Don't do it.
What has been the most rewarding moment of your writing journey?
Fans who tell me they fantasize about Quinn or have had a dream about him. Or when they say they wanted to strangle Monica, but still love and root for her. Creating someone who becomes real to someone else is really amazing. There's no other art form that lets you share an idea quite like books do.