To celebrate the publication of my novella, Christmas with Mr Darcy, I’m hosting a special ‘Indie Month’ on my blog where bestselling authors will tell you about their latest book and share the secrets of their indie success.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome indie bestseller Anna Bell.
Tell us about your latest indie book
Universally Challenged is the story of a woman who finds that she has swapped places with herself in a parallel universe. While Jess suddenly finds herself single and in the shoes of a successful business woman, Jessica discovers that she’s married to the ‘one that got away’ ex-boyfriend Benjy. Both women get to find out just what life would have been like if they had or hadn’t married their college sweetheart Benjy.
It’s a romantic comedy that definitely makes you think about the choices you’ve made in life!
What made you decide to go indie?
It was actually a bit of an accident. In order to try and snare an agent, I recorded podcasts of a novel on iTunes, chapter by chapter as I wrote it. Once I’d finished the project, and with no agent in sight, I didn’t know what to do with it. After reading a favourable blogger’s review of my podcasts, it seemed a shame not to do anything with the novel. Having already been in the public domain for free, I didn’t think a traditional publisher would want it, so I decided to self-publish it.
Do you design your covers yourself and write your own blurb etc?
I originally designed a cover for my debut novel, Millie and the American Wedding. I was pleased with my attempt and I sent it to Kirsty the editor of the website Novelicious to cast her expert eye over it. She very politely told me that it should have a cover like other books in that genre and she designed a cover based on what she thought it should look like. I loved her cover design. It made me think of my novel as an actual book for the first time, as the cover design wouldn’t seem out of place on a bookshop shelf alongside other chick lit novels.
I do write the blurb for my own novels, but I do run it by a lot of test readers first. What goes on the Amazon page is usually very different to the draft I started with.
What are the pros and cons of going indie?
It’s only after I’d become an indie author and I started mixing with other authors that I realised the huge pros of going indie. Going indie means you have control over what you write, when you write it, what it’s called etc. It’s great to know that, when you have a book that is doing well in the charts, that it is all down to you.
But that is also the biggest con about going indie: it is all down to you. There’s no editor barking at you to get your novel finished or fixed publishing deadlines, which means you have to be extremely disciplined with yourself. You also have to really trust your gut instinct when deciding what to write and you don’t have anyone to hold your hand to guide you through the process.
How do you publicise your books?
If I’m honest, I think Amazon does the most to publicise my books. It helps to have a boost on launch day to propel you into the Amazon charts and from there it is just a matter of hoping readers buy your books. A lot of it comes down to the magic ‘people who bought this also bought that’.
I do try where possible to help build my author platform where I can by doing interviews, guest blogs and my weekly column on the website Novelicious.
Do you think Twitter and Facebook really help in getting word out there?
I do tweet, but I find that more of my tweets are written about what’s on TV or what I’m reading, rather than about my books. Unless you’re a superstar and you get thousands of new followers a day, then I can’t see the point of tweeting endlessly about your own books.
The benefit with Twitter for me is that I can interact with my readers. I love that I have conversations about my books with readers that I’d never usually come into contact with.
Do you read any indie authors yourself?
I review books for the Chicklit Club which means I am usually inundated with free paperback books from the big publishers, so I very rarely choose the books I read. That said, I do read the books of some indie authors that I’ve had a lot of contact with on Twitter. If you hadn’t already guessed I’m a sucker for chick lit, so books by indie authors Talli Roland, Kirsty Greenwood and Poppy Dolan are right up my street.
Would you accept a traditional publishing deal now?
If you’d asked me six months ago, I’d have said absolutely, but now I’m not so sure. Now that I’ve learnt how to format books for e-publishing and found an amazing freelance editor, I’m quite happy indie publishing.
Going indie has changed my life. The success of my books, and the high percentage of royalties that go along with it, have allowed me to give up my career as a museum curator and become a full time writer.
What advice would you give to writers thinking of going indie?
Take it seriously. I expected to sell one hundred copies of my first novel and I rushed it out too quickly. I didn’t have my novel professionally edited and of course it was reflected in the reviews. I have since got it edited, and luckily the majority of my sales have come since I did, but I still have a few bad reviews linked to my book that mention the editing.
There are indie authors, like me, that are very vocal about the mistakes that they’ve made. There are also really good sites that share their knowledge and tips about self publishing. Make sure you do your homework before you go anywhere near Amazon.
Thanks so much for sharing your indie journey with us, Anna.