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 bestselling author Freda Lightfoot.
Tell us about your latest indie book
My latest Indie title is Daisy’s Secret which is a dual time zone story. Laura is having problems with her marriage, so when she is left a house in the Lake District by her grandmother, she starts to look at her life anew. While trying to decide her own future, she begins to investigate the cause of the feud between her father and his mother. What was Daisy’s Secret?
The book is selling thousands a month and has been in the top 100 of Historical Romances in Kindle Store for weeks, reaching number 1, and is still currently number 2.
What made you decide to go indie?
Back in 2010, a writer friend, Linda Acaster, told me she’d put up her old Mills & Boon titles as ebooks. I had the rights back of the five historical romances I did for M & B around the same time as Linda, so thought, hey, why not? It took me a while in those early pioneering days to work out how to do it, as there was little information around but, once I’d succeeded, I was hooked. I then set about getting the rights reverted to my saga backlist which were largely out of print. They started slowly but have built to a good income, earning me more in a month than I earn in a year from my current print books.
Do you design your covers yourself and write your own blurb etc?
I have designed most of the covers myself, which I enjoy as it makes a nice change from writing. The only exception are the 6 covers for the Champion Street Market Series which were done for me by Samantha Groom, using a model she hired for the purpose. She was very helpful and her charges were reasonable. I’d certainly use her again if I was pressed for time. And yes, I write the blurbs too. I hate it when too much of the story is given away in the blurb, so I’m a bit picky.
What are the pros and cons of going indie?
So far I’m finding more pros than cons. I enjoy the freedom of editing and publishing the work myself, and, as I say, doing the covers. I also like having control over the price, which is so important with ebooks. They need to be reasonably cheap as the reader doesn’t own it, but is really only buying a license to read it.
The con is quality control. So far, I’ve only published my back list, which had already been professionally copy-edited, so any alterations I do are minor. Were I to put up a totally new title, I would use an editor to check it first. You cease to see your own mistakes and typos. A good copy-editor checks the timing of your novel, facts and anachronisms, and the logic of it in every detail, which is essential.
How do you publicize your books?
I always say that I do very little promotion, a bit of tweeting, and I’m on Facebook, and several writers’ loops. But I also regularly update my website, keep a blog and post to a few others, so all of that counts, I suppose. I still do a few actual events: library and other talks, for instance, although not as many as I used to do in the past. 25 years in the business must count for something, and over the years I’ve tried all manner of stuff, but find it quite impossible to judge which bit works best. I believe the best promotion is writing and publishing the next book.
Do you think Twitter and Facebook really help in getting word out there?
I’ve honestly no idea. Sometimes I feel it’s just a gossip shop for writers, but then a reader will contact me via FB, or Twitter, and I realise it’s much more than that. I tried Tweetreach and was astonished by how many thousands of accounts my tweets reached. Scary stuff, so I’m careful what I put out there.
Do you read any indie authors yourself?
I had to check this in order to answer your question and found that I do actually, quite often. But then, like most people, I buy a book that interests me, so long as the price is right, and I really don’t trouble about who published it. That’s another point in favour of going Indie.
Would you accept a traditional publishing deal now?
I am still published by traditional print publishers. My latest saga is My Lady Deceiver, published by Allison & Busby. My latest historical: The Duchess of Drury Lane, published by Severn House, comes out next month. How long this will continue is anyone’s guess. Print sales are dropping, and I’m beginning to question giving away e-rights in perpetuity for very little in return for the physical book. I’d much prefer to grant a limited license. But I’m not yet ready to give up on print entirely.
What advice would you give to writers thinking of going indie?
Same old, same old – write the best book you can and revise and polish it until it shines. George Bernard Shaw described this as spending all morning putting in a comma, and all afternoon taking it out. But if you are going to self-publish then have the book properly copy-edited. If you can’t afford to have this done professionally, I’d recommend banding with writer friends, not necessarily those who write in the same genre so they are not tempted to be too competitive, and check out each other’s work. A fresh eye can spot problems that the author who is up close and personal, can miss.
Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational indie journey, Freda.