Monday, April 30, 2012

My First Six Months as an Indie Author

Hi all,

In late November 2011 I made the decision to publish my books as ebooks to see what would happen. My first two books, WIDOW, VIRGIN,WHORE and OUTLAW HEROES, had already been published through a print-on-demand publisher but hadn't done much of anything. I had no control over the price of the books and where I could sell them. What I did have, however, were full rights to my books so I took the plunge and self-published on Amazon. Am I ever glad I did!

No Regrets

Before I decided to become an Indie Author full-time, I was earning money from blogging and freelance writing for websites – some that paid very well. Even though I had written three books already and had two already self-published, I was still of the mindset that I needed an agent and a publisher to buy my books so I could finally be a "writer". Then I ran into a blog by an Indie Author, (I will give her a plug here because she deserves it) Lindsay Buroker, that changed my idea about book publishing altogether. After researching the pros and cons of self-publishing ebooks, I decided it was now or never – I was finally going to pursue publishing novels full-time! Since that first day, I have had no regrets and have not looked back.

I knew it would take a long time to build up an audience of readers and I was okay with that. I hoped that once I'd published several books, I would eventually be selling a nice quantity each month, enough to make my dream of full-time novel writing a reality. I had no idea that after only six months (actually, less than) I'd be doing as well as I am – and I am so thrilled about that!

How I'm Doing after Almost Six Months

Of course, the first couple of months were slow with only a trickle of sales. I advertised, promoted and did everything I could for my books to be seen, and in December 2011, I sold roughly 15 books total. In January 2012 I also sold about 15 books. In February, my sales were even smaller, only selling 7 books total. Then, at the end of February, I published my third book, MEMORIES, and right away joined Amazon's KDP Select program and used three of my Free days.  Even though I only gave away about 2,000 free books, my sales did fairly well for March. For all three of my books combined in March, I sold almost 300 copies and had quite a few borrowed books as well – and since the rate was fairly high for borrowed books, it helped to increase my earnings quite a bit.

Now, I never expected to sell 300 copies of my books in such a short period of time, but having the Free giveaways on Amazon did help get my books noticed and resulted in sales. I didn't think things could get any better – but in April they did.

My April sales will be coming in at over 500 book sales and 85 borrows. Not bad for only a few months into the game. You will never know just how happy it makes me to see this increasing success after only a few short months.

The Best Part of Being an Indie Author

Selling books is wonderful – earning some money selling books is great – but for me, the most rewarding part has been hearing from readers that they enjoyed reading my books and that they were entertained – even touched – by my stories. Reader's reviews have been amazing and much more than I could ever have asked for.  I appreciate each and every person who buys my books and who takes the time to tell me how they feel about my stories.

When I was researching Indie Author's blogs to see if anyone was having success self-publishing, I enjoyed reading about their successes. That is what encouraged me to finally do it myself. Sure, there were the few (very few) who made millions after a short time. But it was the ones, like Lindsay Buroker, who slowly built up their readership and income that encouraged me the most. So, I hope that by sharing this information, I can help other beginning authors see that it is possible to begin a career as an Indie Author and build up a readership as well as earn some money. I can't wait to see what the next six months holds for me! 



Saturday, April 28, 2012

CHEMS & Train Station Bride - Indie Author Books I Enjoyed!

Hi all,

I love sharing the books I've read, especially when they are by indie authors who excel in writing. Recently, I read CHEMS - a short story by Ann Swann and Train Station Bride - a historical romance by Holly Bush. Here is more about the books and my reviews.

CHEMS by Ann Swann

I like paranormal books, especially ghost stories, but I usually don't read books about zombies. Considering this one was by Ann Swann (whose book, The Phantom Pilot, I enjoyed immensely) I gave it a try. I'm so happy I did - it was a great short story. I am looking forward to more books by Ann Swann - I love how she writes.  Here is more about it:

Book Description:

In this 7,200 word short story, Billy discovers a chemical zombie hiding in his dad's tool shed. Can he devise a way to keep the whole thing secret in order to help find, and destroy, a rogue CHEM named Z ?

My 5 Star Review:

There's a blue zombie in 14-year-old Billy's shed - or is there? The excitement begins when Billy finds out what or who is in his shed and why it is there.

CHEMS is a short, fun tale that is perfect for middle-grade age and up. It holds your attention from the very first page to the last and has a unique, interesting plot. Ann Swann knows how to tell a story and has a beautiful writing style. I recommend this short story to everyone as well as Ann's novel The Phantom Pilot - another beautifully written novel for all ages. 

Buy CHEMS on Amazon only $0.99 cents

Train Station Bride by Holly Bush

I loved Romancing Olive by Holly Bush so of course I didn't hesitate to pick up her latest novel, another historical romance. Ms. Bush didn't disappoint - it is another great story!

Book Description:

1887 Debutante, Julia Crawford endures a lifetime of subtle ridicule as the plump, silly daughter of a premiere Boston family. Julia strikes out on her own to gain independence, traveling to the Midwest to marry an aging shopkeeper and care for his mother. Julia finds her new home rough and uncivilized after the sophistication of a big city, while closely held secrets threaten to ruin Julia’s one chance at love.

Jake Shelling was sixteen and grew up quick when his parents died from influenza on the North Dakota prairie. Left with a half-cleared farm and two young sisters, he spent little time on his own needs . . till now. At thirty-five, he figured it was high time to have some sons and a mail order bride would suit him just fine. No expectations of love, just a helpmate from sturdy stock, ready for farm life.

My 5 Star Review:

Holly Bush knows how to spin a story. In 1887, Julia Crawford has little prospects for marriage and lives in the shadow of her attractive sisters and domineering mother. Told for years that she is not as pretty or thin as her sisters and having had an indiscretion which the family hid well, she felt she had no choice but to run away and marry a man she had been corresponding with. By mishap, she ends up marrying the wrong man - who actually ends up being the perfect match for her. But Julia has left a secret behind her and soon decides she must right a wrong from years before and do the honorable thing.

Train Station Bride is a beautiful tale of love, family and redemption. Ms. Bush does an excellent job of bringing the reader back to a time period now lost to us where decency, honor and truth prevail. Her characters are well-thought out and believable to the point that you feel like you know them personally. The settings are described with enough detail (but without boring, lengthy description) that you can easily picture the grand home in Boston or the charming farmhouse in South Dakota. I could smell the bread baking in the oven and hear the corn stalks rustling in the field. Train Station Bride is the perfect historical romance.

Buy Train Station Bride on Amazon only $2.99

I have just finished On Deadly Tides by Melanie Jackson and am currently reading The Black Witch by Michael Rivers. I'll do a post on these books next time.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

MEMORIES - Now Available in Paperback!

Memories eBook Cover by
Tugboat Design
Hi all,

I just wanted to let you all know that my romance novel MEMORIES is now available in paperback for only $8.99 on Amazon and CreateSpace. If you haven't had a chance to read this novel because you don't own a Kindle, or if you think a friend or family member would enjoy this novel, please let them know it is now available! Follow these links to buy a copy of MEMORIES in paperback:

Memories on Amazon

Memories on CreateSpace

A great gift for Mother's Day!

I hope this will give more people the opportunity to enjoy this novel.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Memories - Alle's 5 Star Reviews & Indie Author News

Hi all,

How lucky I was this week to not only get a wonderful 5 Star Review for my romance novel Memories but to also be featured on Indie Author News. Check out these links:

Alle's 5 Star Reviews - Memories

Memories on Indie Author News

I am thrilled that these two sites took the time to review/feature my novel. There are so many people out there who are willing to help indie authors succeed and I am so grateful to every one of them who have helped me.

Also be sure to check out my profile and books on Your Book Authors - another site that helps authors promote their books for FREE!



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two Indie Author Books I Enjoyed Reading

Hi all,

In 2011 I bought my first Kindle and since then a whole new world of writers have opened up to me in the form of Indie Authors! Since then, I have read many new authors and enjoyed their novels. I'd like to share three of them with you and the reviews I gave them.

The Secrets They Kept by Joanne Tombrakos

The Secrets They Kept is currently only $0.99 cents for a limited time on Amazon Kindle.

This was one of the first indie author books that I read and I was so impressed by it. I think most women who enjoy reading will enjoy this book.

Book Description:

Every family has its secrets. Elena Poulous knew that. As an attorney she witnessed such deception every day. But she never thought her Greek-American family was like everybody else’s, not until the Saturday morning, the police knock on the door of her New York City apartment and inform her of the death of Yannis Poulous, a man she had never heard of, a man who has listed her as his next of kin.

A box of old letters she unearths in his Brooklyn apartment help to unravel the mystery of who he is. But the biggest part of the puzzle - why everyone in her family, especially her mother Kristina refuses to talk about him - proves the most difficult to discover.

The Secrets They Kept is a multi-generational story, of cultural and religious influences, of secrets kept and discovered, all in the name of love and of family.

My 5 Star Review:

This is Joanne Tombrakos' first novel and she did an excellent job with it! I really enjoyed this family drama - the characters were well fleshed out and the storyline stayed consistant. In a book such as this, where there are flashbacks, it can become confusing if not written properly, but Tombrakos had no problem doing this. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good fiction family drama. 

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

The Darkening Dream is currently $4.99 on Amazon Kindle.

I have to admit that I bought this book because of the cover and that it is set in the 1913. I expected a book about witches because of Salem - but it is so much more. I really did enjoy this story.

Book Description:

The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

My 5 Star Review:

I swore I was through with the whole vampire fad in books but I was drawn to reading this book by both the amazing cover and the storyline. I was not disappointed. I liked that it was set in the early 1900s instead of being contemporary. The characters were well-written and likable, so you did care what happened to them. There was also the right amount of suspense and mystery to keep the story interesting. I do have to say, I didn't like the ending but it made me think there is a sequel in the works. This book is well worth the read and I look forward to more books by this author.

Currently I am reading ON DEADLY TIDES by Melanie Jackson and then I plan to read CHEMS by Ann Swann. I'll share my views of these books in my next Indie Author post.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

MEMORIES Hits Top 100 & WLC Promotion Day 4/13

Hi all,

This past Wednesday and Thursday my romance novel MEMORIES was FREE on Amazon and it hit #15 on the top 100 Free Kindle Book List as well as #4 in Contemporary Romance, #6 in Romance and #14 in all Fiction. Wow - what a wonderful two days! As of right now, over 14,000 copies of Memories has been downloaded and the promotion is still not over. I am so excited by the heights this ebook has reached during these FREE days and that so many new readers now have this book in their Kindles. I hope they all enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it.

A big Thank You to everyone who re-tweeted my Tweets, posted promotions for my free days, downloaded my book and supported me in any way. I appreciate the help each and every one of you gave. I have met so many wonderful people through my blog, Facebook, World Literary Cafe and especially Twitter, and everyone is so supportive. I try to give back to my fellow authors as much as they give and enjoy doing so. Without everyone's help, my book would not have reached the top 100.

WLC Promotion Day

Just wanted to let you all know that MEMORIES will be part of a one-day promotion through World Literary Cafe on Friday 4/13. (No, I do not believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day - in fact the number 13 follows me in a positive way in my life.) I hope you will visit WLC and tell your friends to visit MEMORIES on WLC. My book cover will be proudly displayed in the center of their homepage along with 5 other books. It's another way to be seen and hopefully gain more readers.

Thanks again for all your support.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Memories - FREE 4/11 - 4/12!

Cover by Tugboat Design
Hi all,

Just wanted to let you know that my romance ebook MEMORIES will be FREE on Amazon Wednesday, April 11th through Thursday, April 12th. These are the last of my Free days on Amazon for Memories unless I sign up again for KDP Select, so be sure to take advantage of this FREE offer.

I do want to thank everyone who has purchased MEMORIES over the past two months - I appreciate your support. I also appreciate all the nice reviews readers have left on Amazon and Goodreads. I know everyone is busy so it is especially nice when someone takes time out of their busy day to leave a review.

I am fast at work on my next book which I hope (cross fingers) to be finished and published by August at the latest. I would like to have it finished sooner, but I'm giving myself enough time so I can write the best story possible. This is a book that I started a few years ago but never finished, so at least I have a head start!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Author Advice I'm Glad I Didn't Take

Hi all,

Deciding to self-publish a novel isn't something writers take lightly. Writing a novel takes hundreds to thousands of hours creating, writing, rewriting, thinking about and rewriting some more. Months, even years of a writer's life are spent creating a novel that the writer hopes to someday publish and be read and enjoyed. For many new writers, they then spend months and years sending their work out to agents and publishers in the hope of getting that book deal – selling that first novel. If no book deal is made, many turn to self-publishing so all their hard work will finally be seen, read and hopefully appreciated. Although many new writers now skip the long, agonizing steps of trying to find an agent or publisher and go directly into self-publishing, I'm sure they also do not do so without thinking about it first. Even when you self-publish, you put yourself through a lot of work promoting your book. And for many self-published authors, it is worth the time and energy they put into it because there are many out there who are making a nice income off of their books.

But then I read something like this and I wonder how a published author can so casually make a statement like this when there are so many unknown authors out there who are trying so hard to get their work noticed.

In an interview for The Daily Beast, author Jodi Picoult is asked the following question and gives the following answer:

DB: What advice would you give to an aspiring author? 

JP: Take a workshop course. You need to learn to give and get criticism and to write on demand. And DO NOT SELF PUBLISH.

Jodi Picoult does not explain why she thinks writers shouldn't self-publish or why she would even make such a statement. Earlier in the interview, she admitted that she had been rejected by 100 agents before one finally took her on, so it wasn't like it had been easy for her to sell her first book. Whatever her reasoning may have been, I am just happy that I did not take this advice as I am sure many other self-published authors are also.

I have nothing against Jodi Picoult. In face, I have read nearly all of her books and enjoyed them very much. She is a talented writer and deserves to be where she is. But I'm not sure she is entirely aware of the self-publishing revolution that is taking place and how well so many self-published authors are doing. Everyone knows the names Amanda Hocking, John Locke and J.A. Konrath – self-published authors who have made a name for themselves. But there are also many who we don't hear about, like Lindsay Buroker who earned $5000 in March from sales of her ebooks. On her blog she mentions other authors in her genre who are doing even better than she is (check it out!). And I am sure there are many more in other genres who are doing quite well with their self-published books.

I know that I'm happy I turned to self-publishing instead of waiting for an agent or publisher to "discover" me. If I hadn't self-published my three books, they'd still be sitting in the bottom of my desk drawer collecting dust (or wasting away on a memory stick) instead of being read. Authors cannot be seen and noticed if their work is sitting somewhere unpublished. I do believe in the future we will be seeing many more self-published authors being courted by agents and publishers wanting to get a piece of their already proven sales track record. So if you are trying to decide whether or not you should self-publish your novel, ignore the naysayers and do what you think is best for you – you may be the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke!



Check out USA Today's Post fromDec. 2011 about self-published authors making it big!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Book Reviews: Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot, Romancing Olive & The Secret Staircase

Hi all,

(This post was modified on 4/10/13 to reflect the republishing of Ann Swann's novel.)

I love to read and I read a lot! Before I bought my Kindle, I read every big-name author I could find that I liked and once I had read my way through all their books, I was stuck waiting for a new one. Luckily, owning a Kindle allows me access to many new Indie Authors that I would not have otherwise known existed. I've had the opportunity to read so many great books by talented authors who maybe don't yet have a huge following, but definitely should. So, I'd like to share with you three of my favorite books so far from Indie Authors. As I read new authors, I plan on sharing their books with you in the future. Here we go...

Cover by Tugboat Design
Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot by Ann Swann

Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot is meant for a younger audience but I really do believe that anyone age 10 to 110 will love this book. It is a beautifully written story that keeps you interested from the first page to the last. Author Ann Swann is a talented writer and I look forward to reading more books by her. Here is a description of the book:

Book Description:

What do you do when a phantom needs your help?

A small plane crashes into Jase's backyard, and before long, he realizes the ghost of the pilot is haunting him. Jase needs help to rid himself of this supernatural visitor. When he sees his friend, Stevie, entering the town's legendary haunted house, he's certain she's the one who will have the answer to his problem. But will she help him? Would you?
My 5 Star Review:

Stevie and Jase are 12-year-old kids with a problem - a ghost is haunting Jase's house.

It's the late 1960s and Stevie (a girl) is trying to find her place in the world in a small town in Texas. Her best friend has moved away and she is in desperate need of a friend. Jason-Lee enters. He sees Stevie go inside a decrepit haunted house and decides she is the person who is best suited to help him with his problem - a ghost! He begins to tell her his story of the plane that crashed in his parent's field and the ghost-man who is now haunting him. The trouble is, he doesn't know why he is being haunted and he needs help finding out. Stevie and Jase begin an adventure that uncovers some town secrets that have long been buried.

I just loved this book! Even though it is meant for kids ages 10 and up - I think any adult who loves to read would enjoy this story, too. The author, Ann Swann, has a beautiful writing style that you can't help but be impressed with as well as the knack for telling a great story. You get such a wonderful feel for the time period and the characters are so real you can believe they live next door to you. I don't care if you are 10 or 110 - this book is well worth the read. I can't wait to read more from this talented author.

Romancing Olive by Holly Bush

If you like romance novels, you'll love Romancing Olive. Holly Bush creates memorable characters who you will fall in love with before they even know they are in love. It is a time-period story, so expect the story to have the flavor of this time period. Here is a description:

Book Description:

In 1891, spinster librarian, Olive Wilkins, is shocked to learn of her brother’s violent death at a saloon gaming table and her sister-in-law’s subsequent murder, traveling far from her staid life to rescue her niece and nephew, now orphans. She arrives to find the circumstances of her brother’s life deplorable and her long held beliefs of family and tradition, shaken.

Accustomed to the sophistication of Philadelphia, Olive arrives in Spencer, Ohio, a rough and tumble world she is not familiar with, facing two traumatized children. Her niece and nephew, Mary and John, have been living with a neighboring farmer, widower Jacob Butler, the father of three young children of his own and a man still in pain from the recent loss of his wife.

Real danger threatens Olive and Mary and John while Jacob and his own brood battle the day-to-day struggles for survival. Will Olive and Jacob find the strength to fight their battles alone or together? Will love conquer the bitterness of loss and broken dreams?

My 5 Star Review:

I absolutely enjoyed reading Romancing Olive. This book is the perfect women's fiction book. It contains the right blend of romance, drama and action which makes it difficult to put down. The characters are realistic and believable and the story is well-thought out. You find yourself falling in love with Olive, Jacob and the kids quite easily. Author Holly Bush did a wonderful job bringing the past alive and keeping each character in context to their time period. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Bush's work.

The Secret Staircase by Melanie Jackson

I love how Melanie Jackson writes! She has such a beautiful style that flows so smoothly that it makes reading a delight. And her stories are just fun to read! I enjoyed The Secret Staircase immensely and also enjoyed book two in the series, Twelfth Night. Here is a description of the book:

Book Description:

A strange inheritance leads Tess MacKay to an island in Maine. In her unknown relative's ancient house, she discovers that the sins of the past are very much alive and able to be visited on the children. Smugglers and pirates and an old curse are not just things of the past, but dangers and mysteries to be reckoned with today.

My 5 Star Review

I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Staircase by Melanie Jackson. Ms. Jackson has a beautiful writing style that makes you not only enjoy the story, but also appreciate the art of writing. Her characters are so well thought out that you feel like you know them personally and the story line is given to you in small doses until you can't wait to see what happens next. I just couldn't put this book down. The perfect blend of mystery, suspense and intrigue. I am now hooked on Ms. Jackson's books and cannot wait to read book 2 in the series.

I hope you will try one or more of these books and enjoy them as much as I did.