Sunshiny Day

PhotobucketI truly believe that this is a great time to be a writer.  There’s so much concern, it seems to me, about the state of publishing–bookstores closing or stocking fewer and fewer books, publishing houses not accepting new submissions, or not supporting the authors they’ve already signed, or offering far lower advances than they once were.  And not that those are not absolutely valid concerns.  But I still say–this is a great time to be a writer.

The e-book revolution has opened up so many doors to us authors that would have been nailed shut before.  I also hear a lot of both written and spoken opinions that self (or indie) publishing is somehow ‘too easy’, that the book world is going to be buried under a deluge of dreadful books that the quality control of the major publishers would once have kept from ever seeing the light of day.  I hear those arguments, but I’m honestly just not buying it.  Yes, it is now ‘easy’ to get your book up there for sale on Amazon.  You do not HAVE to rewrite it until you know it forwards and backwards, edit it, polish it, and format it until it shines.  If you are crazy enough to try it, you theoretically can throw up a lousy first draft of a sloppy book.  But–here’s the thing–it is almost certainly not going to get you anywhere except a possible handful of sales and a lot of bad reviews.

I truly don’t think that indie publishing is any easier than going the traditional route.  Writing a good book is HARD, it has always been hard and it always will be.  The authors who succeed–the authors who are even now succeeding–are the ones who are passionate and driven enough to make their stories the very best they can be.  They are the ones who hire an independent editor, who workshop their book with critique partners and friends, who do their absolute best to ensure that they are bringing a book that they are truly proud of into the world.

And even then, once their books are out in the world–publicizing, spreading the word about your story is by no means easy.  We’ve all been talked to about social media and platform and finding your book’s market–and there is no question, it all takes a huge commitment of time and hard work.

So, I hear you say, why is this such a great time to be a writer? 

Because we have choices!  Traditional or indie, either route is going to have its own challenges, its own highs and lows.  But if you’ve been shopping a book all around New York and it’s just not selling?  You don’t have to give up on the story.  As several other guest posters here at WU have written, indie publishing offers you a way to bring that story to the world.

Last year, I published Georgiana Darcy’s Diary (I actually didn’t even try to find a publisher for this one, I wrote it because I had completed by traditional publishing contract ahead of schedule and wanted to see what this indie publishing thing was all about) and I have been THRILLED with the experience.  So much so that I have just in the last month released the sequel, Pemberley to Waterloo.  The two books combined are earning me a nice, steady income (not millions of millions, but more per year than I would get as a publishers advance).  And–which truly is just as exciting to me–I get more fan mail about Georgiana’s diary alone than I get about my first three traditionally published books combined.

And then there are the books that would once have been considered failures.  I spent seven years as an unpublished, aspiring author–which means I have a looooong backlist of books that I wrote (and even had agents for some) but that never found a publisher.  One series of cozy historical mysteries in particular I really loved.  So in the last few months, I dug out the manuscripts, dusted them off, edited and polished . . . and now the first of them, Susanna and the Spy, is up there on Amazon.  It’s selling steadily!  It’s getting 5 star reviews!  This is a book that five years ago I would have sworn would never, ever see the light of day–how freakin’ cool is that?

This post is starting to sound like I’m bragging, but that’s truly not my intent.  I just want to give other authors–whether you’ve been traditionally published before or not–hope.  If this can happen to me, it can happen to you, too, it truly can!  I’m delighted with my success so far, and yet compared to many indie authors just drawn from my own personal acquaintance, my success is absolutely small potatoes.

At any rate, remember a few months ago when I posted about how my newest book had been turned down all over town?  The book that my agent was absolutely certain would sell–and for ‘significant amounts of money’ at that?  Well, it never did sell.  Actually, my agent and I pulled it out of the submissions pile from the final two editors because it had sat there so long and we just didn’t think that any offers were going to be worth our time.  But I am now so, so excited to announce that it is now out in the world!  See the gorgeous (Mr. Husband-designed) cover, and here is the description:

Her boss is a fairy, her ex-lover is a Knight Templar, and she spends her days fighting the demons that plague London’s streets. But what’s *really* complicating Aisling McKay’s life is being a single mother to a nine-month-old baby girl.

Ever since the End Times, magic has been leaking into our world. Magic and demons, shadowy beings that possess humans’ bodies and destroy their souls. The Monastic Order of the Knights Templar have revealed themselves to the world as guardians and defenders of the veil between the demon world and ours. But the Templar Order is growing weaker, and the veil is starting to shred and tear. Often all that stands between humans and complete demonic possession are professional demon fighters, Hunters like Aisling McKay.

Aisling already has enough to handle between her day job, her (very unplanned) baby daughter, Willow–and avoiding Kieran, Willow’s father and a Templar Knight. But now a new danger is abroad in London–and facing it will set Aisling on a collision course with the past she thought she’d escaped for good.

And for today and tomorrow, you can download both Demon Hunter and Baby and Georgiana Darcy’s Diary for free on Amazon!

I had meant to include some of my tips and marketing strategies, but this post is getting so long that I’m likely already testing people’s patience.  So, next month–tips and strategies for boosting sales, and I will even talk to some other authors, because I am by no means an expert!  But for now, for every aspiring author out there: believe in yourself and your stories, and don’t lose heart.  Strive to make your books the absolute best they can be, and I truly believe that in the words of Jimmy Cliff, It’s gonna be a bright bright bright bright sunshiny day.

Photo courtesy Flickr’s A writer afoot

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About Anna Elliott

Anna Elliott is an author of historical fiction and fantasy. Her first series, the Twilight of Avalon trilogy, is a retelling of the Trystan and Isolde legend. She wrote her second series, the Pride and Prejudice Chronicles, chiefly to satisfy her own curiosity about what might have happened to Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and all the other wonderful cast of characters after the official end of Jane Austen's classic work. She enjoys stories about strong women, and loves exploring the multitude of ways women can find their unique strengths. Anna lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and three children.

Comments

  1. says

    This is a fabulous post — and so encouraging! I too have manuscripts that have never seen the light of day, and I’m now considering self publishing. And although for my currrent WIP (in edits) I will try only for traditional publishing — another of my WIPs, a mystery series I won’t do anything BUT self publish. I completely agree, it’s an exciting time!

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  2. says

    Anna, thanks for an inspiring post! Your successes are confirming everything I said yesterday about our current options as writers.

    I like what you’ve said about self publishing being “too easy”. Making a success of it is not necessarily easier or more difficult than with traditional publishing, just different. I was going to say that good writing is the common factor in both, but since critics often find fault with bestselling authors’ writing style, I will amend that to good storytelling.

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    • says

      Thanks so much, Elena! I was so inspired by your post yesterday. We could open quite the can of worms with the good writing/good storytelling debate! ;-) But I’ll just say that I fully agree. :)

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  3. says

    THANK YOU, ANNA! This is just the sort of post I need to print out and keep under my pillow for it’s absolute power of encouragement! How very very exciting to consider that with dedication, passion, and hard work, we really do have the ability to push through the roadblocks into that place of Dreams Fulfilled.

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    • says

      Barbara, I am so glad if my post helps–that’s what WU is all about for me, paying it forward when I have good luck in this crazy business! :)

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  4. says

    Anna, congratulations!! Thank you for such a wonderful post and for sharing your journey and insight. I’m in the process of finding an agent with the hope of going the traditional route. Stories like this give me hope. They make me realize that all my hard work won’t be for nothing. If my book doesn’t find a home in traditional publishing, it can still find readers. Good luck! I will be downloading your books now and spreading the word. :)

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  5. says

    Dear Anna,

    Your column didn’t come across to me as bragging; I found it encouraging. Congratulations on your success and may it increase.

    Steve

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  6. says

    That was cheering.
    It’s good to hear a positive voice amid the Bedlam of people shouting the odds on social media, and the fact that there are a lot of people who would drag down anyone who got “above themselves” in admitting this new world of publishing is actually very exciting indeed.
    Thanks for that; and no, you didn’t come across as boasting. I see a lot of that around so I know the animal well.
    Good luck with all of it.

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    • says

      You share a name with my daughter! :) And I’m glad to hear that I don’t come across as boasting, I never want to sound like I’m just blowing my own horn! I really do just want to encourage others in the face of so much doubt about the future.

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  7. says

    Congrats! The people who say writing a good book is easy these days are the same ones who used to say, “Oh, if I had more free time I would write a book.” Cue smile and nod response.

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  8. says

    Much applause! For your positive, cooperative attitude about digital publishing — which I totally agree with and have been trying to spread for like TWO YEARS — and for the success that you’re finding. It IS a sunshiny day! Thanks for sharing the light. :)

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  9. says

    What a wonderfully, encouraging message, Anna! It’s great to see authors spanning both traditional and self-publishing routes and discussing the realistic highs and lows of both. There will always be an audience for well-written books and now those stories that may never have had a chance a decade or less ago are getting out there and being discovered. A few years ago prospects seemed so bleak for new writers. Interesting how drastically things can change in a very short time.

    Best wishes on your writing journey as it continues, Anna! Hope to hear more about it in the future.

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    • says

      Gemini, you are one of those authors whose amazing (and very well-deserved) success I was thinking of when I wrote this post. I so fully agree–write good books, and they WILL find an audience.

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  10. Vaughn Roycroft says

    Anna, you’ve had such a sunny disposition through this entire revolution in the pub world, and I really appreciate your on-going openness and encouragement. You are awesome! Loving the hubby-designed cover (he’s an amazing ally of yours in this, I know). I love this post, and wish you all the best with all of your endeavors. Can’t wait for the marketing tips next time!

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    • says

      Thank you so much, Vaughn! I do have my moments of doubt, the days when the rejections roll in and I consider throwing myself a pity-party. :) But at the end of the day, I am so very lucky to be writing at this exciting time in publishing. I’ll talk about it more in next month’s post, but my dad was a published author when I was little, and then was essentially driven out of the job when his editor left, his imprint folded . . . all a common story, then or now. But he didn’t have the indie option back then!

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  11. says

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Very hopeful. I just did a blog post on “Career Choices in Publishing” where I talked about why, after 12 traditionally published children’s books, I’m turning to indie publishing for my adult romantic suspense novels. I agree, choices make it a great time to be a writer! (I also agree, no path is easy.)

    http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/2012/01/career-choices-in-publishing.html

    I’m going to check out your novels right now.

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  12. says

    Anna, it seems digital publishing it working great for you and that is fantastic! A question though, what are your opinions about E-zines as a form of publishing? Various E-readers are fantastic for book length works, but what about the poetry and short story markets?

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    • says

      David, I am embarrassed to say that I know next to nothing about E-zines! It sounds like it could be a good option. I also know other authors have had success publishing collections of their short stories or poetry.

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  13. says

    Fabulous post Anna and I look forward to downloading both of your books!!

    Even though I have my concerns about bookstores closing their doors I too am excited to be writing in this wide-open time of choice and revival of reading.

    We’re like cowgirls in the Wild Wild West, Annie Get Your Gun and I just ran out of bad western metaphors but after reading your post I KNOW you agree ;)

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    • says

      Johanna, I LOVE your cowgirl metaphor! I am sitting on my fingers trying too keep from typing ‘yee-haw!’ –whoops, actually I guess I just did, didn’t I? ;-)

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  14. says

    What an energetic and positive post!

    You know, my small press publisher looks better and better every day — not that I didn’t love and appreciate them before, but even more so now.

    Yes, very exciting times!

    And good luck on your books – here’s to much success!

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    • says

      Kathryn, that’s wonderful that you’ve found a press that you’re so happy with. Finding the right home for your book is like entering into a marriage–you know when you’ve found the right one for you!

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  15. says

    Nice to hear an e-pub success story. Hopefully you’ll soon enough for a traditional publisher, too, to extend your audience to those who don’t read on Kindles.

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    • says

      Thank you so much, Donald! I should say that I truly loved the experience of working with my wonderful editor on my traditionally published books. And initially I really, really wanted that experience again with Demon Hunter and Baby–in many ways, I still would. But when 6 months has gone by and you’ve been rejected all over town–and you have rent to pay and two tiny kids to feed? Well, I’m really grateful to have the option of still being able to earn a living and find readers for my books.

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  16. says

    Great post, Anna!

    I was reading somewhere the other day about how writers are one of the few professions (or the only profession) that other people look down upon for going indie: musicians, painters, cabinet-makers, physicians, Bill Gates–they hang out their shingle and everyone applauds. So, congratulations to you!

    And by the way, I LOVED Demon Hunter and Baby :) Such a fun book …

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  17. says

    Great post. I agree with many of your points about options now being available. The dead end of rejections letters that future writers would’ve faced is now just a fork in the road.

    I also don’t believe the image of publishing company editors as all-knowing. MOST of them will tell you about a book that they passed on that went on to gain success.

    All this is just fuel for writers who have a passion that would otherwise have faded. I say bring it on. :)

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  18. says

    I absolutely agree, Alex! The editors I’ve dealt with have been absolutely lovely, intelligent people–but they are human, and as such of course not infallible. And there are so many other pressures on editors from the business side of publishing houses–they may love a book, yet not be allowed to buy it because their house can’t afford to take a chance. Indie publishing gives those books a chance to get out in the world after all, which is only a good thing, I think. Bring it on, indeed!

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  19. says

    It’s great so see someone so optimistic about the future! I still plan to pursue traditional publication, but it is nice to have other options available should I choose to pursue them. In any case, like you said, it takes a lot of work, both in writing the novel and publicizing it, to make anything succeed. I wonder if after this initial peak of self-publication, the numbers will taper off a bit as more people realize how much work is still involved.

    I love anything P&P and have been wanting to read your book, so thanks!

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  20. says

    Very encouraging post Anna – thanks! And thanks for saying that indie publishing is not the “easy” route. I haven’t published either way yet, but I do know that indie authors work HARD HARD HARD!

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    • says

      Didn’t Thomas Edison have a quote about success being 90% hard work? It’s true whether you’re indie or traditionally published, I really believe.

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  21. says

    That was a lovely pep-talk! I really like how it boils down to different options to gain a readership. Nothing is guaranteed, but instead of being held to a route that leaves little control to getting a book out there before an audience, a writer can decide to take the lead and do their best for the work they believe in. Thanks for that great message!

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    • says

      I really think it is getting easier to help your book find it’s best audience. Just for example on Amazon being able to choose which categories you book should be placed in–that’s a huge advantage and asset in helping readers to find you.

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  22. says

    Thanks for a post whose excitement bleeds through the computer monitor! *-) I think it’s an exciting time to be a writer. As of this moment, I am neither traditionally or self-published, but the indie route is most appealing to me b/c it’ll give me a better chance to find my niche than I would ever had in the trad realm.

    Thanks for your enthusiasm. I want to try to pay it forward! 8-)

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  23. says

    It seems to me that many genre writers are taking advantage of self-publishing, or the many opportunities to circumvent traditional publishing, but what about literary fiction? I’m not so certain it’s an across-the-board thing, and that we’ll see more and more genre books being self-published and promoted, but still see literary fiction going through the big or even indie presses. Thoughts?

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    • says

      It is an interesting question, Jessica. I think you may well be right–there are some genres that are best suited to a traditionally published approach, and others that are a perfect match for the indie route.

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  24. says

    I have had a crazy-busy day, but this is a great post.

    Also, I just want to say that I am awriterafoot and that’s my photo, and it’s weirdly thrilling to see one of my photos on a post. Seriously.

    Another form of artistic expression, I suppose, offered to the world in a digital format.

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    • says

      Thank you, Barbara!! And (although Kath is the one who chose it) that is a GORGEOUS photo, thank you so much for posting it online so that I get to have it at the head of my post!

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  25. Robin Yaklin says

    Never mind that it was a long post, I would have read on. Most posts, to me, feed insecurity. These details I can understand. This logical approach settles the little shaky rabbit inside. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

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  26. Carolyn says

    Thank you for such encouraging words. I hope you have much success with your indie, and traditional, publishing. I’m a newbie but oldie – i.e. unpublished, don’t have an e-reader except a computer, am an unemployed, so calling it retired, baby boomer who is trying to finish that ms. that’s been in my mind and computer for a long time. My question – it seems from my very cursory look at e-publishing that the big winners seem to be in the paranormal field, especially YA. Are other genres that appeal more to traditional aging boomers and written by unknown authors selling in this format? Do you have any idea?

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    • says

      Hi Carolyn! Paranormal YA is always a hot genre, but authors are absolutely having great success in other genres as well. I personally have 2 writer friends, both formerly unknown (ie never been traditionally published) who write historical fiction, one about Scotland, one about Medieval Wales. They are earning $30,000-$50,000 per year with their books! So finish that ms of yours and get it up there! :) Best of luck to you!

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  27. Todd Hudson says

    Just read this, thanks so much! Hope (from a published author who can be straightforward with their experience) is such a treasure.

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