Monday, March 14, 2011

Terry Spear and 10 Reasons to Indie Publish Your Work

Terry Spear is here today to talk to us about her new venture into Indie Publishing. She's the award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense, Heart of the Wolf named in Publishers Weekly's BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, NOR Reader Choice for BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

She currently has written ten books of the werewolf series based on real wolves, six out now with more to come, a vampire romance, two Highland medieval romances and a western time-travel ghostly romance coming in December.

She also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University and a Bachelors in Business and Distinguished Military Graduate of West Texas A & M. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, to include personalized bears designed to commemorate authors’ books. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses.

Let's give her a warm welcome. Feel free to ask questions!

10 Reasons I Indie Published and the Pitfalls

by Terry Spear

I never would have thought that I, who had always hoped to be NY published, would self-publish! So what finally got me started?

I was giving away stories for free that I’d pre-published with now defunct e-publishers to my newsletter members that total over 500. But then some of my readers asked if they could buy the books somewhere, anywhere. More have been asking me to write faster. Don’t I have anything else coming out sooner? And I have a whole number of completed stories that don’t fit the branding mold I’ve made for myself. I’m an eclectic reader and writer. I can’t help myself! :)

So I’d planned to do this—mainly to:

1. Fill the gap between book releases.

2. Offer short reads for a cheap price—99 cent reads for novellas, $2.99 for full length novels, as a way to maybe catch new readers who then might be interested in my other books that are already out.

3. Catch the wave, so to speak, as I hear others are making a mild or wild success of it.

4. Offer works that NY publishers won’t take a chance on.

5. Offer works that might not be in the niche I’m writing in—something new and different and fun.

6. Share with readers stories that I’ve never even submitted to the world, and hope they love.

7. Feed my own addiction of loving to write. (2 or 3 releases a year isn’t enough—I’m way ahead on deadlines—though I just sold 3 more wolf books and 3 jaguar shifter books to Sourcebooks and need to begin on the first jaguar book pronto, I’m finishing up the end of the 10th book, The Highland Wolf in Paradise, and just received editorial revisions on Dreaming of the Wolf, coming in December, due April 1)

8. Garner name recognition.

9. Learn how to do something new (still learning how to make book covers, which is too much fun—and when I have time, I’ll play around with some more video book trailers)

10. Enjoy doing it!

Writing should be fun, first and foremost. I don’t do this for the money. *sigh* I mean, if I could be like some of the big time authors, sure, I’d do it for the money! But I certainly don’t make enough to give up my day job. So it’s a way to spread my wings and offer something new and different at a reasonable price. Who knows?

Maybe sales will be so good that I will eventually get picked up by the big time. Or not.

Mainly, I want to have fun and do what I’ve always enjoyed doing—creating stories to share with the world.

The problems with self-publishing?

1. You have to edit or get someone to edit your books.

2. You have to make up covers or have someone design them for you.

3. Readers might hate your new works.

4. You have to promote them if you’re going to sell.

5. A lot of reviewers don’t want to waste their time on reviewing self-published works.

6. Many still look down on anything self published.

7. The stories might sit there and never sell.

8. An agent or editor might be wary of writers who self publish.

On the other hand, what have you got to lose?

Some authors have actually sold enough to garner agent or NY publishing contracts their sales are so high.

If you think that being published with the big boys doesn’t mean you have to promote your own works, it’s just not so.

Readers can hate your work whether it’s self published or not!

There are still a lot of reviewers out there who are willing to read your books, you just need to find them. Look at reviewers’ blogs and you’ll find even more. All it takes is a query, and a yes or no will suffice.

GIMP2 is a free way to work on photos, and I used it to make my covers. And recently, I bought some covers from Dara England, who offered some on clearance, but her others are just beautiful too at a reasonable price and later, if I sell enough, I’ll buy a couple of those. And Jimmy Thomas has sales of his photos that are great for use in book trailers and on the website or as book covers. He’s featured on my release, The Accidental Highland Hero, with Vintage Romance Publishing, and I have him on two of my indie published works—Forbidden Love and The Siren’s Lure.

As to editing, sometimes just have a couple of critique partners will help considerably. My critique group is the Rebel Romance Writers, and that’s what we are. Rebels who love to write romance.

I don’t expect to make sales of 6-7,000 books a month in about 3-4 months like some authors have done. But in two weeks, I’ve sold 175 books, and only one has been out for the whole two weeks. Two, I uploaded a day ago. Two, only a week ago. And I’ve already way exceeded my book sales for two of the titles that were previously sold through ebooks now out of business. The prices are low on the books as compared to the ebook industry standard, which as I received a B & N flyer yesterday, are getting ever higher--$11.99!!! So though $ sales are slow to accrue with low prices, it’s still a LOT better than what I did previously with some ebook publishers.

Why? Nooks and Kindles and other ebook readers are taking over the world. :) A few years back, there weren’t that many ereader readers. And now, everyone and their grandmothers are getting one. (I’m a hold out and still love reading a paperback!!!)

Still self publishing isn’t for everyone.

I’ve been asked if since I’m already a known author (it’s all relative—compared to many authors, no one knows me at all, but in the scheme of things, compared to unpublished authors, I’m much more better known)—if that is why I’m selling.

To an extent, yes. Some fans are eager to read my books in between new releases. I am getting a lot of new interest too. I already have a networking basis out there—member of twitter, facebook, myspace, Redroom for authors, blogs with other authors (Fierce Romance, Shapeshifter Romance, From the Heart, Casablanca, and others), and my own blog. I have a website, a newsletter that has surpassed 500 members and I will continue to give free reads. I guest blog, do interviews, and try to help other writers establish themselves. I go to conferences when I can, have offered quotes and reviews on some works and am on Goodreads where I share my love of reading. I’m on Linked In, and I’m sure other places I can’t even remember! I also teach online writing.

But in the end—the stories must be well loved. Because word of mouth and your fans will be the ones who help any author succeed.

I’m thrilled that I finally took the step to publish some of my works independently. And I’m excited about learning how to make better covers too! It’s like chocolate frosting on the cake.

But I also love my publishers, and I’ll continue to write for them as well. To me, this is an extra way to get some of my works out there. For some authors though, they’re becoming so successful, this is the ONLY way to write, or it’s a way for them to have finally garnered NY’s interest.

Thanks so much to Karen for having me on her blog today!

If anyone has questions about my books, or what I’ve learned about self publishing (which, granted, is all of two weeks’ experience), feel free to ask me!

Some places I can be found:

Terry, thank you so much for sharing your journey with Indie Publishing with us. You're a wonderful storyteller from your Highland Heroes to your wolves and vampires--I've loved them all. I am thrilled you'll have more titles available to read.

Here's a list of Terry's Indie Published Books:

Forbidden Love
Ebook Price: $2.99 USD. 88150 words. Fiction by Terry Spear on March 10, 2011
Huntress Alena MacLeod is given a mission: work undercover to discover a rogue vampire’s secretive work, then terminate him. Ephraim MacNeill, aka Sutton Bastrop, knows Alena is his Elizabeth MacLeod from an earlier time, and he’s determined to return to the past and right all the wrongs to end the curse placed on the love of his life before it’s too late—again.

The Trouble with Demons
Ebook Price: $2.99 USD. 65350 words. Fiction by Terry Spear on March 10, 2011
Witches and warlocks hide their true identities from the rest of the human population, while three teens with demon heritage living with human families, become unlikely companions in a race against time to deal with a demon threat to humankind in their own quirky way.

Vampiric Calling
Ebook Price: $0.99 USD. 10230 words. Fiction by Terry Spear on March 5, 2011
A vampire targets a huntress for his own, and she's torn between wanting him and knowing she should terminate him. But in the dark of night, who will win the battle?

The Siren's Lure
Ebook Price: $0.99 USD. 18590 words. Fiction by Terry Spear on February 25, 2011
A vampire wishes upon a falling star and ends up with more than he bargained for. When he attempts to rescue a woman in distress, he soon learns she's not quite human and not a huntress--or at least like any he's ever known. That's when the seduction begins--but who is seducing whom?

Goddess in Training
Ebook Price: $0.99 USD. 9080 words. Fiction by Terry Spear on February 19, 2011
In a game of the gods, librarian Lisandra, who has never been loved, is chosen to be the goddess of fertility.

Seducing the Huntress
Ebook Price: $0.99 USD. 18010 words. Fiction by Terry Spear on February 12, 2011
When the vampire takes on a dare to seduce the huntress, little does he know he’s on her terminal list already!Set in an island paradise, neither the huntress nor her prey really knows who the real rogue is and who is being made to take the fall, but will she succumb to the ancient vampire’s will before it is too late?


India Drummond said... Best Blogger Tips

I've come to the same conclusions about self-publishing. I never thought I'd do it, but this year I'm planning to release one book from an epublisher, and then two indie books. I found there wasn't anything my publisher was doing that I couldn't do faster... and sometimes better. Plus I'm now in control of my career. That's the biggest plus of all.

Joanna Aislinn said... Best Blogger Tips

Great post, Terry and Karen--thanks so much! I'm pretty psyched about attempting this route myself--it just makes so much sense, and it's all hard work anyway. Why NOT be in control of it?

Joanna Aislinn
Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
The Wild Rose Press

Margaret Tanner said... Best Blogger Tips

Great interview Terry. You are so prolific, especially as you have a day job as well. You absolutely amaze me. Best of luck with all your ventures.



Jacqueline Seewald said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Terry and Karen,

First, I do enjoy your Sourcebooks novels, Terry. A lot of excellent writers have now joined the ebook revolution. I only have one e-book out so far, STACY'S SONG, a YA romance by a L&L Dreamspell publishers. So I haven't self-published as yet. But I really see the benefits if you are tech savvy.

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks so much for having me today, Karen!! I enjoyed sharing what I've learned--and I just added my first YA, The Trouble with Demons, and my first novel length vampire story, Forbidden Love--lots more to come!

Hi, India!!! You have nothing to lose, is the way I figure it!!! And it's fun to do!

I so agree, Joanna!!! Go for it!

Thanks so much, Margaret. I have a huge cache of stories I just need to revise and update, and upload. I was writing at least 3 full length novels before I began working full time, so now it's time to offer them to the world. :) But of course I have to revise them extensively, format them, and make a cover. And right now I'm on a quickie deadline to get Dreaming of the Wolf turned back in by Apr 1...but the book was accepted and my editor loved it!!! So I'm thrilled.

Jacqueline, thanks so much!!! I won't give up my publishers. I love them. But I'm having a ball doing my own thing too!!! Good luck on your YA and many more!!! :) Thanks again!

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm off to work in just a little bit, so I'll check in later. Who made us spring forward today? Yikes, half my morning was cut in two. LOL :)

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Terry so much for coming by and sharing everything you learned about self publishing. I enjoy all your books and love the idea you'll have them out there faster. lol

I'll have let my daughter know you have a new young adult book out in e-book form.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

For anyone who is interested,

If you are not quite ready to venture into self publishing all alone, there is a Indie Publisher who will walk you through the steps. The publishing there is where the publisher and you collaborate closely to bring the readers the best read possible, while allowing the author more creative and administrative control of the work.

You can create your own book, cover, but she also has someone who will help you with that. She does all formatting and loads the book to the different venues- Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble (e-book and print), etc.

She even offers editing. It's like baby steps into self publishing. :)

Check out her sight if you have the chance.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi India, Joanna, Margaret,and Jacqueline,

Waving to you. Thanks so much for coming by. I agree, Terry is amazing. She works full time and still has time to create fantastic tales!!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Indie publishing is the way to go today, but writers need to get good editing before they pub. Nice piece in support of a growing phenom.
Joy Held
Writer Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and Creativity

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Karen, thanks so much!!! Well, I'll be uploading two more YA titles sometime in the near future. One is actually listed on Amazon when the publisher who bought it uploaded the cover. The publisher dropped their YA line the month before GHOSTLY LIAISONS came out, and I've had a ton of requests for it, so I'll be uploading it one of these days.

The other is THE BEAST WITHIN. So I'll be adding that to the YA titles also. :) I have the covers up on my website already. :)

Thanks, Joy, and I so agree. It's important to edit well. :)

Carly Carson said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for all the tips, Terry and Karen. I wonder, Terry, how does your agent feel about this? I presume she's not part of your self-publishing books?

Nightingale said... Best Blogger Tips

What an eye-opener. A friend of mine is going to self-pub. Maybe this is the new wave. Urban fantasy caught my eye. -- I'm trying to write urban fantasy but it keeps going between romance and fantasy. Any pointers?

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Carly!

I don't have an agent, never have had. :) So no problems with self-pubbing! :) But it would have to be in your contract. I know that with one author, she had it in her contract that she sold her magazine articles on her own because she didn't make enough on them and submitted them on her own. :)

Hi, Nightingale--look at the market you want to write for. My publisher wants romance--so it's urban fantasy romance. But some publishers are more into just straight urban fantasy and not the romance element. So write what you love and then find publishers who want to publish your kind of work. :)

Mary Marvella said... Best Blogger Tips

Interesting reading, Terry. I'm dusting off some of my old stories to self-publish. NY didn't beg for them.

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Mary, what's wrong with NY, that's what I want to know??? LOL, good luck!!! If nothing else, I'm enjoying the process!

morgan said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Terry,
What an interesting background you have.:) Your article was very helpful. I am looking forward to your ghostly western with baited breath.

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Morgan! Thanks so much! I can hardly wait for it to come out!

P.L. Parker said... Best Blogger Tips

I am amazed and impressed.

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks so much, PL Parker!!!

Carol North said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Karen:
Great interview. You always ask the right questions.

Hi Terry:
You're inspiring. Perhaps, you could return in a year and update us about your experiences as an indie publisher.

Terry Spear said... Best Blogger Tips

Carol, thanks!! Yeah, it will be interesting to see in a year where this has gone! :)