Editorial & Giveaway (US/Int): Elisabeth Naughton on traditional publishing and chasing your Indie dreams
Please help me welcome best-selling author Elisabeth Naughton!
Thanks for inviting me to stop by today! This is a fantastic time to be an author with more and more opportunities opening up in the digital age. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ll give you a quick background.
I started writing with the goal of being published back in 2002. I hold a BS in Science and a Masters in Education and spent 9 years teaching middle school science. When I first decided to pursue publication, I had to relearn how to write. Oh, I’d always been good at writing…but in a technical way. Writing fiction is a completely different beast. I joined writers groups, met critique partners online and practiced, practiced practiced. In 2008 all that hard work paid off and I sold my fifth manuscript to Dorchester. That book – STOLEN FURY – was a 2007 Golden Heart Finalist (the biggest romance contest for unpublished romance writers) and was eventually published in early 2009. It went on to be a 2010 RITA finalist in two categories – Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book. For those who don’t know what the RITAs are, they’re like the Oscars of romance writing. I didn’t win my categories (neither did Nora!) but that book catapulted me onto the publishing stage, garnered numerous rave reviews and award nominations and set forth my path in the romance writing word. I wrote four more books for Dorchester—two more romantic suspense novels in my Stolen Series, and two paranormal novels in my Eternal Guardians series—before Dorchester announced in late summer 2010 that it was suffering financial difficulties and was changing its publishing platform from mass market to POD and ebook. For a new author with a handful of books out, this was a devastating blow. Luckily, another publisher picked up the next three books in my Eternal Guardians series, but with Dorchester’s future uncertain, I had no idea if the five books I’d done with them would get tied up in bankruptcy court and if readers would continue to able to get them. Considering I’d just started a long-running series, I was more than a little shaken.
The next year was not easy. My new publisher asked me to rewrite book three in my Eternal Guardians series – TEMPTED – as if it were a book one, in case the first two books in the series disappeared. I did, but was hopeful things would work out. It took over a year, but eventually Dorchester relinquished the rights to my books and I was then faced with the decision of what to do. My current publisher offered to republish books one and two, but at a fraction of what I knew they were worth. Self publishing was just on the uptick, and I’d been following the careers of a few Dorchester authors who’d branched out and were doing well. I decided to take the plunge. So in December 2011, I self published both MARKED and ENTWINED and decided to see what happened.
[quote]WAIT FOR ME is THAT book we’ve all written. The book of your heart.[/quote] That was the best decision I ever made, hands down. My sales didn’t take off right away—book three, TEMPTED, had only just released with my new publisher—but slowly I began to see the numbers rise. By March 2012 I’d made way more money self publishing those books than I ever had with a traditional publisher. I caught the fever. I self published the Stolen Series (which I’d also recently gotten the rights back on) and a single title called WAIT FOR ME. WAIT FOR ME is THAT book we’ve all written. The book of your heart (though that sounds so cheesy, but it’s true). It’s the story you’ve lived with in your head the longest and the one that likely got you writing. It might not have been your first book, but it’s definitely the book you come back to time and again. I’d sent it to a few agents a few years before, but all told me the same thing: it was too category, too long, too “romance cliché”. I had no idea if readers would like it, but I figured, what the heck? I had nothing to lose by trying.
The first few weeks WAIT FOR ME was out, I was just happy readers were leaving good reviews. It did okay sales wise–not great because it wasn’t part of a series, but not too bad. I changed the cover from a pink hue to a purple hue (FYI: pink covers don’t sell well), and sales ticked up a little. I blogged about it, promo’d it to my fans. Almost everyone who read it loved it, but it still wasn’t getting the exposure I wanted. Then in December 2012, because I loved that book so much, I decided to make it free. I wasn’t looking for anything but a few more reviews, really, but what happened totally blew me away.
[quote]because I loved that book so much, I decided to make it free. I wasn’t looking for anything but a few more reviews, really, but what happened totally blew me away.[/quote]
The free sale ran from Dec 15-Jan 15, and in that time, WAIT FOR ME shot to the top of the Amazon free list. Reviews poured in — almost every one glowing—more than a thousand. Non romance readers were reading it and loving it. I even had interest from Hollywood on movie rights! Sales of all my other books were rising. And then I decided to move it to the paid list. I was nervous…would it totally drop off? Would readers still be interested? I didn’t know what would happen. But to my surprise, it shot to the top of the Amazon paid list and hovered in the top five for two months. I hit the USA Today List, the Wall Street Journal Bestsellers List, Digital Book WorldBestseller List, IndieReader Bestseller list, and the book spent five weeks on the New York Times list. To this day it’s still my bestseller, and new readers are continuously reading it and leaving reviews asking when the next book comes out, so many that I’m currently working on the sequel, HOLD ON TO ME, which I’m hoping to release later this year. To my surprise, my “breakout book” wasn’t a book I wrote for a publisher. It was actually a book I was told no publisher would ever want. And it’s the book that pushed me to an all new level as a writer.
There are a lot of authors self publishing these days. As the initial wave has broken, we’re seeing more and more authors jumping on their surf boards to see if they can catch the wave. And it’s exciting that in this day and age, authors have choices. But from a reader’s perspective, it’s not always easy to find great Indie books when there are so many low priced books to choose from. What stands out to readers are good stories, professional covers and reviews. I’m of the belief that a well written book will always be found, it just might need a little help. Authors who are writing amazing stories, playing with price point, giving away books for free so readers can sample them, and experimenting with cover and back copy are the ones who are going to survive in this changing market. The ones who aren’t will see their visibility and sales drop off.
[quote]There are a lot of great Indie books out there to be found, many you might not expect.[/quote]
The dreck will always drop to the bottom and the bubbles will always rise to the top, just like good books will always have a place in the hearts of readers. If you’re an author, look at all your publishing options, think about where you want to go and how you want to get there, and then go for it, whatever that choice may be. I did and I’m happy I took the chance. If you’re a reader, sit back and enjoy the ride. There are a lot of great Indie books out there to be found, many you might not expect.
I’m giving away a print copy of WAIT FOR ME to one lucky commenter today. Ask me anything about writing, publishing or my books to be entered!
Read more about the Eternal Guardians series…
From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something. Her.
She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron’s duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules, he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.
As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Find More Info On: Goodreads
Entwined (Eternal Guardians #2)
By Elisabeth Naughton
Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the human world. Zander can’t afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching out before him, he also can’t fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he’s found his weakness, after all . …
Find More Info On: Goodreads
About the Author:
I was never one of those people who knew they wanted to be an author at the age of six. I didn’t have imaginary friends. I didn’t write stories in my journal or entertain my relatives by firelight after Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, I was just a normal, everyday kid. I liked to read, but I wasn’t exceptional at it. And when my teachers complimented me on my writing abilities, I brushed them off. I did, however, always have a penchant for the unique and absurd. And as my mother told me all throughout my childhood, I should have been an actress—I was a drama queen before my time.
Years ago, my husband bought me Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With The Wind. If you ever saw the book, you know it’s a long one. I sat and read that thing from cover to cover, and dreamed of one day being a writer. But I didn’t actually try my hand at writing until years later when I quit my teaching job to stay home with my kids. And my husband? After that week of reading where I neglected him and everything else until I finished Scarlett, he vowed never to buy me another book again. Little did he know I’d one day end up sitting at a keyboard all day drafting my own stories.
My writing journey has not been easy. I didn’t just sit down one day, decide I was going to write a book and voila! sell my very first attempt. As most authors will probably agree, the path to publication is filled with hours of work, pulling all-nighters I thought I’d given up in college, sacrifices, rejections, but a love I discovered along the way I just can’t live without. Instead of a big, thick book to read by lamplight (I do read much smaller ones when I get the chance), I’ve traded in my reading obsession for a laptop. And I’ve never been happier.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful family and fabulous husband who put up with my writing—and obsessive personality—even when life is chaotic. More than once my kids have been late to swimming or baseball because I needed just five more minutes to finish a scene. Their support and encouragement mean the world to me. I also have amazing friends and a support network I couldn’t survive without. So to all of you out there who have encouraged me along the way, sent me emails and fan letters, phone calls and congratulations, I just want to say, thank you. You make this whole writing gig that much more enjoyable. I truly wouldn’t be here without you.
Elisabeth is giving away a print copy of Wait for Me to one commenter on today’s post! To enter to win, leave a comment asking Elisabeth anything about writing, publishing or her books, then fill out the Rafflecopter below…
More Indie Week giveaways and spotlights
Check out our special spotlight of Elisabeth’s indie sensation, Wait For Me, here! That’s also where you’ll find today’s Indie Week Sponsor mega-givewaway entry form.
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