As part of BLAZING A TRAIL: YOUR SELF PUBLISHING JOURNEY I’m including fourteen interviews with other authors who are also traveling the Indie trail. They don’t all agree with me, and I love that. I want the people who read my book to know that there is more than one way to get to publishing success.
As a run-up to publication, I’m going to post some of the interviews here. First up: Denise Agnew.
Denise A. Agnew is the author of numerous books published by a variety of small presses. Her most recent Indie releases are the Asylum Trilogy featuring SHADOWS WAIT, SHADOWS RISE, and SHADOWS FALL. Her website is www.deniseagnew.com
Tell us a little about your background and publishing history.
I’ve been writing since I was fourteen, which was a very long time ago. J I started working towards getting published back in ’91. I’ve been published in ebook format since about ’99. I’m published with Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, and Liquid Silver Books, and I am self-published. Before that, I was published with three other now defunct companies. I’m fortunate enough to write full time. I have written around fifty-seven novels and novellas.
If you published with a traditional publisher before self-publishing, do you think having a following helped your Indie sales? Why or why not?
Never published with traditional publishing, though I came extremely close twice. Marketing departments told the editors the stories couldn’t be marketed because they were too different, even though the editors loved the stories. My Indie sales haven’t been spectacular, but I think that has almost as much to do with what I’m writing about as anything else. I tend to write outside the box. The more you do that, the potential for sales tends to drop.
What led to your decision to self-publish?
Autonomy to write exactly what I want to write and publish it when I want. Yes, I still have editors, but the desire to write books that I honestly love creating is more important to me than fitting into that box I mentioned earlier. Traditional publishers say they want different, but my experiences with them have proved otherwise. There are more controversial things I could say about that, but I’ll spare you.
How long have you been self-publishing?
What were your goals when you began, and how have they changed since then? How do you measure success?
Honestly, my only goal is to be happy writing. In other words, write the stories that my imagination demands I write and have a hell of a good time writing them. Everything else is gravy. Success for me is happiness while writing and having the pleasure of knowing I’m doing what fulfills me as a person. Not money, not recognition.
Did you do a lot of the production process yourself, or did you hire people to do it for you? Were you satisfied with the outcome?
I’ve hired out covers, editing, and formatting. However, I may be doing a little more of those for myself in the future. The editing I’m always going to need someone to do that. My covers have been fantastic and so has the editing and formatting, so I’m pleased with the outcome.
How have you spread the word about your work?
I have a newsletter, a small Yahoo group, Facebook and Twitter, a blog, and anywhere else I can think of and have time to do. I recently joined a group of writers where we collaborate and help each other with the marketing aspects.
What has been the most effective thing you have done to promote your books? What has been the least effective?
Oh, God. You know, that is very difficult for me to say because I don’t track much of that stuff. I’d say probably blogging has been the least effective, if I had to guess. The most effective is probably being willing to have a presence at various social media outlets and understanding that I have to show up there daily so that people don’t forget I’m around.
How did your Indie sales evolve? What should a new Indie author expect?
My sales have increased somewhat, but I’m certainly not a best seller. So as far as telling a new Indie author what to expect, I think that’s a very difficult question to answer. It depends on so many factors that are hard to predict. I think most Indie authors don’t make much money, but there are levels. I still make considerably more money with my books published by publishing companies than I do my self-published works. I think most Indie authors shouldn’t go into this process expecting instant blockbuster success monetarily, nor do I think they should pander to trends. This isn’t to say they won’t have a blockbuster success, but a good book should always be the priority.
What influenced your decision to price your books as you did?
The prices seemed medium for the length of books I’d seen in the self-publishing world. I have the option to change up the prices from time to time and certainly have done so.
What are your top tips for new Indie authors? What do you wish you had known before you started?
There’s absolutely nothing I wished I’d known beforehand. Probably because I kept my mind open and didn’t place “expectations” at the forefront. Being with small press and electronic publishers for so long made the self-publishing experience easier for me, I think, than it might for some traditionally published individuals. My attitude was, “Let’s just see what happens, shall we?” My top tips are :
Define why you’re going the Indie route. If it is to write what you want and publish your books the way you want, fantastic. If it is to make gobs of money…probably not a good reason. Then again, that usually isn’t a good reason even if you aren’t Indie publishing.
Be flexible with your expectations.
Don’t expect it to be an easy process because generally speaking, it isn’t.
Keep an open mind and roll with the punches. Spend as little time as possible allowing frustration to rule your thoughts.
Enjoy the freedom!
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Make sure you’re clear on your reasons for why you’re publishing books in the first place. Get it in your head so that when things/people come along that might try and knock you off the goal, you’re happy because you understand why you’re doing this. You aren’t influenced by the “shoulds” you start hearing from other authors that may or not be what you want to do.