My Writing Life – Julianne MacLean
When did you first discover a love of writing?
I never imagined I would make writing my career when I was young. I didn’t figure that out until I was 27 years old, after completing two university degrees, one in Business Administration and Accounting, which seems a very odd choice now, looking back on it. I suppose I should have figured out the writing bug sooner, because I always kept a diary from the age of 12 until well into my adulthood, and I wrote in it devotedly each night. When interesting things would happen to me during the day (things that seemed important to a thirteen-year-old girl in junior high school), I would look forward to writing about it that night. I only stopped writing in my diary when I started writing novels.
Where do you get your story ideas?
I struggle with that part… coming up with the initial concept. Once I have that, it takes me a while to flesh out the idea and plot a full novel around it. Sometimes just the smallest seed can result in a great story, and that seed might come from a movie or another book, but usually it’s just from my imagination. I like to daydream.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
Yes, but I also believe it can be cured quickly if you identify WHY you are blocked. Sometimes it’s a plot problem that you need to work through. If so, call a writer friend and brainstorm. Ask him or her to read what you have written so far and help you identify where you went wrong. Or maybe you’re just too deep into the middle and you can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes you may simply need to step back for a few days to allow your subconscious to work on the problem. In that case, keep thinking about your story and keep your mind open to insights. Maybe go see a movie or read a book to spark ideas. Often, when I come back to the book after a break like this, it helps to go back and re-read from the beginning, or at least the last 100 pages, to get back in the groove and look at the flow with fresh eyes.
If it’s something in your life that is a distraction, then you either need to deal with that distraction (sometimes life events are simply more important than your writing), or figure out how to ignore it and write around it. Mostly, on a daily basis, you have to be DISCIPLINED. Get your butt in the chair, even when you are not in the mood.
What made you decide to self-publish?
I’ve been a traditionally published author since 2000 when I sold my first historical romance to Harlequin. I later moved to Avon and wrote 9 books for them, and then I moved to St. Martin’s Press and wrote 6 books there. I loved my editors and it was nice to see my books in stores, but I just couldn’t resist the lure of full control over the direction of my career, creative control over story concepts as well as cover art, a more generous royalty rate, and the monthly paychecks. In 2014, I turned down a six figure offer from a major traditional publisher to go fully indie, and I have no regrets. Best decision I ever made.
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share?
I have learned to keep it simple, and my business model is now a well-oiled machine. At the time I’m writing this blog, my strategy is this: I focus on writing and publishing a new novel every three months, and I always have the next book available for pre-order at all the major retailers for as long as possible. I promote the pre-order book and provide purchase links at the end of all my previous eBooks. I am constantly updating old eBook files with the new titles as they become available.
In between new releases (which I release at full price), I run short term promotions on my backlist books. I discount something – anything – to either 99 cents or free for one week. I do this about every 30-45 days. This keeps my name out there and brings in new readers who might try me for the first time at a lower price, then go on to buy my other books. I advertise the promotional price in places like Bookbub, ENT, The Fussy Librarian, and others. I also cross promote with other authors through social media and the occasional multi author boxed set.
This overall strategy has worked well for me over the past two years, and it’s a pace and workload I can manage while still having a life. The most important thing, I feel, is to give readers the kinds of stories they expect from you, and to publish something new regularly so that they keep coming back. My publishing model is not a get-rich-quick business scheme, but my income is growing at a slow and steady pace. It feels organic and I feel very secure in what I am building. I am writing what I love, pouring my whole heart into every book, and building a strong and loyal readership that I hope will stay with me over the long term.
What do you love about Kobo?
As a reader, I love that the Kobo device is a dedicated eReader, so I can feel comfortable giving it to my daughter, knowing she won’t be distracted by the internet. She will just be reading. And I, too, won’t be distracted by emails or text messages when I’m reading on my Kobo. It’s just me and the story.
As an indie author, I love that the team at Kobo is approachable and eager to work with indie authors, to listen to our ideas, and to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. I also love how quickly the program responds to an uploaded book or price change. Kobo Writing Life has made my work as a self-publisher a lot easier, and the portal is top notch!
Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author who has sold more than 1.3 million books in North America, and her novels have also been translated into Spanish, German, Portugese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Dutch, and others. She has written twenty historical romance novels, including the bestselling Highlander Trilogy with St. Martin’s Press and her popular Pembroke Palace Series with Avon/Harper Collins. She also writes contemporary mainstream fiction, and her 2011 release The Color of Heaven was a USA Today bestseller. Her latest title, The Color of Time, is coming out in September. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.