Valentine’s Day celebrates love. For me, it also celebrates my first twelve months as an indie author.
Some fifteen years after writing the first draft of The Stationmaster’s Cottage, I’d returned to it as a serious prospect for a traditional deal. It was ready. Edited. Proofed. Let’s go!
I began submitting it to publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts, and was persuaded to contact a local agent. Her first questions hit me hard. What was my education? What made me think I could be a successful writer? Unusual family circumstances forced me to leave school at fourteen and enter the workplace too early and I have no degrees or even a leaving certificate.
Instead of telling her about my marketing background, years of editing a non-fiction magazine, many non-fiction published pieces, having one of my five feature length screenplays optioned, and more—I mumbled an excuse and hung up. Then burst into tears.
After feeling sorry for myself for a few hours, I followed the advice of my son and re-evaluated my options. Much as I longed to have the excitement of ‘that’ phone call from a publisher, what really mattered was sharing my book with the world.
Then came the fun of learning how to format an ebook, getting a fabulous cover, and finding my way around what seemed like a mountain of information. Clicking ‘publish’ was the easy part. KPD Select, here we come.
This is where the chaos began as a tidal wave of ‘opportunities’ and ‘advice’ flooded in. It seems everyone wants a piece of the indie-author. Some, sadly, see the newbie as an easy income source.
Buy this package and be a bestseller!
Let us manage everything for you.
Last chance for this amazing price!
We’ll educate you and fix the mistakes you’ve made.
You will fail if you don’t let us help.
Blog. (And we can handle it for a price)
Send emails. (Ditto)
Write to market. (For a few dollars, we’ll show you how!)
Stay in your genre.
Write a series.
Be on every bit of social media possible.
Belong to organisations.
Don’t go wide.
Write fast and put lots of books out.
Pick me, pick me!
After living with KPD Select for three months, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted, so published direct with Kobo, Apple, GooglePlay, and Kindle. Only B&N was unattainable as I’m in Australia, so I use Draft2Digital to distribute to Nook.
This was when the first glimmer of understanding came to me, in the shape of Kobo promotions. Up until then, I’d spent a lot of money trying a range of promotional companies—all recommended by different authors and all with varying success.
With my first Kobo promotion, I finally had the control I’d yearned for. When The Stationmaster’s Cottage reached #1 Romance in Canada, something clicked. Readers were buying the book, not because I’d succumbed to the relentless hammering from those who wanted my money, but for its beautiful cover and enticing blurb, offered at a good price from a respected retailer. Readers were prepared to take a chance on an unknown author.
Still, as I began writing the third in the series, I second guessed myself when some of the middle book’s reviews were mixed. Should I change the way I write? Try to find some way of fitting into the broader market? What if it fails? Instead of writing the book, I let the doubt creep back in, along with some of the noise from those who would ‘fix’ things.
One shining light cut through the chaos. I received a card in the mail, written in the shaky hand of an elderly lady. She wanted me to know how much she enjoyed reading The Stationmaster’s Cottage. It reminded her of places from her youth, and she explained why Randall (the dog in the series) meant so much. She couldn’t wait to begin reading its sequel, Jasmine Sea.
This thoughtful gesture put everything back in place. My stories are what they are because I write from my heart about what moves me. It doesn’t matter who publishes them as long as readers find them. And I am getting better at increasing their visibility by learning about the type of person who enjoys them.
Twelve months ago I had no idea what I was getting into. I followed some paths that were wasteful and others filled with gold. My network now includes myriad authors, readers, and others in the industry who are supportive and wonderful humans. I’ve seen my two published books at #1 in various categories in the US, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and Spain.
Jasmine Sea was 2nd in Kobo’s Cover of the Year 2017, and along with The Stationmaster’s Cottage, received a gold star from Joel Friedlander. Cottage recently won a Reader’s Award. I do a regular blog for Romance Writers of Australia and have paperbacks in numerous bookshops.
I’m not ruling out a traditional publishing deal in the future, with a different series or standalone, but I am content and in fact, rather excited about being an indie author. What I’ve learned gives me the strength and knowledge to go forward with more confidence. I can’t wait to see what the next twelve months brings!
Phillipa Nefri Clark writes about mysteries, love, and suspense from her home in regional Victoria, Australia. Her part time day job revolves around marketing the family business where she meets lots of amazing pets and their interesting owners. In past years, she performed on stage and TV and lives in a music filled home, thanks to young adult sons who insist she enjoy their artists as well. A perfect day is one spent with her husband, sons, Labrador, and a nice bottle of wine, playing board games or enjoying the garden.