Jackie Lau reflects on her first year of self-publishing and the steps she took to ensure success. She discusses the importance of diversity in romance and how she wanted to write characters with backgrounds underrepresented in the romance community.
Journey to Self-Publishing
Jackie read romance novels for a year before she started writing in 2012. After her mother passed away, she wanted to read and write about happy endings. She released her first novella in 2014 under a pen name and worked with traditional publishers until 2018. Her traditionally published books did not perform well, so she decided to start fresh with different content and a clear brand. She chose to adopt a new pen name, Jackie Lau.
The Move to Self-Publish
In May 2018 she published Grumpy Fake Boyfriend and has since released six short novels and one novella. In her first year of self-publishing, Jackie Lau wanted to start small, setting realistic goals as she learned the business. Jackie has an engineering background, and her career is steadily ramping up as she familiarizes herself with the publishing industry. Last month she released some of her titles in print, whereas before they were only available in e-book format.
For Jackie, transitioning to self-publishing was not a difficult choice. She wanted to start fresh and liked the idea of publishing wide. As her books are set in Canada, she wanted her books to be readily available to Canadians, and Kobo is popular in Canada.
Diversity and Defying Norms
Jackie Lau discussed how she tries to portray heroines underrepresented in romance. In her novel Not Another Family Wedding, the protagonist Natalie, is 36, a climate scientist and has decided not to have children.
Jackie focuses on writing Chinese-Canadian heroes and heroines, characters that reflect her background. This was not the case in her early days of publishing. She originally wrote characters based on what she observed within the genre and wanted to stick with well-established patterns. In the present, diversity has become an essential part of Jackie’s new brand.
Jackie is actively involved in selecting book covers, which are designed by a cover artist. Grumpy Fake Boyfriend is her only book cover that features a white male. She spends time searching online for stock photos of Asian men and often writes her characters based on the images she finds online which she did with her latest novel Man. vs. Durian.
Jackie, the Twitterverse, and Facebook
Jackie is not involved in any marketing, other than her social media presence. Jackie gets a ton of engagement on Twitter, which is an important promotional tool for her. One notable author once retweeted the title of Jackie’s novel, and almost immediately she received 100 preorders. Jackie wants self-published authors to know that Twitter definitely sells books. Being present and involved in the reading community on Twitter can really benefit sales and visibility. She also has a Facebook platform where she posts about promotions, new releases, and book-related pictures.
The Writing Life and Books Set in Toronto
Jackie Lau is a Torontonian, born and raised. Most of her books take place in Toronto, another element that makes them unique. She includes elements of the city to make it realistic, using fictionalized versions of real villages and elements in the city. There are so many opportunities for stories set in Toronto, especially because of its diversity.
Releasing 4-5 books and novellas per year is a realistic pace for Jackie, working six days per week. Her novels are around 60,000 words each, meaning she writes 250,000 words per year. Jackie reads one book per week in her spare time, mostly contemporary and historical romance. Jackie reads more male/female romances, but occasionally reads male/male and female/female. Jackie has formed her own author voice, but earlier on, she would unintentionally pick up an author’s style while reading. She likes to read, but there is the business aspect of staying up to date with the industry, which is crucial.
What Has Jackie Been Loving Lately? What Can Readers Expect in the Future?
Jackie found Strangers to Superfans by David Gaughran very helpful in terms of marketing. She recently watched and loved the Netflix movie Always Be My Maybe, starring a mostly Asian cast. Jackie Lau’s new romantic comedy, Man Versus Durian, is out at the end of August and available for preorder. She is also working on a collection of novellas called Holiday with the Wongs.
Parting advice from Jackie — participate in promotions that are exclusive to Kobo! They are easy to sign up for and can significantly increase your readership.
You can read Jackie’s title The Ultimate Pi Day Party for FREE on Kobo right now. Use promo code: KWLPODPARTY at checkout.
This is a limited time offer only between August 6th to 20th. Grab your free copy today!
Follow Jackie Lau on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, @jackielaubooks
Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels. Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, hiking, eating too much gelato, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.
Great point about twitter,a focused twitter, that you connect to a larger source, say a blog, where you can tweet larger thoughts , and then continue to engage on topic can be very good for an author of any kind.