After graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in ancient and medieval history Samantha returned to her main passion, writing. She often incorporates history and mythology into her novels.
Samantha’s first release, The Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy, was followed by a second series titled Warriors of Ankh. At present she is a full-time writer working on a number of projects for near future release. She is the author of nine novels and one novella. Her young adult paranormal series’ are bestselling novels on Amazon.
Honestly, I was a little intimidated to ask Samantha to do a guest post on my blog. I had heard her name not whispered but shouted throughout nearly every writers group I am a part of, and after a bit of research I could definitely see why. Samantha’s success is admirable, inspiring and, for me, a little mind boggling as I dread the business side of self-publishing. Appropriate then, that the topic Samantha chose to discuss today is…
Self-publishing – My perspective on balancing the creative and business side of being an indie author.
Self-publishing is like any small business and you have to treat it that way. The hard part is finding a balance between the business-side of publishing and the actual writing. I started self-publishing because I love to write, and I had a trilogy sitting at my side with all these lives hidden within the pages, existing in a fantasy world that no one knew about. Self-publishing meant people could stumble across this world and, even better, enjoy it once they got there.
This just made me love writing more, so I started, quickly, creating new worlds for my readers to explore. It’s actually become quite addictive, but when writing is your career that can only be a good thing. Right? :-p
The business side of self-publishing means marketing, promoting and networking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, but if you love writing and reading and talking with your readers as much as I do, then it’s fun hard work. To find readers and maintain a growing readership you have to go where they are. For me, that was easy. As a book addict, I already followed a number of book blogs, so for me it was quite exciting to email individual bloggers I already knew via their reviews and ask them if they’d be interested in reviewing my novels.
I got an amazingly good response even though I’m an indie author – I don’t know if that’s due to a changing attitude towards the indie community, or if my excitement over books was just contagious. 🙂 It’s not always easy to get bloggers to review your book because they have such massive TBR piles. Then there’s, you know, lives to live outside of reading, lol, but I’ve always found most bloggers are kind enough to do a guest post, or host a giveaway, or even do an interview. I’ve even been lucky enough to arrange a book tour with a group of bloggers that was wonderful and very successful. It was for my novel, Smokeless Fire (Fire Spirits #1), and it shot the book into the bestsellers lists on amazon.
As for marketing, I don’t pay for it. Why? Because the best thing about book lovers is that we love to chat with other book lovers! Social sites such as Twitter and Facebook are a great way to connect with book lovers and your readers. Admittedly, I’m terrible with Twitter. I just don’t know how to… tweet with people :-p. I promote new blog posts and free ebooks and tweet any book news but actually having a conversation? I get lost really easily.
OK, maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that. But it’s true! I’m, like, wait… who said that? When, what, who, who, when, what? Aaahh! So yeah… Twitter and I? We’ve got a long way to go. Facebook, however? We’re good friends. I update my Facebook Author Page regularly and converse with my readers there all the time, as well as talking on community book groups with other writers and readers. The indie community is really close-knit and that’s where the networking part comes in. Most indie authors are like me: they want to help other writers out. Even if it’s just a mention on my personal blog, or an interview or even a recommendation for their book, it’s a nice thing to do and often reciprocated. Moreover, you can often find critique partners in other authors which can be awesome for the writing process.
Ooh… don’t forget the site Goodreads. If you’re a bookworm (or not), it’s a fantastic place to connect with your readers. Not only can I talk to them about my books but my readers recommend some amazing books to me that I would never have found otherwise and vice versa. I really need to work on that huge reading pile that never seems to decrease no matter how many books I read :-\
So that’s all the ‘business stuff,’ (*wrinkles nose* it doesn’t seem like business stuff to me because I have a good time doing it, although it does eat heavily into my writing time) but I definitely think it’s incredibly important if you want to have any chance at being a full time writer.
Of course, there would be no ‘business stuff’ if there wasn’t, you know, writing stuff.
It’s funny, but I get asked ‘How do you write a book?’ a lot. That seemed like such an obvious question until I started doing a tour of my local high schools, teaching a creative writing workshop. I touched on choosing what kind of plot the kids were going to utilize, how to work on character development, and writing chapter summaries etc. and I realized that I have a pretty definitive writing process. Unfortunately, I am not one of the lucky few who can just sit at a computer or with a notepad and start writing.
First, I have a story board (an actual cork pin board that takes up way too much room) and this is where I pin all my research. For instance, with the Fire Spirits series I had to buy a couple of non-fiction books and scour online for all the information I could get. Then I took out everything I found useful and pinned it to my board. From there, I took my notepad and started writing a plot summary, character plans and histories, and then chapter summaries. Only then could I finally sit at the computer and start writing the actual book. If I didn’t use this process every time, I’d end up with mush and schizophrenic characters :-p.
Once it’s written, the creative and most difficult part is over. Then starts the beta reading, the editing, the copy-editing and somewhere among all that the cover art (which is a really exciting part for me!). Through all this, I like to keep my readers updated. I post teasers, I do cover reveals, and I write about music playlists and create book trailers. I have fun creating fantasy cast lists and teasing readers mercilessly on Facebook :-p
I guess, in simple terms, I remember I’m a reader too, and I do all the things for my readers that I’ve always loved authors I follow to do 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing your balancing act with us, Samantha. If you’d like to learn more about my guest, Samantha Young, and all her amazing books, here’s a link that will help you do that. http://www.amazon.com/Samantha-Young/e/B004W7FT94/ref=sr_tc_ep?qid=1333040913
Her blog link: http://www.samanthayoungbooks.com/
If you’d like to spark up a Twitter conversation with her, good luck lol, here’s that link: http://twitter.com/#!/syoungsfauthor or
Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4167378.Samantha_Young