I have spent a great deal of time researching an issue that haunts most Indie publishers–how do you make money at self-publishing? The key is producing more books. Without putting aside quality control, the more books an author publishes, the better.
How so? Quantity is to self-publishing what location is to real estate. The more books self-published authors have for sale, the better. Period. The main strategy successful authors use to drive sales is to reduce the price of one book, or even offer it free, in order to drive sales of other books the author has written. I’ve seen this strategy already at work for the two books I’m offering for sale. Under Amazon’s KDP Select program, I gave Ripple: Young Adult Version away for free for five days.
1,806 readers downloaded the YA Version, which was great. Hopefully, many of those readers will review it and recommend it to friends. And all of these downloads vaulted me into the #1 position in three separate Amazon categories. So now I’m a bestseller, or the queen of a hill, albeit a small hill.
But what’s remarkable is that sales of the adult version of Ripple increased by 500% from the entire month of April to the first three weeks in May. And this is for a different but very similar version of the same book.
My only regret is that I don’t have more books for sale. And that brings me to my latest thoughts on my writing career. I haven’t decided anything for certain, and I’ve pitched I Run, A Novel, to less than a dozen agents. I will keep pitching it to traditional publishing, but I’m not going to wait for the train to come to me.
I’m going to take the train to traditional publishing, stocked and stashed with titles already moving into the hands of the American readership.
How many titles? By the end of the summer, I plan to offer three to four more titles, and here’s what I’m going to do. For one thing, I’m going to offer a YA Version of I Run. It will take about a week of editing to adjust this 114,000-word novel for the young adult audience, and from now on, this is going to be my signature thing.
Then, I’m going to steal an old idea that’s out of use thanks to traditional publishing’s inability to adapt to the market: I’m going to try serializing I Run, by publishing it in two parts. The way I see it is my novels run long. Dividing them into two parts will enable me to make a living as a writer much sooner than I could if I released just the completed versions of my novels. Even divided into two parts, I Run will be as long as many novels.
Once both parts of I Run have been on sale as e-books, I will then publish the entire novel as a paperback.
And so this is how I will go from having two books for sale to offering six books for sale in less than three months. Meanwhile, I am at work on Wave, the sequel to Ripple, and will consider publishing it in two parts as well.
The one thing I will never skimp on is editing. Anything published by E.L. Farris will have underwent the most thorough of developmental edits, line edits, copy edits and proof reviews that money can buy.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on self-publishing. What do you think of my plan? What’s your plan?
I Run is heading back to my editor for a bit more tweaking. I have been working really hard on drawing richer characterizations of the supporting characters. Unlike Ripple, I Run is written from a first person perspective. The main character is Sally Lane Brookman. What follows is an introduction to her sidekick, Little Sally, or her inner child.
I dream of Little Sally a lot. Most of the time, she’s running free and young again on the green fields that connect me to my youth. I catch a glimpse of blonde hair flowing and it ties my aging self to my younger one. Sometimes, I see her and I forget I’m old now. When I see her playing ball in my dreams, I am not sure if she sees me. She’s usually got her eyes on the ball or on the girls running alongside of her.
Green fields. Ballfields. That’s where she’s safest. It’s where I hope to find her when I, when we both, fall away from the shackles tying us to this good earth.
And I don’t know if anyone can understand all this, because I don’t really either. When I was a kid, I got lost a lot. I got lost in time and unstuck in place, like a Kurt Vonnegut character, trapped between living and dreaming, existing and not being. I wasn’t sure if I was real. I was sure I was dead, and was just imaging that I was alive. I mean, really, how can we ever be sure, right? How can we ever really know this land, this house, these hands, this body is real? Are we here? Do we exist? Or are we dreaming?
Little Sally thought crazy shit like this all the time, and there was no one she could ask about it. And it hurt, it hurt so bad, in this awful, dread-filled way that left this rotting, roaring ache in me that I’ve never been able to get rid of, because if I was dead, then perhaps I had never been alive either. As humans, we need to do more than live. We need to know we’re alive, in order to be able to rely on our own senses. And I couldn’t trust my own mind sometimes. Crap, how can you trust your own mind if it keeps telling you that everything it sees is a lie?
It’s kind of sad, looking back at all of this, because I know what Little Sally was trying to do. She was trying to get out of danger, to escape from the pain that imprisoned her. To run away from home. The problem is that she created a riddle with no reasonable solution. If she was living, she was hurting. But if she wasn’t alive, then maybe there was no way out of her hell.
Maybe I was running and getting nowhere; maybe no matter how loud I screamed or how fast I sprinted, I’d just keep smacking into this invisible container that kept me from knowing that I was already dead. Or had never even really lived.
As a grown woman, I keep having that same dream: that I’m running and running and running but my legs aren’t moving and I’m not really going anywhere. And if my body isn’t going anywhere when my legs are moving, does that mean I’m really dead?
That’s where I met her the first time. She was having my dream, and I was watching her, Little Sally, and she was stuck between home and first base, and her legs were moving but her body wasn’t, like she was not running on dirt but sinking in quicksand. She wasn’t making any noise, but she gave off this fear scent, and her nostrils were flared, and I was trying to run for her, but I couldn’t leave her stuck, all alone, there on the first base line. I just couldn’t. I kept wondering if she saw me in her dreams like I see her, and I knew that if she did, if there was even the smallest chance she could see me, I had to do something. I had to get back and get her unstuck. Out of the dirt. So I did.
That was the first time I met Little Sally. And I guess because I knew that dream so well, and knew the fear and the pain and the melancholy she was feeling, I stopped. I did. I stopped and went back and grabbed her my her tiny little shoulders and I lifted her up, and held so tight, so tight to my little lost inner child, until she realized she wasn’t alone anymore.
I didn’t talk to her in that dream. We just stared at one another. She wasn’t so much untrusting as just not believing that she wasn’t alone any more. I was the wary one. She kept looking into my eyes, like she was waiting for someone, or something, and I didn’t know if I was supposed to tell her something or if she was supposed to tell me something. I could feel her pure need. Her need for an adult to pick her up and carry her home. And looking at her, gazing into my Little Sally’s eyes, made me realize that neither one of us was getting out of there on our own.
I still didn’t talk to her that first night. But when I woke up in the morning, I couldn’t get her off my mind. It was like when my daughter, my Lizzie, is standing behind me as I write a scene in Tsunami, waiting real sweetly for me to finish typing, loudly silent in her waiting, but sweet too, and I want to be writing alone so bad, but I don’t want her to feel alone like I used to feel. So I tear my hands and eyes away from my story and tend to my Lizzie. But it’s not Lizzie. It’s not someone who’s really separate from me. It’s Little Sally. And I guess neither one of us is ever going to feel so alone again.
You wanna know something that makes me wanna cry when I think about it? This is when my healing started. When I stopped ignoring Little Sally, and started listening to the story she had to tell me.
Morning friends! Please come hang out this morning with me and Catie Rhodes.
Grab your coffee or your tea and bring a question or two, and I promise we won’t bore you! Catie and I talk, a lot, and she’s one of those people who I always wanna talk to more once I type, “talk to you later.” She’s interesting and brilliant and full of humanity, of realness, of salt of the earth trueness–just like the characters in Forever Road.
Who is Catie? Let me borrow from her About Section, because it’s brilliant:
Catie Rhodes decided to turn her love of lying into writing fiction after she got fired for telling her boss the President was on the phone. It didn’t take Catie long to figure out what she wanted to do when she grew up. Drawing on her East Texas roots, her love of true crime, and her love of the paranormal, she writes the kind of stories she wishes the book stores sold. With her faithful Pomeranian, Cosmo, at her side, Catie relishes being that kid your mother warned you about, the one who cusses and never washes her hands after petting the dog.
I read a lot of books as part of my job. And yet you rarely see reviews here, and you know why that is? Because I’m really picky. So the review that follows, in which I tell you how much I love Catie’s debut novel, Forever Road, is a harbinger of just how good of a book it is. Trade in your latte money for just a day and grab a copy. I promise you won’t regret it.
Forever Road by Catie Rhodes isn’t merely an excellent debut novel. It’s an excellent novel, period. Rarely do I appreciate both great characterization and tightly-wound plotting, but in this paranormal mystery, I enjoyed tiptoeing among carefully-laid clues while standing beside some very believable and likable characters.
The main character, Peri, is a scrappy, ghost-seeing misfit who does odd jobs in a small town in East Texas. Peri lives with the woman who basically raised her–Memaw, an aging, wise and gracious woman with some secrets of her own. In the opening scene of Forever Road, Peri makes a bargain with a soon-to-be dead woman, her cousin Rae: if Rae will stop screaming at Peri’s best friend, Chase, Peri will do a favor for Rae.
This promise doesn’t work out so well for Peri. Rae is murdered. Chase is suspected of committing the murder. And Rae, or her ghost, comes demanding that Peri solve the murder. Peri is not one to renege on promises, especially when scary ghosts come to collect on one of those promises.
One of the things that I liked a lot as I read was trying to solve the murder from the trail of clues left by Rhodes. Like the best mysteries, Forever Road makes it an intellectual challenge for both the main characters who are working the case and for the reader. With each clue, Peri moves a little closer to unraveling the mystery of who murdered her cousin.
And as Peri discovers the clues, shades and pieces of her character are revealed, so that we understand what makes her tick. Rhodes paints Peri with a detailed brush, so that we can hear the way she talks, envision the way she walks, and can picture the visions of dead people she sees. Rhodes also does an outstanding job creating fully-developed supporting characters, villains, and bit players who inhabit the pages of this book.
The effect Rhodes creates is a rich, fast-moving, always amusing story that will keep you enthralled from start to finish. I recommend this book very highly, and I look forward to reading more from Rhodes.
To buy a copy of Forever Road, please go here: Amazon.