One year ago today, I uploaded my first book to Amazon.com, The Last Pendragon (not, however, with my beautiful new cover :)). I had decided to take the plunge into indie authordom, after nearly five years of writing and querying and being rejected by publishers large and small. I have a wonderful agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, who did his best for me, but no publisher wanted to take a chance on historical fantasy set in Wales.
I had been giving the book away for free at other sites up until then, but two things happened the last week in December 2010 to change my perspective: 1) my writing partner, Anna Elliott, sent me to Joe Konrath’s blog; and 2) a reader sent me an email asking about the sequel and said, “Just for the record, I would happily have paid for the first book and hope you do not give away the second one. You deserve to earn your living too! Thanks again for a very good book!”
So I put The Last Pendragon up myself.
In January, it sold 13 copies. Truthfully, that was a triumph in and of itself. It changed my life to know that people besides the handful of family and friends who were interested in my work were reading my book–and willing to pay for it.
Then, in a fit of recklessness, I went back to the After Cilmeri series, the books I’d devoted most of the last five years to, but which had never sparked the imagination of any editor. I cut 15,000 words out of Footsteps in Time, reworked Prince of Time so the flow was better, and uploaded them at the end of January. I sold five Footsteps and four Prince of Time’s in the last week of January, and I know for a fact that eight of those nine were bought either by me, my mom, my daughter, or Anna.
In February, I hit the big time … not only did I sell 50 books overall, but my husband bought me a smart phone so I could tweet and facebook and do all the rest of the marketing author-type things I needed to do, even when not at home. I’m sure he regretted this gift immediately, as I was glued to it from the start 🙂
One of the very best things about being an indie author, however, and what the smart phone represented, is the opportunity to connect with other authors. Facebook, the Writer’s Cafe, Twitter–they all have brought me in touch with people doing the same thing I am, the vast majority of whom take the view that we’re all in this together. I have dozens of friends I didn’t have a year ago, and am richer for it.
The best thing about being an indie author is, of course, my readers. That I have sold over 35,000 books this year is mind-blowing–and humbling. I’m not writing for myself anymore, or for my kids, but for all the people who have loved my books and taken the time to tell me about it.
Going from 50 books sold to 35,000 didn’t happen over night. It began when I uploaded Daughter of Time, the prequel to Footsteps in Time on March 19th. It sold 75 copies in the last 11 days in March, and then 869 in April. And for those of you who’ve read it, I have to tell you that I wrote it on a whim, because I wanted to know Meg and Llywelyn’s story, and then published it because I really liked it. I’m glad so many people have liked it too 🙂
Even after the publication of Daughter of Time, my agent was still trying to sell Cold My Heart, and then later in the summer, The Good Knight. In the end, I decided not to spend the fall waiting for editor responses, and published the latter as my seventh book in September. All signs indicate this is the right path!
Thank you all for making this journey with me.