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A few people have asked me if I plan on doing this again

29 May 2012

From author Sarah Mayberry:

When I was a baby writer dreaming of being published, the idea of holding a real, paper book in my hands with my name on the spine was the be-all and end-all. I wrote 8 full novels over nearly 10 years before I was finally accepted for publication under Harlequin’s Blaze imprint. Fast forward 26 novels and novellas, and my be-all and end-all has undergone a dramatic shift. While holding a real, paper book in my hands still has enormous appeal, I now understand that paper is not the only way to get my stories in front of readers.

. . . .

There I was, beavering away in my writing cave for years, trying to get an editor to buy one of my books. Then I sold and just as I was starting to hit my stride and shift my ambitions to writing a single title novel, everything changed.

I’ll happily admit that at first I was more than a little discombobulated by the changes in the market place. But as time wore on I started to read and research and listen, and finally I decided it was time to drink some of this self-publishing kool-aid that everyone was carrying on about. The royalty rates for traditionally published books are well known, I imagine, as are the figures for the new e-model. It’s every writer’s dream to earn more for their labor. In some cases, self publishing may in fact be the only way that an author can survive on their sales. I felt it would be foolish of me to stick my head in the sand and not explore the new options open to me in this brave new world.

. . . .

My first thought was that I could write a little novella and offer it for free on my website. Then I started writing and kept writing way past the novella stage. As I hit what I thought would be the halfway point it occurred to me that this was definitely a story that I could self publish.

Once I made that decision, I realised I needed to get permission from Harlequin to use the characters from HIN in another book.  It’s a standard part of the Harlequin boilerplate contract that they have first rights on any spin-off etc from books they contract ( a pretty standard clause, I understand). I figured there was no point writing a whole novel I was never going to be able to do anything with, so I stopped writing and started talking to the legal department. They were very nice about it, and once I had their release in my filing cabinet, I hit the go button in earnest. Because I knew from past experience that I wouldn’t get the book out there unless I had a deadline, I booked on-line advertising for May. This was way back at the end of last year. I figured I’d have everything sorted – easily – by then.

. . . .

I had pretty firm ideas about what sort of cover I wanted – something sexy and striking but classy – and the artist I used was very patient with me. Because the book wasn’t finalised yet, I had the freedom to go into the manuscript and add details from the cover into the story so that the cover felt more connected to the book. That felt really important to me – I hate it when there’s a disconnect between the cover and the content of a book.

. . . .

I want to say up front that the hardest thing about this whole process for me was working without my editor. We’ve worked on 26 odd books together, and she is my story touchstone. Usually, my book doesn’t go anywhere until my editor gives it the go ahead. As any writer will tell you, by the time you’ve finished writing and revising and editing, you have lost any sense of perspective about the book.

. . . .

I sent it off. When it came back, I girded my loins to do battle with Smashwords’ legendarily  cranky Meatgrinder. Hallelujah, it went through first time. Smashwords makes it incredibly easy for writers to navigate their way to self publication. Seriously – I am pretty tragic when it comes to technology, but I just followed all their cues until I had all the appropriate boxes ticked. Amazingly, my file was live and on sale within 5 minutes. I had my first sale after just ten minutes. I rang my husband and giggled like a schoolgirl down the phone.

. . . .

Please understand, I have no idea normally if anyone is buying my books. I get two very complicated royalty statements from my publisher a year, but usually I don’t know how a book has really done until about a year after it was released. And here I was, ten minutes after going live and I could see that someone had bought my book. Welcome to the future, Ms Mayberry.

. . . .

A few people have asked me if I plan on doing this again. The answer is “hell, yeah.” I’m already working on a concept for a linked series of books. I’m actually pretty excited about it. I will also continue to write for Harlequin.

Link to the rest at Dear Author

Self-Publishing, Smashwords

4 Comments to “A few people have asked me if I plan on doing this again”

  1. Go, Sarah. I’m a fan of hers. She’s the only category romance writer I read regularly (because of Dear Author’s rec last year) and I was wondering if she’d make the jump. Her star is rising; this way she can actually see the profits from it.

    She writes, (“Please understand, I have no idea normally if anyone is buying my books.”) She’s definitely got a tribe of readers, perhaps more than her HQ income has suggested. Best wishes to her.

  2. Huh! I could’a sworn that Her Best Worst Mistake was tradpub when I looked at it! Now I know why. Nifty! (And a Dear Author rec? I see a pattern here with the stuff appearing on my books’ Also Boughts!)

  3. Just echoing the recommendation for Sarah Mayberry. Her books show how much a talented writer can do even within the strict framework of category romance.

  4. I think most of us hold the dream of holding a paper book in our hands that we authored. Old dreams die hard.

    Well, maybe they don’t die – they just shift a little. 😉

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