It’s a big decision. For some an easy decision. But a decision nonetheless. There is much talk going around about how ebooks are taking over the world of publishing and that publishers and agents will no longer be needed. I, for one, do not agree with that opinion. (I believe Allison talked about this a week or so back.)
I believe there is a place for all manner of books as long as they are well written and tell a wonderful story. I love writing my Colby Agency series for Harlequin Intrigue and I’m having a blast with my Faces of Evil series (don’t forget to get your copy of OBSESSION today and look for IMPULSE next week!) as self-published ebooks. I can already see a different audience taking notice of my ebooks while loyal readers still prefer the traditional paperbacks I do for Harlequin. Self-publishing presented an opportunity for me to publish a series that may or may not have fit into what a traditional publisher was looking to add to their line-up at this time. It also, allows me to release the books on “my” schedule and based on the demand of the readers and my ability to get the job done.
My traditionally published books allow me to reach those readers who still love to hold a book in their hands and who cherish browsing a book store on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It also gives me the backing of a publisher. Someone who takes care of all the other stuff, beyond the writing, related to publishing a book (editing, covers, distribution, marketing, to name a few). My agent is indispensible in both worlds. She protects my rights as an author in the world of traditional publishing and she solicits foreign publishers for my self-published work.
So, yes, there is a place for everyone, authors, editors, agents and publishers, in the world of books in whatever form they reach the readers.
Dear friend and New York Times Bestseller CJ Lyons has been a tremendous source of information and help along this new journey in my publishing career. She has kindly offered to share some of her wisdom.
Deb: When did you decide to take the plunge into the world of self-publishing?
CJ: I’ve always thought that my best promotion was my books. If I could get them into the hands of new readers, my work would sell itself.
After my first book was published by Berkley in March of 2008, I physically bought copies and mailed them to readers that holiday season because they were complaining they had to wait so very long for book #2. It was by far my biggest promotional expense, but well worth it.
By the next holiday season in 2009, Kindle self publishing was here and I realized I could get my books into the hands of readers faster than ever before—in essence giving them what they wanted. That was my driving goal…until a few months later when I realized I was able to earn pretty nice money with my self-published e-books and I began to focus on it not as a promotional tool but an important element of my publishing business plan.
Deb: What pitfalls or mistakes have you dealt with that can help others headed down that path?
CJ: Not understanding my brand and communicating that effectively to the audience. I write “Thrillers with Heart”—they’re all about the people and relationships rather than the technology or science or conspiracies. But a few of my early covers and product descriptions made the wrong promise to my readers and I had to revise them to let the “right” readers know these were the “right” books for them.
When you’re in charge of all the decisions it’s easy to get stressed about getting everything right the first time out. But the world of indy e-publishing is incredibly flexible. You can re-do your cover art, change product descriptions, upload new versions of your book all within a minute or two.
Deb: What kind of marketing do you suggest?
CJ: Don’t be focused on the money. The money will come…with more books. Remember, that’s what readers want, particularly e-readers. If they fall in love with your work, they want more, right now. They love that instant gratification. So getting more books up is the best marketing you have.
Next would be having honest reviews (one star reviews can be just as helpful in steering the right readers to your books as five star reviews), great cover art, and an enticing product description.
Once you have all that in place, start building a way to communicate with your readers. It might be a blog or facebook presence, etc. For me it’s my monthly newsletter, Lyons’ Tales, which has had over 13,000 people sign up for it. I give away free reads (not just my own books, I feature other authors who would appeal to my audience), sneak peaks, and from that list I’ve grown a Street Team Family who get advance readers copies and the occasional reader appreciation gift from me.
Deb: You’ve recently signed a new contract with a traditional publisher (congratulations!). How do you feel this will round out your career and your goals as an author?
CJ: I strongly feel that e-publishing and traditional publishing are synergistic and should go hand in hand. Traditional publishers have the ability of turning a book into an event, something memorable that readers want to keep on their shelves and show off to friends as part of their personality.
Instead of worrying about fighting over shrinking pieces of the pie, indy e-publishing has grown the pie. For the first time in history, writers can make a living wage, readers get the books they want faster than ever, agents can make money on subrights, and publishers can pick the cream of the crop to focus their limited resources on.
A true win/win/win for everyone!
Deb: I’ve heard you say many times that your work is focused on the readers. Please share your thoughts on the importance of that goal.
CJ: The best piece of writing advice I ever received came from Jeffery Deaver. We were sitting together at an awards ceremony (we both won, yeah!) after my first book came out and he told me, “Never forget, the reader is god.”
He meant to always keep the reader in mind. Not just with plot decisions but also marketing choices. What will make my readers happy? I ask that every step of the way.
And you know what? It’s totally changed how I do business. Now I don’t worry about the latest fad—if it doesn’t help me connect with my readers and make them happy (and they’ve made it very clear they’re happiest when I’m getting more books into their hands faster, so that’s always job #1) then I don’t do it. What a relief!
I owe all my success to my readers. They’re the ones who took BLIND FAITH to #2 on the New York Times list and kept it on the list for six weeks. So, the reader always comes first!
Deb: What’s next for CJ Lyons?
CJ: I just released FACE TO FACE, the third book in the Hart and Drake medical suspense series (see below for a chance to get a free book!) and in January will be releasing the second Lucy Guardino FBI thriller, BLOOD STAINED. Both these books would never have been written except that readers demanded them—and who was I to say no, lol!
Next summer, St. Martin’s/Minotaur will be re-releasing BLIND FAITH as a paperback and e-book, followed by two more in the Caitlyn Tierney FBI series. So I’m definitely keeping busy!
As a special thank you for dropping by, CJ is offering the special promotion below!
It’s regularly priced at $4.99 but if you buy Book #1, NERVES OF STEEL, now at a Special, Limited Time Sale price of 0.99 from either BN or Amazon, forward a copy of your receipt to CJLyons@CJLyons.net, and she’ll email you the e-book of SLEIGHT OF HAND for FREE! Click below to buy your copy of NERVES OF STEEL at this special low price now:
It’s just that simple! And yes, you can tell all your friends–the more the merrier! Here’s the only catch: this offer expires Sunday, November 20th at midnight EST.
Considering taking the indy e-pub plunge? Post your questions for CJ in the comments!