Amazon's KDP platform came into my life at just the right time. It was January 2010 and I was just finishing up my 3rd contract with a NY publisher in 6 years. My last three books had been sold at auction and it should have been a great time for me as a full-time writer. Unfortunately, things had never looked quite so bleak when I found out that not only would my option for a new series not be picked up...but it even looked like I might have to change my author name and âstart overâ.
I owned a Kindle and when a friend of mine mentioned hearing something about the Amazon self-publishing program, figuring I had nothing to lose, I put up a couple of backlist titles to test the waters in March 2010. Three weeks later, I was amazed to see that I had sold 200+ copies of those books!
Energized by those early sales â and by the fact that I now knew people were going to Amazon.com and typing âBella Andreâ into the search field because they were specifically looking for my books â I decided to write a much-requested sequel to a book that had been published 5 years earlier. LOVE ME did so much better than I ever expected it would and I decided to write another sequel to a previously published series. I released GAME FOR LOVE in December 2010 and my jaw dropped when I totaled up my self-publishing earnings for 2010.
Continually amazed by this new world of self-publishing and all of the options now open to me as a writer, I made two big decisions. First, to re-write and publish four âsweetâ contemporary romances that I had never sold to a publisher under the name Lucy Kevin. And second, writing as Bella Andre, to begin a brand new eight book series about the Sullivan family. In the past year, my books have risen as high as #2 on the Kindle top #100 (FROM THIS MOMENT ON, The Sullivans #2) ), I am in the million seller Kindle author club, and I have been the #1 ranked author on Amazon.
Being able to self-publish my romances via KDP has made me so incredibly connected to my readers. An eight book series would have been a very hard (a.k.a. impossible) sell to publishers, but knowing I could self-publish meant that I could believe in myself and move forward with my plan to write the kind of books that I knew my readers would love. I continue to be astonished on a daily basis by how much romance readers have embraced my Sullivan series, twelve books out in the series so far. I absolutely love sitting down to work on my stories every day and have never been so energized or excited about the world of publishing...and my place in it.
After working (rather unhappily) through the traditional publishing route for several years with limited success, I wrote "Relatively Famous" and self-published that book about two years ago. I'm still very happy with that book, but I can see now that I was still subscribing to what I thought I "should" write. Writing "Flat-Out Love" was the first time that I wrote with total abandon, ignoring all of the "rules" often associated with writing for young adults, primarily because I knew that I wouldn't have to get past large publishing houses. I was in control of my book, and I truly understood, at last, the meaning of "pouring your heart" into something. I wrote a novel that was totally "me." I published this on KDP in April of 2011. Sales were slow during the first two months, but suddenly picked up in late June. I had given away tons of review copies to bloggers, many of whom graciously posted their reviews on Amazon and helped garner some online buzz for the book. Flat-Out Love's ranking on Amazon suddenly began jumping, at one point holding steady around #450, and my little book miraculously has spent many weeks as the top-rated kindle romance on Amazon! That marker of success was one I hadn't come close to before.
Along my publishing path, I met many authors from various online author groups that were incredibly helpful. Reading Joe Konrath's blog was also a great support--the sales numbers that he posted were certainly eye-opening, and his many blogs of encouragement were one of the things that kept me going while writing and marketing. I also spent a lot of time networking with bloggers and developing truly wonderful relationships with a generous group of reviewers. To interact with readers, I rely heavily on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog (which I feed into my Amazon author page). Amazon has several excellent tools for authors that have helped lead to my success, most importantly KDP itself, but also Author Central and CreateSpace. The recommendations for my books that Amazon features on other books' pages, as well as the personalized recommendations to readers who have read similar books, have been absolutely key in directing readers to Flat-Out Love. Amazon's self-publishing model has fully convinced me that I really can make it as a writer.
Here's wishing all the best to other authors who are getting started in today's rapidly changing--and tremendously exciting--publishing world!
"KDP has created an amazing environment for authors, with all the tools you need to publish successfully."
Tanya Anne Crosby, author of Sagebrush Bride
I sold my first book in 1991, a complete novice to the industry. I wrote from the gut and knew little about marketing or promotion, agents, or publishers. 19 books later, I can officially call myself a veteran author, but it took a 10-year hiatus to teach me something I forgot along the way.
Pretty much everyone is talking to you about money- and money is important, but it's not everything. In fact, once you get to book 10, money is a tough motivator all by itself. That's about the time I began to feel the drudgery of writing as a career, though I stopped writing for a slew of reasons, not the least of which included publishing politics I was ill equipped for at the time. But I'm a writer at heart, so during my hiatus, I didn't stray far. I put on other writing hats and found myself taking renewed joy in the written word. I had forgotten how happy it made me to run with an idea I was on fire about and then to share that idea with others. Somewhere along the road to success, I had become insulated, too busy to stop and take joy in the one thing that inspired me most: my readers. And I struggled with the process of trying to squeeze my idea of what I should be writing into my publisher's box.
When I made the decision to return to the industry, it was like stepping into an H.G. Wells novel. Some things were familiar, but it was a new world out there. With a nervous gulp, I made the decision to begin shopping a new suspense book, a whole new genre for me, and found that, despite past successes, publishers were no longer quite so willing to take a chance on a hybrid book from an author who hadn't written in nearly 10 years. But I'm stubborn; that didn't stop me. While I waited, I began to publish my backlist titles for which I held the rights via KDP-books that had been out of print in some cases for nearly 20 years. Would anybody care? Probably not, but I did. Those books were written from my heart, and I still loved them.
Apparently others did too, because I spent the first six months in Amazon's Top 100 lists, and made the USA Today and the New York Times lists again as well.
From the moment I hit publish on KDP and began to hear from fans, old and new, I felt a sense of homecoming. Writing was personal again. Despite that it takes time away from my daily word count, I even welcome social media because it brings me face to face with my readers, and they're the ones I'm writing for-not editors or publishers.
In the end, I sold that new book I was shopping. But as I sat here recently, weighing options for my first new historical romance in nearly a decade, I considered the earnings - and let's just say that, despite interest from publishers, I decided I already had everything I needed to make this book successful. KDP has created an amazing environment for authors, with all the tools you need to publish successfully. And thanks to KDP, authors now have the means to make a connection that's far more valuable than money. In January, I published Highland Fire, my first new historical romance in nearly a decade, as a KDP Select title. It's great to be back!