Friday, May 18, 2012

First Year Indie

Alle Wells’ journey to publication has been filled with twists and turns. It has also been a journey of self-discovery. Now the author of three books, she graciously agreed to share the lessons she's learned . Welcome back to Book Blather, Alle.

One spring morning in 2011, I read an article in my local newspaper about self-publishing on Amazon. By that afternoon, I had an idea for my first story. Since the story was so magically inspired, I envisioned that it would be an instant success. Even though I had no credentials in journalism other than writing for small town newspapers and non-profit newsletters, I thought that Amazon would welcome me as a writer. After all, I had been one of their best customers through the years. After reading numerous how-to books about self-publishing, I finished my first heart-felt novel in less than three months and paid three times the going rate for a bad book cover. It took me an hour-and-a-half to copyright my first book and a three-day weekend to upload it to Amazon, Smashwords, and B&N.

The thought of social networking sky rocketed me out of my comfort zone. I created a Facebook page and joined the Amazon Thread network because the how-to books told me to do that. I’ve never been a very sociable person and felt awkward talking about myself on Facebook. I thought that Twitter was something that only celebrities did. “Talking” to people on the Amazon Thread introduced me to other struggling, newbie authors. Each one of my new friends said that if I purchased their book, then they would purchase mine. So I traded reviews with four people and that was it. A couple of months went by. My book was ranked 654,824 on Amazon, and I’d sold nothing on the other sites. I pulled it off the shelves, unable to face the thought of failure, the pressure of social networking, or tediousness of marketing. 

While sulking and crying in my soup, I re-read the motivational guides to self-publishing and continued to hang around on the Amazon Thread. Thinking that the bad cover was the culprit of my demise, I began talking to a cover design artist on the Thread. He was kind enough to share his marketing experience with me and designed a fantastic new cover for my book. I added a previously deleted chapter to the text with my new cover and re-published Lame Excuses.

 I learned how to tweet like a bird and forget my self-consciousness while online. I sold twenty-five thousand copies of Lame Excuses and began writing Railroad Man. Then the bad reviews came. Even though my very well-educated daughters helped me edit the book, the reviews painfully noted that I “needed a better editor." Lame Excuses was pulled from the shelf again and re-published as Lame Excuses, Revised Edition. The importance of having a professional editor is the most fundamental lesson I’ve learned during my first year as a writer. My editor is my valued friend. She has my back and keeps me afloat.

One year later, I’m not at the top of the charts on Amazon, but I’m gradually gaining speed. My three books are available only on Amazon, and I have a review blog dedicated to Amazon’s Indie Authors. My southern stories tell the story of one life and how society, beliefs, and culture shape the outcome of that life. Each ebook is approximately 140 pages.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to Marilee Brothers who was the first person to befriend me on Twitter and extend an invitation to her blog. People like Marilee inspire newcomers and make social networking worthwhile.

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