Today on our Saturday Spotlight we introduce Fenella J Miller who achieved her dream of being traditionally published and has now self- published over thirty of her books (not counting the box sets) on Amazon with huge success.If we could ask you some questions on your decision to self-publish and any pitfalls you’ve encountered, or any highs you’d like to share with us, that would be brilliant.
One question everyone wants to ask is, how difficult is it to prepare your own book for Amazon and which services would you recommend paying for, rather than struggling to complete yourself?
Getting a book ready for publication, whether for Amazon or anywhere else, is the same process. However, if you’re self publishing you need to employ professionals to do the jobs that would be done for you if you were with a traditional publisher. I would always recommend getting a professional cover, and proof read – if you’re a beginner then also pay for an editor. It’s helpful to have a group of friends (beta readers) who can read your manuscript first and point out plot holes et cetera.
Do you set a budget and include it in your marketing plan?
Marketing plan? Good heavens that sounds very efficient. I’m sure if I was just starting out and intending to go the indie route I would no doubt have a marketing plan and budget. However, I spend what I need to, in order to produce the best book I can. I would never spend more than I expect to earn in a few months – so wouldn’t go with Silverwood, for instance.
How do you market your books and is there any specific approach that appears to work better than others? (Such a giveaways, Twitter, paying for promo etc.)
I don’t think that social media makes any difference. Having an online presence is essential of course, author pages/websites/Twitter/Facebook – all these help to get your name out there but I don’t think are useful as a marketing tool. I have paid for blog tours but had no extra sales at all. I think that Amazon free book promotion is no longer as useful as it was, but their new book promotion (they put your book price up in increments over a period of a week and it is never at zero cost) seems to be working really well.
Do you find you sell many books through your website and do you feel it’s imperative for an aspiring writer to have their own website?
I get about 2000 hits a month from my website but have never sold a book through it as far as I know. I’ve no idea if aspiring writers should have a website, but certainly most publishers refuse to take on a new writer unless they have a media presence.
What aspect of self-publishing takes up most of your time?
I spend far too long faffing about on Facebook – which I suppose could be considered an aspect of self-publishing. Writing my book takes up the most time and this would be the same whether self published or traditionally published.
What gives you the most satisfaction; self-achievement, financial gain or having total control over every aspect of putting your book ‘out there’?
All the above – I would never go back to traditional publishing as I like to be in control of my own deadlines/covers/promotions/publicity. I’m making more now than I made as a full-time, top of the scale teacher and that is only because of self publishing.
Do you have any regrets regarding any aspect of self-publishing your novels or have you done anything different from the early days?
I was in too much of a rush to put up my books initially and skipped the professional proof read and professional cover. When I changed my covers to professional ones, my sales increased by 50%.
Do you just publish your books on Amazon or are there other platforms you would recommend trying? (Such as iBook’s)
I have my three mainstream historicals with Smashwords but have sold so few books I don’t think it’s worthwhile keeping there as I can’t use the Kindle promotions unless I am exclusively with Amazon. Smashwords put books up on all the platforms for you.
How would a self-published writer go about getting a ‘Tree-book” version of their novel printed up? Does Amazon cater for that or would you have to go to a vanity publisher?
Amazon has an excellent service for paperbacks – Create Space. However I employ someone to format my book as I spent days trying to get it to fit their template with no success. Never use a vanity publisher.
Silverwood is a publisher but you pay for the services that you would normally get for nothing – £1200 will buy you editing/proofreading/marketing/cover and I would recommend this if you can afford it as they produce excellent books and get them into bookshops and Barnes & Noble.
And lastly do you have any words of wisdom for someone looking to self-publish so that they get it right the first time?
My advice would be to write a least three books and have them ready for publication before you consider self-publishing. It’s very hard to make an impact in the 3 1/2 million books available on Kindle if you only have one title. There’s a thriller writer who wrote a book a month for three years and is now a multi-millionaire.
Thank you, Fenella for taking the time to be with us today.
We’re grateful to Fenella for sharing her experiences with us. The views expressed in the interview are hers. The Write Romantics do not recommend Silverwood or any other publishing service.