Linsey Lanier’s Foray Into Self-Publishing


Good morning, Linsey. Welcome.


I'm thrilled to be a guest on Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers today. Thanks to GRW sister Mary Marvella for inviting me. While I'm a member of Petit Fours and Hot Tamales (http://petitfoursandhottamales.com) and have my own blog (http://linseylanier.blogspot.com ), this is my very first guest post. Mary promised she'd be gentle.


And she believed that one. (snicker)


Since the hot topic of the day seems to be self-publishing, I thought I'd talk about my experiences so far.


Grab your notebooks! Note taking time.


Last Year

It's hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I started thinking about self-publishing. Around that time, PF&HT sister Tami Brothers mentioned J.A. Konrath's “A Newbies Guide to Publishing.” (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com ) I downloaded it and began to read about his "experiments" with “downloadable ebooks” and pricing, including giving some titles away for free to promote your other books. It all sounded intriguing.


Having chased the traditional publishing rabbit for so many years, I was nervous about self-publishing, but I decided to try it out with some short stories that I'd written for PF&HT. So the first week of September 2011, I released four short stories on Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/linseylanier ), including two that came from "The Clever Detective" series, a humorous fantasy about a hard boiled female investigator and a handsome fairytale prince.


(By the way, the second book in the series, Clever Is As Clever Does, contains the names of a few blogs hidden in the text. One of them is Pink Fuzzy Slippers. I even included a link at the end.)


Anyway, sales were pretty meager at first. Being the impatient person I am, I quickly decided to make all the stories free. It was an experiment, after all, and I was just trying to get my name out there. That made a big difference. By the end of October, The Clever Detective had 260 downloads (can’t call them sales, since they’re free).


This Year

By early April 2011, Clever Is As Clever Does was at 1,058 downloads and The Clever Detective was at 1,399. Nice increase.


Then I discovered Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004ZH67LA ).


Konrath pointed out in one of his posts that his sales on Amazon were 10 to 1 compared to Smashwords. So I figured out how to format my short stories and released them on Amazon the first week of May 2011. Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow you to price your ebooks lower than $0.99, so I couldn’t make them free.


A couple of weeks later, I finished a novella that was the third installment to the “Clever” series, called Cleverest of Them All. This story, which opens two weeks before Stacey and Chad’s royal wedding, is about four times as long as The Clever Detective, about 18,000 words, around 70 printed pages by the standard 250 per page calculation. I priced it at $0.99 on Smashwords and Amazon.


Going to Amazon turned out to be a good decision. The first week of June, Amazon must have discovered The Clever Detective was free on Smashwords, so they set their price to free. That’s when things started happening.


The first week, over 12,000 copies were downloaded. According to Author Central, on June 4 The Clever Detective ranked 26 “out of over 15,000 free books in the Kindle Store.” It stayed in the top 10 of the Free Romance category for 5 days.


Amazon made Clever Is As Clever Does free the following week. On June 9, it hit #39 of all free books in the Kindle Store. Both are still in the top 100 of the Free Romance category. “The Clever Detective” now has over 18,000 downloads.


And Cleverest of Them All, the $0.99 novella? The one I’m making money from? As of today, 344 sales. It’s enough to pay my RWA and GRW dues for the year. And that’s not bad, considering I’ve done almost zero promotion of the book.


The Future?

So what’s next in Linsey’s big self-publishing adventure? I’m going to take the plunge. I’ve been hard at work editing two full-length single title books in a mystery series called “Miranda’s Rights.” That’s the name of the series. The first mystery is Someone Else’s Daughter.

Thirteen years ago, Miranda Steele's baby was taken by her abusive husband and given up for adoption. Now Miranda has discovered a letter written by a thirteen-year-old girl who lives in a mansion in Georgia and claims she's adopted. Could this be her long lost child?


Or is she someone else's daughter?


It’s a romantic mystery, with the murder of a young girl and a sexy, southern gentleman detective bent on finding her killer. The series explores Miranda’s relationship with him and her growth as an investigator after he offers her a job in his agency.


I should be ready in a few weeks. For updates, check out my website (http://www.linseylanier.com ).


What About You?

So what does this mean for those of you out there who are contemplating self-publishing? For one thing, it’s not as easy to make money at it as you might think, but it’s possible. Indie publishing is a lot of hard work, and you never know what might happen next. The competition is as stiff as ever, so it’s important to put your very best work out there, use everything you’ve learned from every workshop, conference and all those years of pounding out the words. Finally, it takes courage to take your fate into your own hands.


As I stand on this precipice, I’m cautiously hopeful. There are so many more books I want to write. So many good books out there I want to read. Self-publishing gives us all an opportunity to do both.


What are your thoughts?

29 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // August 2, 2011 at 2:02 AM  

    Good morning, Linsey!

  2. Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn // August 2, 2011 at 2:09 AM  

    Linsey, I'm in awe of your gutsy approach to this venture. I applaud you! Best of luck with your sales. :)

  3. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:10 AM  

    Hi Mary, the post looks awesome. Thanks again for having me here!

  4. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:12 AM  

    Hi Carol. Thanks so much, yes it does take guts. Sometimes I wonder "what the heck am I doing?" But when I get a nice review from a reader, I remember why I made this choice. :)

  5. Lindy // August 2, 2011 at 7:49 AM  

    Great commentary Linsey. Thanks fro sharing this segment of your journey and inspiring us to keep moving forward.

  6. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 8:05 AM  

    I aim to please, Lindy. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Pam Asberry // August 2, 2011 at 8:48 AM  

    Great interview, Mary and Linsey! I applaud you for taking the plunge, Linsey. Congrats on your success and keep up the good work!

  8. Maggie Toussaint // August 2, 2011 at 10:25 AM  

    Linsey,

    We all have a journey to make in publishing. I applaud you for the self-pub route and praise your success with your short stories. I think you might find a built in market from your earlier sales - the trick is in finding those people again!

    Earlier this year, I self-pubbed a sweet romance, Seeing Red. I, too, have had greater sales at Amazon. I started my book at $2.99, but have since moved the price to $0.99.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Maggie

  9. Regina Richards // August 2, 2011 at 10:47 AM  

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Linsey.

  10. Pamela Mason // August 2, 2011 at 1:02 PM  

    Linsey, Congratulations on your success! You took a big step & I will be looking to you for advice when I'm ready to publish myself.

  11. Autumn Jordon // August 2, 2011 at 4:03 PM  

    Linsey, Thank you so much for joining us at TPFS and for sharing your experience. With the publishing world in such a turmoil it's hard to make a decision on the path to take to publication, but those like you who've shared info, it does help.

    Kudos to you for being a trailblazer.

  12. Barbara Monajem // August 2, 2011 at 4:21 PM  

    This is such useful info, Linsey -- thanks for sharing it!

  13. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 4:30 PM  

    Thanks, Pam. You are a sweetheart.

  14. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 4:34 PM  

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Maggie. All this praise is making my head swell. Interesting point about your price change. I wasn't patient enough to see how my shorts did at $0.99. And when you're new, it's easier to be "discovered" by readers if your price is lower. You can always raise the price later - one of the many beauties of self-pubbing.

    I'll have to check out "Seeing Red." Good luck to you, too.

  15. Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn // August 2, 2011 at 6:55 PM  

    Hey, Linsey, I meant to ask you who did the cover for Someone Else's Daughter? It looks great.

  16. Beth Trissel // August 2, 2011 at 7:23 PM  

    Hello Linsey. How very interesting about your self-pubbing experience. You must come back again and keep us posted.

  17. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 2, 2011 at 7:31 PM  

    Linsey, welcome to the Pink Fuzzies! We're please to have you drop by and tell us about your trek through self publishing. Your story is very encouraging to those of us considering that path.

  18. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:38 PM  

    Sorry I'm so late answering the rest of your wonderful comments. Blame it on Atlanta traffic! :)

    Hi Regina. Hope it gave you some food for thought. Thanks for commenting.

  19. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:39 PM  

    Hi Pamela. Thanks so much. I'm always good for giving advice, LOL. Stop by my website or blog for updates.
    http://www.linseylanier.com/
    http://www.linseylanier.blogspot.com/

  20. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:43 PM  

    Thanks so much, Autumn. I'm so happy Mary asked me. You ladies have a great blog. Of course, all of you are welcome to stop by PetitFoursAndHotTamales.com anytime.

    I'm so glad you felt this information was helpful. Whether to self-publish or not is a tough decision. Two of the keys to making it are knowing what you really want and looking at the facts. Some people really want to be traditionally published. If that's your dream, I say, go for it.

  21. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:44 PM  

    Hi Barbara! Glad you liked the info. And congrats again on your latest release from Harlequin!

  22. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:46 PM  

    Thanks so much, Carol. You made me blush. I did the cover for "Someone Else's Daughter."

  23. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 7:48 PM  

    Hi Beth. Thanks so much. I do hope Mary will ask me again. I hope to have "Someone Else's Daughter" and it's sequel "Delicious Torment" out by the end of August. I'm eager to watch the numbers for full-length books. :)

  24. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 8:04 PM  

    Hi Scarlet. That warms my heart.

    One piece of advice for those considering this path - don't put some old manuscript that's been gathering mold in an underwear drawer out there. Spruce it up first. You've grown as a writer since you wrote it, so make sure what you present to your new readers reflects your current skill set. And keep growing that skill set. A terrific class I've taken recently is Carol Hughes' “What Does Nora Roberts Know That You Don’t?” Low Country RWA is offering it August 5 – 26, btw. Deadline is today, so hurry. Here's the link:
    http://lowcountryrwa.com/online-workshops/

    That's what I'm doing with the two books I'm about to release. I'm dying to get them out there, but I'm forcing myself to carefully revise first. I have an image of someone reading it on her Kindle and turning up her nose, when I could have her begging for more. Know what I mean?

  25. Mary Marvella // August 2, 2011 at 8:51 PM  

    You are doing a wonderful job, Linsey!

  26. Linsey Lanier // August 2, 2011 at 9:40 PM  

    Thanks, Mary. This has been a lot of fun. Thanks again for inviting me. :)

  27. Tami Brothers // August 3, 2011 at 6:23 AM  

    Oh man! I've got to get off digest... :)

    This is great, Linsey! I have read all three of those books and LOVE them. You did an amazing job and your journey is incredibly inspiring. Am starting The West Wind Blows this weekend.

    LOVE that new cover! You did an amazing job. Can't wait for the release!!!

    Hugs

    Tami

  28. Linsey Lanier // August 3, 2011 at 8:18 AM  

    Thank you so much, Tami. I really appreciate your support.

  29. Josie // August 9, 2011 at 9:05 AM  

    Hi Linsey,
    I'm chiming in late but welcome you to the Pink Fuzzies blog. Self-publishing is becoming more and more popular, and many authors are reporting great success.
    Best wishes!