Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One year of self-publishing - N. Gemini Sasson

What a wild year this has been – full of ups and downs, tough challenges and unexpected rewards. When I leapt into indie publishing last year at about this time, it was after years of pursuing the traditional route with a reputable agent. I’d become jaded by the process and was more than ready to move on. My goals were simply to put my work in physical form, make it as professional-looking as I possibly could on a limited budget and maybe, maybe sell a few hundred. A thousand or two sales was a distant dream.

After releasing The Crown in the Heather in paperback, I quickly became aware that my best chance of reaching an audience was through e-books. So I loaded it onto Kindle, announced it on the Amazon forums and at Kindleboards and waited for people to snatch it off the virtual shelf.  Mostly, it collected dust.

Eventually, I released a second and then a third book onto Kindle (Isabeau and Worth Dying For). Sometimes I went days in between sales. The first day I reached double digits, I was ecstatic. Still, after several months I was barely averaging half a dozen a day. Resigned to the fact that I had given it a go, I went back to college to renew my teaching certificate. But a funny thing happened while I was scribbling notes in Anatomy class. Sales began to snowball: 10, then 20, then 50, and eventually 100 a day. 

Just eleven months after launching my first e-book, the tally ticked over to 10,000 Kindle books sold. In May of 2011, Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer, was awarded the IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) Silver Medal in the Historical Fiction category. Two of my three books have also regularly been in the Top 100 Kindle Bestsellers for Historical Fiction.

Someone asked me this past year how it felt to hold my book in my hands. Truth be told, to me it was just a manuscript in a fancy wrapper – the same thing I’d been seeing on my computer screen for years. But I really knew I was a writer when I got my first fan mail, asking when the next book would be out. That is the most awesome feeling in the world. It also terrifies me, because I know I have to put my best effort into each successive book and that continued success is never a given.

Ten years ago, these opportunities wouldn’t have existed. The biases against self-publishing are eroding as readers discover fresh, new voices and the lines between traditional and indie publishing blur. With an engaging story and solid writing, you can climb the rankings, but it also takes patience, luck and hard work.

I’ve since put plans of returning to work on hold while I work on finishing two more books. It’s a great time to be a writer!

Gemi's Website
Gemi's Blog
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Gemi on Twitter

The Crown In The Heather (The Bruce Trilogy)
Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer
Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy)


Consuelo Saah Baehr said...

Very inspiring, I write historical fiction and it is hard work to put out an authentic and well-told tale. Bravo on your success.

Lisa Yarde said...

Gemi, I never doubted that you would succeed in this business. From the time we "met" in the critique group, I didn't doubt your talents. You're a naturally gifted writer. Congratulations on a wonderful year and I wish you many more successes.

Alison said...

This is really inspiring.

Sophie Perinot said...

You go girl!!! Congrats and I hope to hear more success stories this time next year :)

Johanna Garth said...

Absolutely inspiring! Thanks for sharing your self-publishing journey with us!

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Thanks, all! It didn't happen without massive support from positive writing colleagues, patient family members and an understanding agent. And more than anything, I am grateful for and indebted to the readers out there who thought Robert and Isabella sounded like characters worth reading about it.

jenny milchman said...

Wow! Congratulations on all your success! I would love to hear more about your journey, arriving at that crossroads--I teach publishing workshops and am always trying to share real life choices (and success stories). I myself worked with 3 agents over the course of 11 years before--just recently--receiving an offer. After having experienced many obstacles and finally the opposite, I truly believe there are pros and cons to both sides of the publishing fence. Thank you for sharing.

Rebecca Lochlann said...

Whoo Hoo! Wondermous!

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