We’ve been talking about self-publishing for the past several Wednesdays. Today, we’re going to take a break from the nuts & bolts of the process and talk with someone who has some actual self-publishing experience.
Let’s give a big Eight Ladies Writing welcome to Molly Jameson.
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8LW: You’ve currently got three books out in your Royal Romances series, what made you chose to self-publish them?
MJ: Easy answer (though not a short answer because, as my university professors can attest, I can’t say “yes” or “no” in 100 words), agents kept refusing my first novel. Harlequin kindly considered the entire manuscript, but said I would need to add “an explosive climactic sex scene” to make it saleable. I took that to mean that my characters would go for coffee, the building would spontaneously explode, and they would somehow be inspired to hook up in the debris. No thanks.
Fortunately, a clever friend of mine had some success in self-publishing and convinced me that all the cool kids were doing it.
8LW: How great that you had a friend with some experience. So what was the best part of the whole self-publishing process, besides actually getting that first book out there?
MJ: The power! (Cue the eighties theme from He-Man and imagine me bellowing “I have the POWAH” while a wind machine ruffles my blowout.)
I’ve done a bit of ghost-writing as a freelancer and, while profitable, it’s very restrictive because the client is purchasing a specific product. He dictates word count, plot points and character names. So when I was working on The Royal Rake and figured out that I needed to change my female lead’s name from Abby to Evie, I was ecstatic that I was able to do that without a three-day e-mail conversation involving bullet pointed reasons.
8LW: Having the freedom to make your own choices is great, but I’m guessing the process had its ups and downs. What was the biggest challenge you encountered?
The downside of not working for a client with specific ideas is that there’s no one to reel me in when I veer off outline or throw in a twist that makes very little sense. I love drafting, which has the first flush of infatuation to it. Oftentimes, I’m convinced my draft is just darling and when my magnificent critique partner finds an issue (or twelve) with it, my instinctive reaction is to stick my tongue out toddler style and say, “You can’t make me!”
So I have to put aside the arrogant conviction that I always know best and try instead to tell the best story I can. My second book, The Princess Royal, was, if you asked me, flawless in its first incarnation. Ultimately it required at least a 50% rewrite to make it the book it is now; and those revisions made it immeasurably better. By listening to the constructive criticism I received, I was able to look at the story with a clearer eye.
8LW: Now that you’ve got a few self-published books under your belt, what advice would you give a writer considering self-publishing their work for the first time?
MJ: Find someone who’s self-published, buy her a coffee and ask her questions. Specifically, ask her what her experience has been with sales from multiple platforms (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc), beg for the name of a good copy editor and cover designer, and ask her what she wishes she’d known when she started.
In answer to that last question, I knew embarrassingly little about self-publishing going in. I assumed that once I launched a book on Amazon, eager readers would discover it, adore it, review it, and share it ecstatically with all their friends and family. Its meteoric rise from obscurity (with absolutely no effort from me) would be the stuff of legend. As it turns out, placing ads is a much more realistic way to promote a book.
8LW: Wait, you mean you don’t just hit “publish” and experience phenomenal sales? Well that’s disappointing. Ah well, back to work then.
Thanks so much for talking with us today, Molly. Before we go, tell us a little about yourself.
MJ: I’m from Kentucky, but I’d love to live in London. I love to watch British television (so sad that Downton ended and I’m aging while I wait for series four of Sherlock) and read. Give me a cup of tea or a mango margarita with my Kristan Higgins, Jane Austen, or the latest Cosmo and I’m perfectly happy.
Writing about royalty with its attendant splendor, manners and restrictions in a world of modern dating, hook ups and break ups has always been a dream of mine. My Royal Romances series follows the seven sons and daughters of the (fictional) king of England in the present day. The siblings all have very different personalities and interests, which keeps the writing fresh for me. They’re modern fairy tales with the sharp banter and sexy-times totally missing from Grimm’s own tales.
You can follow me on Pinterest to check out my inspiration boards and the latest pics from my Tom Hiddleston crush or pop by my web site to catch up on the latest gossip about the newest releases in the series. The first three books of the Royal Romances series are available at Amazon and four more books and a prequel novella are in the works!
Thanks to Eight Ladies Writing for inviting me to drop in.