Self publishing started for me back in the 80’s – Part 1

I’m writing about my ebook experience, begun way before it was popular. Here’s my story in several parts.

The ebook revolution. You have to love it! Actually, I’ve been in self publishing and ebooks long before it ever became fashionable or so explosively growing. There was a little bit of being ostracized while I belonged to RWA, even as early as 8 years ago. But what the heck, I’m used to going off and doing my own thing.

I have written various books under various pen names. A non fiction memoir about grief and loss, a workbook about handling grief,  children’s Kindergarten EZ readers when my youngest began school, an internet dating guide when I reentered the dating market after the loss of my husband of twenty years. Nonfiction about how to buy a pony, and a book about a guardian angel. So much work and love went into all these efforts.

 I was doing my best to put my work out there. In truth, I was pretty disgusted with the traditional publishing world. I’ve been a writer for about 41 years. I’ve submitted manuscripts for about 38 years. At one point I decided to publish my own books.

I had been traditionally published by Harlequin/Silhouette, but then had several editor changes and finally ended up with an editor who seemed to greatly dislike my writing. Then I had an agent who made waves with said editor, and therein ended the whole H/S career.

My early books were paperbacks in the 80’s. I knew I needed a web presence so I learned how to use website building software. WebStudio had just come out at the time and I bought it at a computer store with a coupon. Final price, Free. I just updated to their newest release this year and paid about $150.00.  When I first bought the software I had just purchased my first computer with internet and I became a whiz at whipping up websites to advertise my work.

It all began really with the guardian angel book. In my local area I signed on with a publishing company that turned out to be a scam. Years later she (so called publisher) finally appeared on the Preditors and Editors site. I went to court and got my money for publishing back on that book and all my rights, hooked up via an artist’s forum with a woman who worked as an illustrator and hired her to create illustrations to go with the EZ readers I had written, including the angel book.  I sold some, and the process was great fun. The quality of course was not great because I was printing everything out on my home computer and color printer. However, I did sell some using Paypal and my website.

I had my buying a pony nonfiction book printed locally and it was a pamphlet that I advertised on my website. I had created my own imprint by this time and got a tax number to go along with the imprint. In this small niche, I used to sell quite a good number of the pony books through horse magazines and publications. However, I still have several boxes of the pony books in my attic. Perhaps a future project to be converted for Kindle and Smashwords!

Next I decided to compile crazy, strange and true internet dating stories. Now eight years or so ago there was still a stigma attached to dating via the internet, but I had some experiences I felt needed to be shared and I put a call out to others on dating forums if they wanted to share their stories, send them over. I had a friend who is an artist create a cover for me, then I compiled a guide and turned it into a pdf file which I sold from my site.

I sold quite a few of those too. I used a Paypal cart and then the buyer was sent a link to retrieve their copy of the book. Keep in mind all these sales thus far were from my website. I don’t know if the internet was greatly different 8 or so years ago, but people seemed to find me. I didn’t do any advertising but I was on MySpace at the time. I did take a local college’s internet marketing course about keywords, etc. And I credit that with helping people find me on the net.

My next venture was the grief and loss book. Something I felt I needed to share with other widows. It was written several years after my husband passed away. I used a company out of NYC They did a decent job but if I had known about Createspace at the time I would most likely have used them. However, my book was placed in their program on Amazon in paperback format. I did a big push with this and ended up doing about 30 radio interviews, sent out press releases, wrote 40+ online articles for various sites and also for my website. I was ultimately interviewed by US News and World Report and appeared on their website and in their paper edition. For this interview they sent a photographer to my house also. People began to email and call asking me to write articles on grief and loss. I maintained a wordpress blog and I got quite a good amount of hits. I used google adwords for a short while to boost visibility. I sold my books through Amazon and also through my website. 

I made some sales, not a great deal, but I got a lot of exposure. I received a lot of mail from other’s who had lost loved ones.

I’ve recently placed this niche book on Kindle and it is selling slow but steady. When I placed it in KDP Select free, it hit number one in Family Relationships category and the Grief category and stayed there throughout the promotion. It maintained good visibility for about two weeks after the free promotion, and I began playing with the price. I didn’t want to price it too high, or too low. Although it has since steadily moved upwards toward the 100,000’s. It is still slowly selling at $4.99.

to be continued

About gracebranniganauthor

I am an author living in the Catskill Mountains of New York. I write strong women into contemporary romance and time travel romance. I also write romance shorts, faerie romances, Young Adult time travels with a twist, children's picture books and Mandala Art and coloring books! Obviously, I like diversity.
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