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Self-publishing Success Story: Elizabeth Spann Craig, Cozy Mystery Author

headshot of Elizabeth Spann Craig

Elizzabeth Spann Craig, bestselling independent author of cozy mysteries

When best-selling cozy mystery author Elizabeth Spann Craig transitioned to self-publishing from a trade contract, she found she was able to reach a much wider audience as well as increasing her income. Today she shares the secrets of her success for the benefit of other indie authors, including:

  • the value of developing a writing equivalent to muscle memory, rather than waiting for inspiration
  • the importance of lifelong learning to make the most of all the opportunities independent publishing offers
  • the need to break down a huge writing and marketing workload into manageable chunks to avoid overwhelm

What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?

I think I’m proudest of my character development, particularly in my Myrtle Clover series. When readers write customer reviews or email me, they talk about Myrtle and Miles as if they’re personal friends of theirs. I love that I’ve been able to pass that feeling along to them.

What’s the single best decision you ever made?

pressedfortime_ebook_finalThe best decision I’ve made was taking back the character rights from my trade publishers and continuing to self-publish two series. I’ve been able to go wide with both series in format and distribution and gain a broader audience than I was able to acquire through traditional publishing.

I’ve also made far greater income self-publishing than when my income was being tapped by an agent and a publisher.

What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?

How much I’ve had to learn and continue learning.

I figured, when I started, that I would learn everything I needed to know about putting together a production team and marketing a book and then the learning process would be over. Instead, new formats, outlets, opportunities and social media have cropped up regularly, and I’ve found myself continuing to learn and grow.

Although this can be frustrating at times, I feel as though it’s helping me become a stronger author-publisher and afforded me more opportunities.

What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?

Burning out has been my greatest challenge: by this I mean both creative burnout and burnout relating to promo and the writing business.

I usually write several books a year and also keep up a strong social media and blog presence. Some days, it can all seem overwhelming.

When it does, I do a ‘brain dump’ of every task that I can think of relating to an upcoming project, promotions, or learning something new. I break those tasks into smaller bits and load them onto my to-do lists over the course of a couple of weeks.

This takes the pressure off and helps keep me from that frenetic feeling of not knowing what to work on next.

How do you get/stay in a creative mood?

Cover of A Body in the TrunkAlthough it sounds awful to say it, I’m rarely in a creative mood.

I write uninspired… and it turns out just fine.

If I had to wait for a muse, I’d be hanging out for a while. Being a mom and running a household, balanced that with all the responsibilities of publishing means that inspiration can be tough to come by.

My writing is almost muscle memory to me because I do it at the same time and place each day. And each day, when I pick up with my book, I fall back into it, relaxing into the story and characters and pulling it all together.

How do you remain productive/motivated?

My primary motivation is keeping my readers happy. That means offering them regular releases of books that are as high-quality as I can make them. That keeps me on my toes.

What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?

  • As an author, I love hearing from my readers. That’s the most satisfying part of being a writer to me and the whole reason that I started.
  • As a publisher, I love learning new things and then being able to immediately apply them to my business with the fleetness of self-publishing.

What are your top tips for other ALLis?

Set the bar low for your writing goals so that you can achieve them each day.

Can you manage five minutes a day? Ten? A consistent writing routine will help keep you motivated and a page a day of writing means a finished draft in less than a year.

What’s next for you?

I’m continuing to write two series (one of my three is discontinued), but considering starting a third. I’m also exploring opportunities in translated audio books (my Spanish translator has lots of ideas!)

#Authors - read top tips about how to #selfpub successfully in our exclusive interview with bestselling #cozymystery writer @ElizabethSCraig Click To Tweet

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4 Responses to Self-publishing Success Story: Elizabeth Spann Craig, Cozy Mystery Author

  1. K.S. Trenten March 18, 2018 at 6:35 pm #

    Congrats on managing to keep going without inspiration! Thank you for the excellent advice about staying in practice!

  2. Joel D Canfield March 14, 2018 at 9:47 am #

    Having chatted with Elizabeth at her blog for years I was amused and impressed that she says she’s rarely in a creative mood. Three cheers for writing like a pro.

  3. Sylva Portoian March 11, 2018 at 2:23 pm #

    People they don’t read poems …

    Sylva’s Poetry Collections since July 2007:

    Lance my Hart {Heart} at a Glance (July 2007)
    [Translated into Arabic (2018)]
    Delete Depression ~ Type Inspiration (November 2007)
    A Poetic Soul Shined of Genocides (August 2008)
    Angel “Lilit” Lilting via Internet (October 2008)
    Sons: Take My Heart and Transplant (February 2009)
    Millennium Brains Lacrimade (March 2009)
    Politics Play ~ People Pay (May 2009)
    E-Mails: Beneath Blossoming Trees (June 2009)
    Songs of Searing Desert Storms (December 2009)
    Sylva’s Serenade Dative Eyes (January 2010)
    My Son~My Sun: Chants Ann, Obama’s Mother (June 2011)
    Syndromes of Souls (March 2012)
    Carve Poetry ‘into’ Your Psyche (July 2014)
    Gomidas~Komitas, ‘My Musical Saint’ (April 2016)
    Arches of Symphonious ‘Sabre Dance’ (April 2017)
    Churchill at Ararat with Sylva’s Ethereal Love Songs (January 2018)
    ‘BRING OUT’ Our Genocided Skulls & Artful Hands! (April 2018)
    Sylva’s Blossoming Years ~ Armenian Poems ~ ( April 2018)

    Your Brain ‘IS-NOT’ a Box (2018)

    Dr. Sylva Portoian is the Carnegie spring 2009 Poetry Contest Winner of Policy Innovations
    (Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs) for her poem Inauguration Day.

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