This week prolific British historical novelist Fenella Miller reflects on the secrets of her success as a self-published author, including
- how publishing a large number of books each year has helped build her success
- how taking on a new professional cover designer doubled her book sales
- how dictating her work boosts her productivity
What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
I am proud of still making a living from my books, still enjoying what I do, but writing eight books last year was a major achievement .
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
When I started I designed my own covers. Then someone told me about J D Smith and I asked Jane to design my covers and take care of my website. Sales doubled overnight when the new covers appeared. I owe a lot of my success to her wonderful covers.
What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
My biggest surprise was getting a Bookbub promotion – made an amazing difference to my sales in 2016. Sadly Amazon-only authors are not considered a good bet now.
What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?
Technology is my biggest challenge. Today I wanted to send out newsletters to my subscribers but MailChimp wouldn't cooperate. Wasted an hour before abandoning it. Someone more proficient would no doubt have sorted the problem in seconds.
How do you get/stay in a creative mood?
I don't need to get in a creative mood. I am a writer. I sit down at the PC, put in my bluetooth mic and dictate. My books almost write themselves. I am very fortunate to have this ability.
How do you remain productive/motivated?
I write because I have to. Also being my husband's carer (he is entering final stage vascular dementia) is stressful and ties me six days a week to the house. Therefore writing is something that I can escape into – it's what keeps me sane.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
The favourite thing about being an author-publisher for me is being able to write what I want, when I want and publish as many books as I want.
What are your top tips for other ALLis?
It was much easier for me to establish my position because I got in at the beginning of Kindle and had a very long backlist. I would say apart from the obvious:
- get an editor/proof reader/cover designer
- have at least two books ready to go before you publish and be writing your third
There are now 3 million+ books on Amazon, nearly two million in KOL, and it is much harder to get traction now.
If I was starting out I would go wide but for me being Amazon Select suits me.
What’s next for you?
My Ellen's War series about a female ATA pilot has been bought by Aria Head of Zeus.
I've never worked with a mainstream publisher and this was the one thing I still wanted to do.
I am unlikely to make as much money from this as I was making on my own, but I'm hoping I will learn a lot and that will help me with my other books.
Money isn't everything – although it is important. I wouldn't have signed a three book deal if I only wrote a couple of books a year as I don't want to be tied down my someone else.#Indieauthors - take inspiration from this case study of ALLi Professional Author member Fenella J Miller as s #selfpub success story series - @fenellawriter Click To Tweet