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Sunday Success Stories: My Indie Author Adventure – With Laurence O’Bryan

Sunday Success Stories: My Indie Author Adventure – with Laurence O’Bryan

Photo of Laurence O'Bryan signing a book

Laurence O'Bryan at the launch of his thriller “The Istanbul Puzzle” in Dubray Bookstore on Grafton Street, Dublin ( Photo byNic Mac Innes)

Welcome to our new series examining the different routes that indie authors take into self-publishing and the way their careers develop. We will be posing the same questions to a different author a couple of times every month. It will be fascinating the similarities and differences in their indie author adventures. I think it's safe to assume that every one will be in unique in some way – that's part of the joy of being  indie!

We are delighted to launch the series with Irish novelist Laurence O'Bryan. Laurence's novels have been translated into ten languages. He is a board member of the Irish Writers Center and on the committee of the Irish Writers Union. He speaks at conferences in the US and Europe and founded the Dublin Writers Conference, which is heading into its third year.

Please describe your indie author journey, from starting point to the present day.

Book table in bookstore including one of Laurence's books

Laurence O'Bryan's books on display in the Newry branch of Waterstones

I was traditionally published by Harper Collins. Three novels. Quite a surreal experience with intense ups and downs. Despite selling close to 200,000 copies of the entire series I was dropped. Declining sales was the very believable reason. So what is a mid-list author supposed to do when they are dropped, give up?

I decided to self publish the next novel in the series, The Nuremberg Puzzle. It came out April this year and is earning money. I expect to make about 150% of the advance I was paid by Harper Collins for my first novel, for this self published novel, all without the aid of a publisher.

I have also self-published a guide to social media on Amazon, as I now run a book promotion business, YourBookPromoter.com, where I use the following I built up and my experiences with Harper Collins to help other self published authors earn money for their work.

Where did you first learn about self-publishing?

I have been aware of vanity publishing for decades. The work of ALLi and others have helped to change my perception of what self publishing is. It's by no means an easy road, but it allows authors to continue with their passion or to find an audience, where previously, unless you were wealthy, there was no opportunity.

What was your first self-published book, and when and how did you publish it?

Cover of The Nuremberg Puzzle

Laurence O'Bryan's first self-published novel continues his trade-published Puzzle series

I self-published a guide to social media a few years ago. I edited it three times and updated it for authors. It's now available for free at YourBookPromoter.com. I published it on Amazon and through Draft2Digital, a great service for reaching other ebook distribution platforms.

Name three things you know now about self-publishing that you wish you’d known when you started out.

  1. It's all about what we write. Some genres do very well. Others not well at all.
  2. A regular monthly income from self publishing is achievable.
  3. Authors helping each other is the key to success. Why? Because we learn from each other.

What has been your biggest surprise as a self-published author?

How willing many self-published authors are to share information and help each other.

What is your proudest achievement as an indie author?

Earning an income and sharing my knowledge.

How do you describe yourself and your books – self-published, indie, or something else?


What are your future ambitions as an author?

I am researching a new series. I hope to write on for as long as I can.

How different do you think the self-publishing landscape will be in five years’ time?

Self-publishing is a viable option, which any writer can pursue, but we have a responsibility to ensure we deliver a quality product. That means paid editing. working hard on revisions, paid proofreading, professional covers and working to make our presence felt online.


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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Laurence, Thanks so much for your support and your generosity towards other writers.
    If anyone wants to make money writing, I suggest they find another way. I write what I find I must. Not necessarily to sell, but of course, if I do, It would be wonderful. I just would like to get more exposure for work, to make it available to whoever may want to read it. There are such great writers out there who have rarely, or never been read simply because of shall we say their character.

  2. Clare, I think it’s partly about expectations.

    It’s well know, in traditional publishing, that a famous writer of literary fiction might sell 2,000 copies of a new book, and a less well known crime writer might sell 20,000 in the same period.

    Expecting to become a literary sensation is the sure route to disappointment. If you write for a purpose, to help others, to heal, to say what you want to say, and have readers hear you, and it’s enough for you, why worry about how many copies you will sell?

    Expectations are weights that hold us down.

    Planning to make a living as a writer requires some consideration of genre, theme and the appeal of what we are writing. Do we write in isolation from the reader? Can we say what we want to say, while holding to a genre structure, which readers enjoy? I think so.

    The challenge for me is to stretch a popular genre, to subvert it, yet hold to its function.

    What genre do you write in? What genre do you read in?

  3. So you say some genres do not do well as Indies. This looks like indie publishing is only for popular genre writers: if an author is writing anywhere near more literary or less popular genre books, would you say don’t bother – either swap to popular genres or don’t attemp to indie publish?

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