KB: If you're a writer or a published author and have been going back and forth on whether you should self-publish, look at Julie Ortolon as an example. The once traditionally published author has overcome being dropped by her publisher and has become a huge success self publishing.
This is her story...
Seeing what I enjoyed reading disappear was disturbing enough, but I could still peruse my keeper shelf at home or swap cherished reads with a friend. I know, blasphemy for an author to say, since writers don't get paid when readers share books or shop the used bookstores. But when publishers stop publishing what we want to read, what choice do we have?
The changes in publishing trends went from disturbing to devastating in 2007 when I was told point blank by editors that readers no longer buy what I write: which are fun, sexy, feel-good contemporaries. How could that be? My Pearl Island trilogy -- about three siblings who buy a dilapidated mansion supposedly haunted by their colorful ancestor and her pirate lover to turn it into a bed and breakfast -- won all kinds of awards and rave reviews from Publishers Weekly. Almost Perfect, book one in my Perfect trilogy, had just been a Rita finalist and was named Best Single Title Contemporary Romance of the Year by Affaire de Coeur magazine. Still, I was told "readers no longer buy that."
Sadly, the numbers from my Perfect trilogy supported the publisher's claim. Long story short: The print books had very cute but horribly inappropriate cartoon covers. Here they are:
The Perfect trilogy, while fun on the surface, appeal to woman looking for some emotional complexity in their romance novels. I ask you, do those cartoon covers convey that at all? The stories also have some fairly steamy sex scenes, so definitely not YA.
My editor openly acknowledged -- in hindsight -- that the covers were a huge misstep. Didn't matter. In the publishing business, your numbers are your numbers. So, the low sales of the Perfect trilogy combined with the industry's perception that readers "no longer buy straight contemporaries" killed my print career. I went off to Santa Fe to paint, de-stress, and ponder clouds for a while.
Fast forward three years to when the word "ebook" first popped up on my radar, and I decided to investigate. This was early days in the revolution that has now taken the publishing world by storm. Few of the current resources existed, so a handful of adventurous authors banned together to hack our way through the challenges of scanning, formatting, and uploading.
Since I was both an artist and graphic designer before I sold my first novel, I found an unexpected career dropped into my lap, designing ebook covers. That went a long way to covering the bills while I prepared my own ebooks for uploading. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for what happened when my backlist went live.
When I uploaded the Perfect trilogy, with covers I designed myself, the sales shot through the roof! Contrast those cartoon cover with these.
The same stories that fizzled in print hit #1 in Romance at the Apple iBookstore and #2 in Contemporary Romance at Amazon. All three titles, Almost Perfect, Just Perfect, and Too Perfect, rode in the Top 100 Storewide at Amazon for weeks. Their success was so startling, people from the business development team at Amazon actually called me to talk about ways they could help other indie authors succeed.
I’m happy to say I’m not the only author experiencing this whirlwind rebirth of my writing career. Several of us in that early band of intrepid authors are seeing great success with backlist titles plus writing new stories we plan to take straight to ebook. This revolution has given new life to pirates, cowboys, knights in shinning armor, and yes, my contemporary heroes. As a reader, my iPad is brimming with the kind of stories I love to read but publishers no longer publish. As an author, I have the freedom to write the stories that I and my readers enjoy.
I just released my seventh backlist title, Dear Cupid, about a recently divorce advice columnist who realizes her sourness toward marriage is leaking into her letters to the lovelorn and potentially endangering her job. She decides a little harmless flirtation with a gorgeous stranger might help her remember that romance can be fun. But when the object of her flirtation falls in love at first sight, the chase is on in a tale that will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone.
One might think a drop-dead-handsome movie animator would have no problem marrying himself off. As Kate soon discovers, one would be sorely mistaken. A little too attached to his shabby bachelor pad couch and rumpled Hawaiian shirts, Michael is counting on Kate to turn him into husband material and find him a wife. But little does Kate know that this is just Michel’s plan to convince her to give love a second chance and to look for the future Mrs. Cameron in the most obvious place of all: the mirror…
You can learn more about my books and read excerpts at my Website: JulieOrtolon.com. I also have samples of the covers I designed on the “My Cover Designs” page at JuliesJournalOnline.com (a blog dedicated to helping aspiring writers and published authors navigate the brave new world of publishing). And if, like me, you’re looking for some good old fashioned romance, check out the directory at BacklistEbooks.com.
Interested in buying Dear Cupid, Julie's latest? *psst...it's at a great deal at the low price of .99!*
For the Kindle
For the Nook
For the Ipad
For the Sony Ereader