Category Archives: Indie Life

Big, Meet Britches

I just realized that I haven’t done any sort of “Let’s wrap up 2018 and plan for 2019!” post yet, so let’s take a look backward. In fact, let’s go back further to September of 2017.

You may remember my trip to San Antonio and the second-fanciest hotel room I’ve ever been in. Probably not, though. I was hiding from the world in one of my eel holes for like a year. Anyway, that was around the time I was in the Every Rogue’s Heart box set. It was an awesome experience getting to know the ladies who have become my little author fam and the set did really well! They gave me hope, advice, and a place in the Enduring Legacy series. Thanks to them, I decided to do the thing and take the plunge into self publishing.

In March of 2018, I took a flying leap out the window and published the first book from Frozen Flame Press, Drowned History. I had no idea what I was doing other than having a nice cover and an ad on Facebook. I was so excited and so proud of myself for selling a couple of books, but I also learned how to set up preorders, format for print, and a whole slew of other things.

Fast forward to September of 2018 (and an even nicer hotel room!) where I was still losing my mind over the fact that The Search for Sam broke the top 100 in 20th Century Historical Romance. I had learned a bit more about promo since my first book, and the series helped get me some exposure too. I also participated in Facebook parties and made new friends and fans. I was riding high.

Then, there was October. Sales were down a little but still steady and what on earth should happen? I got accepted to an author event where I did my first book signing! I met even more new people, signed books, and had the joy of seeing my books on a real shelf at a real bookstore, something I was told rarely – if ever – happens for an indie author. I thought nothing could possibly get better than this. Surely this was as high as you got your first year of writing independently, right?

Hold my butterscotch tea.

My very first Christmas novel came out in November and did better than I could ever hope. I not only debuted at #1 on the Tudor Historical Romance new release list, I also made it to #4 in the overall category! I was so close to being a bestseller but I’m still floored at just how far up the charts I made it. I love this book and I’m so glad that other people seemed to love it too, if we are going by the reviews. I was so excited after everything that had happened in 2018 I was sure that nothing could make it better.

I submitted The Search for Sam to the Read Freely 50 Best Indie Books of 2018 competition, not expecting to win or even place. Like I’d said four or five times this year, there was no way an indie author with only a year of self-publishing under her belt would get anything. I still asked people to vote for me and promoted the contest, because I figured at least I’d get my name out there for next year, when I’d be a little more seasoned. Imagine my surprise when I came in at number 47!

Everything that happened in 2018 writing-wise felt like a huge surprise, and like it was happening to someone else. There was no way it could be happening to little ol’ me! It’s still a lot to take in.

So what’s on my plate for 2019? I’ve already put out my first full-length contemporary, a romantic suspense that is already getting great reviews. In April, I’m writing a bit of a follow-up to The Search for Sam that I’ll tell you more about in a few weeks. I’m planning on another contemporary in June, a pirate historical in the fall, and a super-secret holiday project! Stay tuned to my blog and social media to find out what, where, and when, and let’s hope that 2019 is just as good as 2018 – or maybe better!

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Indie Ain’t for the Faint of Heart

A few days ago there was a tweet going around about how much artists made per book; the advance, agent’s fee, etc and showing what it all amounts to per month. You may have seen it. Basically, they get paid around $422/month and it really sucks. The thing that stuck with me, though, was that these are professionals. They have agents and publishers and contracts, and the tweeter was talking about why artists have to be “on” all the time. If they don’t show up, put out work, and keep their names on people’s lips they will quite literally die. So what about indie creatives?

Consider this:

A book takes anywhere from months to a year to write. Hours and hours of your life, and if you have a day job (like so many of us do), you have to balance that with a work schedule, attempt to sleep, and hope that you can have a life for an hour or two a day. For all that, you get to hear people tell you that $2.99 is too much to charge for an ebook.

An album takes months to a year to produce. Songs, music, studio time, production, all of that takes time and a lot of indie artists have day jobs as well. It also takes money, and gigs don’t net you much, if anything (my friend – as seen above – says you sometimes lose money if they make you pay for your booze). For that, people tell you that $10 is too expensive and that they can just stream it for free.

Game devs put in ridiculous hours, pour massive amounts of money into their games, attempt to get buzz, somehow have families and lives, only to be labeled as losers and have their games pirated only days after release. If they make money on a game it’s a miracle. Women in game development get death threats in addition to all this. It’s a disaster.

And oh dear, my indie artist friends. They put so much time into their art, suffering burnout at an alarming rate and learning new ways to stretch beans and rice. Some of them have gone to school and can draw the most beautiful, evocative comics and illustrations only to be told that $30 is way too much for a full body color commission that will take them hours.

The problem is that society sees creative careers as less than. Books, music, comics, and games are all seen as frivolous or a waste of time, so those of us who create the things that people enjoy aren’t doing a “real job.” Unless we hit the magic number and produce a commercial hit, then we are suddenly Authors or Rockstars. Until then, we are just little girls and boys playing with our words, paints, and songs and we should be grateful for whatever we’re given. Which is almost never enough to even live on, but if we have a day job we obviously aren’t serious about our work. If we aren’t starving artists, are we really making art?

When I first wrote The Detective’s Brother, I had this idea that I’d write one book a year and that’d be great. Then I learned the reason that Harlequin puts out ten-plus books a month is because genre writers have to write and publish often, or we get buried. There’s the Catch-22 of the idea that anyone who produces multiple books a year can’t possibly be putting out a quality product as well, but if we put out one book a year no one will ever know who we are. At Any Cost will be my fifth book released on my own through Frozen Flame Press, and I have put hours and days and months into it. Thanks to my job I can continue writing and promoting my books but sometimes I do wish I could sleep a little more.

I’m fairly sure that if you’re reading this you support indie books, music, comics, and games, so I’ll leave you with the one easy thing you can do to help artists that doesn’t cost a thing: write us a review. Talk us up to your friends. Retweet, share, and ask your library to carry a book or album. Even if you just drop an indie creator a note that says “hey, you’re the bee’s knees” it can make us feel like a superstar.

One final thing – the picture is of a show I attended recently by my favorite band. They’re called Calhoun and are a local Fort Worth band that I’ve been listening to for lucky 13 years, and I am appalled that they’re not actual superstars yet. Go forth and buy some of their music. Start off with an EP and get obsessed from there. Here’s the iTunes link but they’re also available everywhere else you want to look. Paperweights

Oh, and you should definitely preorder At Any Cost while you’re at it. How can you beat $0.99? You can’t!

Available everywhere!

“I’m a saint so I’m used to never getting paid.”

– Calhoun