Welcome Shelly Thacker to the convertible today, folks. Shelly is the talented, traditionally published author of numerous best-selling romance novels who has taken the plunge into the growing pool of self-published writers. She’s here to tell us how that’s working for her. Heeere’s Shelly…
I took a little maternity leave from writing a few years ago, when my husband and I were blessed with a beautiful baby girl after years of struggling with infertility. By the time our first was a toddler, our second bundle of joy came along–and my “little maternity leave” stretched into eight years of lullabies and playgroups and preschool field trips. After such a long wait for motherhood, I savored every minute of it.
As our youngest approached Kindergarten age, I applauded my mom-friends who were re-inventing themselves. One started a children’s clothing business, another turned her talent with a camera into a successful photography career, a third became a certified yoga instructor. As for me, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: return to writing romance novels.
But it had been a decade since my last book was published. Would anyone even remember me? The idea of starting all over again–finding a new agent, looking for a publisher–was daunting to say the least.
Then one evening in March 2011, my husband came home with a newspaper article about a local Minnesota author I had never heard of … a young woman named Amanda Hocking.
According to the article, Amanda was e-publishing her own books–and had earned enough in her first year to pay cash for a new house. I was dubious, then astonished after I went online and discovered how many authors–including names I recognized–had left traditional publishing to “go indie.”
It was a stunning moment, and an exciting idea: maybe I didn’t need an agent or a publisher to re-launch my career. I joined an e-mail loop for indie authors, reclaimed the rights to all of my out-of-print books, and decided to take a chance on the brave new world of e-publishing.
My husband acted as my “venture capitalist,” giving me the startup money I needed for what he calls “Shelly Thacker 2.0.” I hired a cover artist, a web designer, and a professional formatter to transform my nine published books into digital editions. Then I sat down to revise and edit, determined to make each book as good as I possibly could before offering it to a new audience.
Finally, on 11-11-11, I clicked the “publish” button at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for the first time, feeling just as nervous as I did the morning I put my youngest child on her first school bus. I hoped I would sell a few copies, at least enough to reimburse my hubby for those startup costs … but I had no idea if I would sell even one.
I’m happy to say that I’ve been floored by the results so far.
Just 48 hours after I published Book 1 of my Stolen Brides series, Forever His, it appeared on the Kindle Time-Travel Romance and Historical Fantasy bestseller lists–and it has stayed there ever since. This is the first time in my career that one of my books has ever spent six solid months on a bestseller list! Readers have also embraced Book 2 of the series, His Forbidden Touch, calling it “beautiful” and “absolutely wonderful” and other kind words that have brought tears to my eyes.
The Stolen Brides series is about three regal brides who discover that falling in love with a warrior is the most dangerous adventure of all. One falls through time and finds herself married to a dark stranger … one may never reach her royal wedding if she can’t resist her rugged protector … and one is abducted by a mysterious swordsman and swept away to a secret island paradise.
I only have the first two books up so far, because I’m still revising Book 3 of the series, adding new love scenes that I never had time to write for the original paperback edition. Watch for Timeless in July.
Have I earned enough to pay cash for a new house? No, I’m not making Amanda Hocking money, but I did get to surprise my kids with a trip to Disney World. So far, this indie journey has been filled with unexpected joys, from re-connecting with writing friends, to hearing from past fans, to receiving e-mails from new readers who are discovering my books for the first time.
So I’m here to say: It’s never too late to reinvent yourself! Do you have any dreams you’d like to rekindle?
Contest alert! Shelly has teamed up with Maggie Shayne, Teresa Medeiros, Susan Mallery and Jane Porter for the “Romance Writers’ Blissful Secrets Scavenger Hunt”. Visit Shelly’s Facebook page today and enter to win a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. Hurry! Contest ends June 29.
But now let’s chat with Shelly.