My Author Career

It has occurred to me that I haven’t really talked about myself on my blog. I used to be really chatty on my blogs, but over the last couple of years I’ve fallen out of the habit — apparently I do all my chatting on Facebook and Twitter. Damn you, social media!!

Here’s a little overview of my life as an author.

Remember those days when we didn’t have a damn pandemic going? Man, that was the life.

I started sending out novels in late 1995. I was firmly grounded in the world of children’s publishing, and I read all the award-winning books, paid attention to industry news, wrote new novels, and queried unceasingly. I went to author conferences, met some amazing editors, and joined critique groups — did everything a traditional author was supposed to, in other words. I started pursuing a master’s in English, which gave me a great deal of new insight into how to read, but not to write, so I ditched that and got a master’s in writing in 2012, which was an incredible experience, though damnably expensive. I kept getting close, but to my everlasting frustration, I still couldn’t get an agent or editor.

I finally got one book traditionally published in 2016, which was a great deal of fun. I started selling my book at local author events. At one such even, one of my buddies had a table of books he’d self-published, which he was selling, while I had only one Civil War book. I had a truckload of manuscripts cooling their heels on my computer. Why not try self-publishing and get them out into the world?

So I got out all those old manuscripts that got really close with editors and agents, and I published all of them. I drew upon my years of horticulture experience to write gardening books. I piled them all onto Amazon and started selling them.

And here’s the kicker: People bought them. What’s funny was that I was like “Oh, they’ll stop buying them here in a little while,” like people all over the world would be like, “Okay, that’s enough of Melinda’s books.”

BUT THEY KEPT BUYING THEM. (At least the gardening books, which I actively advertise, lol)

I took off like a rocket sled on rails. I started learning about ads, making covers, book formatting, fonts and styles. I learned about stacking ads for a book launch, experimented with Facebook ads and Bookbub ads. I did a lot of genre skipping before I realized that I needed to choose a genre (or two) and concentrate on building up an audience there. I learned about writing a series, and ways to use front matter and end matter to sell more books and entice new readers.

33 books later, I have an epic fantasy series (with dragons!) that I’ve been branding and marketing. We have an audiobook in the works. I’m working on book 3 and the cover design for that. In the meanwhile, I’m still funding all this work with my gardening novels, which have been my bread and butter. Now I’m taking my gardening books to a wide audience – that is, they’re available on most major retailers, not just Amazon – and I’m setting up ads for those.

I’ve managed to publish these books with kids and a full-time job where I proofread 600 sale books a year. I’ll be picking up a side gig as an acquiring editor for New Degree Press as well, which starts next month. (I had better put that on the resume, too.)

Every year I learn more about self-publishing. Every year there’s a new challenge. Okay, more than one. But I keep current, I keep growing and changing — and most important of all, I keep writing. It’s exciting. I love self-publishing more than anything. I still don’t earn money hand over fist, but I’ve been able to stay in the black so far — and I’ll be ready to go when the day comes that my books really take off.

So that’s the story!

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