Part 2: Can a self-published author (of fiction) succeed?

Publishing our first book, Lizzie: Lethal Innocence

LizzieOur first book was ‘Lizzie‘ and the print run was 500 copies (Dec 1998). This was the recommended ‘test’ print run in those days (pre POD) and was the only printing we have ever had to borrow money for … and it was our own!!  “Part 1” explained the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing via a large publisher, today referred to as ‘professional publishers.’ I don’t give them capitals because I, myself, am also a ‘professional publisher and feel I have earned the title too!’

The loan lasted only 3 months … the time it took Robert to gain the confidence to sell 500 copies of our first novel at coffee shops, grocery store lineups, the recycling depot etc.. We even had money in the bank at this point and printed our next run of 1,500 copies of the same book! The following year we printed a further 4,000 copies (they were selling like hotcakes as word-of-mouth spread!).

The sequel to ‘Lizzie,’ Lizzie’s Secret Angels was launched on April 1st with a big party at the Victoria Art Gallery.Lizzies Secret Angels

This was the only ‘book launch’ we ever planned – there simply was never enough time. Besides which, one of the things we did for marketing was to collect their contact information and this was before the Internet! We began by phoning and sending snail mail to our customers and then later, used email. Our launches happened regularly after that, each year at a market or Christmas Show. It worked well enough for us.

I was early on to receive the math lesson from my husband that graduating to larger print runs meant less money paid up front and more in our pockets with each book sold. We began selling from our booth at markets (1999), craft fairs (1999), and the ferry terminal (2000). We have never looked back!!! Of course, the icing on the cake was when we reached 5,000 copies in the first 2 years (Canadian standards for a bestseller).

I hear there are not many indie-publishers that can boast about this kind of success and it has continued for us for 13 years. Oh yes, it has been hard work for both of us, especially with the economic upheavals of recent years.

As an aside here, I should admit that we made a few mistakes along the way. If you are a new writer and ‘wannabee’ an author, you can learn from these mistakes. That would prove that I am doing a good job with this blog! Read about our Mistakes in Part 3.

Note: In case you happened on it, I had an earlier blog called:  Of Books, Marketing and Self-Publishing … but it’s now closed and some of the posts will eventually show up here, along with a couple blogs on my hobbies.