Skip to main content

Special guest post with self-published author Tina Folsom

I wanted to give a bit of encouragement to those of you new self published authors out there. When Tina first came to me for a review she was just starting out and it wasn't long before I watched before my eyes  that she hit Bestselling Author, but it was a lot of hard work I know. So, I hope you find something in this post that will encouraging you to start or keep going. Laurie

How I became a Bestselling Romance Author
By Tina Folsom


If you haven’t heard of me, let me briefly give you the statistics: including my latest release, I’ve self-published 8 full length novels, 3 novellas, and 3 short stories, so 14 titles in total (plus 3 in foreign languages so far). In the last twelve months, I’ve sold over 300,000 copies of my books, and that excludes any freebies. My novels generally cost around $4.99 - $5.99, my novellas $2.99 and my short stories 99 cents. The majority of those 300,000 units sold is attributed to my novels, particularly my Scanguards Vampires series, which makes up more than 65% of all my sales. So, for me it hasn’t been the cheap stuff that’s been selling.

Several of my books have been offered as free titles on Amazon over the last year. Of those about 100,000 free copies were downloaded. That’s a lot of exposure for an indie author.

So, how did I become a Bestselling Romance Author?

In a few words: it was hard work, timing, luck, pricing, and team work.
Timing – I was one of the first romance authors to self-publish in early 2010. When I got into the field, it was much less crowded. Many people hadn’t figured out yet how to self-publish, so the few that did, had the advantage of positioning themselves better than the newcomers. I’m not sure that with the amount of authors now self-publishing both front and backlist titles, I would get the same result today.

Hard Work – As soon as I published one book, I was off writing the next one. I also realized very quickly that writing a series was a good way to tap into reader loyalty and hook them. I built my list very quickly, and that’s one of the main reasons for my success: I have three series going, Scanguards Vampires, Out of Olympus, and Venice Vampyr. That’s a lot of books readers can choose from. They won’t have to wait long for the next one to come out, and that helps keeping a reader interested in your brand.

I was relentless in promoting my books. I asked to be reviewed on blogs. At the beginning very few were willing to review a self-published book. Luckily, that has changed now. I did interviews and giveaways, and not just giveaways of books. In January 2011 I raffled off a Nook Color, in December 2011, I gave away a Kindle Fire.

I also made sure that each of my books was promoting another one. What do I mean by that? In the back of each e-book I had an excerpt of one of my other books to entice readers to try a different series or the next book in this series. I also asked for reviews, just reminding readers to leave a review if they enjoyed the book. Sometimes, I’d have promotions to garner more reviews: I would offer a few e-book if a reader left a review on Amazon.

Pricing – I experimented a lot with different prices for my books to see what worked best. Occasionally, I drop the first book in a series to either 99 cents or try to get Amazon to offer it for free in order to attract more new readers. I know that this occasionally upsets readers who’ve previously paid for the book, but there’s not much I can do about that. I need to use the tools that are available to me. Having a book for free on Amazon has never hurt me. It always resulted in high sales of my other books. But it only works if you have other books for sale, and it works best if the others are from the same series.

Team Work – I exchange marketing and other ideas with two other authors who self-publish. Together we always come up with great ideas that we can then test out. It helps a lot, knowing what others do and what worked or what didn’t. I suggest to any author who wants to self-publish to assemble a little team to bounce ideas off. Nobody knows everything, but if you put three or four minds together, it’s amazing what you can come up with.
I also have a team of independent contractors who help me with the things I’m not good at: cover design, editing, proofreading, translations, foreign editing etc. At the beginning, I didn’t have money to farm out all these things, so this might be difficult for people just starting out. A professional cover is probably the first thing that I would invest in. When I got my covers redesigned (after doing them on the cheap myself since I had no money for them), my sales increased immediately, and I recovered the cost within a very short time.

Luck – And how do people find me on Amazon and other retailers? Luck, word of mouth? I wish I knew. I’m sure it’s a bit of both. I make sure to always respond to readers when they email me. I have a facebook page where I interact with readers, and I tweet. I have a blog, but it’s not very active. I never spam people: I have a newsletter, but I only send one out every two months or so. And I keep it brief and to the point, telling them what I want them to know: new release, contest, etc. Nobody has time to read long newsletters.

If I had to tell you what the most important trait is a self-published author has to possess, then I’d pick this one: you have to be a hard worker. Nothing will happen without you. Since I started writing full time in February 2010 (a year before I made any real money from it), I’ve worked longer hours than anybody I know. Being a self-published author isn’t for somebody who wants to write a few hours a day and spend the rest of it going for lunch with their friends or shopping in the city. This is a hard business, but the rewards are endless. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything



Comments

  1. Great post! I couldn't agree more. I spend more hours working (including writing, editing, and promoting) as an indie author than I do at my day job. But it's a labor of love. I've followed your career from the beginning, Tina, and I'm thrilled to see a fellow indie do so well. Much success!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's awesome that she shared her tips and tricks for those looking to get published :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is very interesting information. I am not a writer but I have a grandaughter that wants to be one. I have read the first Scanguard Vampire novel and will be starting the next tonight. I bought them all from Amazon last week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Glad I could give a little bit more insight into the process.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tina, you forgot to mention the most important thing. Your books are really GOOD. Without a quality product, it doesn't matter how much promotion you do, people won't keep reading.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for the information on self publishing! I don't have any intention of writing but finding out how much work goes into it makes me appreciate self-published authors more. I have the first book in your Scanquard Vampires and am going to be reading it soon.
    suz2@cox.net

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, very inspiring story! I will definitely have to give this author a try!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was a wonderful post that i can related to. I became a self-published author at the end of 2010. It is a tough business. I wish I had the luxury of being able to write full time so that I could crank out books for my readers, but, at the moment, school must come first. I will be graduating with my B.A. soon, but that will not be the end of my work - M.A. here I come!
    I write everyday, whether it be a few paragraphs or chapters.
    Ms. Heaton was dead on when she spoke about hard work, team work, and straight up LUCK!
    Thanks for the post, it was insightful.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

This is an award free blog. Thank you for all of your comments.

Popular posts from this blog

Author services

Virtual Assistant

Daily tasks such as social media accounts, blog promotion etc, are very important to you as an author but as a writer these simple daily tasks can cost you tons of writing time before you know it. By hiring a VA to do these simple but time consuming tasks you can then gain your writing time back.

Hire Jasmyn
I have worked at Bitten by Romance as a reviewer and writer for over 3 years.  I assist with the Facebook page maintenance and have created several of the banners and buttons you see on our page.  I also assist at the Indie Romance Convention as the charity director and with Facebook social media.  I am highly organized and thrive on making sure things that are scheduled happen on time and smoothly.  I am a creative person that enjoys working with authors and bloggers on brainstorming new ideas and concepts to help spread the word about your books and projects.  As an author, your success is in your writing.  I am here to help you so your time can be spent on what y…

Moments of Beauty by JB Heller ~ Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Moments of Beauty
J.B. Heller
Publication date: March 23rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Ugly. It’s the only word to describe my upbringing. It drove my need to capture every moment of beauty I could find. A glimpse of a mother’s love. A feather floating in the breeze. A ray of sunshine emerging on a rainy day.  And then there was her, Eliza Quinn, she signified everything I didn’t deserve. She showed me more beauty than I ever thought possible. And I took it all, despite knowing I was going to leave her, and never come back.  Leaving her five years ago was my biggest mistake, and my greatest regret. Now I need to make amends. I thought leaving her was the hardest thing I’d ever have to do, but that was before I knew I had to win her back.Add to Goodreads

Author Bio:
JB Heller is an average Aussie housewife in her late 20’s with a wicked sexy imagination. She and her super sexy husband are the parents of three minions, two Great Danes and a Cat who thinks she’s a person…

The Watcher by Rebecca E. Neely ~ Cover Reveal, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Celebrate the release of THE WATCHER by Rebecca E. Neely with a sneak peek at the new Crossing Realms story and 5 Exclusive Fun Facts about the heroine!


About The Watcher Hell bent on avenging his own death, former Keeper Dev Geary eagerly accepts when the Watchers task him with returning to the human realm to discover the secret for rendering Similitude—the very thing that killed him.
But to succeed in the seven days he’s been granted, he’ll need to work with the one human who wants nothing to do with him, and who he can’t help falling for—Meda Gabriel, a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set, and maybe, the key to his mission.
With the clock ticking and the Betrayers barely a step behind, can Dev conquer his demons and find the answers the clan so desperately needs, with Meda at his side? Can love find a way, or will he be forced to abandon her and the clan, leaving them all to face imminent destruction?
Find out more: Goodreads / Amazon
5 Fun Facts About…. Meda Gabriel Love…