My high school friend Amy Rose Davis has just published Ravenmarked, her first full-length novel, as an ebook. I invited her to come tell all of you a little about herself and her writing journey:
As someone who is partially responsible for Lisa’s descent into the Dark Side, I’m really happy to share with her readers a little about my path toward becoming an independent author. I brought cookies. They’re on the table next to the book where you sign your name in… Oh, never mind. We’ll talk about that later.
I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always wanted to see my name on a book cover, and I’ve always longed to connect with readers through story. I’d had enough positive feedback to know I’m pretty good at stringing words together and creating good plots. I knew I had a good grasp of the mechanics of writing. All I needed was a publisher.
Alas, it seemed publishing was a dream few could achieve, and I gave up on it in the early 90s. I found other outlets for my love of words. I quit my job and had four babies (not all at once). I freelanced as a commercial copywriter and loved it. I thought everything was just ducky.
Then, in 2008, the recession hit, and a lot of my clients took their projects in house or put projects on hold. By fall 2009, most of my regular work and contracted commitments had come to an end. I was still itching to write, though. I decided to try NaNoWriMo for the first time. That November, I wrote over 100,000 words. I realized I had two books. I also realized I really didn’t want to go back to commercial freelancing. I enjoyed it, but fiction was my first and truest love.
I split my massive NaNoWriMo beast in half, and the first half became Ravenmarked. I edited, chopped, revised, rewrote, and worried that novel to death. I finally got it to where I thought it was publishable in early fall 2010, and then panic hit: What the heck was I going to do with this thing?
Now, I had considered self-publishing before. I heard Colleen Houck speak at the Willamette Writers Conference in August 2010, but she mentioned that she’d spent $40,000 to publish and market her book. There was no way I was going to do that. I’d seen Joe Konrath’s blog, and his posts intrigued and inspired me, but he already had a following—I didn’t.
But I kept following Joe, and I started to hear other names—Zoe Winters, Karen McQuestion, J. R. Rain, L. J. Sellers, Brian S. Pratt… All kinds of names of authors who weren’t just writing as a side gig, but were actually making a living through their self-published works. Most of those folks didn’t have a following before self-publishing. I bought a Kindle and downloaded some samples and thought, “well, heck. I can write at least that well, if not better.”
There were naysayers. Lisa was one of them. She urged me not to give up—to be vetted through New York first. I pick on her a bit because it’s her blog, but a lot of other writers said the same thing. Oddly, many of my freelance commercial writing friends said I should just go indie. I think there might be something to the independent entrepreneur in us that longs to just dive in headlong and figure things out as we go.
In September, I made the decision: I would polish Ravenmarked and put it up for sale as an e-book. It took a few more read-throughs and a little more beta-testing, but I think I finally ended up with something really good. It’s a book I would buy and read if it weren’t my own. It went live on January 29 on Amazon , Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble
Am I seeing massive sales? Not yet. I put my first title online in mid-December, so I’m still a new name. I’m trying to figure out where to focus my marketing efforts. But as I’ve investigated the success formula for indies, I’ve discovered it’s kind of a tripod of titles, promotion, and good content. I have good content, I’m not shy about promoting, and by the end of this year, I hope to have two full-length novels and several novellas online for purchase.
Now, here’s the thing: It’s been less than two months since I put anything out there for sale, and even though I’m not making a living, I have made money. If I were going a traditional route, I wouldn’t have even had time for a good solid round of rejections on a short story at this point.
This is a long-term gig. I’m not in this for overnight riches. I plan to be writing when they pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands. And I’ll do it with the creative control and entrepreneurial chutzpah that is central to the independent author mindset.
Now, can I tempt you with a cookie?
Here’s a little about Amy’s book:
For one with the ravenmark, there is no balance.
Connor Mac Niall has everything he wants. As the best freelance man-at-arms in the known world, his reputation brings him jobs that provide adventure, women, and money in abundance.
But Connor has a secret: He’s ravenmarked. The avenging spirit of the earth, known as the Morrag, has chosen him to be her angel of death–to kill those she wants killed. Connor has run from her call half his life, and working as a freelance helps him keep the need to kill quelled.
When Connor reluctantly agrees to escort a fleeing royal heir to safety, he has no idea that the journey will bring him face to face with the Morrag–and require that he choose between destiny and freedom. He finds himself confronted with old regrets and new choices. On one side pursued by a sorcerer who wants him dead and on the other side tempted by the Morrag to submit his will to hers, Connor unwittingly escorts his charge right into the path of greatest danger for them both. He faces a choice: Submit his will to the Morrag’s control or let the royal heir die.
Set against a backdrop of romance, political instability, and magic, Ravenmarked is the first in a five-book epic fantasy series titled The Taurin Chronicles.
Sounds awesome, huh? And at $4.99 the price is right.