How I got involved – I had been published traditionally by a small niche publisher many moons ago. I found myself disenchanted by the entire process – not being allowed to write what I wanted, having my titles changed and some not-so-fun covers, in addition to the very small royalty checks twice a year – after three historical romances and two non-fiction books, I decided it wasn't for me. I left my groups, stopped reading blogs, and fell away from the industry. It helped that I had two babies right in a row (twenty-one months apart), and they took up all of my time, along with a cross-country move.

But as my life started to settle down, I wanted to write again. I had missed it. I belonged to a group of authors who had published with the same small niche publishers, and one of the members you may know as Passive Guy of The Passive Voice (back then I knew him as G.G's husband). He had a link to a blog post done by Joe Konrath about something called independent publishing.

I knew who Joe Konrath was. Back in my early days of trying to make it, I had heard a lot about him – about how he was a marketing genius and had sacrificed a lot of money and a lot of time to trying to get his work out there (something his publisher should have done, but didn't). His blog was one I used to read all the time, and I thought he was so smart in how he chose to do things – I specifically remember him saying he wished he could give a book away for free because he felt like that would be the best way to build an audience, something I wholeheartedly agreed with.

Now he was talking about publishing independently with Amazon. It was like I had been standing in a dark room and someone had turned all the lights on. I spent about three days in front of my computer devouring all his posts. For the next two weeks, it was all I wanted to talk about. The revolution was here. I could publish what I wanted how I wanted and when I wanted. To say I was excited would have been an understatement.

When I tried to share this excitement with other authors, I was categorically shut down. I was told only outliers would make any money, and that I was foolish to be doing this. It was a fad that wouldn't last. (I can't even tell you how many of those authors are now self-publishing. Probably like 90% of them). But I knew this was the future.

I got to work and put out a Young Adult romance called, "The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back." It was one of those books that came to me fully grown over the course of a few days, practically writing itself. I loved it, and I was so excited to share it with the world. Konrath often said that cream would rise to the top, and I thought that I would be one of those people.

So I put it up on Amazon and...nothing. I was lucky to sell maybe seven books a month. I tried marketing and advertising. I had some success doing a free giveaway (I was picked up by BookBub) and probably gave away close to 50,000 copies at a time when free was supposedly no longer working. I went from selling seven books a month to 100 copies a day after that promotion! That was totally thrilling to me.

Problem was, now I had to have money to do the editing and cover for the next book (and had to use the money coming in to cover the last one). Nobody mentioned that part. I know I should have had other books up and I would have been more successful, but I was just starting out and trying whatever I could to get noticed. The book obviously doesn't suck – I have nearly 800 reviews right now for it on Amazon, and I average a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The cream rose for a while, but then it plummeted right back down.

I knew I needed to put out more books, but I had some rather ugly real life situations that consumed everything, and we financially were not in position to put out more books. I also didn't want to end up where I had with the first book.

I'm not a big fan of doing my own marketing (I know, boo-hoo on me, I need to get over it). I have total admiration for those people who either have a talent for it and succeed naturally or are bad at it like me and do well anyway. When I heard some of the success stories of indie authors (not outliers, but regular people), many of them had done well because they had been "noticed" by Amazon. I wanted to be "noticed" by Amazon. They started their own publishing lines, and I realized that Amazon was who I wanted to be in business with. Who could do more advertising for me than the biggest bookseller in the entire world?

Their contracts were reputed to be extremely fair and honest, something lacking in regular publishing houses. Problem was, you had to have an agent to submit. And part of the point of going the indie route was never having to worry about agents or New York publishers ever again. I also didn't want to give someone 15% of my money forever for very little work (I know there are agents out there who earn their money and then some, but I didn't think this was a situation like that).

Since I had no hopes of getting a publishing contract with Montlake (Amazon's romance line) all I could do at that point was hope that somehow, somewhere, Amazon would notice me and I'd get picked up with the advertising. But how to get it done?

Hugh Howey (an indie superstar) started talking about something he called "The Liliana Nirvana Technique" – Liliana Hart is an author who was not traditionally published. But she became a bestselling author. How did she do it (other than writing great books)? She put out five books in one day and had another book to follow up a month later. This sounded like a good way to get started. I would buckle down, write five books, and put them all out on the same day. We'd come up with the money for editing and covers somehow, and hopefully I would start to gain some traction
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