Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best-selling Author Carol Ericson - Two Giveaways

Update: CONGRATULATIONS to Mary J. Forbes and Sandy! You are the two winners of the contest. I'm sending you both instructions on how to claim your prize. If you have any issues, please let me know.


A warm welcome to my friend, Carol Ericson.

I’m so excited to have her as my first guest blogger. Carol and I met through GIAM, a group for writers who are serious about their craft. Every week as we share what we’ve accomplished, she blows me away each time. She’s one of the most dedicated and prolific authors I know. With ten novels already published, she is constantly weaving more suspenseful tales with lots of steamy romance. And her book, A Silverhill Christmas recently won the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit!

Here’s her bio:


Best selling series romance author Carol Ericson suffers from a lack of privacy. She always has a few characters floating in her head as well as snippets of dialogue and several “what if” scenarios. She periodically purges all these voices and images by writing stories of romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue and self publication. When she’s not writing, Carol is busy reading other fabulous stories or running to her teenage sons’ soccer matches, water polo games and basketball games. Carol and her family live in Southern California near the beach, where Carol is now officially the shortest person in her household.

It was so daring of her to launch into indie publishing since she is already a successful author with a publisher who is a household name. I was dying to have her share her experience.

Carol, please tell us what made you decide to explore this publishing route.


“Taut, edge-of-the-seat contemporary romantic suspense tales of intrigue and desire” is the standard description for Harlequin’s Intrigue line. And I love writing those tales. I’ve been writing Intrigues for Harlequin since Dec. ’07 when my first Intrigue was released, and I haven’t stopped since. I enjoy writing for Harlequin and with it the ability to write short series like my McClintock Brothers series, my current series, Brothers in Arms, and my upcoming series about a creepy house on the coast of California. Since I’m so busy writing for Harlequin, why dip my toe into the world of self publishing? Good question!

Like most writers who eventually sell a book to a major publisher, I had written several books by the time my first sale came around. When I sold my first book to Intrigue, I had three completed manuscripts (and a half-completed manuscript) tucked away. I had submitted one of those manuscripts to Intrigue before and it had been rejected; however, I had re-written the thing a few times. So after my first sale, my editor asked me for other projects. I hauled out my 3 ½ manuscripts and sent them off with high hopes. All three...and a half...were rejected...on my birthday.

Ha – rejection is like red meat to an author. I got to work on a brand new fresh book and sold that one as my second Intrigue. My eighth Intrigue, Mountain Ranger Recon, was just released in April. But I still had those 3 ½ manuscripts under the virtual bed along with a completed single title romantic comedy.

As the buzz surrounding self publishing grew louder and louder, I took a second look at my 3 ½ manuscripts and figured, why not? My editor hadn’t rejected the stories because they were awful or poorly written or boring. They just did not fit the Harlequin Intrigue line. I got comments like—too slick, too single title in nature, wrong setting, wrong professions for hero/heroine, not enough hooks. So the stories weren’t right for Intrigue, but did that mean they weren’t right for other readers to enjoy? So I took the self pub plunge.


I started with Dead Air and Smokescreen because those two books were the most polished. They had been edited and both had placed in and won several contests. Before I started formatting the books, I read through them. I was pleasantly surprised that they’d held up well and were good, compelling stories. However, after writing ten Intrigues, it was crystal clear to me why they didn’t fit the Intrigue mold. Other than a heroine in jeopardy, they didn’t possess any of the standard category romance hooks. Also, both of the heroines are a little rough around the edges—Carly in Dead Air is a loud, brash radio talk show host, who lives for ratings and Deirdre in Smokescreen is a rock singer in a club band, a former smoker and party girl. The tone of the books is a little grittier than my Intrigues and the sex a little hotter.

I formatted Dead Air for Smashwords and Amazon, and I formatted Smokescreen for Amazon only (it’s not too bad as long as you don’t use a lot of weird formatting in your original Word document). I decided to hold off on the third book as it needed more polish and editing. Once the books were formatted and ready to go, I needed a couple of great covers. I turned to Rae Monet (www.raemonetinc.com), who does my website and did a few of my covers when I wrote for Red Sage Publishing. She did not disappoint. I also got lucky in that she used cover model Jimmy Thomas on the Dead Air cover. Jimmy is very good about promoting his covers and he posted the Dead Air cover on his Facebook page where it generated several comments.

Once I had formatted the books and gotten my fabulous covers, it was time to publish. Several clicks later, the books were available on Amazon. Now I had to let people know they were available. Ah, yes, that five-letter word – promo. I started with my Intrigue fans and sent out a newsletter announcement to them. I posted the announcement on Facebook and Twitter. I sent in an announcement to NovelTalk (www.noveltalk.com), I announced the news to my online groups, and I put the book covers on my website (www.carolericson.com). And I’m still learning.

I’m at the beginning of this journey, and I’m here to tell you that no, I didn’t sell a million copies of the books in the first month. But I have made enough to cover the cost of the covers and the sales keep dripping in bit by bit. And I have the opportunity now to release my romantic comedy, which I love.

Will self-pubbing (or indie pubbing as it’s now being called) replace my traditional contracts with Harlequin Intrigue? No. I’m hoping there’s some cross-over from my self-pubbed books to my Intrigues. In fact, I can see it already in increased sales for my March and April Intrigues. Once an Intrigue has been out for a few months, the sales begin to taper off, but both of my spring Intrigues have seen a resurgence in sales on Amazon—and I’m attributing that to my two self-pubbed e-books.

So whether I sell a million copies or a couple hundred, I’m glad I took the plunge. It’s exciting to have control over your books from start to finish. It’s interesting to keep track of sales and which promo efforts are paying off. And it’s lovely to give life to books that still hold a place in your heart.

O brave new world!

Wow, Carol, thanks so much for sharing with us and for giving away a copy of Dead Air and Navy SEAL Security. Your cover of Navy SEAL Security received a lot of publicity right after Osama Bin Laden was captured. Talk about great timing for you.

Enter to win a free copy of one of Carol’s books by leaving a comment. If you are a follower or become one and leave a comment, your name will be entered twice. Two winners will be chosen with names posted on Monday by noon 6 pm(EST).




Feel free to ask Carol any questions. She’ll swing by briefly in the morning, but will be back for the rest of the day after she’s done cheering on her son at his soccer tournament.

32 comments:

  1. Carol, thanks so much for being my first guest blogger. What a great article about self-publishing.

    In my opinion, HQN lost out with DEAD AIR! I loved Carly. She's bold, brash, and beautiful while still being vulnerable. And Roman was strong enough to handle her. I hated the way you teased the reader, I mean that in the best possible sense, with the tension between the two. I couldn't wait for them to hit the sheets. Thanks for delivering!

    And Rae Monet did a great job with your cover. I love her work and will forever sing her praises about my website.

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  3. Wow,Isis-I am impressed. It is so great to see Carol on your blog. I am sure Dead Air is amazing! Thanks for starting my morning off just right!

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  4. Carol - your comment about being the shortest person in your family really hit home.
    My son said it use to be the charlie brown adult voice going down at him...blah, blah blah... then it was the voice going up to him blah, blah, blah.

    My new hubby and him would have conversations above my head and when I'd try to comment, they'd both pretend not to hear me...

    And I'm not short.

    Glad you posted on taking the plunge with your self published books. I'm impressed with your determination. Good luck with sales!

    Lynn

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  5. Isis, thanks for having me and for the warm welcome. I'd be happy to answer any questions about publishing with HQ or about my experience with self publishing (including figures). I'm on my way to a beach soccer tournament this morning (I'm on Pacific Time!), but I'll check back this afternoon for any questions or comments.

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  6. Awesome - thanks for dropping by. I'll be giving away a copy of Dead Air today as well as one of my Intrigues.

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  7. LOL, Lynn. I actually am short, so it didn't take much for the boys to surpass me in height - and they're just 13 and 15. I know it's going to get worse. Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. Carol, I admire you taking the path of self-publishing. It's a lot to take on along with all the other stuff you do.

    Isis, you did a great job with your first blog.

    I would to win your self-published book, Carol. I've read all of your intrigues.

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  9. Carol,
    Thank you for sharing your insight into self publishing as about your career. Interesting, and some great info. Isis, thanks for having Carol on your blog! *Hugs* My sincere best to you both!

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  10. Great post, gals! Carol, I'll be following your journey with much interest!

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  11. This is so interesting, Carol. I have wondered why some authors decide to self-publish. Was it hard to format your books on your own or did you have to do anything special? I've read some authors will hire an editor to make sure everything looks good before releasing on their own, did you?

    I wouldn't mind winning either book. They both look intriguing.

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  12. Isis, nice inaugural blog guest.

    Carol, love that you are branching out. Did you find self-publishing as hard as your thought (the set-up) or was it pretty easy? Do you like the total control aspect of self-publishing?

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  13. Thanks, Sandy. The buzz about self-pubbing got so loud, I couldn't ignore it. I'm glad I was able to give life to my two books, and I'm looking forward to getting my rom/com out there.

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  14. Diana, glad you found the post informative. I think I've only scratched the surface!

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  15. Vanessa...and I'm following yours with great interest as well. It's great that writers are so willing to share their experiences with other writers.

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  16. terilives2travel, the formatting is not that difficult, but you do have to do some work because it's different from how I typically format when I write in Word. Smashwords formatting is more difficult than formatting for Amazon. I did not need to hire an editor for my first two books as they had already been edited, proofread, and polished quite a bit. That's why I'm holding off on pubbing my 3rd and 4th - they both need more work. I may hire an outside editor for those two, and I know several online companies that are now offering services for one-stop self-pubbing - covers, proofreading, different levels of editing. Thanks for dropping by!

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  17. Great info as usual, Carol! I've added your two indie books to my tbr list!

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  18. What a great story on why you self-pubbed! Thanks for sharing the experience and I look forward to reading these...

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  19. Thanks, Christine! I'm an open book (ha, ha), so if you want any info, just ask!

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  20. Tara, it's definitely a fun journey and has opened up a whole new world for authors.

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  21. How much money (if you don't mind me asking) did you have to spend to self pub your books? How long did it take for you to recoup expenses?
    Do you think you will continue to do this in tandem with your Harlequin line?

    Thanks!

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  22. Fun to hear the whole story from start to finish instead of in pieces -- your energy and skill never fail to impress me.

    Congratulations on taking on and slaying the self-publishing dragon. Good for you!

    And Mom is me. Sigh. Haven't got around to changing it yet.

    Beppie

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  23. Harley, great questions! I spent $75 for each cover. In just under two months, I've covered the covers! I did not spend any money this time around on editing and proofreading because these two books were in good shape, but that's something I'll look into for the next two since they're not as polished as the first two. My Intrigues are my first priority. I'd love to write more for self-pubbing, but unless I lose the day job I won't have time for a while.

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  24. Well, Beppie you are such a great mom, the tag suits you! Thanks for dropping by, although I'm not sure I've slayed that dragon yet!

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  25. Carol, thanks for sharing your experience! I've been following the indie pubbing avenue for a while and find it highly intriguing. Couple of questions...how long did it take you to format? And why did you go only Amazon with the second? Thanks! :)

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  26. Mary, there's a lot to follow, isn't there? It took me about 2 hours to format my Word document for Smashwords, using the Smashwords formatting manual, which is easy to follow and highly entertaining! :) It took me probably less than an hour to format for Amazon - although I had to go through and search for my underlines and make the italics. I went with Amazon only (and later B&N Pubit)for the second book because I haven't sold any copies of Dead Air through Smashwords yet, even though it went into their premium catalog a few weeks after I pubbed it with Smashwords. I didn't think the formatting hassles with Smashwords was worth it for the second book.

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  27. uh...I didn't think the formatting hassles with Smashwords WERE worth it...

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  28. Thank you Carol for being my first guest blogger!

    Many thanks to all who stopped by, and most especially to those who left comments.

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  29. Thank YOU, Isis. I enjoyed visiting your blog - lots of pertinent questions. Hope we gave people plenty of food for thought. Isis will be posting winners soon, and I've asked her to choose two winners!

    Thanks, everyone and enjoy your week!

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  30. Sorry, Isis, as usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short. *sheepish grin*

    Carol, wonderful interview! I'm a big fan, and wish you huge success with your self-pubbed titles. I've already purchased Dead Air, just waiting for some time to read it.

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  31. This is a great post filled with solid information. Thanks. And good to meet you, Carol.

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