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
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.