Friday, April 13, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Christy Barritt

Should I ePublish?
A few years ago, I received notice that the third book in my mystery series would not be published. Even though the prior books had won awards—including the Daphne Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery—and my editor and publisher loved the books and my writing style, the books just hadn’t found a big enough audience.

For awhile, I’d determined that the series would remain as it was—without a conclusion. After all, what publisher was going to pick up the third book in a series that hadn’t sold well? I just needed to mark the series off and move on to other publishing adventures.

But then I started getting emails. Almost every week, readers contacted me and asked when the third book in the series would be out. Then I’d break the news to them. I’m sorry. There won’t be a third book. I know it’s frustrating not knowing what happens to the main character, crime-scene cleaner Gabby St. Claire. I realize you want to know which guy she ends up with and if she ever gets her dream job. But sorry! There’s nothing I can do.

I didn’t want to leave Gabby’s story unfinished. I mean, don’t you hate it when you watch a television show and, right when you’re getting into it, the series is taken off the air? That’s how I felt about my mystery series.

Click to buy on Kindle
As the emails kept coming, an idea began to form. I’d never been a fan of self-publishing before, but I heard about another author who re-released some out-of-print books as eBooks. I decided to research and found the process to release an eBook was fairly easy, and it seemed like the tide was turning, so to speak, concerning publishing this way. I then made up my mind that I was going to write the third Squeaky Clean book and put it out there myself. I wouldn’t publish the book with an expectation of great sales or an additional income. Nope, I wanted to do it as a way of respecting and thanking my readers for coming with me this far. They’d get that conclusion they’d been waiting for.

In January 2012, Organized Grime released. I learned a lot in the process of publishing the book, so I wanted to share some of those tips with you, just in case you’re considering taking that plunge. And if you are considering it, now just might be the right time to take the plunge. The eBook market is exploding right now. Ebooks are 11 percent of the total book market. Sixty-six percent of eBook buyers are women, and 58 percent of the eBooks sold are fiction. These numbers are changing daily and are probably outdated already.

Then there are the success stories I’ve heard. One woman said she made $9000 in two months after she released her eBooks. Others have sold 20,000 copies in three months and went on to get lucrative traditional publishing deals.

But is e-publishing right for you? Here are some tips to keep in mind!

Do you have the right material? Do you have a book that just hasn’t found a home? Maybe it’s finaled in contests. Maybe editors have said they love it but there’s just not a big enough market for it to offer a contract. Maybe your book has gone out of print and you want to re-release it. These could all be legitimate opportunities and reasons to release the book yourself. However—if you’ve just started writing and your skills still need some honing, you might want to hold off until you have more experience under your belt.

Click to Buy-99 Cents-Kindle
If you’re published, check your contract. You’ll probably have to release a noncompeting title. My contract right now is with Love Inspired Suspense. Since Organized Grime is a first person cozy mystery, the book is not in competition with my romantic-suspense titles. But don’t get yourself in trouble by ignoring the limitations of your contract.

Surround yourself with a village. In other words—even if you’re published—don’t write the book and release it without anyone having read it. I like having the expertise of editors behind me when I publish. Editors know what they’re talking about. But even if you don’t have an editor, find readers who can give you some feedback. We’re never objective about our own writing. We need other people to catch mistakes that we naturally will miss.

But how about formatting? There is a specific format needed for eBooks. You can hire someone to do this for you, starting at around $100 or you can do it yourself. There’s a free guide that will walk you through the process on Smashwords. If you decide to skip that route and go directly to Amazon, they also have a guide there you can follow. If I can figure out how to format an eBook, anyone can, so don’t let that hold you back.

Invest in a good cover. I don’t care what anyone says—people do judge a book by its cover. I hired someone who charged me around $100 for the cover design, and I’d say it was well worth it. In fact, I like this cover more than I like the previous two in the series. Make sure your cover shows that you care about your final product and that you take yourself seriously as a writer.

Proofread! Okay, I admit a mistake I made here. I had editors and readers go over my manuscript. I’d read the book myself so many times that I wanted to throw it out the window. Finally, I just said, it’s done. It’s good. Let’s get it out there. A couple of months later, I sat down to read the book on my Kindle. That’s when I noticed some typos. I really should have hired a proofreader to read my book one final time before I released it. I’ve since corrected those mistakes, but I did, for awhile, want to send a note to all of my readers apologizing. They deserved better than that.

Click to Buy for 99 Cents on Kindle

Marketing Is a Must. Just because you put a book on Amazon that does not mean readers will find it. Figure out how you’re going to sell your book and get it into the hands of readers. After all, nothing’s more discouraging than publishing a book that only sells a handful of copies.

As a final note, I found publishing Organized Grime so easy that I later decided to re-release two other out of print titles, Hazardous Duty and The Trouble with Perfect. I’ve actually been pretty pleased with the results of e-publishing. My sales for one out-of-print book have tripled now that released it and set the price point to an affordable amount.

One word of caution: in the days of old, when people actually went into bookstores to buy books, genres were clearly marked, so readers knew what they were getting. While Amazon does list genres, most people don’t take the time to figure out whether your book is Christian or not. As a result, you may have angry readers flooding you with reviews because you “deceived” them by talking about God in your book. Just a heads up!

My website is under construction now but you can find me at:
A complete list of my books can be found on Including recent releases for Love Inspired Suspense.

Thanks so much for having me here today!


Carol Moncado said...

That's great Christy! That would make me very happy as a reader! I have one series that I don't know will ever find a home and if so, once I get a following [see - positivity ;)], release them myself.

But that's like light years away ;).

Thanks for sharing, Christy! So glad this option is out there for stuff like this!

Helen Gray said...

Thanks for sharing, Christy. Interesting stuff. And I'm a mystery reader.

Coffee will be brewed by morning.


Vince said...

Hi Christy:

I would think if you went to an advertising agency your cover art for “Organized Grime” would cost between $500 to $1000. Did you use a freelancer? Would you share the source. I will need a cover soon.

I believe the cover is the most important marketing element for an eBook. If the cover looks generic or poorly done, I don’t buy the book. I think that if the author does not have enough confidence in her book to invest in a professional cover, then I don’t expect anything else about the book to be professional. (Such as proof reading.)

ePublishing as a great motivator.

Writing a book is a very long term investment with a very delayed reward. I think it is a great motivator to know in advance that even if the book does not sell, you can still publish it yourself. This certainty is a powerful force in times of discouragement. In fact, I might even order my cover now and post it over my computer so I see it everyday. : )

Very Important Question

Can we read “Organized Grime” as a stand alone novel? You made a very big deal about it being the conclusion of two other books. Are those books still in print? Will they come out later as eBooks?

I wish you well. This has been a very helpful post. If I can help you, I will.



Carol J. Garvin said...

How great to get this very practical explanation of your ePublishing experience! Thank you for sharing, Christy. I'm about to pour myself a mug of coffee and re-read this ... there's lots to digest. I have a bit of leftover chocolate I can share ... will leave it on the table for everyone. Please don't chide me for the small quantity. The way I adore chocolate it's amazing there's any left at all!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Christy, good morning, sweet thing! Thanks so much for hangin' with us today, and for your topic of choice...

What a great glimpse into a swelling market. And you make perfect sense!

Vince, I agree, I'd love to hear more about that. And Carol, I'm bringing some home-made biscuits (a new Ruthy experiment for the Yankee Belle Cafe) and you're welcome to butter a biscuit and hang out a while! ;)

Coffee! Helen!! Thank you!!!

Jessica Nelson said...

What a great post!!!! I heard about your books a few years ago. Haven't read one yet but I always thought the premise sounded great. Thanks for sharing! I love your cover.

Helen W said...

Thanks for sharing this Christy! That was a great way for you to enter ePublishing. It's wonderful that you were able to finish the series for your readers.

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing with us Christy.

I recently read you LIS, but caffeine hasn't kicked in enough to remember the title.

I do remember I liked it a lot!

Have a great day!
Jackie Layton

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Christy and thanks for the interesting and RELEVANT information.

Kirsten Arnold said...

Great post, Christy! I've been back and forth about self-publishing and this cleared quite a few cobwebs.

Best of luck to you!

Cara Lynn James said...

I'm so glad you joined us today, Christy!!! Your info is really helpful. I imagine most of us have thought about e publishing but don't know too much about how to go about it. I hope you sell millions of copies!

Julie Lessman said...


AND what a timely topic, my friend -- THANK YOU for the great tips. I actually intend to do this and I am fortunate that my agent does it all the time, so she will handle it for me and my hubby's an artist, so he will do the cover. But even so ... it is a bit scary, so thanks for allaying some of my fears.

LOVE the cover -- very appealing!!

You said: "As a result, you may have angry readers flooding you with reviews because you “deceived” them by talking about God in your book. Just a heads up!"

I've already had this happen a ton of times with an Amazon free-book giveaway on both of my first novels, so I TOTALLY get this precautionary advice!!

Good luck on the e-book sales, Christy, and any other sales too.


Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Christy! Thanks for sharing your experience and advice on ePublishing! Love the covers. I wish you success with your eBooks!

Your point that unpublished writers should wait before going the eBook route resonated with me. I wasn't ready for publication as soon as I thought I was. :-) However there's an exception for every rule. Self-publishing is a nice option for all the reasons you give.

I brought fresh fruit this morning, nice with Ruthy's biscuits.


Whitney said...

Welcome, Christy!

I think I REALLY needed this post today. I’ve been struggling with my current WIP. One of the reasons I get discouraged with it is because I’m afraid it is going to be SO different, it will never find a home with a “real” publishing house. I know about Self-Publishing, of course, but always thought it was kind of second best if you couldn’t publish the traditional way. I’ve heard success stories, sure, but how big were those numbers? Your post gave me a boost of confidence and hope. Publishing as an E-Book is the real McCoy! As society leans more and more to electronic formats, I can only guess how much this form of publishing will grow in popularity.

Your covers are lovely! I completely agree that covers SELL. The cover and the title are the first two things that grab my attention, and hey, you can get exactly what you want when you are your own publisher, art director, etc. I agree with Vince. Excellent price you got! I went to school for Graphic Design and I know you got a deal! : )

And those angry heathens, er… customers who didn’t take the time to read the synopsis, well, I’ve read those reviews, too. No worries. The Lord will lead your path in the direction He wants you to go, and your ebooks to the right people’s eyes.

Thanks for sharing!


Debby Giusti said...

Great info, Christy. Love the cover of your e-book. Now I want to read the entire series!!!

Thanks for joining us in Seekerville. I brought fresh fruit and bagels for a light breakfast or mid-morning snack.

Jeanne T said...

Christy, what an interesting post! I've been hearing more about e-publishing. It makes sense that it would be good to have some experience in the world of being published to make you better able to self-publish. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom here today. Your books sound like good reads. :)

Christy Barritt said...

Good morning everyone! Thanks for having me here today!

Vince--I did get a great deal on my book cover design. In fact, I think my designer's prices have gone up recently. I did have to purchase the photo for the cover model for about $100. Then I gave my designer some examples of covers I liked. He took that information and created a beautiful cover! His name is Drew Palko and his website is:

Organized Grime can be read as a standalone novel. The storyline makes perfect sense without having read Hazardous Duty or Suspicious Minds. Thanks for asking!

Great questions!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Christy, Great to see your photo and hear from you girlfriend.

Thanks for the e-pub info. I've been thinking of doing that with some of my earlier books that are out of print. We just had a speaker at our local RWA meeting talk about the same thing.

She made $600. on her book through traditional publishing three years ago and then e-pubbed her books. She has made over $58,000 already this year. Tells you something. However, she did do a lot of marketing. As pointed out, readers need to know the book is there.

I'm going to take her class at Desert Dreams conference and find out more.

Thanks again for joining us here in Seekerville.

Have a fun day.

CatMom said...

Welcome Christy! Thanks for sharing this information today, and I love those covers of your books. I haven't read too many mysteries, but now do plan on reading your's (love the title ORGANIZED GRIME--gives me a chuckle!). Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Melanie Dickerson said...

I think that is awesome that you e-published the third book in the series, Christy! In your situation, it was a really good thing to do, and I would do the same. I hope your e-books sell millions! I love the e-book trend, partly because we authors make a higher percentage of royalties off e-books than paperbacks. I predict that people who read a lot will start reading almost all books on e-readers and only buy the paperback or hardbacks of books that they really love. And that's okay with me. As long as they're reading my books! :-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, and it's so true that you will get angry reviews from people who didn't realize your book was Christian. That's definitely happened to me, especially when my publisher runs sales. They even gave away my first book for free for a while, and the angry reviews nearly did me in. But I've since learned not to read the 1- 2- or 3-star reviews. :-)

Mary Connealy said...

This is so perfectly timed because I just regained the rights to my cozy mystery series and released them as ebooks.
I don't know if any of you have ever read Nosy in Nebraska. Fun and quirky but definitely NOT romantic comedy with cowboys. To jump start the books I'm giving the first one away free for a few days.
New titles. New author name Mary Nealy.
Bury the Lead
Fright at the Museum
Trial and Terror

You can get book #1 for free by clicking on
Bury the Lead

Mary Connealy said...

I gave a speech at a library last night and the library is crazy in love with ebooks.
She mentioned something called OVERDRIVE where they lend out ebooks.

I've heard of that before but I've never really figured it out. I think your book has to be in some databank. They asked me if mine was and I have no idea.

I suspect she could have checked but I was busy. :)

Anyway, ebooks seem to be growing like crazy. Things are changing so fast it's hard to keep up.

Mary Connealy said...

BTW I've read the first two books in Christy's series and they're great.
Hazardous Duty and Suspicious Minds, now Organized Grime. I've got mine, Christy. A To Be Read pile inside a Kindle now exists!


Mary Connealy said...

PS Christy is just about the first person I met when I joined ACFW. We were in a critique group together for YEARS. Still are, though we've slacked off for sure in recent years.

But Christy taught me how to write.

Thank you.

Pam Hillman said...

Thanks for the level-headed take on epublishing Christy.

Like you said, there are pros and cons, and an author needs to weigh them carefully before jumping in.

Loved the cover and title for Organized Grime! I read it several times before I realized it said GRIME instead of Crime! lol

Helen's offee hasn't kicked in yet.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Christy! I'm so glad you were able to go ahead and finish your series! I know readers will be thankful.

And I think you were wise about the cover. I went to a workshop at a local chapter, and the speaker said she's learned a lot about doing covers. She found she made more money off the same book once she got a better cover!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Great advice!

Good luck & God's blessings with your Ebooks!


Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Christy!

Thanks for the information on e-books, since I'm pretty clueless about those. I'm still hanging on to my bookshelves and paperbacks, hoping the "e-trend" won't take them away!

But I like how you e-published your book as a gift to your readers and discovered so much more. A setback that turned into such a huge blessing for you.

BTW, Christy has a traditionally published book coming out in May, Death of a Couch Potato's Wife. For those who love cozies, it's a lot of fun!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Christy,

Thanks for making this sound so simple! I know several writer acquaintances who have gone this route and are having much success.

Good to know this options exists!

And I so agree about the covers. If it's not beautiful enough to attract attention, no one will buy it. So wise to invest in a good cover!


Christy Barritt said...

I offered Hazardous Duty for free on Amazon for three days last week (it's still on 99 cents now, if anyone is interested! LOL). But I'm just waiting for more angry reviews. I'm making myself not check Amazon because bad reviews can be hard to handle, not matter what stage you're at in publishing. In fact, I can read ten good reviews but it's the one bad one that I usually remember. I like Julie's advice--I don't think I'll read the one, two or three starred reviews anymore!

Christy Barritt said...


Thanks for having me here. Oh--and Happy Friday the 13th! How could I forget to mention that?

I love all of Mary's books, and I'm excited to see all of the success she's had! I probably wouldn't be published without her encouragement!

Christy Barritt said...

Thanks, Stephanie, for helping to spread the word about my next cozy mystery, Death of the Couch Potato's Wife. It releases next month! Mary Connealy was one of my crit partners on this book. :-)

Christy Barritt said...


Those numbers are amazing! I know some people are having amazing success within the eBook market. I think it helps that you're able to offer books for a lower pricepoint. People can get a book for cheaper than they can get a bottle of soda.

DebH said...

I haven't read your books (yet. heading to Amazon to get a couple) but THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! for ePubbing book number Three for your loyal readers. That is so awesome. I hate cliff hanger TV shows and shows that go off-Air without closure. I want to go get your books because you cared enough to give your readers that closure. My kind of author (yay).

Thank you, too, for the advice you are passing on from your own experience. I appreciate it. As a graphic artist, I also appreciate you advocating getting a good cover made. There are a lot of us out there who like to get our creative talents exposed as well. I'm considering ePub covers as a means to supplement my income during this tough economy (more research needed). Again, thanks for advising quality cover art.

Wonderful, informative post!!!!!
Thank You!!!!!!!!!!

Brandi said...

Great advice, Christy! I'm loving how ebooks are increasing in popularity. I think it's a great opportunity for writers (and publishers) to expand.

Mary Curry said...

Hi Christy,
Thanks so much for sharing your advice and experience.
I agree with everyone who has said self/epublishing offers hope. I have a few friends who have successfully published books they were unable to place.

I think one of the keys to their success is that their books were ready to be published. You want to make a good first impression whether the book is traditionally published or not. I imagine developing a bad rep in epub circles is just as damaging as with print.

Best of luck to you. I'm off to try your books.

Mary Curry said...

Mary Connealy -

I was curious so I went and checked. I want to say it took hours and I've worked up an honest thirst (but it really took seconds on Google).
Yes, your books are listed on Overdrive. Here's a link to your page.

Okay - that looks crazy. Maybe your better off going here and typing your own name.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Christy, thanks so much for this blog post! I've often toyed with the idea of e-publishing some of my work in the future. You gave some really good, sound advice!

Virginia said...

Very interesting!! I have one book that can't find a home and I just LOVE it. But maybe that's the mommy in me talking about her baby...

IT does have a built in market, but I've always been scared to try the e-pubbing route.

Looks do-able!!

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for all that great personal advice Christy!

" may have angry readers flooding you with reviews because you “deceived” them by talking about God in your book..." That comment floored me!

Vince said...

Hi Christy:

I’m very interested in how you got a model for $100. I’d like to get a picture of a mountain cabin with a great view and if possible the hero on a Harley and the heroine on the porch of the cabin. Any chance of any parts of this? : )

Also, did you pirce professional editors on editing your book? Mine is 55,000 words at this point.


Mary Cline said...

My Sister-in-Law Lynette Endicott has had a couple of books e published but I don't think they were self published. So there must be a difference? Or are epubs always self pubs? I always have so many questions. Desert Breeze is her publisher. Do any of you know the answers?

Christy Barritt said...

Melanie--I think you were the one who said not to read the low starred reviews. I totally agree!

Mary Curry--I agree 100%. Your book has to be ready to be published. I'm not sure I would have taken this route if I didn't have some publishing credits under my belt and five more books contracted to be released traditionally.

Eva Maria--I've had several of those comments already on Hazardous Duty. Thankfully I have forty other people who liked the book. :-) Most of the mean comments have had a thread of compliment. Things like: This would have been a great book if it wasn't for all the Christian crap. Yep. That's what three reviewers said. One was just downright mean, but I won't talk about her!

Christy Barritt said...

Vince--I searched stockphoto sites (like until I found a picture I liked. This took some time, but it was well worth it. Each site has different rules and charges different prices. This is the route I decided to go for my cover.

As far as pricing editors, I would say say most freelancers start at around $2 a page (please, someone correct me if I'm wrong). I'm lucky to have some friends who are very talented and generous in this area.

Christy Barritt said...

Mary Cline--Self-publishing used to mean that you had to pay a lot of money upfront and then buy boxes of your books, store them in your garage, and sell them book by book from the trunk of your car. This changed. Not all books that are e-published are self-published. Sorry for the confusion. Desert Breeze, I believe, is a traditional publisher with a focus on ebooks (I think they do print books also? Not sure. Again, some please correct me if I'm wrong).

Christy Barritt said...

I should have added also that Stephanie Ludwig was generous enough to be a beta reader for Death of the Couch Potato's Wife. She did a fabulous job, and I can't thank her enough!

Audra Harders said...

Hi Christy!

Great thoughts on epublishing. You are absolutely right about readers practically gasping for breath WAITING for that next book in a great series to be released. It's heartbreaking to find out it won't be coming out...or they never find out and start to stew over it.

Thanks for your insight and advice. Glad you're happy with the results of your release. It sounds like a great series!

Nancy C said...

Christy, good for you for caring enough about your readers to venture into ebooks! I'm convinced the best "marketing" is word of mouth -- and fans who enjoy your work (and appreciate that you shared the third book) will spread the word :-)

I don't think print books will ever go the way of the dinosaur -- after all, some people predicted TV would bring about the end of radio -- and I wonder if ebooks might actually reach readers who might not be reached through print books. When that happens can your new fans still buy copies of your earlier print books?

Wishing you the best with your writing.

Nancy C

marybelle said...

Fabulous insight thank you.

Kayleen Reusser said...

Christy, I read your first 2 books in the crime cleaner series a few yrs ago, then ret'd them to the library and wanted to find them again a yr later but could not remember your name. So glad to find you here! I'd love to read your latest and do a review for it. Congrats on your venture into e-pub'ing. I hope to do it myself in 2012.

Tattie said...

I've been working hard to promote your Christian books on my blog. Check it out and if you have a book that fits e-mail me. I've posted about Hazardous Duty a few times.

I love the self-published re-released stuff because I'm the only one who bothers to post about them. My competition won't even post them when they're free most of the time because they don't know what they are.
Thanks and keep those books coming!

Christy Barritt said...

Kayleen and Tattie--if you'll email me at: I'll make sure to get you a copy of my book. Tattie--I'd love to connect with you about your blog! Thanks for sharing!

Christy Barritt said...

Thanks, everyone, for having me on Seekerville yesterday. I had a wonderful time "chatting" with all of you. And thanks to all of you who said you'd read my previous books. That means the world to me!

janetsketchley said...

Thanks for the ebook insights, Christy, and thanks even more for finishing Gabby's story for us. I really enjoyed this series.