Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

with guest Helen Gray.


In January I dived into the Indie Ocean. Oh, my, what a BI-I-I-I-I-G place this is! 

I started rowing by publishing two books. Row, row.

In the spring I contracted with Forget-Me-Not Romances, a publishing company run by Cindy Hickey, and published four more. 

Row, row, row, row.

The first of October I had a novella published that is to be part of a state flower collection next spring. Row.  

This past week I published a three book series. I did them myself, but Cindy designed my covers. Row, row, row.

I am working on another novella. Row.

I have some more stand-alone manuscripts on my hard drive that I plan to rework into a series. Row, row, row.

And that’s how indie publishing works. I’m too far out in the middle of the ocean to turn back, so I just keep rowing.



Things That Have Worked For Me

1. As a former accounting teacher, I treated indie publishing as a business from the beginning. The first concept in accounting is to not mix personal and business funds. With my very first advance money from my Heartsong series, I opened a separate account. I had a little seed money left in it when the line was cut, and I determined that I would operate—sink or swim—on that capital. I keep receipts for everything from computer repairs, paper and ink, to conference expenses and postage. I also keep a record of all revenue, have a sales tax license, and submit a quarterly payment. This information is compiled into a Schedule C at tax time. I have practiced fiscal responsibility and am slowly seeing my efforts rewarded.

2. I had done my homework about manuscript preparation, covers, and formatting—I wrote about it in my last post—and am rowing along with those. I’ve had my covers designed for me—and have had favorable reactions to them.

3. I’ve done series rather than stand-alone books. We’re told by the veterans to do this. Getting people invested in a series builds a following.
A Christmas Potpourri

4. The biggest success I’ve had has probably been getting included in some boxed set collections. I’m in a Christmas collection, a contemporary collection that has been at or near the top of the bestseller list for the past several weeks, another contemporary collection, and a historical collection

I also have sets of my own historical series and contemporary series. KU is good for these because readers buy a batch of stories (inexpensively) and produce a high pages read count. In addition to reaching a wide audience, they help author rankings and build teamwork. I’ve read predictions that this trend might change—but for now I’m in and ready for more.

5. Another thing that has been successful for me is print books. No, they don’t sell on Amazon. But I sell enough print copies locally to pay my up-front expenses. Since I have been asked how I sell them, I’ll try to describe my process .

Because Wal Mart stocked my Heartsong books, had me do book signings, and sold about 200 copies of each of those three books, I have some readers who have told me they want copies any time I have books released.

 Last Friday afternoon I received my order of 60 copies each of my new three book series. I immediately went to the library, scheduled book signings, gave them a complimentary set, and sold a set to the head librarian. The next morning I delivered 5 sets to the funeral home (the two co-owners buy copies for themselves and their daughters), 5 sets to Wal Mart (clerks who met me at the store signings and always want them), and two sets to the Dollar Store (clerks with standing orders). 

The next day (Sunday) I delivered twelve sets to church members after church on the parking lot. Yesterday I sold three sets at the library. Last night we ate at the local restaurant, and I sold four sets while there, depleting the bag I have started keeping in my car. This morning I sold three sets at the library, then went to the beauty shop and sold three more sets. Then I got groceries and had a lady in the store ask for a set. When I got home, a lady from a neighboring town who had already bought a set called and asked for two more sets for Christmas gifts. I think I have a dozen copies each left. I never planned to become a peddler, but it seems to have evolved into that. Are you getting the idea?


Things That Have Not Worked For Me

I STINK, STINK, STINK at social media and would starve to death if I had to make a living at selling. So lack of promotion skills is the failure that makes me less than an ideal candidate for indie publishing. 

I can’t remember to update my web page. I created a Twitter account, but can’t think to tweet, or of anything to tweet about. As for Facebook, I only think to post when I have books out or something major is happening within the family. (I can’t imagine anyone being interested in whether I clipped my toenails or bought groceries this week.)

I set up a newsletter on my web page, but have collected only a few subscribers.
I’ve been approached about a couple of speaking engagements, but they haven’t materialized yet. I don’t solicit them.  

I have done some posting to FB groups, but I haven’t seen any significant results from them. I haven’t been consistent, though, so I need to keep trying.



What I've Learned From These Experiences

Paid ads are good! 

I’ve copied lists of promo groups from various postings, joined them, and have culled them as I’ve learned which ones suit my needs best. These groups are primarily for free promotion and reviews. If you’re looking for such lists, you might like this link where Sherri Wilson Johnson shares her marketing spreadsheet. It is a list of groups, with membership numbers, and any stipulations for posting. And here is an interactive list of book promo sites.

The paid promo sites tend to require a certain number of reviews before you can purchase an ad. For me it is TOUGH to get those first reviews when the new book is just out—unheard of and unheralded. I’m still working on the ten I need for Bootheel Bride so I can buy an ENT (Ereader News Today) ad. I’ve heard others talk about having difficulty getting accepted, but so far I’ve never been turned down when I’ve applied for an ad.

ENT is the only paid ad site I’ve used, but I assume the process is similar with others. To apply for an ad, simply go to their submission form and provide info and links relevant to the book you want to promote. State your preferred date for a promotion and whether you’re willing to accept alternate dates. 

The cost of such an ad varies with the genre and book price. You can view those prices here. The other paid ad site I’ve heard a lot about is Bookbub, but it’s much pricier.
Making the first book of a series free for a particular time can result in sales of the other books, but .99 ads also work. I’m still experimenting with both.

I also have learned to ask questions. The CIA (Christian Indie Authors), a private FB group for Christian indie and hybrid authors to discuss writing, publishing, and marketing, is a valuable resource if you’re considering taking this route.  

Suggestions for Staying on Track as an Indie

1. Remember that indie publishing is a marathon. It’s not for the quitter. 

2. Treat it like a job, with you as the boss. Go to work every day, and write or edit your daily goal. Set your deadlines and meet them. Only YOU can do it.

3. Keep the quality of your work high. Always strive for improvement.

4. Don’t blame others when things don’t work. The load lands squarely on your shoulders. Do it—or quit.

5. Share information. In traditional publishing, no one talks facts and figures. Indies share what works and what doesn’t for them. And much more.

6. Be flexible. Life happens. For instance, these past several weeks have been very stressful for me because of a personal situation, making it hard to be creative. So I have pushed ahead with editing/publishing tasks and only written when I could relegate the stressful issue to the back of my brain. It doesn’t produce as much word count, but work still gets done.  

7. Work, work, work. All the time. Persevere. Don’t lose momentum. Row, row, row!!! Write another book.

Conclusions

I may not be a top best-selling author, but I’m building my business and working my way upward. 

I have control.

I make mistakes—correct them—and learn from them.

I’m rowing along, gaining in earnings, and enjoying the ride. I like being in control, having access to information. It’s scary at times—and a lot of hard work and struggles. But the control, freedom, and perpetual earnings possibility outweigh those things.
Row, row, row!!!


The question I’m wrestling with now is about writing in multiple genres. If I publish in another genre, should I use my own name? A pen name? Forget it?

Also, I would appreciate any helpful suggestions you can offer to make social media easier for me. 

Give me your thoughts.

As a giveaway, I’m making Bootheel Bride free today. Help yourself. If you enjoy it, a review would be appreciated.

Returning to the Bootheel is Bittersweet for Jessie Stevens.

When she and her brother come back to the home they fled years earlier, they find Gabe Kirby, their neighbor who was kind to Jessie as a girl, guarding the farm. 

Successful cotton farmer Gabe remembers Jessie fondly from childhood, but the grown up Jessie takes his breath away. He thought his life would be devoted to helping others and would not include marriage, but now he questions that. Can he convince her--and himself--that they can find happiness together?


Bootheel Bachelor

Jason Stevens is a Bad Risk for Marriage

Fear of repeating his father's abusive behavior toward his mother has him convinced he will live his life as a bachelor. As a Missouri Highway Patrolman, he certainly doesn't need the complications of fiery Veda, the sister of the man his sister married, stirring up his emotions. 

All young widow Veda wants is to start over and run a business of her own, in a location distant from the Kirby family's illegal activities. 

Can these two opposites find common ground and happiness together?



Bootheel Betrothal

Lynn Buchanan is Looking for Her Birth Mother.  
After losing her parents and learning she is adopted, Lynn travels to the SE section of Missouri known as the bootheel to search for her mother. When she tangles with handsome Mitch Stratton, her plans and dreams are thrown into a tailspin. 

Mitch must focus on keeping his cotton gin operating and providing jobs for his employees. Meeting the newfound sister of his best friend is a complication to his plans—and his heart.





Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. While working alongside her husband in his ministry, she had three children, taught school, directed/accompanied church music programs, and became an amateur ventriloquist. Now retired, with the children gone from the nest, she and her supportive husband still live in their native Missouri Ozarks where he roams the woods, hunts and fishes, and she weaves stories meant to honor God and depict Christian lives and problems as she knows and observes them. Helen thanks God for the time and opportunity to write, and considers it an added blessing if her stories touch others in even a small way.

http://www.helenbrowngray.com

78 comments:

Helen Gray said...

The coffee pot is on!

Wilani Wahl said...

Helen, I love your books,I will do what I can to help you promote them on facebook!

I hope everyone will have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Helen Gray said...

Thank you, Wilani!

Marianne Barkman said...

Thank you for the Boothill Bride. I will read and review it! Keep persevering! I hope your personal issues are looking better. I've missed seeing you here!

Helen Gray said...

Thank you, Marianne. Hope you enjoy it.

Melissa Jagears said...

LOL I "would starve to death if I had to make a living at selling."

Girl, whatever you're doing to peddle those books to everyone you meet, adapt that for the online world! I read somewhere that carrying around books is helpful, but I can't even keep business cards on me. I had three people at my house closing interested in my books and I was the dope that had one bent business card to hand out. Likely lost two sales right there!

And peddling would require leaving my house and talking. Kinda hard when you get into an accident the first week in your new town and well, my husband says I'm allergic to fresh air. :)

But I MUST get on the ball carting around books, so I'll have to do what you do and put a box in my car, my vehicle's always with me.....well, when I get another one anyway.

Setting out the creamers for your coffee. Will anyone think it strange if I just drink the creamers? Since they're supposed to be in coffee (and I'm not about to touch coffee), I wonder if that's bad. But man, some of them sound so good! Anyone drink straight creamer?

Does that question make me sound really, really weird?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love seeing you take control of your career like this!

GO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

And while I miss the coffee, fresh, hot and ready for me when I tumble out of bed in the middle of the night, I'm a big girl.... and I make my own!

Congratulations, Helen!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Melissa, my kids and grandkids drink straight creamers, they love the tiny cups. They're ridiculous and awfully cute!!!!! The kids, not the cups!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And Helen, in my experience, facebook and Twitter don't sell books. They might help build rapport with readers (which I love) but production sells books.

Keep writing, keep producing.

Cheering from upstate!!!!

Cindy W. said...

Wow Helen! You have been busy. I pray your personal issues will be resolved soon so your creative mind can move forward. Thank you for pushing through and your thoughtfulness in offereing Boothill Bride for free. I just downloaded it and will definitely read and review it.

Welcome back. We've missed you around here.

Have a blessed week!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Helen, What a great post and inspiring. You have really showed us the nitty gritty of publishing. I so laughed at your description of social media. I'm so with you there. If I had to depend upon that I would be in deep trouble. LOL

The Christian Indie site is wonderful. I've learned some great stuff from them and they have tried things and shared.

And I agree. Most American business thrives and pays for advertising to make it. Seems like the only way to go along with what Ruthy said. Keep rowing. Oh I mean writing. smile

Congrats on your achievements in a tough business.

Prayers for your situation. Thanks for sharing with us today.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Helen! Oh, my goodness! You wear me out just reading about all you've been doing this year in the Indie world. Row, row, row, indeed! WOW.

That's wonderful that you get so much library and Walmart support locally. The latter, especially, isn't known for being author friendly. Congrats!

I can hardly wait to get your 'Bootheel Beloveds' series. They look like so much fun!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Melissa You are cracking me up. Yes, please get some business cards and keep those books in the car. You will be amazed who you start talking to and when they ask about a book, you can show them.

Yesterday I was in the laundromat and everyone always asks "what do you do" and when I tell them I write, they want to know what. Well here I am at the laundromat with no business cards, but I did have a pen I was using with my name and website on it. Yippee.

You just never know.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Yes, Thanks for Boothill Bride. Will download today.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh and another thing, I so agree with Melissa, If you are selling that many books out of your car, Miss Helen, You ARE a saleswoman. chuckle.

Bettie said...

Thank you for the free book! I always enjoyed your heart song books so I am looking forward to a good read. I hope you will stay with the Christian genre and not change. Blessings to you.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Helen, you amazing thing you! WOWZA. You are doing it all right.

While Twitter and FB don't sell books, it is helpful for your fans and friends to keep track of your release.

I had no idea you had a Christmas collection out and I am off to buy it.

If you would just make FB and Twitter a routine that is part of your day it becomes easier.


What about bookmarks? If you put a bookmark in your book that has your other books listed you can increase your sales.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I also think you should keep the same name and not change it. It makes it easier to find you.

I am in the process of changing all those Tina Russo books to Tina Radcliffe and finding time for that is near to impossible. It just diluted my brand.

Jackie said...

Helen,

What an amazing year. This is definitely a keeper post on the business side of writing. You've given us so many good tips. Thanks!

To help you a bit, I've pinned this and I'll tweet!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Caryl Kane said...

HELLO HELEN, What an incredible journey! Thank you for the free introduction to your books. I look forward to reading the Boothel Bride.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Rose said...

Hi Helen,

You are becoming a seasoned sailor with all that rowing!

Excellent business advice.

I love the Boothel Bride cover. Can you tell us how you decide on covers?

Janet Dean said...

Helen, thanks for your tips on how to build indie muscles! Congrats on all your success! I'm impressed!

I agree with Tina. Keep your name. You don't want readers to miss your books just because you branched out in different genres.

Bookmarks are also a great idea. I see them as business cards to readers. I finally wised up and listed all my books on the back with the latest cover on the front. You won't be able to squeeze them on unless that bookmark is huge. :-)

Thanks for the coffee!!

Janet

Sally Shupe said...

Wow. This post is full of great information. Thank you! I picked up a copy of your book as well. I will read it and post a review! Thank you so much!

Melissa: Yes, my daughter drinks straight creamer. I thought she was the only one lol.

I like authors who keep their name on their books. Otherwise I don't know it's them and might miss picking it up. I also love pens and bookmarks! Great way to spread around your name and your books. Even if you just used facebook and twitter to share reviews of your books or to connect with readers, that's got to help get your name out there and help people recognize it. Then when they see your book they'll be like I saw that name. I have to have this book.

Happy Thanksgiving week everybody!

Missy Tippens said...

Helen, we're so glad to have you share with us today! Congrats on seeing the fruition of all your hard work!

As for social media, I would say just to pick the one you like most and maybe try scheduling some posts ahead of time.

Connie Queen said...

Helen, it seems like yesterday we heard Heartsong was closing and you were wondering if you should dip you toe into the world of indie publishing. Wow! You've done so much and so well. Sometimes Seekerville posts makes me feel so lazy when I see how busy you all are.

I'm tired from all that rowing but you've gone a long way ma'am!

Treating writing like a business is such a smart thing. As a stay at home mom, I've had several side incomes and have always tried to treat them like businesses. Raising/selling great danes. Baby-sitting. Raising dairy calves. I've always kept a separate bank account too. I wouldn't trust myself not to let the income/investment money be slowly absorbed in my reg. personal account.

Connie Queen said...

And I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, Helen, you've been one busy-busy rower! Congrats on your indie success, and what a great post on what has worked for you!

I hear you about social media. It can be so overwhelming. I try to do most of my Facebook and Twitter stuff first thing in the morning after checking email. I use Hootsuite to schedule anything I post to spread out through the day so I don't have five or ten posts showing up one right after another.

Helen Gray said...

Melissa,
I'm the most unlikely person in the world to end up as a peddler. :) I have a pink cloth bag that I keep in the back seat, stocked with 2-3 copies of each book. But it's for when people to ask for the books.

I don't drink coffee, so I'll pass on the creamers as well.

Helen Gray said...

Ruthie,

I know you're an independent gal, but I admit I've been remiss in my duties. That bed has been beckoning earlier and earlier of late. :)

Yep, production is the big thing. I know that. I also know I can't maintain the pace of the past two years indefinitely. I'm a tortoise, slow and methodical. But I plan to get the rest of my inventory out there--and then see how the pace levels out. I'd rather produce lots of books as spend my time "social media-ing" about a few.

Helen Gray said...

Cindy W,

I hope you enjoy the book. This series is set in the extreme SE section of Missouri, which is very different from the rest of the state. It's flat land where life is more like the south. It's cotton farming country.

And thank you for being a reviewer. Hopefully I can get those first ten reviews soon and move on with promotion. :)

Jeanne T said...

Helen, thanks for the gift! I look forward to reading your book.

Can I just say reading your post made me tired! You're a rock star for getting so many book published this year! Way to go.

For social media I would recommend scheduling a little time each day, maybe 10-15 minutes to make tweets and posts. If you get on something like Hootesuite, you can schedule your posts to show up on Facebook and Twitter and then you don't have to think about it again until tomorrow. :)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Helen Gray said...

Sandra,

Glad you understand about the social media weakness. I just don't enjoy it like so many seem to do. It stresses me!

The paid advertising definitely produces sales. But only for a while. By the next month you need another push. That's why it's nice to have a nice number of books out there. Rotating promotions can benefit all the books.

Helen Gray said...

Glynna,

The support from the library is ongoing, but Wal Mart only supported my traditionally published books. Now I'm on my own. But that initial "notoriety" connected me with readers I never would have gotten without those book signings.

Hope you enjoy the books.

Helen Gray said...

Bettie,

I have no intention of leaving the Christian genre. I have series of mysteries that are not romances, but they are still Christian.

Hope you enjoy a sojourn into the bootheel during the Great Depression.

Helen Gray said...

Tina,

Thanks for having me back.

I can post about my new releases and book signings on FB and Twitter, but making them a consistent thing is where I get in trouble. I can't think what to say on a regular basis that will not be repetitious and boring.

My contribution to the Christmas collection is book one of my Heartland Heartmates series. It's also in the Forget-Me-Not collection. The historical collection contains the first book of my western series. The other contemporary collection contains the second book of my Heartmates series.

YES! I need to get some bookmarks.

Helen Gray said...

Tina,

I'm glad to hear you say keep my name for all the books.

That is what I'd like to do, but an agent at conference this past year frowned at the idea and stressed the importance of branding. She thinks writing in such a different genre will cause reader confusion, etc. I have some time before I have to make a decision, but getting input from others in the meantime is helpful.

Helen Gray said...

Jackie,

Thanks for pinning and tweeting. I need all the help I can get--and appreciate it. :)

Enjoy the holiday!

Helen Gray said...

Caryl Kane,

I hope you enjoy Bootheel Bride.

Enjoy the holiday!

Helen Gray said...

Rose!

I can't swim, so I have to keep the boat from capsizing.

When I commission covers, I tell the designer the setting of the stories and give her an idea what I have in mind. I even help them look for stock photos at the sites they tell me they use. For this last series, we couldn't find images of couples suitable to the time period, so she came up with the photo frame idea--and the pictures. They're far from what I originally had in mind, but I'm pleased with them.

Jana Vanderslice said...

Great Advice Helen Gray the Great!
Here's my take on social media..

What:
• Find your thing- With Mary C it’s cows. For Ruthie it’s kids & cooking. I do videos.
• Pictures & Personal videos- Words alone don’t catch people’s eye as much.
• Meaningful posts & Bible verses- With so much junk on fb, something that matters really stands out.
• Ask questions that lots of people can relate to & that you can tie in to your writing. Ex: Recently an author posted something like “What is a funny saying your grandparent always said that I could include in the book I’m writing?” She had Tons of responses. (good advertising for the future book!)

When:
• Either Rarely- So people will notice (like me).
• Or Regularly- So you will build up a following of people who look forward to your posts (Mary C & Ruthie).
• Watch & see when you get the most Responses. For my tribe, posting around 5pm works best because people check fb, twitter, instagram after work.

Who:
• Readers, friends, potential readers, etc.- Most of the books I buy, I hear about on fb. Links are easy to follow & that Amazon “Easy 1 Click” gets me every time. I almost ALWAYS get FREE books & write reviews.

**THANK YOU btw! I just got your free book! I LOVE Helen Gray books!!!

Helen Gray said...

Janet,

I've been concerned about whether people who have read my romances would be upset if they bought a book of mine and then found out it wasn't a romance. Thanks for the confirmation.

You and Tina make bookmarks sound like the next thing I should do.

Thanks for the input.

Helen Gray said...

Sally,

Hope you enjoy the book, and thanks for saying you'll review.

So far the advice is unanimous about using my own name. If I do, I'll make sure the covers are different in style.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Helen Gray said...

Missy,

Happy to be here! Thank you for hosting me.

FB is the only social media site that's fairly comfortable for me. Hopefully I can utilize it better in the future.

Helen Gray said...

Connie,

The Heartsong closing was a blow, but I'm enjoying the freedoms that go with indie publishing.

I wrote off and on for thirty years before getting published. I don't have another thirty years to repeat that process. So indie is my answer.

Helen Gray said...

Myra,

Yes, overwhelming is the word for social media. :)

I had to replace my laptop last week, and this new one is driving me crazy. The keyboard is different and does its own things. And I don't have everything downloaded onto it yet that I had on the other one--like tweetdeck. Ugh.

Love seeing you still putting out books with LI.

Helen Gray said...

Jeanne,

Hootsuite is another learning curve I haven't faced yet. No idea how to use it. One more thing on my "need to do" list.

Hope you enjoy the book.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I think we all should hire Jana to be our go to PR gal. Great ideas.

Mary has cows.

Hmmm..I could go with sheep.

Helen Gray said...

Jana!!

I copied and printed your social media advice. Thanks!

Hope you enjoy the new book.

Jeanne T said...

Helen, Hootesuite isn't too hard,I promise. Just make sure you have your passwords ready for Facebook and Twitter. It will be faster getting signed up. :)

DebH said...

hi Helen
thank you for your generosity of providing your book for us today. I have downloaded it already and hope to read while traveling to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. No internet connection there, but I hope to have a review posted once I get back home. Yay!

All I can say to your journey is WOW! I am so impressed with all you've accomplished in a fairly compact amount of time. It appears you are doing the little stuff that you can and are accomplishing a whole bunch. It's inspirational and definitely makes me realize indie is NOT for the faint of heart. Thank you so much for sharing. This is a keeper post.

Happy Thanksgiving! May the Lord really bless your diligence (because that means I get to read more of your great books :) ).

Helen Gray said...

DebH,

You're most welcome! Hope you enjoy the book.

Your review will help me along to that needed first ten--and be much appreciated.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I just realized you went from Brown to Gray. Would life have been different if you went to Red or Yellow?

You married your pastor!!! Well I bet you annoyed a whole lot of women in your church. HA!!!

kaybee said...

Helen, what a great -- and gutsy -- journey. I'm so glad you are doing well and found what works for you.
Kathy Bailey

Helen Gray said...

Tina,

I lived on Green Street.

If I need a pen name, I've considered a combination of Brown & Gray--Bray.

After the wedding, the pastor and I left town. :)

P.S. My youngest son's best friend's last name is Green. His mother's maiden name was White.

Helen Gray said...

kaybee,

I'm certainly identifying my strengths and weaknesses.

Sherida Stewart said...

Helen, thank you for your post, the coffee and the book! I'm behind in my reading and reviewing, but I will post one. I didn't know some ads require a certain number of reviews....good to know.

How do you find out about publishing collection possibilities with other authors? I agree that appears to be a way to be found....so far.

I can't offer suggestions for social media other than focus on just the one you enjoy most. I have Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but find I do Facebook most often. I do like to post on my website and blog.

I'd suggest you stay with your name since you are published .....pen names confuse me. I think you lose what branding and recognition you have earned if you change.

Thank you for your advice! And again for your book! Great to see your developing success!

Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

Helen Gray said...

Sherida,

Hope you enjoy the book. The review will be much appreciated.

My collection opportunities have come from the small publisher who did my second series. But I know others who have joined forces with friends they have met at conferences, blog buddies, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sandy Smith said...

Helen, I downloaded the book. Thanks for making it available to us. I look forward to reading it, although it will have to be after I catch up on all the Christmas books.

Congratulations on your success. And I agree with the others that you must be a wonderful saleswoman. I love the way you sell books everywhere you go. It made me chuckle to picture you selling books in the church parking lot!

I hope your personal situation resolves soon so you can get back to your normal writing rhythm.

Helen Gray said...

Sandy,

Hope you enjoy the book.

And I RECEIVED A PHONE CALL JUST TODAY THAT RELIEVES THE PERSONAL SITUATION.
It truly is thanksgiving time!!!!!

CatMom said...

LOVED this post, Helen - - and I admire your "rowing abilities"*grin*.
Sounds like you are definitely a success at indie publishing, and you offered some great tips.
This will go into my keeper file!
Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Helen Gray said...

Patti Jo,

I'm a slow learner, but I'm getting there. :)

Love meeting you in person at conferences.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pam Hillman said...

Wow, Helen, I lost count of how many books you've published this year!!! GOBS!!! :) Congratulations! You are the poster lady for perseverance and showing up on the job and rowing!!

I salute you!

Helen Gray said...

Pam,

Nine indie books and one novella in 2015.
Three traditional in 2014.
Don't expect that many in 2016. :)

Lyndee H said...

Hi Helen,
Seems like you're rowing in the right direction! Congrats on the new titles. And thanks for sharing your lessons with us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Helen Gray said...

Thanks,Lyndee. I'm learning.

Enjoy the holiday.

Chill N said...

HELEN, I am so glad to read about your success with print books. As I'm striving to get to know my reader (market), I'm finding many of them prefer print books. Your tips on how you sell yours are much appreciated.

The book covers you shared in this post are lovely. As a reader, I like the consistency of the design, making them easily recognizable as a series or by the same author.

Thank you for all the info you shared. May your hard work be rewarded with lots of sales :-)

Nancy C

Bettie said...

Hey I read it and posted a review on amazon. It was a great story. I vaguely remember getting cotton picking week off from school for a week in the fall in Alabama when I was very small. I earned a whole 25 cents for my pillow sized bag...I was only in first grade and was following the big kids as a gleaner. My buddy, who was the owner's kid, filled his little sack with a few hidden rocks thinking he would earn more when they weighed his bag. The only thing he earned was a whipping. Everyone else got a chuckle at his little trick as the rocks tumbled out when his cotton was dumped.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Helen Gray said...

Nancy,

I don't really have a method. I just keep books on hand and let people ask for them. But I'm going to have to order more books. I only have one set left.

Not only do I like having the covers recognizable as a series, but I like that my designer puts the series title and where the books fit in the sequence on the covers.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Helen Gray said...

Bettie,

I saw the review. Thank you so much! I now have half enough to apply for an ad.

Every summer when I was a kid we used to go to the bootheel and visit my aunt and uncle who ran a roadside grocery store/gas station. I would listen to my cousins talk about picking cotton and want to try it. But I never did.

Enjoy the holiday.

Chill N said...

Helen Gray said...
I've been concerned about whether people who have read my romances would be upset if they bought a book of mine and then found out it wasn't a romance.


Helen, I've 'followed' several writers from one type of book to another. The covers provide clues as to the type of book it is. The other way those writers made clear what kind of book it was ... on their website they had them labeled/grouped.

About using a different name. Years ago, in a used books store, I found some paperbacks that looked interesting. I opened one, read a bit, and thought, "Good gracious, someone is writing just like XXXXX!" I researched the paperback author's name and, sure enough, it was the same author, using a different name. And of course I read everything I could under that name. For me, a good read is as much about the writer's voice as it is about the genre, plot, etc.

Besides, I want to be sure I don't miss any of your books! :-) Thanks for the free book today.

Nancy C

Helen Gray said...

Nancy,

It's good to hear that you will follow an author to another genre of books.

You're welcome. Hope you liked the book.

Mary Connealy said...

Helen I'm so sorry to check in so late, but Thanksgiving has begun and I'm just sitting down the Seekerville for the first time.
I LOVE THIS POST.

This is full of common sense advice, well stated, very uplifting. I'm so delighted by all the publishing you've done, how you've found new ways to push forward.

It's an encouraging post.

One thing that occurred to me about a newsletter. As you peddle your books, you should ask people, if they'd like to be notified when a new book comes out. (they've already said they do want to know, right? Standing order?) You should ask if you can invite them to join your newsletter. Collect email addies if they are willing and try to grow your email that way. You sold a LOT of books with your peddling. GOOD FOR YOU!!! I LOVE IT!!!

Helen Gray said...

HELLO MARY!

Glad you made it.

I baked my pies this afternoon, and only our boys will be here. Daughter can't make it this year. So I'm in good shape for tomorrow.

Very few of my local readers use computers, so I'm not sure if I could get any newsletter subscribers locally. But there may be a few. I'll have to get more pro-active.

Janet Ferguson said...

Great article! Like Jackie said, this is a keeper!

Helen Gray said...

Janet,

Glad you found it helpful.

Edwina said...

Excellent post! This is one I will print and file in my learning file!

Blessings!

Terri said...

Hi Helen, waving to you late. I so enjoyed chatting with you at ACFW and I'm thrilled to see how your career is progressing.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Helen!

Late to your rowing party but congrats.
Sounds like you're well on your way and your suggestions are spot on!

I've heard about writing in multiple genres, I've heard to use initials for example. So hope that is food for thought. :)

Always thank you for the coffee.
Take care now... And congrats again!