My first year as a debut author: the good, the bad, and the unexpected!
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Hello! One year ago today, my debut novel, The Language of Divorce, was released by a small publishing company. Today, The Language of Divorce is out-of-print and I am preparing to release the same book with a new title and cover (both to be announced).
First, it's all good. The small press which published the novel was unable to sustain costs and closed it's doors this August. I received my rights back which I was happy about for a bunch of reasons. First off, I realized that I like control! Being traditionally published with a press of any size means you don't get to call the shots. My publisher did work with me but there were things outside of their control because they had to answer to a distributor. I wanted to work collaboratively with the distributor on sales strategies but I was unable to speak directly with them. This was frustrating as I had no idea what, if anything, was being done to sell or promote my book. Also, there were things I could not do, like put my book on sale, because I did not control the price.
Second, despite fantastic reviews from independent sources, I got quite a bit of negative feedback about the cover and title of my book. Mainly, it seemed that people thought it was a non-fiction book. One friend told me she hid it when guests came over so no one thought she was in the midst of a divorce! Ouch! Getting the rights back has been a gift because I can relaunch with a new title and cover. I am still considering a few title options and am thrilled to be working with the amazing Jena R. Collins (www.jenarcollins.com) on cover design.
Finally, a lot of time, effort, and money goes into marketing and promoting a book. I handled the lion's share of these efforts; yet, had to share royalties with the publisher. While I knew what I signed up for, the ultimate reality was frustrating enough that I began to think: hmmm, maybe I could do this.....
So....I am thrilled to call myself an indie author. I started my own publishing company, Moxie Publishing, and have a bunch of fun plans for 2021 and beyond. First, I will be relaunching the soon-to-be-named second edition of The Language of Divorce in January 2021. I have completed a draft of my second novel, Mother the Accused, with an anticipated launch date of June 2021. And I have begun an inkling of an outline for book three -- a holiday-themed book to be released in December 2021! This Christmas book will be the first in a series of four romantically-themed books centered on different holidays. After that, I have an awesome idea for a middle grade book, possibly series, up my sleeve. So fun!
In the meantime and despite my prior rants, I did have a ton of good experiences in my debut year. Here are my top five, from five to one:
5. Bucks County Book Festival. I attended this festival as a reader the year prior and couldn't wait to participate. I loved being in the bookish atmosphere all day and even connected with a book club! Advice to authors at book festivals (whenever they return!): bring dog treats!
4. Women's Fiction Writer's Association. On paper, this is an online group. In reality, it is so much more. The WFWA hosts monthly seminars, trainings throughout the year, and provides a whole host of authors ready with support. There are even some in-person meet-ups. I have found a home among this community of supportive writers. Love WFWA!!!!
3. Book Clubs/Lafayette Women's Conference: I was lucky enough to be invited as an author to a bunch of book clubs, including one in California! I was also asked to be part of a panel of authors at my alma mater, Lafayette College. I love Lafayette and writing and, though the conference had to be cancelled due to COVID, being asked to talk about writing at one of my favorite places was a dream come true.
2. Kirkus Review: Kirkus is known as "the world's toughest book critic." I signed up for a review not knowing this. Yikes! But...... Kirkus gave me a positive review and featured my book (alongside others) in their October 2019 magazine. The book, with it's new cover and title, will be featured in one of their 2021 magazines as an indie book to watch -- date TBA. Very excited!
1. Suzy Approved Book Tours: Suzy Approved is a book blogger tour run by Suzanne Leopold. I signed up for two tours (one for the print copy and one for the audio) and received more than thirty reviews from independent book bloggers, almost all of which were 4 and 5 stars. Wow! Seeing these reviews come in (they are on Amazon) during the tours was a thrill. I loved hearing that my book moved someone or made them laugh. I also connected with a number of the bloggers and still follow them on Instagram. Beyond that, Suzy has a bi-annual event in New York City for authors. I attended in December and, honestly, couldn't believe I was in NYC with such accomplished writers, some of which have written award-winning novels. The reviews and the feeling of connection to such a group of passionate readers and writers was the top highlight my year.
So that's it for my debut year. I'd love to share with you about my new adventures as an indie author. Please sign up for my newsletter at www.leannetreese.com.
Happy reading and writing!!!!