E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is raking in well over a million bucks for the author. It’s a story that features a woman being dominated and is considered “reading porn” for females. It’s not a complicated plot idea – heck, you can see this almost any late night on cable in some story form.
Sounds easy to write? Many purists have told me the writing is below average. Perhaps it’s the way the story is told, how the characters seem to reacd her predominately female audience? Should be a simple formula to follow, right? Well, in the emerging market of digital publishing, it is easier for an author to get published today. The problem is having your work stand out among the millions of other books that are out there. Could you be the next best-selling author? Sounds far fetched? Why? Why not you?
I can certainly give you a glimpse into both self publishing and traditional publishing. My first novel, Necessary Heartbreak, was originally self-published with IUniverse in 2008. You have the option to pay for editing and a book cover. I decided against it, utilizing my own editor and designer. But it came with a hefty price. The story was 175 pages long and when I look back at it today it turns my stomach. The story idea was terrific but the execution was not.
I subsequently revised the novel, added more depth to the characters and the plot, and Simon and Schuster bought the rights in 2010. The story was re-released as Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness. I juiced the story up with another 65 pages. Today, I wish I had been given more time to add more to the plot.
What I learned from the experience of publishing my first novel is that it’s best to be patient with your work – have it critiqued by a group of avid readers who will give you honest opinions about every aspect of the story.
The success of the revised story has yet to be determined since the sequel, Everybody’s Daughter, was just released. I decided to go with an independent publisher, Fiction Studio Books. There were many reasons why I made this choice but the most important one was control over pricing.
Currently, Simon & Schuster has Necessary Heartbreak priced at $11.99 for the Kindle, higher than most e-books. I’ve priced Everybody’s Daughter at $3.47. In fact, it’s FREE this weekend, July 7th and 8th, if you want to read it on your Kindle, computer or phone. By doing this FREE promotion, it allows us as authors to reach a bigger audience and create “buzz” about the novel.
In this very competitive market, Amazon.com is the biggest player and it’s wise to utilize their reach with the reading public.
Are you still interested in being an author? Do you have a best-selling story to tell? Then why wait? Write. Revise. Write again. Revise again. Write some more. Revise. And revise again. And again.
Show your manuscript to a reading group. Drop your ego too, during this oh-so-important constructive critique phase. If you don’t, your story will suffer.
Then explore your options – finding an agent is helpful if you decide to go the traditional route. Utilize Google to research agents in your genre. You’ll get some additional important feedback from possible agents.
Of course, you can take the same journey I did – first self-publish or find an independent publisher.
But, remember this – NEVER give up on your dream. I waited two decades before exploring mine and got jostled around like many authors with rejection letters from editors and agents. Believe in yourself. I did.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or I can be reached at my website. Happy writing!
Michael John Sullivan is an author living in New York. His second novel, Everybody’s Daughter, was published by Fiction Studio Books. The Kindle version of Everybody’s Daughter is FREE on July 7th and 8th. He can also be reached at michaeljohnsullivan.com.