Self-published young adult fiction author Elle Casey recently wrote on the Kindle Boards about making the transition from a part-time to a full-time self-published and self-supporting writer. I asked her to share some more details with the TeleRead audience about how this happened.
Elle Casey: I didn’t plan anything. When I started, I just had the goal of one stranger buying my book and liking it. After that, I had a goal of selling five books a day. Once I got there, I was shooting for 50 a day. After I got to that point, I just stopped worrying about it because it got better and better and was more than enough for me to live on. I just kept writing books. I never stopped, even when I was making a lot of sales.
I think in between books I take about three days off or so, and an occasional one when I’m busy with kids or life, but even then I’m promoting my work on social media. It’s an obsession with me.
Hungry readers like my work because I keep their habit fed every month with a new book. I publish a new title on the last day of every month. I’m also very active on Facebook and my website, always interacting with my readers. I probably work over 80 hours a week.
TeleRead: If there were any specific factors that drove readership and revenues, what were they? Were these ones that you scouted in advance or more or less fell into?
Elle Casey: I think I did what most people do in the beginning: I tried to find book bloggers to read and review my work. That didn’t do much, really. They took a long time to read, many didn’t review, and by the time reviews started coming in I had discovered Amazon’s KDP Select program. I promoted using that platform and that’s what got me a nice base of dedicated fans. Now that group spreads the word via Goodreads, Facebook and word of mouth in person.
My reader base gets broader every day. In March I made book #1 of my War of the Fae series permanently free, and that has really helped get me new readers for all my books.
I also have very high ratings on Amazon, which puts me on special lists that a lot of readers see. It’s all about discoverability there. If readers see my book and they’re a fan of the genre, they’ll generally try it out. Getting seen is the key.
TeleRead: How much time did/do you spend typically on marketing and promoting your work versus writing it?
Elle Casey: I’m not sure. Maybe 60 percent promotion, 25 percent writing, [and] 15 percent other publishing business (covers, uploading, etc.). It works great for me because I write as many words in an hour as most people write in several days. I average about 2,500 words per hour, written and edited.
TeleRead: Did you employ any kind of external service or support, either technical or promotional?
Elle Casey: I tried a book blogger tour person twice. The first time it was kind of ‘meh’ in the results. The second time she took my money and did nothing, so I haven’t done another one of those since.
I used to hire someone to do my covers, but lately I’ve been doing them myself because it’s so much fun for me. I have an editor and proofreader who I hire to do that work. I’ve had a couple graphic artists flake out on me, so I learned how to use Gimp so I can get things done quickly when I need them.
There is one graphic artist I recommend without hesitation because she is the very best at what she does—not only the work but her business professionalism, and that’s Claudia at Phatpuppyart.com. She is truly amazing. I love her to pieces.
If you want to know about my writing process, here’s a fabulous thread that got a lot of follow-up questions on KB.
To learn more about Elle Casey, visit her website, follow her on Twitter @ElleCasey, or check out her profiles on Facebook, Goodreads, or Wattpad. Her books can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the iTunes Store.