My guest today is Norah Wilson, author of sexy contemporary romances, a vampire romance series, and the Dix Dodd Mysteries.
Norah is a 3 times RWA Golden Heart Finalist and the 2003 winner of the New Voice in Romance contest sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine. You can find Norah at her website, "Where Danger and Desire meet," or her blog.
A few months ago, I included a review of Norah's vampire romance The Merzetti Effect in a trio of reviews. The second book in her Vampire Romance Series, Nightfall, is out now, and I can't wait to read it.
Now, please welcome Norah Wilson whose books are available from all the popular ebook sellers.
Do readers care where books come from?
By Norah Wilson
I self-published my first book in the summer of 2010. I had been previously published by a New York publisher, but after a six-year drought, upon hearing the fabulously talented Delle Jacobs talking about her experiences with self-publishing, I decided to follow the trail she was blazing.
Back then, I was eager to call myself an indie author and wanted to join every indie author network going. While I still have indie author affiliations (I’m a proud member of IndieRomanceInk), I no longer feel the need to wave the indie flag so aggressively. Nor do I build my platform around my indie status.
Why the change of heart?
Well, it’s more of a change of strategy than a change of heart, and here’s why: I’ve come to realize that most readers really don’t know or particularly care who publishes the books they browse and buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iTunes. I don’t think readers are looking at the publisher’s name to ensure the book is traditionally published before they buy it.
Nor do I think they’re searching out indie books the way a jaded music listener might cruise indie music offerings. I think they’re just looking for books that appeal to them (attractive cover and compelling blurb) and which are well written and cleanly formatted (which they can easily ascertain from downloading a sample).
Entrepreneurs Enter Indie World
As self-publishing has matured, a number of services have sprung up to assist indie authors in putting forward books that are virtually indistinguishable from traditionally published books. From cover artists to content editors to copy editors to formatters, these professionals can help us compete for the hearts – and dollars! – of readers.
When I first started out, these resources were not so readily available, nor could I have seen my way clear to risking that kind of money on a market that was in its infancy. But the ebook market has evolved since then and become considerably more competitive. We can no longer count on modest indie pricing alone to deliver the customers. Also, many consumers have grown wary of indie offerings after having been disappointed on the quality front. Thus I think investing in professional assistance is more important now than ever.
That said, I don’t recommend new indie authors leap into agreements with companies to “self-publish” for them. These companies typically take a fee upfront (sometimes a pretty substantial one), but they also glom a chunk of the author’s royalties, in perpetuity. If someone offers you that opportunity, I recommend running the other way. You can, and perhaps should, outsource certain pieces of the job (editing, proofing, cover design, formatting) to ensure quality, but that’s different.
In the latter case, you’re paying a fixed price for a one-time service. In my opinion, the author should never give up royalties in exchange for such services. (Of course, for every rule there is an exception. I’m thinking of the situation where the author strikes a deal with a translator to translate their book into another language. Translating a book can be prohibitively expensive, and royalty sharing might be a viable alternative.)
So that’s where I am right now – availing myself more and more of the services of professionals in order to give my books the best possible chance to compete in a crowded market. I want my books to be judged against all available titles, regardless of who the publisher may be.
Judge For Yourself
To that end, I recently replaced the covers on my Serve and Protect romantic suspense series. The graphic below contrasts the original covers and the new covers. If you click on the graphic to magnify it, you can see the changes more clearly.
Though I did pay a graphic designer to dress the original covers, I felt they needed sprucing up.
The new ones look more professional (I hope!) and do a better job of branding the series.
I hope they’ll also help me compete more effectively in a crowded market.
Thank you, Norah, for sharing your insights with us today. I'll add my two cents about the covers. I love the new covers. Great cover art, but, more importantly, they do brand the series and your author name extremely well. Come back and visit and tell us if the new covers are a success.
Readers, you can thank Norah by buying any of her books. You'll find them at most ebook retailers.