Jacqueline pursued her dreams of publication in the traditional publishing world for many years. Although editors were enthusiastic and excited about her work, her books were ultimately turned down because they didn’t know how to sell them. Then she discovered the bright new world of self-publishing….
“If you’re lucky enough to be that one grain of sand that makes it through the hourglass of publishing and land in a good spot, in a perfectly synchronized marketing spot, you can get published.”
Jacqueline worked with her agent for four years, producing, submitting, and ultimately shelving three books. Finally, after a year spent working with her agent on her book Lumière, finding editors who loved it and marketing departments that didn’t know how to sell it, she hit a wall. By this point, she felt that she was writing at a level that deserved to be published. She was even awarded the 2012 Don Maass Breakout Novel Intensive Scholarship based on her manuscript. She didn’t know what more she could do.
Her agent advised Jacqueline that Lumière wouldn’t sell, that she should set it aside and start working on something new…but if she was really passionate about the book, she could always self-pub it.
The suggestion was disappointing…and surprising. She hadn’t been tuned into the self-publishing world at that point, but once she started exploring the terrain, she was quickly sold on the idea and began work in earnest to turn Lumière into a top-notch product.
A Whole New World
When Jacqueline attended an RWA event in Atlanta, she got to listen to authors like Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy. She says her jaw hit the floor when she heard what other writers were making.
In her pursuit for a traditional publisher, she wasn’t even sure what she would be making if she got a contract. It was some mysterious number she was shooting for. Many of her traditionally published writer friends could not make a living off their contracts, and while some were doing quite well, many of them didn’t get a second contract and had to start all over again. At RWA, she was meeting writers that were making a consistent income off of their writing.
To further demarcate the difference between the traditional and indie publishing worlds, Jacqueline noted that in previous years, when she had attended SCBWI events, there would be 30 writers around a table, 3 of which had “made it,” while everyone else had stars in their eyes. At RWA, she sat with 33 other writers, 3 of which (including herself) were not yet making $3,000 a month from their work.
That’s when she realized, “Wow! These people are steadily making money and they have a readership and people love their books. Isn’t that my goal?”
“I am going to create a product that is so seamless, that is so amazing that no one, nobody on the earth is going to be able to pick my book out from a traditionally published product.”
After the RWA conference, Jacqueline returned home to work on Lumière. She worked with her “very endeared” story development coach Lorin Oberweger on the project, had friends beta-read it, then three rounds of editing, an additional three rounds with copy editor David Gatewood, and then a couple of rounds of proofreading before it was deemed ready.
Then Jacqueline set out to make a beautiful cover. Her friend’s daughter agreed to model. Jacqueline styled her in a gown and necklace purchased on Etsy. Another friend connected her to a photographer who did the work for free. Jacqueline’s son, an animation student, added the special effects. Then Jacqueline hired a book designer, who pulled all the elements together into the current cover.
“I wasn’t going to stop until my cover looked like it was made by Simon & Schuster,” she says.
In fact, her cover was so good, when Amazon imprint Skyscape bought the book, they paid for the cover too.
Launch to Skyscape
A year after Jacqueline published Lumière (December 2013), she was hard at work on Noir, the second in the series. Although she admittedly made some mistakes, she felt the book was doing pretty good and she was happy with how things were going.
When Skyscape called wanting to buy Lumière, Jacqueline was unsure. But her friend Lorin pointed out that the biggest PR department in the world (Amazon) wants to pay you money to push your books.
So she said yes, and it turned into a two-book deal to include the sequel Noir.
Though she fully expected she would have to take down the books while they were being prepared for publication by Skyscape, thus, losing her consistent income from it, Skyscape told her she could keep the books up and selling until they were ready to launch their own version. Not at all what she expected from a publisher.
The books are currently slated to be released by Skyscape/Amazon on August 18, 2015.
One of the books Jacqueline had shelved as unmarketable while working with her agent suddenly became very marketable. And instead of having to take out plot lines and characters to make the book fit the requirements of a publisher, she split it up and rewrote it to extend it the way she wanted it: If Only I Had…, If Only He Hadn’t…, If Only She Hadn’t…, and If Only They Hadn’t… are now available.
The Next Big Thing
While she’s preparing for the imminent (and exciting!) re-publication of her Illumination Paradox series, Jacqueline is also putting the final polishing touches on her Heartmender Society, which she hopes to launch in October 2015.
She also is working on a box set with five of her best friends. Each of them is writing a “cool, fun, funky humorous romance” set in a quirky little town that boasts the longest covered bridge in North America.
Finally, Jacqueline is looking forward to working on a passion project near and dear to her heart: a historical romance based on the incredible and sweet real life love story of her parents.
When she first announced her intention to pursue self-publishing, Jacqueline felt many of her traditional-pub-minded writer friends seemed sympathetic to her giving up on traditional publishing. But she thought, “I’m not giving up on me. I’m actually taking over for me. I’m grabbing the reins, and I’m going to make this happen.”
And she is.
On the kboards community: “They encouraged me not to give up, and that was a real surprise. In the world of self-publishing, there’s so many more people willing to grab your hands. All connect hands and rise to the top of the water together.” – Jacqueline
The mindset of an indie: “The difference to me is you are what you make of yourself over here. It’s all up to you. I have nobody to blame but me now. I have no time commiserating anymore, or worrying or being upset that somebody’s not reading my stuff fast enough or waiting. There’s no waiting game. I am moving all the time, as fast as I can, and producing materials because it’s all up to me. The better quality material and the more amount of material I have out there, the more chance I have at hooking readers and the more chance I have at making an income.” – Jacqueline
“If there’s a publisher who knows what they’re doing on Amazon, it’s Amazon.” – Simon
- Set very specific goals. Jacqueline set out to “create a product that is so seamless, that is so amazing that no one, nobody on the earth is going to be able to pick my book out from a traditionally published product.” Because of that objective, she put together a cover so amazing that it attracted a publisher and landed her a two-book deal.
- Outreach to all your talented friends and family. Networking doesn’t just happen in conference halls and over drinks. It also happens in your backyard. It took a village to build Jacqueline’s covers. Consider the talented folks in your close circle and ask for help…and more importantly offer your own talents and time to them. If you can’t do good cover design, but your sister-in-law, who loves your apple pie does, get to bakin’!
- Invest in your work. Jacqueline is an awesome example of this. She invested an incredible amount of time and money into story development, copy editing, numerous editing passes to create a product to shine in a market that sometimes smells of “cheap DIY” to some readers.
- Love your readers. If they care enough to reach out, make certain that you respond in kind. One super fan has been so supportive and appreciative and enthusiastic on social media, that Jacqueline often feels like she’s writing the series just for that one girl. “Readers keep you going,” she says.
“I’ve been just a writing fiend because I can just do what I want. It’s freeing. It’s so much easier to be in this world because you don’t have all those voices that kind of hold you down in traditional pub, like just all the negativity of being rejected or having editors’ comments that stick in your heart and you can’t get rid of them, or having your agent say, I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is going to be the big blockbuster of the summer, so we’re not taking this book out after you’ve spent a year writing it.” – Jacqueline E. Garlick
What’s your favorite thing about being an indie author?
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