Roxie Rivera got involved with writing erotica for the traditional world right out of college. She did realatively well doing this, but the money was never there, and she found her earnings capped out at about $16k and that wasn’t enough. She moved to self publishing and writing romantic suspense, which has a larger audience than erotica. Since last year she has seen a huge amount of success, this episode looks at her journey.
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Traditional Publishing to Indie Publishing
Roxie started off in the traditional world (“stumbled into it”) and was doing okay in that area, but really wanted to step things up and start making much better money, and she realized that the way to do this was the indie route. She was writing erotica and moved through several publishers and imprints.
Even when she was writing for the traditional world the romance authors were voracious, and she was writing a lot even then. When she moved to indie publishing, she was already well practiced and putting out books regularly. Amazon treats her well as she puts out books every four to six weeks.
She moved when she realized that her income was pretty much capped at $16k a year, and if she wanted to make more than that she had to go elsewhere. Roxie said that “people will think this is uncommon, but it’s not … it’s shocking.” This isn’t the story of someone who wasn’t successful, Roxie was writing full time for traditionally presses!
When Roxie first started self-publishing, she did so with some of her previous books where the rights had reverted to her. Some of these books did very well, but because she priced them at 99cents, they weren’t making a huge amount of money. However, today, these books still make her thousands of dollars a year, and she does nothing to promote them. They just sit there earning passive income, enjoying the “long tail.”
Personal life took over for a while and Roxie started a family. Some personal troubles made her realize that if she wanted to self-publish, she had to think about it as a real business. She drew up some financial projections – what she needed to sell in order to get by. As well as conservative numbers, she drew up her wildest dream figures. The numbers made it seemed rather possible. That evening she started writing the Her Russian Protector series.
All of the books in the Her Russian Protector stand alone, each following the story of a different couple. The first book did reasonably well, especially after it was picked up by a Goodreads reader with a good following. Roxie is not active on Goodreads, but she understood how keywords on Amazon work, and that lead to her getting picked up by that Goodreads reader (she thinks!).
However, it wasn’t until several months later when she did a Bookbub ad with a box set, that really caused her sales to explode. The box set included three books that was normally at $7.99, which she discounted to 99cents. At the back of the box set where a bunch of thinks to her full priced work. This led to an explosion in sales for her new book as the box set had done so much to build her readership.
After the box set it took a couple of months for people to reach the back matter and get to the full priced stuff. She went from selling hundreds of books to tens of thousands of books in 2013. Since late last year she hasn’t drop below selling 5 figures of books a year.
Roxie writes a lot, putting out books as often as she can. Spin-offs, specials, sequals, all make it onto her production calendar, just to get out as much as possible. Roxie has also been doing this more lately because she has noticed the “30 day cliff” has become a lot more serious, it used to be a gentle glide out of the view of Amazon, but now it’s a real jump off visibility.
In order to get this done Roxie writes every day, between 5 and 8 thousand words, when she is drafting. On other days when she has to do other work for the business side of things she writes about 3 thousand. The 2k to 10k book was vital in helping her learn how to write more. Roxie keeps to one project at a time because she works to tight deadlines.
Roxie has a copy editor and a proof reader. She reads through the book between the copy edit and proof stage, and once again before it publishes. She also has an assistant who she recently hired to help out as the amount of work she had to be doing finally got to be too great (admin and project based stuff Roxie didn’t need to do herself.) Her husband also helps out with other tasks, such as mailing out t-shirts and other swag to her readers.
In terms of hours worked, at the start Roxie was putting 80 hours a week. This happened until early 2014 when she cut the time down because it was too much to maintain long term. Roxie got “really used to not sleeping … I don’t recommend that.”
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