This post, by Erin Kern, originally appeared on her blog on 5/16/11.
My first release, Looking for Trouble, is currently #70 in the Kindle store. It’s #2 on the Kindle bargain books list, #5 on the kindle store contemporary romance list and #6 on the general fiction contemporary romance list. I’m selling an average of 300 books a day. If I can stay on that pace I’ll be shy of 10,000 copies sold for the month of May.
A year ago, I was reading one form rejection letter after another from every agent and publishing house in the country. So how did I go from being rejected to being a Kindle top seller? I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you about it…
It started last summer when I’d been having a dialogue with an editor at a smaller publishing house. She’d requested the first five chapters, loved them and loved my writing style. However, she did have a few things she thought needed to be changed with the book. In addition to that, she informed me she wasn’t in a position to take on any new clients, then she wished me luck. So did I throw my book on Kindle the next day? No. I shut down my computer and sulked for a week. I cried, I was depressed and seriously thought about giving up writing (at that point I’d received close to 40 rejections from agents and publishers). Needless to say, I was feeling pretty kicked in the gut.
After a big, "you need to get your shit together" pep talk from my husband, I pulled up the word doc on my computer and started reworking the book again. I rewrote the first four chapters three different times. I deleted scenes because the book was way too long and reworked the ending. Then I did some more research on more publishing houses. I’d completely given up on agents. At least the editors took time to give me feedback/suggestions. Most agents didn’t even bother responding to me.
I still hadn’t considered self-publishing. I wanted a book deal. I wanted to see my book in print. I wanted to be able to smell the ink and flip the pages back and forth. I was unwilling to accept anything less than that.
Then after a few uneventful weeks, I started hearing whispers about authors who were self-publishing their rejected books onto the Kindle. So did I throw my book out there the next day? Not yet.
Shortly after that, Amazon announced it’s 70% royalty program. If you price your book at $2.99 or higher they give you 70% of the sales. I thought, okay even if I only sell 20 copies a month, that’s $40. Not bad considering it costs nothing to upload to Kindle. Even after that little incentive I was still a bit hesitant. I’d have to come up with my own cover, write my own blurb and do all my own marketing (which is a TON of work). That didn’t really sound appealing. But, then again, reading a rejection letter 6 months after the initial query isn’t that great either.
After a lot of pondering, research, praying and weighing the pros and cons, I took the leap of faith. I got my cover designed by a friend of mine, so not cost there. I had a ton of help with my blurb so that was pretty easy too. I priced the book at $2.99 because I wanted the 70% royalty and uploaded it to Kindle last October. I also uploaded the book to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.