This post, by Julie Ortolon, originally appeared on her Julie’s Journal Online site on 4/27/12.
It was a year ago this month that my world changed forever thanks to the ebook revolution. April 2011 was when my sales exploded. I have been reeling – in a good way – ever since.
This journey, however, started long before that. It started in the fall of 2009. Back then, I had one goal: to somehow get back some semblance of a writing career. To me, at the time, that meant land another contract with a traditional print publisher.
Boy has that goal changed! But let’s look at how I got from there to here.
The First Step Down a New Path
In the summer of 2009, I was basically unpublishable in the eyes of New York. I hadn’t had a book out since Unforgettable came out in 2007. I’d gone from rocketing onto the publishing scene by hitting the USA Today list with my first title to sales numbers that were so bad (thanks to the implosion of the publishing industry) it was heartbreaking. I was also so emotional beat up after eight years of the publishing process, I needed a break. I stepped back for two years by going to the mountains of New Mexico to paint aspen trees and contemplate clouds.
That was fabulous for awhile, but after two years my muse started to stir. I wanted back in the game. So, I landed a new agent with a proposal for a new series. One of the first things I realized, though, was that a lot had changed in the two years I’d been away. Suddenly, it wasn’t just the proposal and an author’s sales numbers that publishers looked at before offering a contract, it was the author’s Website and overall Web presence, i.e. their number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Yikes! My Website was two years out of date, and I didn’t know a tweet from a twerp.
As karma, chance, the universe would have it, I bumped into an Internet marketing coach at a wine bar one afternoon and I hired her to overhaul my Website. Instead, she overhauled my entire life by opening my eyes. I already knew the publishing industry doesn’t make sense to any rational business person. Yet, in talking to this very savvy businesswoman, trying to explain why I couldn’t implement her marketing strategies because “that’s not how things work in publishing” I started to see just how ridiculous the publishing industry is. Even so, the first time she suggested I ditch New York and self publish, I drew up with indignation and said, “I would never self-publish!”
Long story short, part of the strategy this marketing guru proposed to help me land another print contract was for me to start this blog. Julie’s Journal Online was meant to accomplish two things: 1) help me learn social networking by teaching others; and 2) seriously up my overall Web presence. In order to write my blog posts, I had to do a lot of research. That led to me reading things like Konrath’s blog the Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Which led to me reconsidering epubbing my out-of-print backlist. Lord, what a hair-pulling experience epubbing was back in the early days before we had a sufficient number of cover designers and formatters to hire.