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I posted an announcement on my facebook page last night and had several ppl nudge me to post it over here. So here we go. Plus I'm adding more info, b/c info is king and it's good to be king. bwuhahaha.

Over the past year I've been offered over 1.5 million bucks in advances offered by huge publishing houses. I told them to show me a marketing plan that knocks my socks off and I'd consider their offer. I had this notion that they knew what they were doing and could do it better than I could. They said they had all these ideas and they're gonna blow my mind, which was a requirement for the deal, b/c the pay was too low.

About the money - if you have a book that hits #1-10 on the Kindle store, tons of people have the mistaken notion that it's gonna blip and fall and you're fun in the sun will end...unless a trad pub picks you up.

It's math time! A book in the top ten sells around 5-10K copies per day. Let's take the average and give the book some wiggle room and say it's selling 7K copies a day @ $2.99. In 7 days you'll have made (net, not gross) over $100,000. So BIG TRAD HOUSE offers you $200,000 for a three part series.

'Sign here,' they say. 'Sign fast! You want to strike while the irons hot.' 'A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.' 'It's a sure thing and if you don't sign, then you could loose everything.' <--They actually said all the crap to me, and its crap. If the book nets $100K in a week, what will it do next week? What about next month? What about next year? Never mind those other 2 books. Bad deal.

The most recent offer was for a high six figure deal on my next novel, on spec, sight unseen from one of the big 5. I gave the same terms - show me a kick ass marketing plan and I'll consider it. They were excited and on it! They were going to wow me. Like I was gonna be so wowed that I'd die of the wowness. True story.

Dude, the marketing plan I got back was the equivalent of, 'we're gonna do stuff.' Their email list - yeah, they don't personally have one, but this archaic place does - had 2K people on it. That was the bulk of their plan.

My email list has over 30K ppl on it and I do a ton more stuff than they presented. There's a post in here about my release day marketing plan, most of which is free and time consuming. I still do that. It's listed in here with details.

THEY DON'T DO THAT MUCH.

I said no. And laughed. A lot. It was so weak.

My point - do NOT think that they have any clue what they are doing, because they do not. There is a marketing method that is called 'see what sticks' where you take a plate of spaghetti and toss it at the wall. There's no planning, no nothing. Just take it and throw. That is what the big houses are doing. Every marketing plan had that element of 'fate' and hoped that I would be the lucky piece of pasta that stuck.

Screw that. I want someone who knows what they're doing. Apparently, that's me. I'm good at selling intangible goods. I know that, but I assumed there would be better things that I hadn't thought of. I still consider myself 'green.' Yeah, it turns out that I'm not.

Everything you do should have a purpose. All ads should be directly targeting your demographic for your book. 'Toss it at the wall' is very costly and honestly, it gets you a very poor ROI (return on investment).

Here are some of the highlights of my Indie career since I started. March marks my 3 year Indie anniversary. I was not previously published. I started at zero. I was a photographer, with a theology degree that cost a frickin fortune.

•I sold 4 MILLION+ books since 2011.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #1 bestselling Indie Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace title of 2013.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was the #14 bestselling Kindle title on Amazon of 2013.

•In 2013 alone I had 11 different titles on the NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers list.

•I'm a NYT, WSJ, USAT bestselling author.

•THE ARRANGEMENT series sold over 1 million copies in 2013. Dude, they're serials. People hate short books. Riiiight. ;)

•I've been a top 100 Amazon author every month of 2013, often in the top 10.

•In 2013 I released a new title about every 2.5 weeks.

•My formal education is in theology.

•My titles tend to focus on elements of the human condition such as poverty, hope, grief, and loss.

•I had multiple titles hit #1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites.

•DAMAGED: THE FERRO FAMILY was in the Amazon top 100 kindle titles for over 100 days in 2013.

•H.M. Ward owns H.M. Ward Press (formerly Laree Bailey Press). Other indies thought that I was trad b/c of my press. I'm not.

•Prior to this I was a nationally acclaimed professional photographer. I shot the covers for Demon Kissed 1-5 and Catalyst before I retired from photography in Fall 2012. Until then, I was a FT photog and a PT writer.

I started by using facebook and only facebook to connect to readers outside of my social circles. There are other ways to do that, but I'm a big believer in don't wait for them to come to you.

My first book cost me $125 to produce. I was butt poor from a theology degree that cost well over six figures. I didn't have extra money to mess around with.

I had a big NY agent for my 1st book and was looking at the traditional route. I told her to pull it--I wanted to publish it myself. (Many thanks to Joe Konrath and his awesome blog).

I work about 80 hours a week. I have two assistants that help me manage paperwork. I just hired them b/c I had been going nuts trying to do everything myself. Hubby helps me with all the numbers stuff and when I get sick (I've been fighting an illness for the past 3 years) that knocks me on my ass periodically.

If you forget everything else in this post, remember this:

If you don't have the gall to believe in yourself and your work, no one else will.

Bring it.

Own it.


And don't worry about mistakes, because they're the stepping stones to success. I notice I never say 'I failed' - I say 'well, I jacket that up,' and try to figure out where it went wrong so I can fix it. Failure is an excellent teacher. Learn from it and try again.

I feel like crap today, so forgive my typos and such. I wanted to take the time to share this b/c stuff like this helped me. I'd see ppl's posts about how they were getting ahead, buying a laptop with their earnings, or read Joe's blog and seeing his income, and it made me keep going. I'm glad I did.

Being an Indie completely and totally rocks. ;)
 

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Great post Holly.
 

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Thanks for this, Holly.

Also, hilarious about the publishers. Sigh. I don't think they exactly understand what being wildly successful means when you are getting 70%...
 

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Thank you for sharing, Holly. It takes balls to turn down that kind of money, but you come from a position of strength and success and have the numbers to back it up.

I'd love to know how that Big 5 editor reacted when you rejected the offer.
 

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Spot on from what I've heard from others. If you go with trad, it should be a step up and not just a little. Because they really have no clue what the hell is going on.
 

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80 hours a week?! I've done that for a day job, can't seem to bring myself to do it for me. Have to change that.

Pretty much every writer I know who knows about you appreciates your work ethic (myself included), but it's helpful/spurring to see an actual number attached to it.

How would you break down those 80 hours on the average week, from actual writing, to editing, to marketing, etc.? I know some weeks are going to be skewed toward marketing (release week) and some toward editing, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Harriet Schultz said:
Thank you for sharing, Holly. It takes balls to turn down that kind of money, but you come from a position of strength and success and have the numbers to back it up.

I'd love to know how that Big 5 editor reacted when you rejected the offer.
When I turned down that first 6 figure offer, I was still broke. FYI. I did math and trusted my gut. Then I waffled, b/c ppl told me I was stupid on passing up a sure thing. They sounded like they were a walking talking publisher billboard. Then Bella and Mr. Kobo talked to me and I had to overpower my very aggressive agent, who then gave me a guilt trip.

Saying no is hard.
 

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Fan-friggin'-tastic, Holly! You rock. :D
 

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After all the rejections we have received collectively, it's thrilling to see someone laugh in their face. You did it for all of us, even if that wasn't your intent. Thank you!
 
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