I Quit: Giving up on the Self-Publishing Dream

When I wrote my first book in 2007, I had no idea what I would do with it. Mostly I just wanted to see if I could complete a novel. Once it was finished I allowed friends and family to read it and the consensus was the same – I should get it published. So I picked up a copy of the latest Writer’s Market book and started the arduous task of querying agents and publishers. I foolishly believed that they would love my manuscript as much as my friends and family did. I thought it was only a matter of time before my book was published. But after getting the first dozen or so rejection letters, my dream began to dwindle.

Fast forward 5 years and numerous manuscripts later and I had abandoned my dream of being traditionally published. I couldn’t handle the rejections anymore. Also, I had started to hear of authors like Amanda Hocking who had self-published and done well with it.  So I started to research self-publishing. And the more I learned, the more I started to see this as a viable option. I was ready to start my career, and I didn’t want to keep waiting around for publishers and agents to finally tell me I was good enough. I believed I was good enough. I believed that if readers could get a hold of my books that they would do well.

So on January 20, 2012, I published my first book PROWL (PROWL TRILOGY #1).

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The book didn’t make any lists and it didn’t make me a millionaire, but it sold. People were reading it and reviewing it, and it felt amazing. So I published the next two books in the series in quick succession.

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ProwlfAnd sales started to gradually pick up. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to keep me going. So I continued writing. I released an adult suspense novel and then published a young adult paranormal series. At that point I was making enough money that I was able to quit my day job to write full-time. Around that time, the NA genre was picking up so I decided to try my hand at a contemporary romance. Once I started writing contemporary romance I felt that I had found my niche. Not only did my sales sky rocket to places I had only dreamed of, but I enjoyed writing them. My sales continued to grow steadily and honestly it surprised the hell out of me. I was making more money than I ever had before.

But then about a year ago something odd happened. Sales just sort of stagnated. Then they started declining. And the decline wasn’t gradual. It was instant and it was significant.

It seemed weird that my sales would tank since I had more books out, and my fan base had grown. And I couldn’t find an obvious reason. I was still receiving great reviews, so I didn’t think it was a reflection of my work. It was baffling, and frankly kind of scary. Then I started hearing from other indies and they were in the same boat as me. It seemed we were all suffering.

Lately I’ve been hearing about indies who are suffering to the point where they have to go back to work and some are even considering quitting. And it makes me sad. I’ve read a lot of articles where experts in the business predict why this is happening, and some of them make sense. I do think that with all the indie books priced at $0.99, readers are starting to expect that. And so when I release my book at $3.99, most readers don’t want to pay that. The problem is that I can’t afford to pay my bills if my books are all priced at $0.99. And honestly, I don’t feel like $3.99 is very much for a book that I spend months creating, writing and editing. I pay that much for a peppermint mocha that takes 2 minutes to make, and less than an hour to drink. And I don’t feel like it’s a waste of money. I thoroughly enjoy every minute of my mocha.

The point is that there are a lot of reasons why this is happening, and I could sit around and think about all these reasons and let it get me down. Sometimes I do. But the truth is that writing is in my blood. I can’t stop even if I wanted to. The millions of rejection letters didn’t stop me, and declining sales won’t stop me either. Actually, these things tend to spark my competitive side and make me work that much harder.

I wanted to write this blog in honor of all the fabulous indie authors I’ve met in this crazy business. I want you to know that I love you, that I respect you, that I know how hard you work and how difficult this business can be. And I want you to know that I am here to support you. One of my favorite things about this business is you – my fellow indies. It’s such an amazing, supportive, encouraging community.

And I want to thank my die-hard readers. Even in the darkest times you’ve kept me going, and I can’t thank you enough. I know things will pick up, and they may even decline again. But know this – I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here on my computer plugging along. I’ll write as long as the voices in my head keep talking and as long as the readers keep reading.

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How I’ve Failed at my Job

The truth is that I’m not very good at my job.

When I decided to publish my first book I had this grandiose idea that I would throw it out into the world and it would miraculously sell while I started work on the next one. You see, what I want to do is play in fictional worlds all day long. I want to crawl inside the pages of my latest manuscript and hide out there. But being an author is so much more than just writing. There are other aspects I hadn’t considered when I first took the plunge into this crazy business.

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I’m a one-man show. Since I don’t have a publisher, I am in charge of every aspect of the writing and publishing process, which includes editing, revising, formatting, cover design, uploading and marketing. Lucky for me, I have a team of people who help me and they are truly invaluable – my PA, my editor, my cover designers, my beta readers – and up until a book is released things go pretty smoothly. It really is the release and beyond that I suck at. I mean, truly suck at. Can I be real with you? I’m horrible at marketing. My creativity seems to be limited to my characters and plot lines. I have absolutely no creativity when it comes to how to market and promote my work. Plus, I’m tired. As an author, I rarely sleep because my characters keep me up all night talking nonstop in my head. (Okay, I’ll move on so you don’t have me admitted to an insane asylum). And I work pretty much round the clock during the day. So by the time I sit down to brainstorm marketing ideas, my mind is blank.

Earlier this year, I discovered a band I love. They’re called The Neighbourhood, and you may have heard their song Sweater Weather before. What I found interesting about them was their unique branding. All of their videos and images are in black and white and have a very distinct feel. Their music all has a certain distinct mood and feel to it as well. Honestly I was impressed with this group of young men and how well they had branded and marketed themselves. It’s clear from listening to their music that they are creative like me, but unlike me they had come up with a game plan long before releasing their first album.

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It sort of made me want to turn back the clock and start over. Before I released my first book I hadn’t thought about who I wanted to be as a writer or what my vision was. In all honesty, I’m not sure I knew at that time. But I do now. I have spent time thinking about who I am, what makes my books unique, and what my vision for the future is. About six months ago I came up with a branding campaign and my tagline was Addicted to Love. I thought it was cute and fun. Problem is that I don’t think it really describes what I’m about. See what I mean about sucking at this part? I can’t even figure out a tagline that works for me. 🙂

Knowing that this isn’t my strong suit, I turned to my fans and asked them what made me different as an author. I got responses like:

In your books I’ve learned to expect the unexpected

Unexplained love

True love

Love that heals

Suspense

Twists I never saw coming

Clean reading experience

You always write good guys. Guys I want my daughter to date

And then I knew it was time to re-brand myself. All of these answers are true. My books are always clean, and the guys are always good, upstanding guys. I actually explained why this is in an earlier blog post called Bike Ride Musings. And I do always have unexpected plot twists in all of my books.

Even though I’d love to hide out with my characters and never have to deal with the business aspect of this job, I know that isn’t possible. It’s also not possible for me to turn back time and start over. So I have to change things up starting today. And today I’m launching a branding campaign. It kicks off with this blog post where I’m revealing my new logo and tagline.  In the near future I will be revealing a series of videos for you to get to know me better and hear from my heart. I’ve already posted the first couple earlier this week to get the ball rolling, but check back in for the rest!

Without further ado, here is my new logo:

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Thanks for indulging me. Now I’m off to my writer’s cave. My characters are calling!

CUTS RUN DEEP released!!!

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CUTS RUN DEEP is live in kindle! If you are interested in the paperback that will be available early next week!

Blurb:

Piper wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there. Only fragmented memories surface – her boyfriend Jackson on the ground covered in blood, Piper standing over him, her hands slick and red.  Then she is told the awful truth: Jackson was killed the night she was injured, and she is the only witness.

If only she could remember what happened.

Piper searches through her memories, recalling her entire relationship with Jackson in order to piece together what happened. Meanwhile, as Jackson’s family is trying to make sense of the tragedy, they find his journal and begin reading through it to find answers.

As the chilling truth begins to unfold, Piper has to face the darkest secrets of her relationship with Jackson and the part she played in his murder.

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Grab your copy for only $3.99 or FREE with kindle unlimited by clicking this link.

Feed your addiction for less!!

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BREAK FREE is on sale today only (May 15) for $0.99. Tomorrow it will go up to $1.99 and the following day it will be back at $2.99! I don’t anticipate putting it on sale again anytime soon, so don’t miss out on getting your dose of romance for mere pennies.

What people are saying about BREAK FREE:

If you like real stories, if you like romance and if you like it when people rise above life’s challenges I highly recommend this book. Amber Garza has found her niche with Break Free, this is a must read! — Bestselling author Cambria Hebert

A captivating and intense novel, Break Free had me glued to the pages from start to finish. Kyler is unlike any other male lead out there–he’s set apart in all the best ways possible. You won’t be able to get the plot, nor the characters out of your head, even after that final sentence. This book has become one of my top favorites and I look forward to reading it again and again . – Author Megan Squires


Amber Garza breaks out with “Break Free,” an unexpected dark and edgy tale.  Jade and Kyler are so easy to love. The plot is intense with a surprising twist. Truly masterful.- Author Susan Griscom

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Blurb:

Jade Mathews is on the run. Running from an addiction that almost destroyed her, and a man who wants her dead.

Kyler James is a writer, a recluse locked in a prison of his own making.

When Jade and Kyler meet they find solace in one another and start to heal. Until Jade stumbles upon Kyler’s latest manuscript and is shocked to find that it is her story. One he couldn’t know. Jade fears she’s trusted the wrong person once again, and this time it may be her undoing.

Is the past destined to destroy them, or will they finally break free?

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Click here to purchase!!