I've been impressed by indie author Heather Blanton and how well her books appear to do on Amazon, so I asked her to share with us a little about her experience. -- Sandy
Heather: I have been amazingly blessed in my writing career. Now, a little over three years after self-publishing my first book, I find it’s time to take stock. Here’s what I think I’ve done right, and here’s what I’ve done wrong.
If you are not familiar with me, I self-published my first book, A Lady in Defiance, in 2012. My goal was to sell 200 copies for my Relay for Life team. ALID wound up selling over 8000 copies that year! God is good, right? Absolutely!
I write full-time now and have released four books in the last three-plus years. All have hit various best-seller lists at Amazon, average 4.76 stars, and have at least a hundred reviews (some much more, except for my newest release).
So here are the things I do right.
First and foremost, I never stop learning. A Lady in Defiance came from a story I carried in my heart for a long time, but it was born with a problem: the middle sagged. I know this because veteran editor David Webb told me so. He told me how to fix it, and shared some action steps I follow to this day:
- I read every craft book I can get my hands on.
- I attend the wonderful Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference at least every other year.
- I dissect successful authors’ books cover to cover.
- I’m an outliner now, too.
Second, I shoot for turning out a quality product. I hire three editors now for every book. I find each has a special gift. Once I’ve made their changes, I send the book out to my beta readers. I strongly suggest you find readers who will be honest. The ones who will question and challenge the story will make your book better!
Speaking of readers, the third most important thing I do is love on my facebook tribe. I really engage on there. However, I don’t’ accept every friend request. I’m looking for people who are likeminded. I am a Conservative Christian. I joke that I’m the Phil Robertson of Christian fiction. The friends I have are awesome! They buy my books, share my posts, tell me their dreams, and defend me when I get a bad review!
So, what have I done wrong? Why am I not a household name yet?
Well, assuming that's God’s plan for me, I don’t post often enough to my blog or social media forums. I’ve never done a blog tour. I don’t enter contests. I’m not in bookstores. I don’t spend a lot of time networking with other authors. I probably don’t buy enough ads. I am a marketing sloth.
If I’m writing for the Lord—if I believe my stories can impact people for Christ—then shouldn’t I be working harder to get my stories out there? I’ve recently become convicted of this after a reviewer said my book “awakened” her sleeping faith.
Writing for the Lord is a calling. Prov 16:3 reminds us that if we commit to the Lord whatever we do, He will establish our plans.
So, I’ll work harder at marketing. I’ll develop a real marketing plan. I’m hiring a virtual assistant. I might even consider finding an agent again. Wherever the Lord leads. But I must keep my focus on Him.
What about you? Have you committed your writing to God?
I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is ... and God
loves us anyway.
I started writing when I was five and grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne Westerns. My most fond memories are of sitting next to my daddy, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester!
My job is finally something I don’t want to vacation from.
I live with my husband and two adventurous boys on a farm outside Raleigh, NC. They enjoy riding practically anything with four legs or two wheels, and being outdoors.