genevieve ovenell

Bestselling Indie Author: Liliana Hart

Author Liliana Hart

Author Liliana Hart

All of us at BookRix are self publishing enthusiasts, so when we hear indie author success stories, we’re elated! We recently read an interview on Alli with indie writer Liliana Hart and loved how honest and upfront she is. Unlike some other independent writers, Liliana approaches book writing with a “strictly business” attitude that we find admirable. Her determination and hard work have paid off, and now her mystery and romance books can be found within the bestseller lists of the New York Times and USA Today.

Despite her busy writing and traveling schedule, Liliana was able to carve out some time to answer our questions about the start of her writing career, how she uses social media and what she’s learned over the years.

When you wrote your first book in college, did you consider publishing with a traditional publishing house or were you drawn to self-publishing from the start?

When I first started writing, self-publishing wasn’t even available as an option. There weren’t eReaders and Amazon was a new company. Traditional publishing was all I knew and I worked toward that goal for several years. I never had a problem finding an agent. I’ve had four in my career, each one contributing in some way to my overall success. And though I had several books that were very close to being acquired by publishing houses, it never happened. Once self-publishing came along and I discovered I could have success and make a good living from it, I stopped trying to go the traditional route. Though I no longer seem to have any problem getting offers from traditional houses now that they know I can make money and sell a lot of books.

We love that you dedicate time to write, even when you’re not feeling creative. Would you encourage other indie authors do approach it the same way?

Absolutely. This is a business. It’s not a hobby. If I only wrote when the mood struck I’d never get anything finished. If writers want a career and they want to be taken seriously then they’ll treat what they do with respect, just like they would any 9 to 5 job. You have to sit in the chair with your fingers on the keyboard. Every. Day. Even if you’re writing crap it’s better than nothing. You can always go back and fix crap. You can’t fix nothing.

Addison Holmes Series: Book 3

Addison Holmes Series: Book 3

Your reviews on Amazon are all 4 and 5 stars. Do you think these have helped increase your book sales?

I’m not sure. I think people probably read them before purchasing, but I don’t know that they make that big of an impact. I’ve got great fans, so I always appreciate the positive reviews, but I never pay much attention to them. And if I’m being honest, I think the one star reviews can sell a book just as much as a four or five star review. The things some people hate are often things other readers love, and one star reviewers are much more vocal about giving that information in the review—not that I want an onslaught of one star reviews, but I think you have to have a good balance of good and bad reviews to appeal to a broader audience. I think word of mouth is far more important than any Amazon review.

Which social media outlets do you enjoy using to promote your work and engage with readers?

I love social media. I enjoy getting the chance to interact with my readers on a daily basis, and I love getting their comments and seeing their posts about my books. I use Facebook and Twitter mainly, and I make it a point to post at least a couple of times every day, even when I’m traveling or in the middle of a deadline. I also use Google+, Wattpad, Shelfari, and Goodreads. It’s all about being visible and giving people the opportunity to recognize my name when they’re browsing books on Amazon or one or the other sites. It’s a subconscious thing for them to see my name and think, “Oh, I recognize that name. She must be a big seller, so I’ll give that book a try.”

J. J. Graves Series: Book 3

J. J. Graves Series: Book 3

Which series do you feel most proud of and why?

Gosh, that’s like asking me to choose a favorite child. I’m not sure I can do it. I really love writing the Addison Holmes series. I have a blast writing them from start to finish. But I’m probably most proud of my J.J. Graves series. I love the way that series is evolving and the character growth I’m able to weave into the stories.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your writing career?

To never quit. There have been times I’ve wanted to—when the writing got too hard, or back when I was going toward the traditional path and couldn’t sell. If you want it bad enough you’ll keep going. Just write the book. And then write the next one after that.

If you’re a sucker for romance and mystery books like us, check out these bestsellers by Liliana. Whiskey for Breakfast is the second book in her Addison Holmes Series and is available now! But when it comes to a series, you always want to start at the beginning. So download the first book, Whiskey Rebellion, for free on Amazon Kindle Edition by clicking here (we did!). Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, the 3rd book in her J. J. Graves series, will be available on November 5th. So now is the perfect time to catch up on Dirty Little Secrets (book 1) and A Dirty Shame (book 2).

Thanks again, Liliana. You rock!

We love indie publishing

Valuable Twitter Tips for Indie Authors

With social media dominating the internet, many rush to create accounts on popular networking sites to stake their claim on that coveted screen name or handle.  Seems easy enough, right? You fill out the basic info section, upload your most flattering photo and choose a fun background image. You’re on fire! Now it’s time to start marketing, right? Not so fast.

Yes, setting up a Twitter account is easy. That’s what Twitter creator Jack Dorsey had in mind: Simplicity. But there’s more to building out your profile than spamming your feed with 140 character “buy my book” promos. Here are some simple steps to follow to ensure your social media experience is a positive one.

Handle it – Your Twtter “handle” is basically your screenname. Kind of like an email address, but only accessible on Twitter…. and it’s public. If you want to keep your personal profile separate from your author profile, we recommend adding “author” to your name. For example: Author_JaneKim, or DougScholl_Author.

You’re unique. So be YOU! – We’ve all heard that saying “don’t try to be something you’re not”. Well, in Twitterverse, that saying is unequivocally true. Be open, be honest, and be real. When you’re trying to build a fan base, its important for them to identify with who you are as a person, not just the characters in your book. Self published author Amanda Hocking (@amanda_hocking) is a shining example of a writer who showcases her personality.

Avoid an empty content nest – When determining whether or not to follow you, many people will review the last 3-5 tweets you’ve made to see what you’re all about. So before you start building out your follow list, make sure you have content on your profile to entice potential followers. You don’t have to have a lot. But space out a handful of posts (not made within the same minute) so users will associate you with an active profile and not a ghost/spam account.

Build a followingWe don’t recommend following anyone and everyone. Quality over quantity is essential when creating a list of followers. As a self published author, you should probably add people associated with the publishing industry. Fellow indie authors, popular authors, literary journalists and bloggers, etc.

Be engaging & participate – Read through your twitter feed and see what interests you. Join conversations by replying to tweets and ReTweet posts you particularly agree with or enjoy. These are simple ways to interact and get noticed.

#Hashtags are your friend – And they make finding content a whole lot easier. They can be used to tag your own tweets and they can be entered into the search field to locate tweets containing that hashtag.

Don’t be spammy! – We understand you want to sell copies of your book. We want that for you, too! But solely tweeting eBook links and “buy [insert title here]!” content isn’t how you go about it. Get creative! Talk about the plot (no spoilers!), how you developed the characters and came up with their names, the idea behind your cover design or who created it for you (make sure to @mention them so they receive credit), what you plan to write about next, some of your favorite quotes from your work, your ‘dream cast’ (who would play which character if made into a movie), etc. The possibilities for content are endless.

If you have questions about Twitter or marketing, leave a comment below and ask us! We’re happy to help!

We love indie publishing!

Avoid Copyright Infringement: What to consider when using third-party images

A great book cover is essential to attracting readers. After all, first impressions are everything! But how do you find the perfect image? Many turn to Google by entering a variety of keywords, clicking the ‘Image’ tab, and sifting through endless options until the perfect selection is made. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast. When you factor in the consequences and fines associated with copyright infringement, you should think twice before you using an image that doesn’t belong to you.

How would one know if a photo is protected by copyright? Essentially, ALL photographs are protected by copyright. No matter how good or bad the image quality, someone either took that photo or digitally created it, therefore it is owned by that individual or business. Copyright laws protect the owner for the duration of their life, and up to 70 years after their death.

Here is some important information about copyright protected images and how you can avoid nasty fines or negative repercussions from using an image protected by these laws.

Can I use a photo if the owner isn’t listed or credited?

No. Even if an image isn’t imprinted with the standard copyright © symbol and the photographer or artist is unknown, you are not authorized to use the image without receiving the appropriate rights and/or permissions.

What should I do if I want to use an image from the internet?

There are various images available online for free or for purchase at reasonable prices that can be used commercially. Both or are credible sites that offer endless image options that can be purchased legally. But it is imperative that you adhere to the copyright laws of each website. Always stay informed regarding the copyright information necessary to use an image. When in doubt,  ask the artist or photographer associated with the image you intend to use.

Can I use any image listed under a Creative Commons license?

Please note: the additional “license-free” associated with an image does not automatically mean that you can use it wherever and whenever you want. Images listed with “Creative Commons” may mean they are free, however that does not mean they are free of copyright. This also includes “public domain” images. To use these types of images, you should always look for the individual license agreements and follow them carefully. If these license agreements cannot be located, attempt to contact the rights holder directly.

What if I alter an image? Can I use it then?

The act of copying or adapting someone else’s work is a breach of copyright. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work; so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object, and are also entitled to any compensation you make from their work. The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others.

What if I’m unable to locate/contact the image owner?

Since you are unable to get permission or obtain the appropriate rights, you should not use the image. Claiming ignorance after the fact will not help you.

How do I get a quality image for my eBook cover?

There are various ways this can be done. You can create an image yourself by taking a nice photo or creating an image using your computer. But if you don’t feel you have the skill set to pull off a high quality book cover, we suggest purchasing images from stock photo sites or hiring someone to create a book cover for you. When choosing this option, remember to obtain the image license and verify what information is needed to legally use the image. Typically, websites will list the license rights of each image next to the picture itself.

I don’t even know where to begin. How can I obtain a nice cover?

Not all of us possess the creative streak necessary for creating a killer book cover. But not to worry. Our BookRix community is full of creativity. The members within our Art Writers group are always willing to help, provide tips and tricks and can assist you with your eBook cover design.

If you have additional questions about copyright, feel free to contact us at and we’ll be happy to help you.


We love indie publishing!

How to Write a Bestseller

James Altucher is many things. If you classified him as an entrepreneur or a programmer, you’d be right. But he’s also a bestselling author. His latest book Choose Yourself sold over 44,000 copies within the first month of its release. It reached #1 on Amazon’s nonfiction book list and notably marked the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list. The best part? He self published it. You might think that his success came from knowing the right people or because some of his previous work was traditionally published. But according to James, that wasn’t the case. In an article published by TechCrunch, James Altucher outlines how writers can get their book to the top of the charts by self publishing the “professional” way. Below are some of the highlights, but please feel free to read his entire article by clicking here.

Get Social & Build an Audience

Most people believe that traditional publishers can guarantee their authors a window front spot in retail stores. According to James, that’s simply not true. Publishers have to pay for these types of placements, and it’s done infrequently. Instead of hoping to build fans, create your own audience by getting on social networking channels and reach out to potential readers.

Don’t Cut Corners: Proper Editing Is a Must

If you think editing your own work is sufficient, you’re wrong. Anyone who’s anyone will tell you that proper proofreading comes from a second set of eyes. And if you’re smart, the second set of eyes belong to someone who knows a thing or two about spelling, syntax, grammar and, well… writing. When talking about his experience with his editor, James says: “Nils [editor] and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken sh*t and chicken salad.” James also admits that his previously published work through traditional publishers, were not high quality. When he opted to self publish Choose Yourself, he researched editing firms and hand selected his editor. This is one of the benefits of self publishing – you can do whatever you want!

Selecting the Right Title

We’ve talked about choosing a great title in our Publishing Tips & Tricks series and how important it is to pick a unique, straightforward title for your book. James took it a step further: “I picked 10 titles that I liked, combined them with the cover and created Facebook ads that I sent out to all my friends and friends of friends in the U.S. Then I sat back and watched the click-throughs. After a few days and thousands of click-throughs I had my title.” Very smart!

We understand that everyone has different goals. But if you’ve ever longed to see your book on a bestsellers list, New York Times, Wall Street Journal or wherever, then you should heed the advice from someone who’s been there and done it. James Altucher and his thoughts on 3.0 publishing are beneficial for the independent author seeking success:

“If your goal is to put out the best possible product, maximize the money you make, and get the most readers, then follow the next steps, what I call “Publishing 3.0.”

1.0 was publishing with a traditional publisher.

2.0 was when the stigma of self-publishing went away and an entire new artistic outlet was open to millions of people (15 million books published last year versus 300,000 10 years ago). It’s cheap, quick, and easy to get your book published.

3.0 is starting right now — where you can self-publish better, more successfully, better edited, better designed, better marketed, and make more money than if you go any other route. The reason this is possible only now is because for the first time, the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses. Instead, they are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services. The demand is there. This route is more expensive than “publishing 2.0″ but is much more lucrative.”

And there you have it!


We love indie publishing!

Self Publishing Success Story: Madeline Sheehan (Guest Blogger)

Indie author, Madeline Sheehan, at a book signing

Indie author, Madeline Sheehan, at the Boston Author Event

If you’re an indie publishing enthusiast like BookRix, then you undoubtedly enjoy hearing a self publishing success story. Learning about a fellow writer’s journey can be encouraging, provide insight and evoke inspiration for those with similar goals. Madeline Sheehan has published several eBooks and has 5 star reviews from over 1100 readers on Amazon. How did she do it?  I reached out to Madeline and asked if she’d be willing to share her eBook self publishing story in our blog. We’re thrilled she said yes!

Self-Publishing, Blah, Blah, Blah…

By Madeline Sheehan

When I say “blah,” I mean it in the very best way. Because self-publishing, in a nutshell, is a three-ring circus.

But let me start at the very beginning, before I was introduced to the big, bad, kill-or-be-killed, survival-of-the-fittest world of independent authors. Back when I was just a lowly Public Relations Coordinator/Editor at a nonprofit organization with a writing hobby that I indulged in during my downtime, dreaming the dream of most writers to someday see their book on a bookstore shelf.

I’d been writing nearly my entire life but hadn’t completed a full-length novel until 2010 (The Soul Mate, a dystopian paranormal romance centered around modern-day gypsies), spending my evenings working tirelessly on the story line and character development. When I was finished, I didn’t have a clue what to do with it, but I did know right away I wasn’t going to be submitting it to any traditional publishing houses only to get my cherished manuscript tossed into their slush pile. So I opted instead to send it to a few family members for their opinions and amazingly enough, both my father and little sister, who are both avid readers, loved the book.

So then I thought, now what? You see, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing other than I loved Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy and My Blood Approves series. I literally knew nothing about Amazon, Smashwords, or CreateSpace’s self-publishing platforms until one day my husband came home from work with a tip from a friend of his who’d self-published a book of poetry on Smashwords. Of course I looked into it, created a profile, and submitted my manuscript, and within a few weeks my e-book was available through Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.


I sold a grand total of six books in six months. Don’t get me wrong; I was thrilled. Someone other than a family member had read my work. Had actually paid the $0.99 I was asking for it and READ it.

It was then that I decided to self-publish on Amazon as well, which, lo and behold, provided me with a lot more sales. A total of thirty in another six-month time frame.

Energized, I continued writing. While I was writing the sequel, My Soul To Take, I set up a Facebook author page to begin promoting my books to, well, my friends and family members. I had a total of a hundred likes, all of which were from people I’d known most of my life and weren’t interested in reading any of my books.

Halfway through writing My Soul To Take, I hit a mental brick wall. In the midst of trying to work through it, I pulled up a fresh Word document and began writing my third book, Undeniable. It was as far removed from the paranormal romance genre I’d been writing in as one could get. Undeniable is a motorcycle club dark romance set in a criminal underground world. It doesn’t hold back, it’s taboo, it’s gritty and ugly, it’s raw, and I make no apologies for it. I poured my heart and soul into that book; I used both real and fictional experiences, real and fictional character traits, and about a month after publishing My Soul To Take, I published Undeniable.

Fast-forward three weeks and the Internet BLEW UP. Cocaine & Cupcakes Book Blog and Totally Booked had gotten a hold of Undeniable. They loved it, they promoted it, and they contacted me for an interview, which led to Maryse’s Book Blog picking it up for review, which also loved it. All three of those blogs have huge, dedicated followings and after they reviewed Undeniable, I watched in awe as my sales skyrocketed.

I was suddenly #17 on Amazon’s Kindle Best Seller list. My Facebook page went from 100 likes to 1,000, 2,000, then to 3,000. Agents were contacting me, readers were contacting me, bloggers wanted character interviews, book-signing coordinators were inviting me to sign alongside well-known authors such as Karina Halle, Raine Miller, Katie Ashley, Tina Reber, and Colleen Hoover.

And everyone wanted to know when the second book in the series was coming out.

Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Eh. It was and it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong; I was thrilled. This had been a childhood dream of mine, and for all intents and purposes, it was coming true. But like most things, self-publishing is not all roses and sunshine, and subsequently my dream come true came with a whole lot of baggage filled mostly with garbage.

Because I knew little about self-publishing, my books were not professionally edited, their covers were self-designed and, I’ll freely admit, poorly done. All of which led to my being attacked in reviews. The venom of some reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads was a shock to my system—some of which were personal attacks having nothing to do with my books—and couldn’t have happened at a worse time for me. I was being pulled in all different directions, felt like I was drowning in a sea of the unknown, and wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle everything that was being thrown at me all at once.

What I’m going to say next is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT advice for new authors considering self-publishing. You need a strong backbone. You must have thick skin. You don’t have a traditional publisher backing you, most times you don’t have an agent, you don’t have even half the tools available to you that publisher-backed authors do. This is all on you and if you aren’t strong enough to take the bad with the good—and there will be a lot of bad—you should reconsider the self-publishing route.

Needless to say, I persevered. With the help of a professional editor who took it upon herself to contact me, Jovana Shirley of Unforeseen Editing and I took Undeniable off the electronic shelf and re-edited it. Author Angel’s, another godsend, also contacted me and soon I had new-and-improved covers as well. Eventually, after assembling a small support team of incredible women, all three of my books received makeovers that I couldn’t have been happier with.

But that wasn’t the last of my battles; bad reviews were far from the worst aspect of being an independent author. You also have to contend with book pirating, dishonest bloggers, people looking to make a buck at your expense, and the worst, in my opinion, is the “competition.” By competition I mean jealous authors, mean-girl cliques, snooty authors, authors who want to hitch a free ride on others’ successes, who want to take the easy route. The list is endless and, quite frankly, it’s sad.

You will be let down, stabbed in the back, betrayed, lied to and lied about, because again, you are doing this on your own. You are making your own mistakes without a traditional publisher behind you to build you up, then pick you up when you fall down. You’ll have to weed through the bullshit all on your own—finding the “real” editors, honest bloggers, and people you can trust. The latter being the most crucial because in the world of self-publishing it’s dog-eat-dog, and if you don’t have a good support system, you could very well crumple under the stress.

I was lucky to find an amazing group of female authors, bloggers, and editors whom I cherish. They give me courage and strength, they hold me up when I fall down, and they have become some of my very best friends, despite that fact that some of us live halfway around the world from each other and have yet to meet.

Whereas some authors consider an overwhelming amount of good reviews and what big-name author they are hobnobbing with as indicators of their success, I do not. True reviews are important; they bump up sales. But friends—trustworthy friends—are even more important in this business.

Madeline Sheehan (left) at the Columbus Author Event

Madeline Sheehan (left) at the Columbus Author Event

I’m now a full-time independent author, and despite the stress of having to run a small business on my own, I’ve turned down two offers from traditional publishing houses. Why? Because self-publishing isn’t all bad. It does have it perks, the main one being freedom. Freedom to write as much or as little as you please. No deadlines. More one-on-one time with your readers. You get to make your own decisions, price your own books at reasonable and affordable prices, and distribute your paperbacks to the masses as you please.

Whereas my dream was once to be part of a big-name publishing house, it no longer is. Once you wade through all the garbage in this industry, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the fact that my books have yet to appear on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf, I’ve found that my dream has indeed come true—I am a successful author. I’ve just published my fourth book, UnBeautifully, and it hit #13 on Amazon’s best seller list, #1 on Smashwords, #32 on Barnes and Noble, and #56 on USA Today! And you know why? Because I have a great team backing me and, more importantly, I’m doing things my way.

I honestly couldn’t be happier. I love writing, I love my characters, and I love sitting down at my desk every day and immersing myself in my fictional worlds. But most of all, I love how many people out there love my work, love joining me in my make-believe worlds, and have joined me and stuck around for this incredible journey of mine.

So, is self-publishing worth it? For me, yes. All in all, self-publishing has changed my life. For the better. And I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

And there you have it. Thank you so much Madeline for sharing your eBook Publishing story with our readers. We wish you the very best with Unbeautifully and look forward to seeing more of your work!

Whether you’re looking to publish eBooks, sell eBooks or simply improve your understanding of eBook publishing – we want to help. Like Madeline explained, independently publishing can be exciting but also discouraging at times. Please remember that our BookRix community is full of helpful writers and readers who share your passion. If you have questions, need feedback or advice, consult with our members or reach out to us directly. We want to help! And if you’re looking for effective promotional ideas, please look into the BookRix Marketing Guide. It was created to help prepare you for success.

We love indie publishing!



Self Publish with Professional Book Covers to Increase Sales

We’ve always been encouraged to never judge a book by its cover. But there’s a reason that phrase is figurative because from a literal standpoint, it’s practically impossible. Consumers are drawn to high quality, professional book covers. And sales numbers don’t lie: Authors who took the time to create polished and well formatted covers (or hired someone to do it for them) sell more books.

Some people feel professional book covers are a perk of being published through a traditional publishing house. Sure, it might come out looking nice, but did you know that authors publishing through big name publishers have little to no say in their cover design? Not only does the publisher have the right to edit the book as they see fit, but they can also do as they please with the cover. Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Remember, you chose eBook self publishing for a reason. When you do this, you have full creative control over your work. That includes everything from the table of contents to the book description to the cover art – the first thing your reader sees. So do your research! If you’re savvy with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, dive in and get creative. If you don’t know anything about either program, all is not lost. Third party companies exist for this very reason – graphic designers are everywhere. But before you go exploring online check out the Art Writers group on BookRix and talk to the members. Many of them volunteer their time and expertise to help increase their skill. The best part is that you – the author – can tell them what you have in mind. If art isn’t your thing and you don’t have any ideas for a cover, you can discuss the genre, plot or subplot and see what creative ideas they can come up with. The Art Writers group is full of incredibly gifted members who strive to get your work complete so you’re ready to publish we’re proud to have their work on our site.

If you’re looking for examples of stand out covers, here are my three current favorites on BookRix. These images are eye catching, clear and free from visible pixels. Great job, guys!

Remember, if you want to sell ebooks, the cover is what draws the reader in. The book description is what entices them to read your book – and that should always be your primary goal after creating great work: To sell your eBook! For tips on how to write effective book descriptions, check out our blog here with tips from successful author Richard Ridley! With an eBook, self publishing can be easy. But it’s important not to cut any corners! With a proper cover and a great book description, your eBook is going to fly off the (virtual) shelves.


Grab the BookRix Button

BookRix Between the Lines


BookRix Between the Lines

BookRix Blog Buddies

Reading Addiction Blog Tours Me, My Shelf and I Parajunkee Design When A Southern Woman Rambles