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.
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.”
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
It might sound strange at first, but trust us. It’s a proactive step for an indie author and you’ll thank yourself for it doing down the line. If you’re a writer, chances are you’re working on a book (or several) as you read this blog. And if that’s the case, great! But in the same way you carve out time to write another chapter in your masterpiece, make sure you’re also making the time to set yourself up for success when you’re ready to publish. It’s better to be prepared. Even more so when it comes to eBook publishing and gaining eBook sales.
Know your topic. Know your audience.
Whether you’re writing about vampires, science fiction or romance it’s a good idea to thoroughly understand your topic and chosen book genre. Think about the stories you love – why do you love them? What makes them unique or different? How can you make your book stand out from the crowd? Once you’ve thought about that, you need to consider who your audience is. Who is it you’re trying to appeal to and where do they go online? Are they involved in social media? Do. Your. Research. This is a very crucial step
What’s your persona?
Recently I’ve been learning a lot about personas. Their role in work environments, in the entertainment industry, even in family dynamics – there are countless personas. And as an author, your persona will become very important. It is essential for you to determine who you and build from it. Don’t just be “Katie King who loves to write psychological thrillers” because that boring and won’t get you noticed. Instead, dig a little deeper and express yourself like this: “Katie King who loves phychological thrillers, kicks tail at Dungeons & Dragons and has a passion for photography”. Make yourself stand out and get personal. This is also important if you decide to use a pen name. If you’re writing under an alias, you can be whoever you want to be. Just make sure YOU know who you are and stick to it.
If you build it, it will come.
Sorry for the Field of Dreams reference, but this phrase hits the nail on the head. One of the major benefits behind marketing your book before it’s published is to have an audience of people anticipating its arrival. It’s important to think ahead and have a strategy in place. The step before this involved knowing your audience. Once you know who they are, plot out how you’re going to draw them in. Videos? Podcasts? A blog? Take the time to really think this out. Be creative and think strategically.
Put your finger on the pulse of social media.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, Tumblr – social media channels are endless. I don’t recommend juggling all of them, but it’s imperative to a.) Understand what each one does, and b.) Identify which channel your target audience uses most. After all, why spend your time on YouTube if the people you’re trying to reach predominantly use Twitter? Once you’ve identified the channels you intend to use, create an “author” profile for each one and personalize it using the persona you’ve chosen. For additional marketing tips and how to further utilize social media, check out our complete marketing guide here.
Be proud of your eBook self-publishing goals. You’re taking full control of your work and carving out a name for yourself in the publishing world. It’s an exciting time! Just remember, if you ever have questions or need advice, our community is full of experienced, self published authors who enjoy offering their assistance wherever they can. Come check it out!
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