In 2008 I wrote an article for Forbes, How Amazon Could Change Publishing, talking about the drastic need for disruption in the book publishing industry.
Since then a growing number of authors have turned to indie publishing platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to launch their businesses. Today indie authors are becoming brands and businesses unto themselves, too. This article highlights three such authors.
Jasinda Wilder spent most of her life studying, performing, and teaching music, theater, and dance, so the transition to writing fiction was a natural one for her and her husband and writing partner. Self-publishing was a choice born of necessity for the author team, who found themselves in a financially dire situation and realized they had to turn their lives around fast. From their research, they felt Amazon had reinvented the notion of self-publishing via KDP. Jasinda’s first book, “Big Girls Do It Better,” struck a chord with readers and the couple quickly earned enough to save their house from foreclosure. Their breakout title, “Falling Into You,” quickly reached #1 on Amazon and #5 on the New York Times list and, within the first six weeks alone, they hit more than $1 million in sales. On June 19, 2013, they published the sequel, “Falling Into Us,” which skyrocketed to #22 on the Kindle Top 100 list in just one week and continues to climb.
Bella Andre wanted to be a writer since she was a little girl. As soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her calling. She began as a traditionally published author, but turned to KDP and CreateSpace three years ago after her latest book was not picked up by her publisher. Today, with a cadre of indie-published titles under her belt, the best-selling romance writer has reached the Kindle Million Club and recently became the first author to bridge the indie and traditional publishing world when she sold the English-language print rights to her popular “The Sullivans” series to Harlequin while retaining all digital rights to her work.
Hugh Howey self-published his novelette, “Wool,” through KDP and it became a smash hit almost instantly. He followed up that success by releasing the “Wool Omnibus Edition,” a collection of five stories based on his original tale. The title quickly rose to #1 on Amazon and #13 on the New York Times bestseller list. Hugh recently sold the print rights to Wool to Simon & Schuster while retaining the e-book rights, and “Alien” producer and director Ridley Scott has optioned the title for an upcoming film.
Sramana: This is an interesting congregation of three successful authors who have found success through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. First and foremost, we need to introduce the three authors whom we have invited for this story. Jasinda, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and how you fell into self-publishing.
Jasinda Wilder: My husband and I both write, and we fell into self-publishing out of necessity and desperation. Our youngest son was very ill and my husband had to step down from a college program that he was in so that he could help take care of him. I was teaching part time, and one of my programs was cut. We were just looking for extra income, and as we started researching and looking for ways to use our talents to make money, we kind of fell into self-publishing.
Sramana: I know a lot of authors, and there are not many of them who would look at writing as a way of making money.
Jasinda Wilder: Of course. It never made us any money before, so why would it now? Writing has always been a passion of ours. My husband has English degrees and had always been trying to make a living through writing. We had never been able to make a steady income with writing, even by writing for newspapers or magazines. We did what most writers do, and that is teach.
We were doing what most writers do, we were looking for a miracle. We have five children and it was crucial at that time because both of our incomes were cut. We found a couple of blogs that pointed us to the KDP program, and we started uploading books as fast as we could. We immediately saw income and we realized the more books we put out there, the more money was going to come in. For three months we sat in our basement and wrote our fingers off.
We have several titles out now, close to 30. We have put a lot out there in such a short amount of time. That has been part of the reason we have been so successful.