Sramana: When did you start this self-publishing adventure?
Jasinda Wilder: We started writing under this pen name a year ago. We started self-publishing in April of 2012. We started with our poetry collection that my husband and I had just to test the waters and see how easy it would be to get the manuscript uploaded and the cover in place. We were surprised to find out how easy it was to get the book uploaded.
Sramana: You have identified quantity as being one of your key strategies, meaning you want to have a lot of material out there. How important do you think that was to your overall success?
Jasinda Wilder: There were a couple of things that were keys to success, and that was one of them. We also worked hard to figure out what was selling. We could sit down and write about anything. At that point we really needed money. Of the top 100 on Amazon at the time, the majority of the titles were romance.
My husband had a lot of sci-fi that had a lot of strong romance elements in it. I thought that we were pretty good at it and that we should just go into the romance since that is what was selling. We put out a bunch of those titles and they sold great, so we kept at it. We tried a lot of different genres, and we ran with the one that made us money.
Sramana: Where do you work from?
Jasinda Wilder: We are in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.
Sramana: What are some of the numbers and metrics that you can share? How many copies has your bestselling book sold?
Jasinda Wilder: I think the top book was “Falling Into You,” which spent four weeks on The New York Times and has over 250,000 copies downloaded. It is probably higher than that. I know that we have sold over one million copies under this pen name over the past year.
Sramana: What is the price point of these books?
Jasinda Wilder: The ones that are our best-sellers average between $3.99 and $4.99.
Sramana: Let’s do an introductory segment with Bella Andre. Bella, what is your background?
Bella Andre: I was traditionally published for seven years with a couple of the big New York publishers. In early 2010, the option on my next series was not picked up by my publisher at the time. I had sold my last contract to New York previous to that at auction. My ship was supposed to be coming in, and it didn’t.
A writing friend of mine had a Kindle, as did I. The KDP program was about 18 months old at that time. I had heard of a few people that had self-published via the KDP program and had done well. They had breakout Kindle hits. This friend of mine told me to put something up to Kindle. I had only done traditional publishing, so I figured I should try it out.
The very first thing I put up was a novella-length book that I had written for a publisher years earlier. I put that up and promptly forgot about it. About three weeks later I logged in to see if anyone had bought one. I had sold 150 copies, and I thought that was the greatest moment ever. That told me that I was right. My then agent and the previous publishers were wrong. There were people typing my name into search engines and who wanted to buy my books. From that moment forward I knew that I was going to make self-publishing my priority.
I wrote my first book for self-publishing in July of 2010. I made more money in that month than I had made on my previous book deal. That was way back in 2010, which was a long time ago in e-book years. I had all the control over the book and cover. That was all I needed.
Sramana: You had a following, and people were looking specifically for your books. It sounds like that is your core audience and from there they can drive your book visibility to higher rankings, which lets you find more audience members. Is that a fair statement?
Bella Andre: Now it is a correct observation. I have worked tirelessly for three years to build a large digital readership. Back then there were 150 people. The following month there were 1,000 and then perhaps 1,500. I don’t think I had an advantage because I came from New York publishing. I didn’t. I had a 1,000-person leg up; the rest has been entirely and 100% due to the focus and determination that I have put into my releases. I focus a lot of the quality of my releases, the release schedule, and I spend a lot of time interacting with my readers.
Sramana: Are you also selling at the same price point?
Bella Andre: I am selling in the $4.99 to $5.99 price point. Both Jasinda and I sell at that price point, which is on the higher end for digital publishing.