07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Best-Seller Theresa Ragan's Self-Publishing Story

Three genres, two names, one author.

That’s the tagline I have on my website/blog. But in the beginning of my writing career, I never thought I would write anything but time travel romances. After reading Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor in 1992 I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to write romance novels. For the next five years, I researched medieval times and wrote Return of the Rose. I was working full time and raising four children, but I knew I was a writer when nothing could stop me from getting the words to the page.
Having been told that Time Travels were dead, I decided to write a romantic comedy. I loved reading books like See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson and Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan E. Phillips. I was hoping romantic comedies would be the genre that would push me through the NY publishing doors. Three romantic comedies and a pile of rejections later, I decided to try my hand at romantic suspense. I loved reading Lisa Gardner and Stephen King. Why not?

I had finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart six times by then and I had signed with my second agent. We almost sold Finding Kate Huntley to Grand Central. Close, but no cigar. Frustrated, I decided to write a romantic thriller so I could kill off a few characters and my frustrations at the same time.

When I finished ABDUCTED (T.R. Ragan), I felt that this book was special. It was bigger and better. I had little if any feedback from writers and/or contests. It was all mine. Writing is like playing an instrument. Practice makes you better, and in my case, faster.
My journey as a writer has been a long one. I had read many how-to books and I knew this was not going to be an easy career path when I started out. I celebrated my first rejection letter because I had read about many popular authors who had wallpapered a small bathroom with rejection letters. I just didn’t think it would be THIS hard. As I waited for ABDUCTED to be read by my agent, I read the first book I had written and decided it was time to give self-publishing a shot. My fourth and youngest child was going off to college, and, for financial reasons, the pressure was on to get back to work full-time. I needed a “real” job that pays.

With no time left and nothing to lose, I self-published my two medieval time travels. Instead of selling ten books, I sold thousands. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. After all these years, I felt like an overnight success. I am having the time of my life. Everything really does happen for a reason. Perseverance really does pay off. Dreams really do come true.

If I could give one piece of advice to every person out there who dreams big like I do, it would be to work hard every day and never ever stop believing in yourself.

 GIVEAWAY!  Theresa is giving away a print book of either ABDUCTED or RETURN OF THE ROSE (the choice is yours) to ONE lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave your email address along with your comment

Theresa Ragan on Amazon click HERE
Theresa Ragan on Barnes & Noble click HERE
Theresa Ragan’s website/blog click HERE
Theresa Ragan on Smashwords click HERE
Friend Theresa on Facebook click HERE
Follow Theresa on Twitter click HERE


Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for guest blogging today at Romancing the Genres, Theresa.

What an amazing journey you've had as a writer! You inspire me.

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Sarah. I am excited to be here today and answer any questions!

I have been an indie author for 7 months now and I have sold over 122,000 books! How crazy is that?! I have been having the time of my life.

I remember my goal being to publish before I was 40 and then 45...50. I am 52 years young! And so thankful I didn't have to wait another decade to share my books with readers. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. I am definitely romancing the genres and loving every minute of it!

Connie Gillam said...

Congratulations, Theresa on your success. An inspiring blog.

Nancy Crampton-Brophy said...

Teresa - Very interesting blog. Tell me what you think you did that made you sell when others have not?

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Connie. Thanks for the congrats.

Nancy, I hope that working hard on my craft and writing nearly every day for 19 years gave me an edge. I worked with two agents, more than a few editors, and many wonderfully talented authors along the way. I'm going to take a guess and add that writing in more than one genre might have helped me reach more readers, too. After a writer gets their name out there, I think writing the next book is the most important thing to do. But the book MUST be the best it can be before it's released.

I self-published my first book in March, 2011, and I spent the first three months doing nothing but promotion and marketing. I googled reviewers and requested a review every day. I blogged whenever I could. I do interviews and I worked hard to get my name out there. I hope this helps answer your question!

Diana Mcc. said...

How did you learn about promotion and marketing? I enjoyed hearing about your journey to self-publishing. I've known you most of that time and I am glad to call you a friend. Thanks for blogging here today.

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Diana, thanks for the kind words. Right back atcha! And thanks for having me here today.

I seriously had never promoted or marketed anything before self-publishing my first book in March. I googled review sites and I was asked to join a couple of indie author sites. Anyone interested in self-publishing should join Indie Romance Ink. The group was started by Carly Carson and Cate Rowan. There are more than 400 members now, many of them traditionally published. Everyone is helpful and eager to help newbies who want to learn. Even if you're not certain about self-publishing, you'll be welcomed to the group with open arms. Come and ask questions and learn! There are archives with review sites and copy editors and so much more.
IRI LINK: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndieRomanceInk/

Diana, that's really how I learned how to promote...from other authors.

For those first few months, it's a huge learning curve, and I had plenty of headaches from brain overload, ha, but it was fun! I paid $50 to be in an IBC (Indie Book Collective) group, too. Just google IBC for authors and see what it's all about. Almost everything I did for marketing and promotion was time consuming at first. IBC runs blog tours every few months. Authors learn to promote and market not only their own books but other authors' books. I used coupons at Smashwords to give away free books and I ended up with 200 new readers on my email list on my website, just by offering a few prizes.

Once an author is ready to pay for advertising there are many great sites like Pixel of Ink, Kindle Nation, The Romance Reviews, Eye on Romance and many more. Many new sites are just getting started like Digital Book Today and Frugal Ereaders. Authors on the Cheap on Facebook allows authors to promote their books every day! These marketing opportunities are all free.

There are endless opportunities for authors that are willing to look for them and take the time to read all about them! Like I said, it all takes time. If you decide to promote, you need to make learning all about it a priority. I would rather write 24/7 and do nothing else. But I am writing for my readers and they can't read my books if they can't find me.

Sorry to ramble on...

Keep the questions coming! :)

Cindy Sample said...

Hi Theresa. I love reading about your journey. It proves that if you write well and promote well you can achieve great results. Everyone at SVR is thrilled with your success. Will you have time to party with us in December? Congrats and a big toast to you!

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Cindy! I miss all of the SVR writers! Every month I write the SVR meeting date on my calendar and then something comes up...like getting my youngest into college. But that's done now so I definitely will try to come hang out in December. That's a great idea!

Theresa Ragan said...

Diana, I also wanted to add something about Facebook, Twitter, and Kindle and Nook Boards. I think it's good to have a presence everywhere. Some authors swear that doing these things daily will sell more books. I'm no so sure. But, of course, I really don't know. I don't like doing promotion overload. For instance, I tweeted and facebooked about this blog, but I haven't put it anywhere else. Twitter and Facebook seem to get the best results. I have a few more writer groups where I could mention this interview and I think I'll do that right now! But I try not to become a burden when it comes to promoting my interviews, blogs, and myself! Does that make sense?! If you see someone promoting a site/blog/book every single day it become white noise...invisible. At least that's how I feel about it! :)

Bron said...

Truly inspirational. Do you feel having both self-publishing and traditional publishing is a great way to cement your career or would you be happy to simply self-publish as it gives you more control over pricing and royalty rates? Are you still working with your agent for example? How does the agent/self-publishing work?

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi, Bron!

Hi Bron, thanks for the great questions. I would love to traditionally publish a book or two and I think that would definitely give me a certain amount of “respect” in the industry. But, with all the changes in publishing right now, I really don’t know if I would sign a traditional contract at this point. I’m not telling anyone what to do or not to do. But if I were made an offer, it would have to be with a publisher that thinks outside of the box. Bigger royalty rates on ebooks and/or big advance. And I’m not sure that will ever happen. And I’m fine with that, too.

Everything could change tomorrow. I don’t know what Amazon or the Big 6 publishers are going to do in the future, but already I’ve made more money on every one of my books than I would have made had I published them with a traditional publisher. And my books will have a shelf life of FOREVER. I do love having control over pricing and cover art. My books are now offered in Germany, France and the UK. Two of my books are available in print. All five will be available in print by the end of the year.

ABOUT AGENTS: Once I knew that I was going to self-publish all of my books, I parted ways with my agent. She was surprised, but understanding. I know many self-published authors who stayed with their agents, but I don’t know how that works. At this point, I like having full control. I don’t see the point of giving someone fifteen percent unless they were able to give me incredible feedback. I have some great beta readers who do that for free, and I’ll be hiring a copy editor for my next book. I’d rather pay a few individuals a flat fee and go from there. But that’s just me. Every writer has their own way to do things. That’s what I love about being an indie author. We can all do our own thing.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Theresa,
Sorry to be chiming in late, thank you for dropping by. Your road to publication gives us all hope of bigger and better things to come.



Judith Ashley said...

Hi Theresa,

I'm chiming in even later than Margaret! But I wanted to say "Thank You" so much for guesting with us here on Romancing The Genre. Reading about your road to success (at least I think if I'd sold 122K books I'd think of myself as being successful - or at least well along the road) lets me know that it can be done. It seems to me that your commitment to writing a quality book, your dedication to getting your work out there, and your perseverance in the face of obstacles were keys to your being where you are.

Thank you for so generously sharing your experience with us.

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Margaret and Judith. I have been gone all week, but I wanted to say THANKS so much for having me on your wonderful blog. I enjoyed the question and answer session and the warm welcome. Take care and keep writing!