She is absolutely amazing and the perfect example of an indie author that made it big. I had the opportunity to touch base with indie New York Times bestselling author, Elisabeth Naughton about her success and her advice for aspiring authors as well.
For those who are not familiar with your Eternal Guardians books and other series, what are they about?
The Eternal Guardians series centers around the descendants of the famed heroes from Greek mythology. They protect the mortal realm from threats of the Underworld and the gods’ vicious schemes to obtain the Orb of Kronos, a magical object that has the power to release Kronos from his prison in Tartarus. The being who controls the Orb, controls all the power in the universe.
Since you used to teach middle school, have you ever given thought to writing middle grade books or YA?
I’ve considered it. I even have a YA book mapped out, but I haven’t found the time to write it. I think it’s entirely possible that I spent so much time with middle-schoolers, my brain is rebelling against the idea of being immersed in that world again.
What is your writing process like? Do you outline first? How long does it take you to write your first draft? And what is your rewriting process like?
I don’t outline on paper. Book ideas come to me after characters are developed. Story grows out of character for me. I often ponder a book plot in my head for months before I start writing. I’m an organic writer which means I let the story drive itself. Whenever I get stuck while writing it’s because I’ve tried to force a story in a direction it didn’t want to go.
As for my drafts…I’m a pretty clean writer and revise as I go, so my by the time I finish a book I usually only have to do one pass for major plot/character revisions, and another for mechanics. After that it goes off to my editor. I can usually write a book in about 4 months if I have everything figured out ahead of time.
Why did you decide to switch from traditional publishing to indie publishing? Will you ever write directly for traditional publishers again or will you only sell the print rights and keep the eBook rights?
The first books I indie published were books I originally wrote for Dorchester. After getting my rights back on those books, I knew no publisher would reprint them, and Indie publishing was just taking off. Because I was continuing my Eternal Guardians series with a traditional publisher, I didn’t want books one and two in the EG series to disappear. So I thought, “Why not?” Those books went up in December 2011. By the following summer (2012) I’d indie published six books – the first two Eternal Guardians books, the three Stolen books, and a never before published story called WAIT FOR ME. I was actually making money–good money–for all my hard work, and I was getting paid monthly, not twice a year. It became very clear, very fast that Indie publishing was far more lucrative and rewarding than writing for a traditional publisher. I found I worked harder because I saw direct results, and I was happy being in control of my career and not leaving things in the hands of a publisher. When my contract with Sourcebooks was up for renewal, I turned down an offer because I knew I could do better on my own.
The most important thing I’ve learned about publishing is that readers don’t care how a book is published, they only care that it IS published. My goal for being with a traditional publisher was to have my books available in print. But these days, shelf space is shrinking and bookstores are disappearing. And I make all my books available in print for readers who don’t have ereaders. My Eternal Guardians series is continuing with me at the helm. The sixth book (and the first straight to Indie release in the series) – BOUND – releases on March 26, 2013.
Interestingly enough, my the book that propelled me onto the New York Times Bestsellers list wasn’t a traditionally pubbed book. It was an Indie book – WAIT FOR ME. Had I not gotten my rights back on my Dorchester books I don’t know that I ever would have published that book. I’d been told by agents that no NY publisher would want to read it. Readers have proved differently.
As for whether or not I’ll publish with NY again…I’ll never say never to anything. I’d love to have a magic ball to see what publishing will be like in the future, but no one knows. The industry is constantly changing. I left my last publisher not because I was disenchanted with NY, but because the terms of the contract they were offering weren’t in my best interest. At the end of the day, I have to look at a contract from a business perspective, and if a NY publisher were to offer me a contract that I deemed positive to my career, I would definitely consider it.
What did you do step-by-step to get the word out about your books? What worked and what didn’t work?
The single biggest thing I’ve done is give books away for free. Free is a powerful tool to get new readers to try your work. Every reader who loves your free book will go and download everything else you’ve ever written. NY hasn’t figured this out yet, but Indie authors know the power of free promotion.
Did you stand up and do the “happy dance” in the middle of the street when you hit the New York Times? Who was the first person you called to tell?
I did. I have to admit it was always a goal of mine, so when I got that call, it was a pure thrill. I was actually at a coffee shop working when my husband called with the news. My agent had called my house, and since I wasn’t there, she told him. It was pretty special that he passed the news along to me because he’s my biggest fan and has always been supportive of my dream.
How many copies did you sell of your book(s) the first week they hit the New York Times and how many have you sold thus far?
The first week WAIT FOR ME hit the NYT list it was selling 5,000-7,000 copies per day. I think that week it sold about 40,000 and debuted at #3 on the ebook bestsellers list and #5 on the combined list.