Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Journey to Indie Publication by Cynthia Woolf

Today, I bring you the indie journey of an incredibly prolific author whom I've know for 12 years.  We met at Colorado Romance Writers and it was Cynthia as president in 2006 who handed me my Newsletter Article of the year award!

Saturday I'll post an excerpt from her new book Capital Bride.

Please join me in welcoming Cynthia Woolf.

My Journey

Thank you, Leslie Ann, for having me on your blog today.  I’ll be giving away a copy of my new book, CAPITAL BRIDE, to one lucky commenter and a $5 Starbucks card to another, so be sure and leave me a comment.

I’ve been very lucky in my publishing journey. I was laid off June 17, 2011.  Though I continued to look for a “regular” job, I knew this layoff was an opportunity to fulfill my dream of writing and I grabbed on with both hands.  But, let me back up a bit.

I was in the hospital in April 2011, recovering from a severe anxiety attack.  You see, I thought I’d had a heart attack.  But it was just anxiety, brought on by my current job and soon-to-be lack of job.  I found out in April that I was being laid off in two months.  Though I was unhappy in my job by this point, I was even more scared not to have one.  Hence the reasons for impending anxiety attack.

After the attack, still in the hospital, and I can’t rest.  I have insomnia and with all the tests…I simply couldn’t calm down, so I asked my husband to bring me a pad and pen.  That night I finished my second book, Centauri Dawn.  It was the first one I would publish.
After I got out of the hospital, I was talking to my friend Michele Chambers, who writes as Michele Callahan, and she told me I could publish it myself and told me how.  That was the beginning and I haven’t looked back since.  I also haven’t had another bout of anxiety and my blood pressure is great. I  think that self publishing agrees with me. :)
Michele gave me the resources I needed to publish my book.  She told me about KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and that I’d need a professional cover and an editor for the book.  I found both a cover artist and an editor and was off to the races.
My books languished in obscurity for months.  I published three more books by the end of the year and was still not selling very many.
What finally broke me through the obscurity bubble was a blog tour arranged by Black Lion Tours.  The book that they were promoting, Tame A Wild Bride, took off like gang busters.  It took with it the other two books in the Tame series, Tame A Wild Heart and Tame A Wild Wind.
I Tweet and Facebook as well.
Tweeting being my most effective marketing tool.  I also blog whenever possible.  I pay for advertising when it’s a venue I know I’ll get a return on, like Ereader News Today but it’s very hard to get onto that one.  They open up for spots in January and are full for the year within hours.

Any venue that is free, I take advantage of.  And to be honest, I’ve got my books on so many venues right now, I don’t remember what all they are.  Several of them have buttons or banners on my website.  That’s how I ‘earn’ free advertising.  I advertise for them and they for me.  It’s a win-win situation. 
I’ve tried Facebook ads (didn’t work) and Twitter ads (also didn’t work for me).  I advertise on just about anything I come across where it’s less than $25 for a reasonable ad.  What is reasonable varies with the site and will vary with what you believe is appropriate for your budget and your books. 
The other thing I do that has given me lots of exposure and a visible increase in sales is to participate in blog hops. 
What happens with a blog hop is that you write a blog about a particular subject.  On your blog you have links to the other blogs in the hop and they have links to yours, so someone doesn’t have to look you up, the just click on the link and go there.  The blog hops usually offer a grand prize like a Kindle fire or Nook.  I also offer several prizes.  The comments increase dramatically with a hop.  It’s not unusual for me to get almost 100 comments from one blog during a hop.
Another thing I do and I highly recommend is that you have your own blog.  My blog hosts guests three times per week.  I may blog myself on Friday of that week especially when I have a new book to promote.  Always leave a day for yourself whether you end up using it or not.  You can always have your friends and critique partners blog on that day as well.
In association with your blog, join Triberr.  It gets you exposure like you wouldn’t believe.  I average more than 1100 hits per day on my blog and have had 1600 in one day during a blog hop.  This leads to sales.

Make sure all your books are shown on your blog with the links to the websites where they can purchase them.
Lastly, though just as important if not more so, is to get reviews of your book.
Submit to every review site you can.  The more reviews you have on Amazon and the other outlets the better.  Amazon does not accept author reviews for books anymore, so you can’t have other authors, even those who bought the book rather than were gifted it, review your books.  Trust me, it’s devastating when they take them down.
I recommend diversifying and listing your book everywhere possible for sale. I get most of my sales through Amazon, that is true and I’ve tried their Select program.  It was not effective for me.  I didn’t have any more sales and more importantly I didn’t get any borrows.  The payment for borrows and the five free days are really what sets Select apart from being like any other sales venue. That being said, several of my critique partners participate in Select with great results so it just depends on you and your books.
The road to publication has not been a smooth one but has had its bumps and rocks and holes I've had to watch out for.  Most of what I do is "trial by fire."  I try something and either burn with it or find myself soaring.
I’d love to hear your ideas and what you do that works for you.  What works for one person does not necessarily work for another as we all know from other aspects of our lives.  I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to help you promote your own work. 

Thanks Cindy for being so candid about your journey.  See more about Cindy at

Don't forget, comment today and on her excerpt Saturday for a chance at her latest book and a Starbucks Gift Cert. Yum. I'll post her bio on Saturday as well, it's really fascinating.



  1. Thanks Leslie Ann for having me today. I hope that your readers find some bit of help in my article. If I can help them on their journey, then I'm a happy person.

  2. Cynthia, thanks for sharing your promotional information. As a reader who also writes, I'm glad to see what works. I have TAME A WILD HEART on my Kindle and will get to it soon. Your success is impressive. I've met you on Twitter. Good luck with your books!

  3. Ellis, thank you for stopping by. I do know you from Twitter. We retweet our books for each other. A great way to extend our reach.

  4. Ellis, thank you for stopping by. I do know you from Twitter. We retweet our books for each other. A great way to extend our reach.

  5. Cynthia, I'm so pleased you're here today with us.
    I have a question, how often do you tweet? And why do you think it works? Raises your profile? I believe a blog can do that, and I tweet, but I don't know if i can see measurable results.

  6. Hi Leslie Ann, I tweet each of my books every 3-5 hours. I have almost 16,000 followers and many of those retweet for me but I've been told that you need to see something 7 times before you recognize it. I want them to all recognize my books and me. Thanks for asking.

  7. Oh a reminder to everyone to be sure and leave your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.

  8. Thanks Cindy,
    And I see you're a great believer in Triberr...

    It sounds to me like exposure, the right kind, is the name of the game.

    What do you think is the right kind of exposure, vs the wrong kind?

  9. I'm not sure what the wrong kind is. Even a 1 star review can be the right kind depending on what it says. I had one that was upset because I have sex in my books. I think her review actually helped sell my books. I try to look at the silver lining in everything. :-)

  10. Cynthia, this was a wonderful article and very timely for me. I suffered anxiety attacks the week I first published. I thought I was having a heart attack too. Who knew the stress of finally publishing would be the thing to trigger an anxiety attack for me?

    I've heard of tribber but haven't looked into that. I will today. I feel like I'm shooting darts at a brick wall hoping one will stick. I've tried the KDP program and have had some success. I just hate that my books are locked into Amazon because of it. I'd like to figure out how to work the other venues.

    Thank you for being willing to share your information. I very much appreciate it.


  11. Forgot to add my email. I forget so many things!

  12. Hi Tiffinie,
    Thanks for joining us today. This blog is all about the Indie Journey, so check back often, I'm trying to make sense of this adventure myself.

    I'm also thinking about going with KDP Select for my next book, at least for one block of three months.

    Want to add anymore about what you liked and didn't like about it?


  13. HI Cynthia (she waves). I appreciate hearing what your marketing plan is. I do pretty much what you do, and I also picked up some tips from a free book I downloaded last week entitlted: How I Made Over $42,000... by Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Very informative.

  14. Hi Callie,
    Thanks for commenting and adding info on the book.

    Do you have one favorite tip from the book you'd like to share?

    And if you'd like check back often on this blog as it's all about Indie.


  15. Thanks for stopping by Callie. I'm going to go pick up that book. I'm always interested in new promo ideas.

  16. Cindy, I love the path of your publishing journey. Like you said, it's such a trial by fire to find what works and what doesn't work. I'm incredibly impressed with the number of books you have out! Since 2011? Wow. Leslie was right when she mentioned prolific, LOL!

    Good for you!!

    I've heard others mention the blog hop is a successful tool to direct traffic to your blog. Do you find folks return even after the hop is over?

    Thanks for sharing so really great ideas. I need to find marketing ideas that don't take a lot of time investment since I still work full time and try to write the books, LOL! I appreciate your comments on Select. Sometimes exposure is everything.

    Keep going full guns, girlfriend!

  17. Thanks Audra, I plan on going full tilt for as long as the muse moves me. I do believe that people return to my blog after the blog hops. They may not comment, unless there is a good prize, but with the hits I get I have to believe that some of them are returnees.

  18. Great information, Cynthia! Capital Bride sounds like a great read.

  19. I wanted to let you know that I'm trying KDP Select again. I'm hoping that now that the series is finished that putting the first two into Select with it's free days might give a bump to the third one that just came out. I don't know if I'll have any better luck with it or not this time, but I have to be open to all avenues and this particular series, The Swords of Gregara, is not selling. So many people are having success with it, I see it on my loops all the time, that I can't help but try it again. Third times a charm, right?

    The most important thing to remember about your book promotion is to be willing to try and retry new things. What didn't work this time might next time, with a little tweeking.

    Thanks Leslie Ann for having me on your blog.

  20. Cindy,
    Thanks for being so candid about your series. Let us know how Select does for you on this.

    I've been noodling around with the idea of launching Stone of Heaven on Select and just can't make up my mind.

    I love your enthusiasm, "is to be willing to try and retry..."


  21. Leslie Ann, in this business the only thing I've discovered is that we need to be flexible because it will change. We'll be number 5 on the list and next thing you know we're not on the list at all and we didn't do anything different. What caused it? Who knows, but if we don't try something we'll never know if it works or not. I guess all I'm saying is to be open.

    I'm finishing my third free day. Still not a great success compared to many but I got a couple of sales of my other books. Can I attribute them to the freebies of the 1st book. No. It could have nothing to do with it. But the tell will be if the momentum and sales of the first book increase after the free days. Then I'll know if Select is working for me.

    All I can do is keep plugging along. :-)