Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Journey to the Bestseller List: A Guest Post by Renée Pawlish

I have been a writer for almost twenty years. By writer, I mean someone who has penned numerous stories and novels, but never had anything published. In 2006 I got tired of hearing from agents that my novel, Nephiim Genesis of Evil was a great story, but they didn’t think there was a market for it. This was before the ebook rage, at a time when the term self-publishing had an even worse stigma than it does now. I had a friend who encouraged me to go on ahead and self-publish the novel. I was hesitant but decided to jump in. I’m glad I did. Here are a few things I learned from that experience.

Self-Publishing Was Easier Than I Thought It Would Be

In 2006, I had to hunt for a printer to publish Nephilim and I was worried that the end product would look like a self-published book. I was pleasantly surprised that the released book was just like anything you could pick up at Barnes & Noble. I was also expecting to have a harder time getting it into stores and places online. It wasn’t. I wrote a letter to Barnes & Noble, as well as some of the local stores, and they all carried the book. Of course Amazon did too. Move ahead to 2011 when I began ebook publishing, and the process is even easier. I write about the paperback novel in a post on my blog so I won’t repeat it here, but I believe there is still money to be made in paperbacks. And the ebook market it wide open for creative ways to publish just about anything (novellas, blogs, short stories and more). And the ways to package books to increase your sales is wide open as well.

Self-Publishing Was Harder Than I Thought It Would Be

What? How can it be both? I can remember reading JA Konrath long before he was the god for indie publishers and he discussed how he spent way more time marketing his books than writing them. I’ve found that as I jumped into self-publishing with my whole body (not just my feet ha ha) that it’s a lot of work to market my books. It’s paying off, as Nephilim has hit the bestseller lists, along with some of my other books, but man, do I spend a lot of time talking up my books. I get asked for advice a lot now, and my biggest point (beyond writing a great book and making sure it’s properly edited) is to map out your marketing plan. If you want to sell books, you have to market them

I Do Have What It Takes

Let’s face it, most of us (if we’re honest) wonder if our books really are good. We wonder what the reader response is going to be. When Nephilim was first published, I realized that all the years of writing and rejection by agents, then working on my stories more, working with my editors (I have hired my own to help me), paid off. Over the years my writing had improved so that by the time I published Nephilim, I had a great story. Unfortunately, I see a growing trend of indie authors who automatically think their first book is great. For some, this may be the case. For many, they need to work on their craft more before they publish. But they’ll learn because you can’t fool all the readers all the time. It will show in your reviews and more importantly, your sales.

I love this journey I’m on. I love telling stories. I get a kick when I see the reviews for my novels. I love talking to other authors and helping give advice where I can. There are a ton of readers out there and we can all tap into that market. I wish every author out there all the success. Good luck! -- Renée Pawlish

Renée Pawlish
Renée Pawlish was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado. When she's not hiking, cycling, or chasing ballplayers for autographs, she is writing mysteries and thrillers. She also has some middle grade novels waiting to be published.

Renée loves to travel and has visited numerous countries around the world. She has also spent many summer days at her parents' cabin in the hills outside of Boulder, which was the inspiration for the setting of Taylor Crossing in her novel Nephilim: Genesis of Evil.

You can find Renée on her website, on her blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Goodreads.


  1. Self-publishing is an exhausting but rewarding journey. The marketing is perhaps the hightest mountain to climb.

  2. I find marketing extremely difficult, but it's all worth it when you read a great review or hear someone tell you how much they enjoyed your book.
    I don't think I'll ever get sick of hearing that :)

    Thanks for the great post.

  3. Thanks for the inforative post, Renee! According to my experience, Indie authors are always willing to help others along the way. My first book came out in August and it has been an adventure - before and after publication - lots of work but lots of fun! The thought that thousands of people have now read something I wrote is amazing to me!

  4. It is a cool journey and I hope the little bit I shared helped other indie authors. Thanks Marie for letting me share some thoughts. You are awesome!

  5. Why helllllooooo fabulous that is Renee! :D Two for one today in the awesome aisle. Marie AND Renee! Wooot!

  6. Thanks, Maureen!
    And mucho thanks to Renee for sharing your thoughts. You rock. :) Thanks again for guest posting!