Self Publishing: The Journey of an Unknown

Hi. My name is Jerrica Knight-Catania. You may have heard my name sometime in the last 3 or so years. Or you may have no earthly clue who I am. The latter is probably more likely. I’ve never been a NYT Best Seller…or even a USA Today Best Seller. I’ve never won any major contests. No monuments have been erected in my likeness ūüėČ I do put myself out there on social media, and I¬†have¬†been a best seller in every major ebook venue world wide. Yet I still show up to romance conferences and get things like, “Ummmm…I¬†think¬†I may have heard your name before??? What is it again?”

But here’s the thing. Fame is awesome, I’m sure. Having people know your name and start book clubs because they just HAD to talk about your works with other people is probably¬†great.¬†But for me, being able to provide for my family is the best gift this career could have ever given me. I get to work from home. I get to pick up my daughter from preschool whenever I want to go swimming or get ice cream. I get to go on lunch dates with my hubby, and I can take a week to go on a vacation without any rigamarole with “my boss.” Oh, and I get to daydream and make up stories for a living. Pretty sweet.

In light of recent events, I’m jumping on the bandwagon of non-famous, self-published authors who are coming clean about their journey in the self-publishing world. I think it’s important that people, especially authors and other industry professionals, realize that self publishing is a viable career, and a¬†respectable¬†one. Even all these years later, we’re still being shunned in this community for our decision to take our lives and careers into our own hands, rather than waiting around for an agent or editor to say, “Ok. I guess you’re good enough for me to gamble 10% royalties on.”

Just look what¬†Steven Zacharius, CEO of Kensington Publishing had to say…

“In a perfect world (okay, in my perfect world) there would be a separate section on Amazon or B& for self-published e-books, maybe even separate websites. I truly believe that it would help the reader distinguish the books as well. Readers don’t purchase books based on who the publisher is and don’t necessarily care. As a result, they might not even know if they’re buying a book that was professionally edited versus one that was self-published.”

Readers don’t purchase books based on who the publisher is and don’t necessarily care.¬†That’s the only good line in this quote. It’s true, and it’s awesome. So, let me start by giving a big SHOUT OUT to readers out there. You all are awesome, and I hope you’ll continue to judge books based on their own individual merit and not by whether or not some big-wig at a publishing house deemed it worthy of your eyeballs.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What is a non-famous, self-published author, who has less than 500 LIKES on her Facebook page and less than 200 people on her mailing list selling every year? I’ll show you…

My journey began in February of 2011. I made a decent amount. A heck of a lot more than $60, which was what I had made with my small press publisher in 2010. Please keep in mind, they still had the rights to several of my books until the end of 2011, so the numbers are pretty skewed for this particular year…

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At the end of 2011, I made one of my books FREE to see how the loss-leader model worked in this industry. As you can see from the 2012 numbers, it worked WONDERS! I spent more time on the Top 100 charts in my categories than I did off of them. And I went from selling about 70,000 units in 2011 (maybe a little more, but I don’t have those numbers, remember) to selling 465,344 units in 2012.

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2012 was an exceptional year, and as you can see, many of the “sales” came from FREE¬†downloads, but that didn’t stop me from earning more money than any of my previous day jobs would have paid me in…wait for it…5 years!!¬†2013 tapered off. No freebies were offered, as that tactic started to die a bit, so every bit of the 70,000 units I sold that year was pure profit.

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2014 so far has been slow and steady, but that’s what always wins the race, right? Look, self publishing isn’t for everyone. It’s not all wine and roses. We wear a million different hats, and we have to pay out-of-pocket for things like editing, covers, publicity, etc…, and the book may bomb! But that doesn’t negate the fact that in this modern age of technology, writers can reach more readers than ever before. Readers have access to thousands upon thousands of books that might never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for the advent of self-publishing.

Some may say that because I didn’t get a publishing contract from a Big 6 publishing house that I’m not worthy of having my books out there in the marketplace. Some may say that we self-pubs should be easily distinguishable from those who¬†do¬†have those contracts. But they can never, ever take away the hard work I’ve put into this career, and continue to put into it every single day. They can never take away my best seller rankings or the money I earned because¬†readers¬†— the people who¬†truly¬†matter — took a chance on me and *gasp*¬†liked¬†me!

So, thank you again, readers, for taking a chance on a no-name nobody! In return, I promise to continue to work hard for you, honing my craft and turning out books that you will love to read ūüôā

6 thoughts on “Self Publishing: The Journey of an Unknown

  1. Kathy Nye says:

    You are famous to me–I am a fan of your historicals. I am a long time reader and can say with confidence that your books are as good as publishing house authors. Keep writing and keep conquering.

  2. Selena Laurence says:

    Hey Jerrica! I’m so with you on the idea that being Indie, even if you’re not on a big list can earn you a respectable income doing something you love. I”m wondering though if you have a legend for your charts? I have no idea what each of those colors mean, and I’m assuming the numbers along the left are units sold? Thanks!

  3. Thank you so much, Kathy! That means a lot to me!! ūüôā

  4. Hey Selena! The different colors represent different books. I use BookTrakr to track all my sales from the different outlets, and they use the colors to differentiate each book ūüôā And yes, the numbers along the left side represent units sold.

  5. Reblogged this on Romancing Editorially – Unwrapping Author Services and commented:
    Proof positive that Indie Publishing is for some, if not many, talented authors. Remember, I can help make your book the best it can be. You’re not alone even if you don’t have a Big 6 publishing house behind you. Write On!

  6. Hi, Jerrica. I got here by way of Amy Valentini’s re-blog and love your post! You make great points, especially toward the end when you mentioned readers ‘taking a chance on a no-name nobody.’ I loved this remark because you obviously have great confidence in your ability and wonderful optimism one doesn’t usually find. I enjoyed your truthfulness in this post and now want to read one of your books just because your attitude is completely contagious and inspiring to me. Thank you and congrats on your continued success!

    Laurie Kozlowski

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