Romance Author Bella Andre Makes the Leap to Digital PublishingBy Mercy Pilkington
As the publishing industry changes—a nearly daily occurrence, as the trends and technology struggle to keep up—the role of the author is changing as well. If there ever actually existed a time when a bestselling author sat overlooking a tree-lined street and churned out novels that were immediately whisked away to infamy by an agent and a publisher, those days are long over. In the era of dying book stores and publishing houses going under, authors are now taking on the role of publisher for themselves. 2011 saw several noted bestselling authors stepping away from the industry that made them household names and begin venturing into ebook-only and self-publishing.
Among those authors is Bella Andre, one of the most widely known romance writers in the U.S. After noteworthy success with several romance imprints of major publishing houses, Andre became one of the first writers to publisher her own ebook titles immediately following the launch of Barnes & Noble’s digital imprint, PubIt!, in the fall of 2010.
“Originally, I had put my ebooks up on Amazon because they were the only game in town, and I had some relative success with Amazon,” says Andre of her early attempt at ebook distribution of her titles. “But one day I searched on Wikipedia’s ebook retailer page and I saw all these other digital publishing companies. I realized if I could get sales with these other sites like Books.com and Ebooks.com, I could increase my sales. I wrote to all of them and it felt like ninety-nine out of one hundred turned me down. But Barnes & Noble actually wrote me back and told me they were about to launch their own self-publishing ebook platform in the next month or so. That gave me time to make sure I was ready. I was counting the days until the launch.”
“That first day when I was uploading my stuff on their dashboard, I saw it was clear and easy to understand for laymen authors to understand. It was actually fun to process through the dashboard. It’s fun and quirky and conversational. You’re having to make a lot of decisions about your book that as an author you may have never had to make before, like the title, the keywords, and the blurb, and the dashboard walks you through it,” adds Andre.
Andre was so pleased with her success on PubIt!, in fact, that she created an entirely different pseudonym, Lucy Kevin, in order to write a different genre with the sole intention of publishing the titles through the bookseller’s DIY platform.
“I created the Lucy Kevin pseudonym because I had several books that I had tried publishing traditionally years before, but at the time the market was inundated with women’s lit. I was so inspired by my ebook success that I decided it was time to dust those off, edit them, and see how they fared on PubIt! I put the three books out a couple weeks apart and they shot to the top. One of the books went to number four on their bestseller list and was selling a thousand copies a day. At that time, Lucy Kevin didn’t have a website, a Twitter account, anything; the books took off so quickly that I didn’t have the time to focus on anything other than getting the books edited and formatted. I really focused on those books very heavily at that time.”
Andre credits the Nook Color with a lot of the attention and sales that her titles have garnered so far, since the all-important cover art comes through very distinctly on the device. “I think the Nook Color is something that really made the books sell. The covers come through in color, so readers can browse the titles and see that my books fill a big hole in the market. It really pulled readers in, so the cover and sample pages coupled with the price point just drew readers in.”
Mercy Pilkington is a young-adult author and a teacher in a correctional facility. She does not have a single textbook in her classroom. With the top-of-the-line technology at her disposal and the low reading ability of many of her students, there’s no need for standard paper texts. Instead she relies on e-readers, iPads, desktop PCs, Polycom video conferencing equipment for virtual field trips, live streaming for science demonstrations, and text-to-speech read-aloud software to teach English and science. Within the next ten years, public school classrooms across the country are going to look a lot more like Mercy’s classroom because the educational possibilities with these kinds of technologies are limitless. Have a question? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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