Jen Talty has written a number of novels including Rekindled and Jane Doe’s Return. With Bob Mayer, she has also set up Who Dares Wins Publishing. Here, she talks about her books, her successes with Who Dares Wins, and her plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I didn’t always want to be a writer. I wanted to be a teacher so I got my degree in Business Education. After teaching for a couple of years I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. After reading many books one summer I decided to write a book. That was about ten years ago and I’ve been writing ever since.
Tell me a little about your book(s).
I write Romantic Suspense. We’ve coined them Romance with a hint of Darkness. I like to write about relationships, but I’m also fascinated by the darker side of human nature, so my bad guys are always very, very bad.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
My business partner, NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer has always been an inspiration (long before we became partners). The first book of his I read was Eyes of the Hammer back in 1993 when I was on bed rest during my second pregnancy. Since then, I have read everything he has ever written. I had the opportunity to meet him at an RWA conference and took a couple of of his workshops. I”m also inspired by Sandra Brown. Her book, Hello, Darkness is one of my favorite books. I also enjoy Laura Benedict and Toni McGee Causey, two excellent writers that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and who in many ways have become my mentors.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
My role at Who Dares Wins Publishing (the company I helped Bob Mayer create) has become a full-time job and I absolutely love it. I get to create covers and ebooks for our wonderful authors (including Bob Mayer) so my actually writing time has been altered. I set aside a couple of hours every day either first thing in the morning or late at night to write. I’m finding it beneficial to write more at night. I’m not sure why.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
I was published with 2 different ePublishers and have worked with 2 different agents. When I started working with Bob I realized, looking ahead, that the traditional route was not for me. However, never say never.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
Bob and I have gone from selling 347 eBooks in January of 2011 to selling 65,000 ebooks in July of the same year. Our goal is to continue on that path and bring the best books we can to our readers.
How have you marketed your book(s)? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
We both spend a fair amount of time on all the social media platforms and have run Facebook and other types of social media ads. The key is consistency and persistence. We blog a lot, comment on other people’s blogs and participate on boards like kindleboards. Its all about presence marketing and discoverability. You’ve got to put yourself out there.
How did your sales go over the Christmas and New Year period? There seem to be a lot of conflicting experiences, some say their sales went through the roof, others have complained that nothing much happened.
Right before the holiday season we saw a slight dip, but then it increased in January.
Have you signed up for KDP Select? If you have, how has it gone for you? Do you think free promotions are helping with your paid sales? If you haven’t signed up, why not? Are you worried about the exclusivity clause?
We are rolling many of our books through the KDP select program. We have found it has really increased sales after we used the free days, so yes, we think this helps with paid sales for a short period of time. We only keep the books in the program for the required time and then put them back on other platforms. We also have participated in a program that Bob Mayer created for Barnes and Noble called Nook First where we release a book there exclusive for a period of one month. Our first release in this program, The Jefferson Allegiance hit #2 on their best seller list.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
We do not use Smashwords, but think they are a viable option for many authors. We have had great success at Barnes and Noble and are working with Kobo to help increase our sales there. iBooks has been steady and we are working on ways to increase sales and discoverability there.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
Yes and no. Amazon has given us enormous opportunity, so we support them. However, a monopoly in any industry isn’t good, but Amazon got the head start when they came out with the first Kindle and Wispernet.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I have two more backlist books to release, In Two Weeks and Dark Water and then I’m working on a series of 4 books all set in the same place, but each is a stand-alone novel. The theme of the books will be similar in tone and all about finding things lost in the past.
Jen Talty’s Rekindled and Jane Doe’s Return are available at Amazon, as is The Shelfless Book: The Complete Digital Author which she wrote with Bob Mayer. You can also visit the Write it Forward blog, and follow Jen Talty on Twitter.