Aubrey Rose is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several books including Heartbitten, and she’s only been writing for two years! And, she’s done it all while maintaining a full-time job and social life. Who said it was impossible to become a bestselling author and keep a full-time job at the same time?
Aubrey started writing when she lived in Mexico two years ago. She had a lot of free time on her hands. She was mostly teaching students over Skype. She decided to take a stab at creative writing.
How She Became a Best-Selling Author in 2 Years
Aubrey credits the majority of her success to the communities that she belonged to as an indie author. She became a New York Times bestseller when she included her book in a box set with other New Adult Romance authors.
Aubrey and her other author friends were surprised and excited that the box set did so well. They were hoping that it would sell more books but they never imagined that the box set would make it on to the New York Times list.
How Box Sets Work
Aubrey is part of a community that talks about the craft of writing and marketing as an indie author. They watched the Indie Voice put together their box set and have success.
So Aubrey’s author community put together a box set of their own focused on new adult romance readers, and it took off very well.
The box set is a collection of e-books all in the same genre by different authors. Each of the authors promotes the entire box set to their audience.
Aubrey and her collaborators wanted to do a Print on Demand version of the boxset. They couldn’t because the page count for the final manuscript of all four books was too long for Amazon’s print on demand service.
The box sets Aubrey launches usually start at $.99 for promotional purposes. When the rank begins to stall, the price is increased to around $4.99 for a while, then they drop the price to $.99 again to reinvigorate the sales.
Most of Aubrey’s box sets have used backlist books to fill up the box set. Occasionally, Aubrey will write a new story for a box set to better hit the theme of the box set.
Her werewolf romance series began as a story she wrote for a box set that she thought was going to be a standalone book. She found that she really enjoyed writing werewolf romance stories so she decided to write a series, which currently has four books out, and is selling very well.
Find Your Community
The best way you can market your work as an indie author is to become part of indie author communities and promote each other’s work to your mailing list. One of the easiest ways to do this is through a box set where each author contributes a book to the box set, and then they all promote it.
Sharing fans and cross promoting books with authors of the same genre leads to everybody in the author community doing better.
Aubrey writes a lot of shifter romance novels. When a fellow author she has promoted with, who also writes shifter romance novels, releases a new book that does well, Aubrey’s books will appear on the also bought section of the new books product page.
When the new book does well her books will also do better because they’re getting more exposure from the also bought section of the new book’s product page.
Breaking in to a New Genre
A friend of Aubrey’s told her she could make a lot of money writing erotic short stories. Erotic short stories were the first type of story Aubrey put on the market. After she wrote a ton of them she was invited to join a private author community.
In the beginning the community wrote erotica exclusively. Over time several of the authors have branched out to do different types of romance stories.
Benefits of Collaboration
One of the greatest benefits of author communities, beyond the marketing opportunities, is the information that’s shared.
In today’s world as an indie author, you have to be aware of changes in the marketplace as quickly as possible. The author forms and communities are a great place to keep up with changes in the marketplace as they occur.
Aubrey is actually working on building her own community where indie authors can talk about craft and marketing. One of the problems she sees with new author communities is that authors aren’t comfortable talking about marketing.
The truth is marketing is essential for an artist to succeed in this new world.
Find Your Word Count
Aubrey writes stories anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 words in length.
Her full-length novels are between 40,000 and 80,000 words. This is the typical length most romance publishers look for.
She also writes novellas that are between 20,000 and 30,000 words. She generally writes novellas as shorter stories in a series and then releases the entire series as a box set when it’s done.
If you go a month in between novellas, your readers will just forget about it. No one wants to start reading a series that might not end.
Aubrey’s Writing Process
Aubrey writes every day. She tries to write for a couple hours in the morning at a coffee shop with no Internet.
Aubrey uses the productivity app To Do List to keep track of all of her writing projects, and the various stages she’s at with each of them.
She checks in on her various creative projects on a weekly basis to make sure she is moving forward in a timely manner.
Treat Your Writing like a Business
A lot of writers see themselves as artists. They don’t feel comfortable with marketing, because it goes against their artistic sensibility.
If you want to have a career as an indie publisher you have to treat your writing like a business.
That means working hard on a schedule, setting goals and priorities, and holding yourself accountable to get results.
Advice for New Writers
Aubrey’s first book Paragon was a science fiction/romance/thriller. The book suffered because it tried to be too many things. Because Aubrey tried to cross three genres, her book was confusing to readers.
Aubrey advises new writers to stick to one genre. It makes the book simpler to write and less confusing for readers.
New writers need to understand the rules of the genre they’re writing in before they decide to break them. It’s also important to get feedback when you publish a new novel. Feedback from readers helps you improve your writing by showing you what they liked, and where you missed the mark.
Aubrey’s second book Me Cinderella? was her breakout hit. It did a lot better with readers because it was a single genre book.
Me Cinderella? was a success because it hit the new adult genre tropes very well. It was the story readers expect to read. More readers bought it and liked it because it met readers expectations.
Get Critical Feedback
Feedback is essential for new writers. Without feedback you don’t know whether or not the story you’ve written has the intended impact on your audience.
It’s so important to get your work out there so it can be critiqued. Getting feedback from readers is essential for your growth as a writer.
Don’t be afraid to edit your books based on reader feedback. Aubrey added a scene to Me Cinderella? when her audience told her there wasn’t enough build up to the romance.
The most important thing you can do as a new writer is to write new content. You should make every book you write the best you can, publish it, and move on to your next project.
A while ago an experiment was done in a college-level art class. Half of the class was graded on the amount of pottery they made, and the other half was graded on the quality of the pot they had at the end of the semester.
So one group was graded strictly on quantity, while the other was graded strictly on quality. The surprising result of this experiment is that the group that was graded strictly on quantity produced far better pots than the students graded on quality.
The more artistic work you produce, the better your work will be in the long run.
Managing a Writing Career and a Full-Time Job
Aubrey tries to write at least 2,000 words a day and she usually hits that mark. She writes seven days a week.
Aubrey writes for fun. She writes in her free time. She doesn’t have TV, and because she’s an introvert, she doesn’t spend a lot of time on other activities. It also helps that she enjoys being alone for extended periods of time.
Aubrey manages a test prep center and she’s a math tutor. Her day job is all about math and science. Writing is her creative outlet. She does it to relax and unwind. It is something she enjoys doing.
Aubrey’s Book Marketing Tips
The best single tool for marketing is a mailing list. Aubrey has a sign up form for her mailing list on her website. She also has a sign up form in the back of every one of her books.
She has a list of about 2,000 people right now and 25% of those people will buy everything that she releases. Having that mailing list has been the greatest boost to her author income.
One of the tactics Aubrey used to build her mailing list was to seek new giveaways with other authors where one of the things you had to do to be eligible for the giveaway was to enter your mailing list.
Aubrey gives away a free book to her mailing list, she also gives mailing list subscribers a sneak peek into future novels as well as advanced review copies of some books.
She’s also done giveaways exclusive to her mailing list. Two months ago she ran a giveaway for her mailing list where she gave away two signed paperback books to two of her mailing list subscribers.
Aubrey always gives her mailing list subscribers a discount on her new releases.
It’s important to note that Aubrey has seen tremendous success with a relatively small list of 2,000 people.
Other Marketing Strategies
Aubrey has a Facebook group devoted to her work. She also has a street team of 10 true fans.
A street team is a team of devoted fans that promotes your new releases organically to their social media networks. They are evangelists for your work.
Aubrey’s street team gets early advanced review copies of her book. On release day they post the reviews on Amazon, and Goodreads. They also promote the new release to their social networks.
Aubrey recruited her street team by sending out a simple email to her mailing list asking if people would like advance copies of her books in return for posting reviews on launch day and alerting their social networks.
Tips for First-Time Authors
Authors who are writing their first book need to understand who their target audience is.
Ask yourself this question: “Readers who enjoy my book will also enjoy books by which author?”
What book is comparable to yours in the marketplace?
If you can’t answer these questions, marketing your book is going to be much more difficult. If you can compare your books to similar books, you can look for fans in the audiences of the similar books.
How to Break into a New Genre
Aubrey’s book Heart Bitten was her first vampire romance. What Aubrey did was to look for other successful vampire romances on Amazon.
From there she looked at the authors Goodreads profile and the author’s Facebook page for fans. She found fans of the genre on those pages.
She asked the fans she found it they’d like a free copy for an honest review.
Cover Design and Editing
Aubrey does her own cover design. She taught herself Photoshop and cover design over the last two years. She does her own covers.
She doesn’t use professional editors. She uses a team of beta readers who like her work.
Aubrey experimented with using a professional editor one time with the second book in her Me Cinderella? series. Her beta readers found more mistakes, and more important mistakes, then her editor could have.
Depending on the book and series, Aubrey has between 20 and 30 beta readers.
She asks that they read her book within a week. She gets comments from the majority of those readers within the first 24 hours.
People and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
Julia Kent is mentioned as a successful new adult author.
Jasinda Wilder is another indie author that was part of a successful box set put together by the Indie Voice
Liliana Hart is another successful new adult Romance author.
Celia Kyle shares a lot of fans with Aubrey. The fans like shifter romance fiction. That’s romance fiction that has shape shifter characters.
Aubrey mentions George RR Martin as an example of an author that takes a long time to write each of his books, so that people are concerned they will never be able to read the end of the series.
Aubrey mentions Cormac McCarthy as a master writer who can break the rules.
Aubrey mentions Ken Robinson and his work with education and creativity. He’s written several books and she doesn’t mention which one she’s referencing.
Aubrey mentions Bella Forest as an example of an author who does well with vampire romance
http://theindievoice.com/ – a community of indie authors.
https://en.todoist.com/ – the to do list app syncs with your phone and computer to help you be more productive. You can track projects and create subtasks for projects. They have a free version and a premium version.
Jami Gold’s romance beat sheet – this story structure resource was derived from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Book. You can get it for free by signing up for Jami’s email list.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder – promoted as the last screenwriting book you’ll ever need.
Me, Cinderella? (A New Adult Romance Novel) – Aubrey Rose’s breakout novel.
http://www.sandiegowriters.org/ – a local group of writers that Aubrey is involved with.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.