Kathleen Brooks is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. The indie writer’s romantic suspense stories feature strong heroines, humor, and happily-ever-afters. Her Bluegrassseries—and the follow-up Bluegrass Brothersseries—features small-town charm with quirky characters that have captured the hearts of readers around the world. Brooks is an animal lover who supports rescue organizations and nonprofit organizations such as Friends & Vets Helping Pets. Here, she shares her secrets to success using solely the self-publishing platform.
Why did you pick romantic suspense as the genre to work in?
Romance is such a fun genre because you can do so much with it. I love happily-ever-after stories, and I also love mysteries and action. In romantic suspense, you can have all those elements at play. My books are laced with humor and characters that you know. Readers care about the fictional town, they care about the characters, and they want to help them catch the bad guy and have their happy romantic ending.
Why did you decide to self-publish, and how did you start?
I self-published my first book in July 2011. I was a new mom working full-time and didn’t want to be working under a publishing deadline. That’s when I learned about self-publishing. People have to do what’s right for them and what works for their situations. I found that having the control I have over my books and timetables was what worked best for me.
What’s been the most pleasing or revelatory aspect of self-publishing for you?
Seeing the hard work you put into a release result in a bestseller that fans can't stop talking about. As a writer, you are always trying to learn the craft, understand the market, and put out works that appeal to readers while staying true to your own voice. It is genuinely exciting to see the results when you find that balance.
What has been the most difficult aspect of self-publishing?
Self-publishing is a small business. You must find time to balance writing and marketing—especially since the best marketing you can do is releasing another book. It’s the balance between how much time you spend on social media, making sure you’re doing your accounting correctly, advertising, working with retailers, and collaborating with industry contractors...it’s multiple full-time jobs that you have to learn to manage.
What is your advice to other writers considering self-publishing?
Educate yourself. Before you even put out that first book, you need to be prepared for success. Do you have your website? Have you found a professional editor and cover artist? Do you have a business plan? These are all things a writer considering self-publishing needs to take into consideration. If you see that to-do list and get excited about being in charge of your future, then self-publishing is for you.
What are the big changes you have seen in the self-publishing industry in, say, the past five years?
Five years ago, self-publishing was vanity publishing, and no author would advise you to consider that path. Then e-readers changed everything. When Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple opened up to self-publishing, the vanity label disappeared. We now have access to paperback printing on demand and the ability to create professional audiobooks. Anyone willing to go the extra mile to put out a professional product will be in a position for a career in writing. And going to work every day will become a wonderful thing.Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor with a passion for books.