Alessandra Torre is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of 12 novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense, all with a strong undercurrent of sexuality. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK and co-hosted Dirty Sexy Funny with Jenny McCarthy. She has also served as the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan.com. Torre is a hybrid author who has released books with traditional publishers such as Hachette and Harlequin and continues to use the indie route too.
Can you describe your start as an author? What was your first book, and how did you go about publishing it?
I self-published my first book in 2012. It was called Blindfolded Innocence. I wrote it on a whim and had no idea whether it was great or terrible. I got very lucky with that book; it went on to become a No. 1 bestseller in erotica for over two weeks and garnered me my first print deal.
What are the advantages to indie publishing over traditional publishing and vice versa?
As an indie publisher, I can instantly change prices to take advantage of promotional opportunities, I can change covers and descriptions on a whim, and I don’t have anyone to answer to on the book’s content. Traditional publishing has its own advantages, and they include access to new readers, a wider print distribution, exclusive promotional opportunities, and no startup costs.
What advice would you give to a new author who is trying to figure out how to publish his or her book?
Don’t think that you have to go traditional in order to be successful or respected. Indie publishing only gets a bad reputation when it is done the wrong way. If you decide to indie pub, do it the right way. Invest in an editor and proofreader. Hire a professional cover designer and get a great cover image. Don’t cut corners. And if you decide to go traditional, go after a top publisher. It defeats the purpose if you sign with a small operation. By going traditional, you are giving up such a lion’s share of the profits—so only accept a traditional deal if it makes sense.
How different are the rules of the game today than from when you first started?
I started self-publishing in 2012. Since then, I’ve had five traditionally published books and self-published eight. The market is so different from when I started. It is much harder to succeed now. Our market is flooded, and Kindle Unlimited books are sucking up a lot of the exposure on Amazon. On the plus side, indie publishing has gained a lot more credibility, and traditional bookstores are now stocking select indie authors, so the “stigma” of self-publishing is fading.
What do you believe explains the popularity of your work?
Consistency in my product. I write across several different genres, but all my books have a very distinct voice, and it is one that readers have really embraced. I only publish three or four books a year and invest a lot of time and money in making each of those books the best that they can be. My readership has slowly grown with each new book, and loyalty from readers has led to much of my success.
How do you market your books and your work? Is there anything else you do to distinguish yourself in the marketplace, especially in the crowded romance genre?
I market a lot to my current fans. This includes targeted Google or Facebook ads, a monthly newsletter, blog posts, an active presence on Goodreads, and frequent social media posts about my current work in progress.
Looking back, if there is one thing that you would have done differently, what would that be?
I don't think I would have signed my first print deal. It was a great experience for me, but now, since the publisher owns the first two books in that trilogy, it is impossible for me to do a boxed set or promo with that trilogy. I’d love control of all three of those books so that I could do a better job of marketing them. Also, I’d love to rewrite the first book of that series but don’t have that ability when it’s owned by the publisher.
Do you feel there's still a stigma associated with self-publishing these days, or do you see that as largely having been erased?
For most e-book readers, it is almost impossible to tell a traditionally published book from a properly done self-published novel. I feel that most bookstores still resist self-published books. It’s hard for them to know if a self-published title is a quality product or not, and it is “safer” for them to go with well-known traditional authors. I see that changing in the next decade, especially as indie authors gain market share with readers.
Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor with a passion for books.