Consistently at the top of Kindle and Audible bestseller lists for four years, Ashley Farley has built an impressive following in romance fiction for someone who was a “closet writer” until the moment she clicked publish on Amazon. Her self-published books are written about women and for women, with many of her fans being just like her: mothers with grown children who rarely find heroines of the same age depicted in romance novels, though for Farley, writing wasn’t always about romance. Her first book, Saving Ben,was a means of coping with grief after the loss of her beloved brother Neal to drug addiction. But the success of that first book soon made Farley into an entrepreneur, or “author-preneur,” as she likes to say. Since then, she has been creating new stories in her various series and managing her own promotional materials and growing fan base.
How did your brother’s life impact your writing, especially with your first book, Saving Ben?
Saving Ben is the story of a brother and sister of college age, which is the time in our lives when my brother and I were the closest. The characters and plot are fictional, but the tone of the novel portrays the many emotions I experienced in struggling with my brother’s addictions. This project was so personal for me, a gift to my brother. Writing about it was much easier than talking about it.
What was publishing that book independently like?
I’ve always been an avid reader, so the writing came easy for me with the help of a gazillion online writing classes. I took the manuscript as far as my limited talent allowed me. And then I hired an editor. I did my research for cover designers...I never scrimp on editing or cover design.
I finally got the nerve to confide in a good friend about my novel. She was a blogger at the time for a successful website about the goings-on in and around Richmond [Virginia, where Farley lives]. Next thing I knew, much to my delight, friends and acquaintances were reading and enjoying Saving Ben. In terms of the broader audience, a few months later I offered the novel for free through a BookBub promotion and had [a] crazy number of downloads.
Why have you chosen to write about characters who are a little older in your later releases?
Writing Saving Ben enabled me to come to terms with my grief, but I felt out of place in the young-adult or new-adult genres. A year later, I began working on Her Sister’s Shoes. During that time, I turned 50, celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, and sent my baby off to college. I wanted to share these experiences with women who were encountering the same milestones.
What do you find is the best way to stay in touch with your readers?
Facebook and newsletters. My Facebook author page is a happening spot thanks to my talented virtual assistant. We post recipes, giveaways, and contests. Every time I release a new book, I host a book-related theme party with lots of giveaways. I love interacting with readers.
Have you found Kindle to be the best platform for your work?
I can’t say enough good things about publishing with Amazon. They have paved the way to success for self-published authors like me. I recently signed with literary agent Andrea Hurst, who convinced me to give Kindle Press a try. I’ve never been happier. They promised to find new readers for my novels, and they have delivered beyond my expectations. With Kindle Press I retained much of the control I’ve enjoyed as a self-published author.
What can you tell us about your upcoming release?
My January release is the fifth in the Sweeney Sisters series. Everything comes together for the family in Saturdays at Sweeney’s. I wrapped up loose ends for the sisters while leaving room for their offspring to grow. Lots of action to keep readers turning pages well into the night.
Rhett Morgan is a writer and translator based in Paris.