Today my first guest is author Christy Hayes, whom I met a few years ago at a Georgia Romance Writers meeting. If you don't know anything about these meetings, they are held at a local hotel. The room is set up banquet style with round tables that seat 8-10 people. Those of us who aren't particularly outgoing can find this arrangement a little intimidating. At the time I didn't know anyone in the group, so I scouted around for a friendly face. Christy introduced herself to me, and we ended up sharing about our writing. Neither of us have been regular participants in GRW lately, but we caught up with each other online.
I'll get out of the way and let Christy tell her story ...
©Thank you, Chicki, for having me on your blog!
I’ve been writing since 2004 when my youngest child started kindergarten. As my daughter prepared to graduate from elementary school and head to middle school in the spring of 2011, I made the decision to go rogue as a writer and join the ranks of Independent Publishing.
I’d just completed my sixth full-length manuscript, letting it breathe before my final round of edits. I was gearing up for the query process when I read an article by writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch about success. In a nutshell, Ms. Rusch told writers to figure out how they define success and then she encouraged them to do everything in their power to achieve their stated goal. Basically, she said the only one putting boundaries on the writer was the writer.
Her article sparked something inside me at a time when I felt proud of my work and yet sore from banging my head against the wall in terms of trying to get it published. I’d done everything right. I researched and queried agents, diligently following their guidelines. I spent lots of money attending conferences and lots of time at writers meetings, networking and pitching to agents and editors. When my material was requested, I followed their submission requirements to the letter. All the while working on my craft.
Something shifted inside of me that day and suddenly the ugly term self-publishing sounded like the most efficient route to achieve my goal—to reach readers. Believe me, this was not an easy decision to make. In my close-knit critique group, you could have heard crickets when I announced my decision. But as loyal friends and writers who have endured the ups and downs of the publishing business, they supported my decision and wished me the best.
The learning curve was huge. From formatting to cover design (which I now thankfully outsource to the fabulous Laura Morrigan) to marketing and social media, my head still spins with the sheer number of options available to the self-published author. As technology changes, so does the publishing industry and writers who publish their own material have to know what’s coming around the bend. That means hours of time researching online while still trying to write the next book.
For me, publishing my own work was a huge step. I’d always treated my writing like a job and yet considered it a hobby because I hadn’t earned the validation of a publishing professional. I wrote in secret, only letting my closest friends know I spent hours writing and pursuing publication. God knows what they all thought I did all day, but now everyone knows I’m a writer because I’ve had to market my work. Coming out of the closet, so to speak, was a giant leap out of my comfort zone.
But here I am, with five books published and sales steadily climbing from month to month. I’ve changed my covers, tweaked my blurbs, played with pricing and joined an incredibly supportive independent writer’s online loop. In less than a year, I went from pounding the keyboard in secret to running my own small business. Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. It’s a wonderful time to be a writer no matter how you define success!
BIO: Christy Hayes writes romantic women's fiction from her little basement office in the South. She’s cooked up all kinds of trouble for her flawed characters when she’s not driving her kids to one sporting event or another or walking her pesky rescue mutts through the neighborhood. She lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children and two dogs. Check out her books at her christyhayes.com, follow her on twitter @SeaHayes, and read her bi-monthly blog at Women Unplugged. Christy donates a portion of the proceeds from her book sales to charity.