After finishing her first paranormal romance, FIRE BURN AND CAULDRON BUBBLE, HP Mallory landed her dream agent who shopped her manuscript around New York. But, after two to three months of rejections from publishing houses, her literary agent—like many these days—mysteriously disappeared.
Deflated, HP gave up. For two years, she did nothing from a publishing standpoint and even considered giving up on her dream of being a published novelist. Then, after someone told her about other novelists who were having great success with independently publishing their novels as ebooks, HP figured she had nothing to lose.
She uploaded her first title in July 2010 and saw immediate sales. Then, in December 2010, she sold almost 23,000 copies of her titles—impressive sales by any standard, especially for a one-month period.
Not only is HP a remarkable publishing success, she’s also an amazing novelist and a very pleasant, down-to-earth lady. It was a genuine pleasure conducting this interview with her.
Here’s what she had to say:
Describe how you brought your first book to market.
Well, after deciding I wanted to go the self-publishing route, I simply uploaded Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble to Amazon (this was back in July 2010) and then after realizing nothing much was happening, I set up Google Alerts on keywords that described my book, such as ‘paranormal romance’ and ‘urban fantasy.’
Whenever I got an alert that someone mentioned these words, I checked the emails, and if they were book reviewers, I emailed them and asked them if they’d like to review my books.
I must have contacted hundreds of book bloggers. That’s how I started spreading the word about my books and getting really good reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (which also helped me climb the ranks in both).
I also participated in forums where I would talk to readers and introduce my books.
How long did it take to make your first sale? Significant sales?
My first sale was immediate. That’s because I hustled to get the word out there. My first month with two books, I sold just shy of 400 copies.
What have been your most successful promotional tools? Your least?
I think anyone’s most effective tool is social media—Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. The most important thing to remember is to create relationships with your readers. That’s how you get word-of-mouth started.
I can’t tell you how many readers have emailed me saying they told their friends/relatives/coworkers about my books, not only because they enjoyed my books but they loved the fact that I’m so accessible.
I haven’t really done anything that hasn’t contributed to my success so far, at least that I can see. I think some tools have been better than others, but there hasn’t been anything that has been a waste of time really. So far, I think Facebook has been the best tool for marketing.
Does going indie have any advantages over working with a big publishing house?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both, which is why I ultimately decided to go indie and traditional (I have three books coming out with Random House next year).
With a huge publisher, you have the benefit of a marketing department, PR department, and internet department. You can rely on their immense knowledge when it comes to bringing a book to market.
Being an indie is great too, though, because you are much more in control of your books. It’s easy to do testing of content, pricing, and the like. Yes, it’s way more work because you have to do everything for yourself, but you also have way more control.
What are your hopes for working with Random House?
Random House was an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Because of the fact that ebooks only account for 30% of total book sales, I wanted to branch out in the hopes of becoming a well-known name in paranormal romance. This way, I’ve got a foot in both camps and they should just feed off one another. I’ll always be an indie author for one of my self-published series and the other will be available through Bantam (Random House imprint).
Plus, I think it’s really exciting to go through the publishing process and see it from another perspective!
Do you have any regrets or mistakes you’ve made along the way?
No regrets at all. Self-publishing literally changed my life. I quit my job and I’ve never looked back. And haven’t really made any major mistakes … so far.
Do you set writing goals for yourself each day?
Yes, I give myself a 5,000-word goal each day if I’m running close to a deadline—which means I’m usually stuck writing 5,000 words per day.
Otherwise, I try to aim for 2,500 each day. I don’t really have time goals or page goals. As long as I get my word count in, I’m fine.
A typical day consists of me taking my son to his nanny in the morning, working out for an hour or so at the gym, coming home to write and then going to pick my son up again.
How long does it take you to finish a first draft?
I can finish a book in three to four months. That’s inclusive of edits and rewrites.
How many drafts do you write before you have a final manuscript?
I don’t really work in drafts. I write a chapter, massage it, send it to my editor, send it to my critique partners, read it once more, and it’s finished.
What does your writing environment look like?
My office has a desk, couch, two computer monitors, shelf with tons of computer stuff on it, my certificates from USC and UCLA, and, at the moment, a few trucks and an aqua doodle in the corner of the room.
How did you approach edits for your indie books?
I have a great editor who just started focusing on expanding her editing business and she is taking on more clients. You can learn more about her at http://www.editingfairy.com.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No, never. I experience writer’s ‘I’d rather be doing something other than writing right now’ syndrome but that’s about it. I don’t get writer’s block because I outline everything into the ground.
Tell us about your book A Tale of Two Goblins.
A TALE OF TWO GOBLINS is the second book in my Dulcie O’Neil series, about a fairy in law enforcement. Dulcie must team up with hunky partner, Knight Vander, to stop a Dreamstalker from killing people in their sleep.
What are you working on now?
I’m actually two chapters shy of finishing the third book in my Jolie Wilkins series—about a witch who becomes Queen of the Underworld. This book, titled Be Witched, is the first book I’m writing for Random House!
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Just never give up. I know that sounds trite but it’s so true. I am a perfect example of how your dreams can come true. Just stick with them!
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim.” – Latin from Ovid.
Be patient and tough. Someday this pain will be useful to you.
Learn more about H.P. Mallory: