On the other end of the spectrum from last week blogger, Sabrina Beluris, today we have as guest, Robin Helm, an indie author who tells us candidly why she chose to self publish and explains how to do so.
As different as the road to publication of these two authors was, they both share a common thread in their stories as both their series have angels as protagonists.
The twist in Mrs. Helm’s story? The human girl’s name is Elizabeth Bennet. Her guardian angel’s? Xander/Darcy.
Below, Mrs. Helm tells us how her story became a book.
I taught high school English for twenty-five years. A few years ago, I noticed that my students were obsessed with the Twilight Saga, so I read it. The hero was a beautiful, intelligent, talented, self-sacrificing, natural bad guy trying his best to be good. The story was every girl’s dream scenario.
My story line would flip that. My protagonist would be the ultimate good guy, a guardian angel, gifted by God with emotions. He would fight his growing love for his charge, seeking instead what he thought was best for her.
I wanted to ensure that my work would actually be read, so I chose to write a Pride and Prejudice fan fiction and post it as a WIP (work in progress). Because it was my first effort, I chose to write about what was familiar. I set my story in a small southern town, similar to the one in which I live. I graduated from a religious college, so I used Scripture to introduce my chapters and develop the spiritual warfare angle of the books. The time period matched my own life, so I knew about the technology, clothing styles, and music.
My genre is religious fantasy fiction (similar to Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, or Twilight with a religious angle), and I am an Indie author. I have published the first two books of The Guardian Trilogy, Guardian and SoulFire, through CreateSpace, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble Nook. My books are available in both paperback and e-books, and are doing very well. SoulFire was a “Hot New Release” rated in the top three of its genre for the entire first month of its publication. (One month is the period of eligibility for that list). Both books are on the top rated list for the genre, and both have been consistently in the top 100 in sales of that genre on Amazon. Self-publication through these avenues is free, and the author receives 70% of the royalties. I did spend $40 to buy the pro-plan through CreateSpace, because it was a smart marketing decision.
CreateSpace provides a free ISBN, publishing template, and choice of cover templates. Phil Thompson, a friend of mine who is a professional photographer, provided the cover photography for free. Six friends of mine who are also writers served as “betas” or editors, and one of them did the final edits after the books were formatted. I in turn beta for them. My books were published, available, and in the hands of readers within six weeks of completion. I began writing Guardian in March, 2011, finished writing it in June, and published it at the end of August. As soon as I finished writing Guardian, I began writing SoulFire, which I finished in November and published at the end of December. I am now writing the third book in the trilogy, Legacy, and I hope to publish it by the end of April.
The photographer, seeing the continued success of the first two books, did a photo shoot for the third cover and helped me with design. That cover is already completed. All of my covers have spiritual significance; for instance, the cover of Guardian shows light breaking through dark clouds, symbolic of good overcoming evil.
I chose this route on the advice of several of my friends who are published by traditional publishing houses. They wait up to eighteen months to have their work published and no longer retain the rights to their work. They also receive about 30% of their royalties, and they have to do their own publicity, just as I do. I don’t see a down side to self-publishing in my case, though if I could be guaranteed help with marketing and promotion, I would consider signing with a traditional publisher.
Robin Helm has published the first two volumes of The Guardian Trilogy, Guardian and SoulFire, and is presently writing Legacy, the third and final volume, posting as a work in progress on four different forums. She has also published two Regency short stories. She and her husband have two grown daughters and a Yorkie-Poo named Tobey.