A Chat With Self-Published Author Millenia Black

May 31, 2011

Millenia Black is the author of the novels The Great Pretender and The Great Betrayal, both previously issued by a traditional publisher and now self-published.

Connie Briscoe: Your two novels, The Great Pretender and The Great Betrayal, were both previously published by a traditional New York house to great acclaim. In 2010 you reissued both titles as self-published books. Why did you decide to go that route?

Millenia Black: The success I’d had with self-publishing led to my being traditionally published. So I returned to publishing myself because I learned that my books were much better served self-published—I retain control of everything, reach a wider audience, and I make a lot more money.

CB: Many traditionally published authors are considering reissuing their earlier books as self-published titles. How did you manage to reacquire the rights to your previously published novels?

MB: I took the rights back through an agreement with the publisher. And I can’t encourage authors enough to reissue their back, and definitely future, titles themselves, as eBooks if nothing else. The business model in publishing has changed, and continues to change, drastically, and we’re witnessing print trade places with digital—print is turning into the sub
right. Not to mention the shelf life of an eBook is forever. They don’t ever have to go out of print.

I haven’t released anything new in years. So if my current books were still traditionally published, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the one getting the profits I’m seeing now.

CB: What was the most challenging aspect of self-publishing for you?

MB: Initially, when I first released The Great Pretender on my own in 2002, I found the stigma of being self-published the most challenging thing. But I didn’t let it discourage me. I believed very strongly in the universal appeal of the story, and that helped me circumvent those obstacles. But the times, they do change. Because now in 2011, the stigma is pretty much gone, and the more pervasive question is, why AREN’T you self-published? LOL

CB: What was the most rewarding aspect of self-publishing?

MB: As I mentioned before—definitely being able to reach a much larger audience at home and abroad. No boundaries.

CB: How and where are you promoting the self-published novels?

MB: In the beginning, I did lots of interviews, radio, print, book tours, giveaways. Now I don’t promote them much at all.

CB: Are your sales about what you expected? Are you satisfied with sales?

MB: No, they’ve actually been exceeding my expectations. I haven’t had a new release since 2006, don’t do much promo, but between the U.S. and foreign editions, they still sell really well.

CB: Which format seems to sell best, paperback or eBook?

MB: Oh, definitely eBooks. I’ve sold thousands since I reissued mine. And with the millions of e-readers out there, and more and more people buying them each month, it’ll be a long time before my digital marketplace is saturated. People are discovering my old books every day. And forever is a pretty long shelf life!

CB: Will you publish your next novel, The Great Mastermind, yourself?

MB: Absolutely. But I think Raindrops On Roses will be coming out first, the first book in my new Favorite Things Trilogy.

CB: What did you learn about self-publishing that you will do differently next time?

MB: When it comes to hiring people, you have to be careful. I learned some very hard lessons in the early days, so going forward, I’ll make sure I go with people willing to take half upfront, half upon completion. That’s my biggest advice in self-publishing: don’t pay in full upfront. Reputable people shouldn’t have a problem with that.

CB: Anything else about self-publishing that you wish to share?

MB: Well, I always believed the traditional publishing model was terrible and favored the interests of the publishing house to a fault. It’s ridiculous that the author basically gives up like 90% of each book sale—FOREVER—for the title of “published author” and the one-time services the publisher provides to put the book on the market. I’m extremely glad to see that is no longer necessary, and traditional publishers are no longer gatekeepers to the marketplace. Writers don’t need them anymore to make a decent living as published authors.

CB: I know you went through a challenging time with your previous traditional publisher. Anything from that experience that you want to share?

MB: Well, I know my father’s published a whole book about everything that went on, but I can share nothing further about that experience. My greatest takeaway is that it pays to have an unlimited audience.
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You can learn more about Millenia and her work on her website and her blog.

If you’re a successful, published author (self- or traditional) and would like to write a guest post for Writer Revealed, I want to hear from you! Your post should be told from a personal perspective and reveal something that you’ve learned about writing and yourself as an author. Send a brief query letter (one or two paragraphs) describing your idea for a guest post to cbriscoe@writerrevealed.com

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie Briscoe May 31, 2011 at 9:07 am

Thanks for a great chat, Millenia. Why do you think your books sell well even with little or no promotion? Is it a loyal following from your traditionally published days? Or do you think it’s related to selling online? Or is it something else?

Reply

Millenia Black May 31, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi Connie!

I definitely have a following from being traditionally published, but I don’t think that accounts for too many sales now since I haven’t released anything new, and the foreign deals happened when I was self-published.

It comes in waves and they sell pretty equally overall, but The Great Pretender definitely leads the charge. Sales of The Great Betrayal spike later, staggered after Pretender. So I think it’s the double life plot of TGP that hooks readers, then they go for the second book.

Reply

Connie Briscoe May 31, 2011 at 11:31 am

I see. I heard that having multiple self-published titles for sale helps. Maybe that’s what’s at work. Good info!

Reply

p baker June 1, 2011 at 8:13 am

Definitely surprising about the sales when you do not even go out and promote very much. If the author gives up 90% for traditional publishing, how much does the author get to keep when you self-publish your book? Thanks for any advice!

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