peeps: CJ Lyons

Indie author CJ LyonsWordpreneur Peeps logoCJ Lyons is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of eighteen novels. Her “Thrillers with Heart” crime fiction books have proven very popular, and maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising considering what she brings to the table: CJ is a former pediatric ER doctor and has literally “lived the life she writes about.” Or, as her website officially puts it:

“CJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge. Trained in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, CJ has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.”


Now she’s a hell of a story-teller. She’s been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

One more thing we can call her today: self-publisher.

How CJ Got Started Self-Publishing

Kill Zone by CJ LyonsAfter CJ’s second book came out in 2009, her fans clamored for more. Although she already had several manuscripts in the editing and production pipeline, her publisher was only releasing them once a year. “When I heard about Kindle’s self publishing option,” she remembers, “I thought it was a great win/win: an easy way for me to get books into the hands of my readers faster and keep them happy until my next NYC book came out.”

She used her self-published books as giveaways to help promote her traditionally published books. She also used to them to help raise money for charity and to build a readership.

Then something clicked. “I soon realized that this was a valuable income stream and within a year I was making a living wage solely from my self-published books.”

Self-Publishing Tips

“It’s amazingly quick and easy to publish a book nowadays. But I caution you. Don’t. At least not right away. If you’re thinking of publishing and building a career as a writer, you need a clear vision beyond one book.

What’s your next book going to be about? How about the one after that? Are you reaching out to the same readers (business folks call this building your platform)? How are you going to keep them coming back for more? What about your books will so delight and excite them that they’ll tell their friends about them?

Who are you recruiting to be on your team? An agent? A traditional publisher? If you’re going indy it might be a group of editors (I use three on every book) and graphic designers, maybe formatters and web gurus.

Yes, that first draft is for you, you, you. But as soon as you decide to publish it, you’re making the leap from artist to businessperson. Your focus must switch from being all about you to being all about your readers. Look before you leap and grab a parachute while you’re at it!”

Got all that? Especially that “three editors” bit? Talk about food for thought… Thanks CJ!

Learn more about CJ Lyons and her work by visiting her Amazon author page, and checking out her websites CJ Lyons and Thrillers with Heart. You can also learn everything she knows about being a bestseller and selling a million books at No Rules Just WRITE!

Originally published: February 7, 2013