peeps: Ripley Patton

Ripley PattonRipley Patton lives in Portland, Oregon with one cat, two teenagers, and a man who wants to live on a boat. She and her family, who lived in New Zealand for five years, are survivors of the 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes.

Her short fiction has been nominated numerous times for various awards, and in 2009 Ripley won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story. She is the author of Ghost Hand, a young adult paranormal thriller and the first of a planned three book series.

How Ripley Got Started Self-Publishing

B00AF1CM0A Ghost Hand by Ripley PattonFor four years, Ripley wrote and published short stories. A New York City literary agent noticed her work and asked if she had anything longer. She didn’t. Not yet anyway. But that got her started writing her first novel. She loved to read young adult fiction, so choosing that genre for her writing was a natural.

Despite a move to New Zealand and back (and the two earthquakes she and her family survived while there), she had a finished, polished novel in hand when she got back to the U.S. in 2011. The agent who had contacted her initially, however, was no longer in the business unfortunately. Or fortunately, perhaps.

Although she had started to send her manuscript to agents and publishers, as she researched the changing landscape of the publishing industry and marketplace, she grew increasingly less convinced that the traditional route was the right path for her. But she also concluded that if she were going to self-publish, she had to do it right. “I wanted to be able to produce a quality product that could compete with the best traditional publishing had to offer,” she says. “For that, I wanted a professional cover design, a professional edit and copy edit, and professional formatting, none of which I knew how to do or could afford.”

Her solution? The Internet. “I decided to tap into my existing short story fan base and use Kickstarter to raise the money to publish my novel. In just thirty days, I had raised 110% of my funding goal.”

She released Ghost Hand in November 2012, the first of a series of three books she calls The PSS Chronicles. She plans to release the second book, Ghost Hold, in September 2013.

Self-Publishing Observations and Tips

  • “It is true that you can publish a book without any money, but I don’t recommend it unless you have ALL the skills required or are willing to learn them before you publish.”
  • “The other option is to invest your own funds up front to hire professionals, or raise the funds yourself. For me, Kickstarter ended up being a valuable Indie Boot Camp, teaching me how to prep and market my novel before it was even published, and I’ve written a series of blog posts on my website all about it.”
  • “Promotion is as important to learn as the craft of writing, if you want to sell books. If you aren’t promoting almost as much as you’re writing, you aren’t doing it right.”
  • “I have many traditionally published writing friends, and the majority of Indie and self-published writers I know are much happier than those who are still getting low royalties and little support from their publishers.”
  • “It is actually incredibly fun and empowering to be in charge of every aspect of your book’s publication. I wouldn’t trade that personal control over my own fate for the world.”
  • “There is no failure in self-publishing. If something doesn’t work, you learn from it, and tweak it, and move forward, but you are always making progress. The only way to fail is to give up.”

Learn more about Ripley and her work by visiting her Amazon author page and her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Article by Eldon Sarte