peeps: Deborah Cooke
In 1992, Deborah Cooke sold her first book, The Romance of the Rose, under her pen name, Claire Delacroix. More than fifty
romance novels and a bunch of novellas in various genres later, she piled up numerous best-sellers, nominations and awards for her work, including the Orange County RWA Book Buyer’s Best and the Colorado RWA’s Award of Excellence. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time it hosted a residency focused on the romance genre. And she was honored with the Romance Writers of America PRO Mentor of the Year Award in 2012.
Very busy? Seems like it. Besides Delacroix and her real name, she also publishes work under another pen name, Claire Cross. She has done historical romance, time travel romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and paranormal YA. So far.
And now she has added indie publishing to that impressive resume.
How Deborah Got Started Self-Publishing
She first met author Julie Ortolon back when they were both with Dell Publishing in the late 90s, and after not seeing each other for ages, they reconnected at the RWA National convention. “[Julie] was very excited about indie publishing and new opportunities for authors,” Deborah remembers, “and her enthusiasm was infectious.”
Just a few years prior, the rights to some of Deborah’s backlist reverted back to her, and her then-publisher had no interest in acquiring them. So, encouraged by Julie’s enthusiasm, Deborah started publishing them herself. After 17 novels, 2 short stories and 4 boxed sets of that, she felt it was time to take the next step: publish new work.
Liberating. Deborah quickly realized that on her own, she could do anything she felt like doing. “I’d wanted to continue my medieval romance series set at Kinfairlie for years but had been unable to find a publisher for it. I published The Renegade’s Heart by Claire Delacroix last spring, my first original indie title and my first medieval since 2005. The next book in that series, The Highlander’s Curse, will be published in April.”
Her eighth Dragonfire paranormal romance was also published in October of last year by Signet, and she’s decided to continue that series on her own as well.
And she now also has the freedom to try different things. “One of the reasons I enjoy publishing this way is that there’s latitude to play,” she says. “I like to write novellas and short stories linked to my ongoing series, for example, which are difficult formats to accommodate in traditional publishing. Last month I published Kiss of Danger by Deborah Cooke. This is the first of three linked novellas which together will be Dragonfire #9 — they’ll be published monthly, then ultimately compiled into an anthology.”
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “One of the most fascinating things about indie publishing is that it’s constantly changing. It’s so fluid, because the various portals can change their algorithms at any time, without notice or explanation. Because of that, indie authors must be constantly evaluating and experimenting. On the upside, it’s a market filled with opportunity.”
- “This year, I think the portals will be competing for audience in non-US English territories (Australia, Canada, the UK, even Germany). Since I have always sold well in those markets, I’m pretty excited about the future.”
- “We’re also going to see more diversity in the market due to the growth of portals other than Amazon. I like that consumers will have choices, but that certainly means that there will be more changes in how digital books are sold.”
- “The market is increasingly competitive, because there are just so many titles available — the bar gets higher every day. Authors need to ensure that their product is polished and professional — you can’t be afraid to hire the expertise that you need. Discoverability is always a problem in a crowded market, and that’s amplified for authors just entering the market. I think we’re going to see some interesting and innovative kinds of self-promotion in the next few years.”