peeps: Ingrid Ricks
A Seattle-based journalist — maybe you’ve seen her essays and stories in Salon, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Advocate and other publications — Ingrid Ricks is also a teen mentor, leveraging digital publishing to help give at-risk teens a voice, recently co-launching We Are Absolutely Not Okay, a nationally recognized mentoring/publishing program that helps at-risk teens find their voice by writing and publishing their personal stories. She also happens to be the author of Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story, winner of the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of Independent Book Award in General Non-Fiction, which she uses as a teaching guide in her mentoring.
On top of Hippie Boy, she is also the author of Focus, a memoir about her journey with the blinding eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa, and A Little Book of Mormon (and Not So Mormon) Stories, a collection of short stories.
How Ingrid Got Started Self-Publishing
Soon after finishing Hippie Boy in the summer of 2010, Ingrid had no plans of deviating from the traditional publishing route and immediately found herself an agent. But just as quickly, a mere two minutes into her “I want to represent you” phone call, her agent said that before she could pitch Hippie Boy to publishers, Ingrid first needed to build an author platform and show that she already had a bunch of people lining up to buy her book. So Ingrid started pounding away at establishing that. After ten months at it, she realized that she “didn’t want to wait through the process of finding a publisher and negotiating a contract, and then wait another year or two for the book to launch.” So, she dropped the agent; hired an editor, proofreader and cover designer; and on her own, published Hippie Boy in October 2011.
“Amazon’s KDP Select Program helped me generate exposure early on,” she says, “and the success of Hippie Boy motivated me to write and publish two other books in 2012 — and to publish a teen story anthology.”
Ingrid’s advice to self-publishers is simple and very straightforward:
“I’m sure I echo what others have said: Make sure your book is the best it can be before you publish it. Write the best book you can write, get it professionally edited, hire a great cover designer and make sure your ebook is formatted correctly.
It’s hard to undo damage done by nasty reviews that focus on poor-quality writing, typos and sloppy ebook formatting. And without a great cover design, it’s hard to attract attention at all.”