peeps: Tara West
Tara West — best-selling author of the YA paranormal Whispers Series: Sophie’s Secret, Don’t Tell Mother, Krysta’s Curse and Visions of the Witch — is a former high school teacher in Texas who also coached the school’s writing team and ran its publications. She took a break to raise her baby girl, but doing well as a novelist and part-time graphic designer (she specializes in book covers and has done over 500 of them professionally to date) does tend to get in the way of getting back to a regular day job.
How Tara Got Started Self-Publishing
The catalyst was simple and not all that uncommon for the times: Tara’s then-publisher did away with their YA line, and Tara’s Whispers paranormal series was suddenly without a home. “I honestly thought my poor books would fade into obscurity,” Tara remembers.
It was right about then, however, that Amazon introduced its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. A few of her friends had some success with it, so Tara figured she’d give it a try.
She got back the rights to her books and proceeded to put them out on the Kindle and other ebook markets. Very good move. “Within a few months, I was actually making enough money on my three book series to pay the mortgage and buy groceries,” she says. “It was exciting.”
She has since released the fourth book in the series and is now putting the finishing touches on the fifth. She also started a new YA fantasy saga, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that she decided to forego a traditional publisher for that one and pump it out herself as well. “It was a relief not to have to bother with querying dozens of agents and editors for this go-around.”
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “I see a few positives and a few negatives with indie publishing. First, I think it’s great that indies like me are given a second chance at publishing. I also feel there are several indie authors out there with terrific books that were passed over by publishing houses because the publisher didn’t see the potential in the books. I’ve seen manuscripts that have received countless rejections thrive in the indie market.”
- “I’ve also seen a few published indie books that were riddled with typos, plot issues, lacking character development, etc. Sometimes readers think these books reflect every indie published novel, and that’s just not true. I hope that these readers preview the book samples and give the rest of us self-published authors another chance.”
- “Of course, there will always be those indies who somehow skyrocket to the top of the charts with one book. For the rest of us, we’ve got to put out several books before they begin to sell.”
- “The market can sometimes be fickle, but, as indies, we have the advantage. We don’t have to wait two years or more to publish ‘the next big thing.’ We can adapt to the market much faster than traditionally published authors.”
- “I think in the future, more and more traditionally published authors will see this, in addition to the fact that we get to keep more of our royalties by removing the middlemen. I expect to see many more authors decide to take the indie publishing route.”