peeps: Cheryl Bradshaw

Wordpreneur Peeps logoIndie author Cheryl BradshawAlthough she started writing at a young age back when she was growing up in Tehachapi, California, bestselling author Cheryl Bradshaw didn’t finish her first novel until two decades later.

But what an entrance. Within six weeks of that book, Black Diamond Death (Book One: Sloane Monroe mystery series), being released in 2011, it made the Top 100 in two of Amazon’s categories and stayed there for over a year.

And she’s stayed busy ever since, adding three more titles to the series, planning to release a fifth soon, plus starting a new paranormal thriller series earlier this year. The awards and recognition have also started to come in: her Stranger in Town earned Shamus Award finalist status recently for best P.I. novel of the year, and the eFestival of Words also made her I Have a Secret a finalist for their best thriller of the year award. Even Twitter users have taken notice, with The Daily Dot naming her one of Twitter’s seven best authors to follow.

Frankly, with my work, projects and writing, my reading-for-pleasure career has been severely compromised, but after sifting through many of her glowing reviews on Amazon, I think I’ll schedule in some Cheryl Bradshaw time. And soon.

How Cheryl Got Started Self-Publishing

Black Diamond Death by Cheryl BradshawGetting a legacy publisher, not surprisingly, was what Cheryl had in mind while she was writing Black Diamond Death. “I submitted several queries,” she says. “This generated some interest, but nothing led to a signed contract.”

Then a writer friend, whose first book was “selling like crazy” on the Kindle, told her to seriously consider going indie and publish the book herself. “I actually laughed,” Cheryl recalls.

But numbers are always difficult to ignore. A few months down the road, her friend shared how many Kindle sales she had for the month. “I stopped laughing and started listening.” In a three-day period, she read everything posted on J.A. Konrath’s blog to get herself familiar with the process, then took the leap.

It was obviously a very good jump.

Self-Publishing Observations and Tips

  • “I wanted to make some ‘indie’ friends, so I started Indie Writers Unite! (IWU) on Facebook, a group where authors could ask questions and get advice from some of the more seasoned indies. The group has now grown to about 2,000 members.”
  • “Although all of my books have done well, I didn’t break out until I published my boxed set, and then overnight I started selling at a whole new level. Reviews that had trickled in started pouring in. I started getting more Twitter/Facebook followers. My books were consistently in the top 100 in their categories. And knowing I made it happen using my own elbow grease was a wonderful feeling.”
  • “Writing is just one part of the process. You need to consistently grow and develop your craft. If your last book was good, make the next one great. I am always learning, growing, improving.”
  • “Writing is a business. Even if you work at home, you can and should set your own hours and keep them. I try to stick to 60/40 on any given day. I write 60% and spend the other 40% answering emails, finding new ways to promote myself, keeping up with what’s new in the industry, etc. Sure, I wish I could write 100% of the time, but that’s not realistic. Self-publishing involves multitasking. You are at the helm. You are the one responsible to grow and further your brand.”
  • “Often I hear new authors say how worried they are about investing in a good promotion because they might not get their money back, meaning they might not sell enough books to make back what they spent initially. I understand that logic, but I feel it’s the wrong way to go about it. Each book you sell has the potential to make that reader a fan for life. Can you really put a price on that?”
  • “Where I see the industry going is a little different than where I’d like it to go. I’d like to see other sites besides Amazon sell consistently and well. I believe it’s possible, though it hasn’t happened yet, not with my books anyway. I see Amazon continuing to further their own brand. I believe they dominate because they listen to authors and have created an environment that is simple and easy for us to publish in. They create opportunities for us to break out, they’ve created their own publishing companies, and they are keeping pace with what’s happening today. In the past year, I’ve seen freebies take authors to new heights and help talented authors get recognized. In the future, I see less freebies and more discounted books making their way up the charts.”
  • “I see a divide coming where some indie authors achieve the success they’ve been striving for while others become discouraged and fall away. The difference will be those that treat it like a business and those who treat it like a hobby. Authors with the greatest chance of success will have: a great book, a captivating cover, solid editing/proofing, and books that look just as professional as a traditionally published novel.”
  • “Whenever I feel frustrated, I think of this quote by Joseph Campbell: ‘Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.’ Believe in yourself and then get out there and make things happen.”

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

Originally published: September 20, 2013