peeps: Bette Lee Crosby
Bette Lee Crosby studied art and set out on a packaging designer career. One day, she was asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package. Bette Lee “discovered a love for words that was irrepressible.” So, she added business writing to her list of duties. A few years later, she decided to focus completely on writing fiction.
Good move? Now she’s an award-winning and USA Today bestselling novelist. What do you think?
Her first award came in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award, then followed by a whole bunch more, most recently getting five Florida Publishers Association President’s Book Awards (including three silver and two gold medals), for her stories that blend humor, mystery, romance and quirky characters.
Her latest book is Jubilee’s Journey, the sequel to her USA Today bestseller Spare Change, and in its first week, it was a #1 Amazon Hot New Release. I think it safe to say that Bette Lee finally found her calling. “Storytelling is in my blood,” she says. “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.” Yay mom!
How Bette Lee Got Started Self-Publishing
Bette Lee started out like everyone else, trying to get a traditional deal. After five years and near misses with two of the big houses, she signed on with a small press. It was disastrous — “The marketing was non-existent and the pricing way too high.” This was before Amazon sparked the ebook boom, so needless to say, Bette Lee had no say in her book’s pricing and marketing.
Then… spark! With her husband as partner, Bette Lee established Bent Pine Publishing, spending its first year learning as much as they could about the business, working up to their first big book launch in September 2012 when Spare Change hit the market.
They tried KDP Select free promotions. “The goal for that Amazon Select promotion was not to simply sell books, it was to create awareness.” Awareness accomplished, 40,000 first month downloads later. Internationally too. Her books are now selling worldwide; she even has a fan club with international members.
“The key is word-of-mouth referrals. Give readers characters they love and a story they actually care about, and they will happily spread the word.” Considering that one of her latest books, What Matters Most, hit Amazon’s Top 100 in its very first week, maybe there’s a better than even chance the lady knows what she’s talking about, hmm?
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “Before you become a published author, become a really good author. Don’t just bang out a couple hundred pages and upload them to Amazon; instead make sure that book is the absolute best you can do.”
- “Learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do.”
- “Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble onto that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice, it will ring loud and true with believability.”
- “Becoming a self-published author is easy; making it a successful business is not.”
- “Dig down into your heart and give your readers everything you’ve got. Give them truth, passion and characters who are not easily forgotten. They in turn will give you loyalty, the kind of loyalty that will carry your book to heights you never dreamed possible.”
- “It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, before you hit that publish button, make sure you are ready.”
Article by Eldon Sarte