It Takes Talent: PW Talks with Hybrid Author Jasinda Wilder
The bestselling indie author chatted to us about self-publishing misconceptions and myths, and why she initially considered the traditional route for "about four seconds."In the run-up to tomorrow's London Book Fair, a handful of indie authors closed major deals with Big five publishers. One of those authors is Jasinda Wilder, who inked a seven-figure agreement with Berkley Books for a new trilogy. Wilder -- who is actually the husband-and-wife team of Jack and Jasinda Wilder -- has self-published over 40 novels and, according to her literary agent, has sold more than two million e-books. PW spoke to her about hybrid publishing, and why she initially considered the traditional route for "about four seconds."
When did you start writing? And when did you and your husband start writing together?
I grew up reading my mom’s paperback romances, Jude Devereaux and ladies like that. So eventually it just made sense for me to try my own hand at writing. My husband Jack has been writing fiction for forever, from the time he was a teenager. He wrote mostly science fiction and fantasy, but it wasn’t that much of a stretch for him to switch to more romantic stories. When we decided to try self-publishing, we approached it from the very beginning as a team. We took some of my early work and some of his, combined it, and put it out as a test of the self-pub system. We sold, oh, maybe five copies, one to each of our parents, and one to a random person. But it was a start.
What made you decide to self-publish? Did you consider trying to go the traditional route?
I’d say we thought about the traditional route to publication for about four seconds. We never even got as far as querying. We researched the process, and Jack sold a couple short stories to some magazines—which was the result of months of short story writing and submitting—but that was it. A neighbor first suggested self-publishing, and I spent the next 12 hours in front of my computer, reading every single thing I could find on it—mostly Joe Konrath’s amazing blog. That was it. We talked about it, and self-publishing just seemed like the more feasible option.
How have you been able to capture such a large audience?What really broke us through to being successful was [the series] Big Girls Do It. Those books appealed to thousands and thousands of women who needed to feel like there were books that catered to them, specifically. Women with body image issues, who wanted to feel sexy, who wanted to know that men could find them attractive as full-figured, curvy women. I wrote those books for myself, because I was reading all the popular romance and erotic romance and going, “I don’t identify with these protagonists at all.” So I wrote a book I’d want to read. Turns out, so did thousands of other women.
Why did you seek out a literary agent?
We first approached agents when Wounded hit the USA Today bestseller list, and we started to get queries from foreign publishers. We didn’t do anything with the title, but when Falling Into You blew up and hit #1 on Amazon and #4 on the New York Times, we knew we’d get queries from domestic publishers, and we wanted someone who knew how to talk to those houses. So we contacted Kristin Nelson, because she’s awesome and was highly recommended to us by our friend Hugh Howey.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about self-publishing?
That it’s easy. That it’s a get-rich-quick scheme. That anyone can do it.
It takes talent as a writer, first. You have to be able to tell a story people want to read. Then you’ve got to have a head for business. You aren’t just the writer, as an indie. You’re an entire publishing company, all by your lonesome. You have to watch the sales trends, you have to watch pricing trends, you have to see which character archetypes are hot right now, which sub-genres are booming. You have to be able to hire competent editorial services, cover design, formatters, and you have to pay them all on time. And you also have to be a social media expert, because a huge aspect of indie success is reaching your audience directly. And, hardest of all, you’ve got to balance all that out with having a life, a family, and still find time to write.
This interview has been edited and condensed.