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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Debra Holland sold 17K books in 4 months!

Hello Fellow Writers!

If you're even thinking about self-publishing, you need to read this. Amazon bestseller and self-published romance author Debra Holland sold 17,000 books in the past four months. Yes, 17K. I interviewed her to find out as much as I could about how exactly she did that!

Shoshanna: Thanks for being here! Can you walk us through how that happened?

Debra: I can give it a try. I have some ideas, but a lot of it seems like plain good luck. :)
Much of my books’ success stems from hitting two niche markets--sweet and Western. There are lots of readers out there looking for romances that are traditional. They either don’t want sexy books, or they like to read both sexy and sweet.

Western romance fans tend to pounce on a Western because they don’t get many of them. The historical Western market is particularly scarce.

Did it start slow and build or were you immediately selling well?

It started slow and built, sort of like a jagged slope. I’d be at a level, then start selling a little more, stay at about that level, then bump up a bit, level out for a week or so, then go higher.

What seemed to make a difference was 5 star reviews. For each one, my sales bumped up a bit. Although, once I got to ten 5 star reviews, it didn’t seem to make a difference any more.

The other thing that helped was making Amazon top 100 lists. That happened to Wild Montana Sky at about six weeks and Starry Montana Sky at about two months. The books have been climbing the lists ever since.

What sort of marketing did you do?

I’m doing very little. Mostly I’ve written some personal blogs--about eight, and some guest blogs--also about eight. Not too much for four months.

I’m trying to encourage other writers to consider self-publishing. Ever since I started having success, I’ve been beating the self-publishing drum. I love helping others succeed. For that reason, I’m blogging very honestly about what’s happening with my self-publishing career, including exact sales and money. Those blog links seemed to get passed along a lot. :)

My success isn’t the norm for everyone. Many self-published authors start out far slower. But remember, sales can build over years. Think long term.

I know I should do more. I’m not even on Goodreads yet. That on my to-do list. I need to submit the books to book reviewers. Also on my to-do list. But I’ve trying to use my spare time to write. I think putting out new books are the best ways to promote!

What price points are you selling your books at, and how did you decide to sell at that price point?

I’m selling Wild Montana Sky at .99 and Starry Montana Sky at 2.99. I chose .99 for the first book because I’m an unknown author, and I think readers are willing to risk trying me when the price is a bargain. I’ve done the same thing for the first book in my newly published Fantasy Romance series. Sower of Dreams is .99 and Reaper of Dreams is 2.99.

Your covers are beautiful. Who is your designer? 

My friend, Delle Jacobs did the Western covers. I chose a different designer, Lex Valentine, for my fantasy romances because I wanted a different look. I think all four covers are wonderful, and I’m very happy with them. Doing your own covers are definitely a benefit to self-publishing!

Do you have plans for future books?

I’m writing the third book in the Western series, Stormy Montana Sky, and I have two more books after that. I’m hoping to have Stormy out in November. I’m also working on the third book in the Fantasy Romance trilogy, Harvest the Dreams. If I can stay on track, I’m hoping to have it out in January.

Do you have any suggestions for writers looking to self-publish?

Learn the craft. Write a great book. Get it professionally edited. Study the market. Have FUN!

With the tragic death of her fiancĂ©, Elizabeth Hamilton believed she’d never love again. The comfortable life she’s settled into with her brother in Boston is upset when he abruptly marries. Displaced by her spiteful new sister-in-law, and hoping to find a home for herself, Elizabeth allows handsome cowboy Nick Sanders to escort her from Boston to her friend’s Montana ranch.

In Montana, Elizabeth meets attractive Caleb Livingston, a wealthy banker who strongly resembles her beloved fiancĂ©, and believes she has a second chance at love. Yet, she has to fight a growing attraction to Nick. In braving the dangers and hardships of the West, Elizabeth discovers unexpected strengths within herself--strengths tested when an influenza epidemic ravages the town. As a child’s life hangs in the balance, Elizabeth must choose between the man who has everything, and the one with nothing but his heart to offer.

Buy Links:
Wild Montana Sky Amazon: http://amzn.com/B004YKZCD2
Starry Montana Sky Amazon: http://amzn.com/B004YL2RNO



  1. really valuable information and insight! Thanks so much to the both of you for this post!

  2. Thank you Shoshanna and Debra. I read every word of this. Congrats on the huge volume of sales Debra. Finding that niche market was brilliant. There's so much discussion about the work that goes into self publishing but if definitely seems a viable option. Best for all your books...



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