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Be My Guest: LJ Sellers

It’s great to be back on Blood-Red Pencil as a guest. For the last year as a full-time novelist, I’ve been focused on writing, publishing, and promoting. When my fiction readers started commenting about how much they enjoyed my blog and my nonfiction articles, I took notice and added a few ideas to my to-do list.

After mulling it around, I decided to combine the best of my nonfiction—including all the blogs I wrote about my journey to become a full-time novelist—into a book. I thought my readers would enjoy getting to know more about me, and authors would find the writing, editing, and promotion advice helpful and inspiring. Most of the blogs I wrote for this site while I was a member were included as well.

The title was easy. I named the book after my blog and personal motto, Write First, Clean Later. I adopted the slogan in early 2008 when I was laid off my editing job with an educational publisher. Since then, I’ve penned five novels and published eight, in addition to writing hundreds of blogs and newspaper articles.

In August—after the release of a futuristic thriller—I decided to take the non-fiction project off the back burner and make it happen. I sorted my best blogs and articles into chapters, pulled them into a Word document with a few photos, then updated and edited the 52,000 words. As with my novels, I sent the file to a formatter to create an e-book, and I contracted with a graphic designer to create a cover. I also uploaded a file to CreateSpace to make the book available in print.

I’m happy to report that this last year has been incredible for me, and I feel fortunate to be able to make a living from my fiction. I believe the rapid, transformational changes in the publishing industry will benefit many other writers as well. Publishing your own work is now easy, accessible, and inexpensive. The challenge is still in finding an audience, but social networking has made that attainable and fun too.

I may not be Amanda Hocking, but I have sold enough e-books in the last year to support my household, and I accumulated a mountain of information along the way. I share all of it in Write First, Clean Later, which sells for only $2.99 as an e-book, or $12.99 in print. The book is available from most retailers, and you can also buy it from my website in digital or print format.

The hardest thing about publishing this book was deciding which category to list it under. Self-help? Humor? Memoir? I considered all of those and settled on Literary Collections as the most accurate, but there’s plenty of humor and advice in the pages as well. The best part of self-publishing is that if the category doesn’t work, I can go in and change it anytime.

Thanks for having me back here. I wish you all the best in your writing and publishing endeavors. And remember the best advice of all: Write First, Clean Later.

L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist and the author of the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/suspense series: The Sex Club, Secrets to Die For, Thrilled to Death, Passions of the Dead, and Dying for Justice. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and Spinetingler magazines, and the series has been on Amazon Kindle’s bestselling police procedural list. L.J. also has three standalone thrillers: The Baby Thief, The Suicide Effect, and The Arranger. When not plotting murders, she enjoys performing standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.
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  1. Congratulations, LJ. Another book to buy! I'm loving all those Nook downloads and I'm guessing I buy six $2.99 indie books for every one e-book that had a traditionally published print book first. Funny how that works. Authors, the more info and buy links you give me, the more I buy. Keep it out there. :)

  2. Thanks for hosting me. For the record, I added the category of Self-Help/Success to my book's metadata. I think authors will find it inspirational.

  3. Wow, LJ: You've been supporting your household? Even if that's only you and a cat--congratulations! You are indeed living the dream, although I don't even think I could type fast enough to finish that many books in that short a time, lol. I'll have to check out your book.

  4. Thanks for telling us a bit about your journey and this new book, LJ. Your hard work, dedication, perseverance and creativity -- and your well-deserved success -- are an inspiration to all indie writers!

    I really enjoy your Detective Jackson series and loved your latest futuristic thriller, The Arranger. I'll definitely buy this nonfiction collection of articles on my Kindle - great price, too! I'm sure there will be lots of great info in it that I can pass on to my author clients.

  5. I second Kathryn's comment ... I just had a book pulled from print because it wasn't supporting the listing costs!

  6. I've enjoyed your books, L.J. and will definitely get this one. What you have written here, and on your own blog, has been so helpful to writers, so I am sure the book will be one every writer should have.

  7. I know other authors who self-publish and make good money each month... more all the time. It's very encouraging and I especially love it when they share their methods so others can succeed. The key is writing and publishing at least one book a year. Also, being able to market well withing a limited time-frame every day. That takes some organizing.

  8. LJ, you are one of the amazing success stories. And I've read your books, so I know you deserve all of that success. I plan to go download this latest book.

    I'm so excited for you and hope you continue to rise in success.

  9. Thanks, everyone, for your supportive comments. As Joe Konrath always says, part of every successful author's journey is a little bit of luck. My series got picked up by Amazon's algorithms for a while and the extra exposure put me on the bestseller list. Of course, the algorithms eventually dump you, but my readers stayed faithful. :)

  10. I'm definitely putting that on my "to read" list. What a timely post for me! Thanks for the information LJ.

  11. Congratulations, LJ! I love the title. Something I always need to keep in mind when getting that first draft down! Do the editing last, or perhaps you meant, do the housecleaning last. Either way works for me.

    Morgan Mandel

  12. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work.


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