Monday, May 16, 2011

2010—It Wasn’t A Bad Year After All

My guest is suspense author, Lexi Revellian. She hails from London, UK. By day, she creates physical works for the senses as a jeweller, but by night she creates and altogether different pieces for the senses as an author.

So many writers both established traditional and those who aren’t have chosen to self-publish their work. Any author who goes that route will tell you there is an enormous amount of work involved in self-publishing their work. There are also huge rewards. They’re in business for themselves and as such they are content and copy editor, cover artist, marketing/Promotion departments, and publisher. Some don’t have the skill set to do it all and utilize professionals to assist them. There are those who are successful and those who aren’t.

Lexi shares a bit about her journey as an author and what she's learned along the way.

2010 did not start well. Two agents had been reading the full typescript of my novel, Remix, over Christmas, and both turned it down in the New Year with expressions of regret. Then, cycling home from my jewellery workshop in icy darkness, my bike slipped on a speed cushion (bump) and I smacked into the granite double kerb – twelve stitches to my face and a broken shoulder; and believe me, the humerus is not a bone to break lightly. My own stupid fault. What was I thinking, biking in that weather?

But looking back, 2010 was a breakthrough year for me, one of my best.

In June 2009 I’d given myself a year to find an agent; if that failed, I’d self-publish. I really didn’t think I’d have to, though; Remix was my third book, and I knew it was good. A lot of people had read and liked it on various writer sites. Good heavens, even my hypercritical daughter liked it! Four agents expressed interest – two of them actually approached me. But the year sped by, the rejections piled up; it was time to call my own bluff.

Meanwhile, unable to cycle or drive, I walked between home and workshop. It’s not possible to think on a bike – you’re too busy concentrating on the traffic, but walking is different. On those long walks I brooded about how my broken bone had diverted, I hoped briefly, the course of my life; I noticed all the useful stuff Londoners throw out; and I trespassed inside an unfinished, abandoned and vandalized block of flats on my way home. I idly wondered what it would be like to walk those bitterly cold streets without a home to go to, with no money, and maybe someone hunting you. The idea for my next book began to take shape.

Back to Remix. Those of you who have self-published will know it’s a vertiginous learning curve, and you ricochet between triumph and despair. I did everything myself – proofreading, typography, formatting for Smashwords and Kindle, cover design and marketing, though I am the worst saleswoman in the world. Out of consideration for American readers, I changed the speech marks from single to double, which meant checking every single apostrophe after the switch. The whole thing took time and energy. But, like running your own business or being a single mother, the upside of doing it all yourself is that any credit going is yours alone.

August 9th 2010: Remix appeared on Smashwords and Amazon. I sold a handful of paperbacks, and nine ebooks that month. The first three weeks of September’s sales were worse. I felt pretty depressed; this was my last shot, and I’d missed the target; failure stared me in the face, and I don’t like failure.

Then I remembered Eric Christophersen, an American writer friend who’d been very successful with his ebook, Crack-Up. I came up with a cunning plan – I’d interview Eric on my blog, and discover the secrets of his success! Eric is a nice chap, as well as a good writer (he is now represented by a top NY agent) and he agreed. When asked why he charged so little for his novel, he said,

  • “Lexi, I would recommend a cheap price at least initially. You'll want a nice bunch of reviews to help attract more readers (assuming the reviews are mostly positive), and yet only one reader in a hundred will leave a review – at best.”
I took his advice and dropped my price. In October I sold 705 books, in November 1,559, December 4,278, and January, my best month, 5,940. Even though sales tailed off a little after that, I’ve now sold over 20,000 copies of Remix.

Replica, a thriller/romance:

Beth Chandler works in a government research institute, and is accidentally replicated in a flawed experiment. The replica has no official existence, and when she overhears plans to liquidate her, goes on the run. Homeless, penniless and pursued by MI5, she has to learn how to survive on icy London streets. Meanwhile, the original Beth, unaware of what has happened, becomes romantically involved with Nick Cavanagh, the spec op she believes is there to protect her. In fact, he’s hunting her double. Excerpt

Buy: Amazon: US and UK, Smashwords

As I write, both books are in the UK Kindle top 100, Replica sold 2,500 copies in its first month, and a Hungarian publisher will be bringing out a Hungarian version of Remix, hardbacks, paperbacks and ebook, in 2012.

That’s what I call a good year.


For years, I resisted writing because I knew I'd never be as good as Jane Austen. Finally I realized no one is as good as Jane Austen - I started writing and couldn't stop.

My first two books are non-typical fantasy. My third, REMIX, is contemporary fiction with elements of crime, investigation and romance, and tells what happens when Caz Tallis finds a strange man asleep on her roof terrace. He turns out to be - no, I'm not telling you, you'll have to read it to find out...

My day job is designing and making jewelry and silver under my real name, Lexi Dick. I've made pieces for Margaret Thatcher, 10 Downing Street and Her Majesty the Queen.

My website is; here you can read extracts from my books and entire short stories. There is also a link to my writing blog.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Lexi, welcome to Over Coffee! I'm so glad you are able to visit with us.

I have plenty of coffee and tea, so help yourself to that and one of the fresh scones.

I enjoyed reading your story on your road to being a published author and how you've navigated promotion and sales. You've done a good job.

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi, Lexi! Good morning, Sia! Lexi I'm super interested in how you broke into the UK market? My debut Indie published novel, Carpe Bead 'em was released on Friday. I'm in shock and awe over how many have sold in the past three days. Over 50, which I hesitate to type b/c I don't want to jinx it....or give any bad ju-ju;)

I'm going to get your book right now!!

Elle J Rossi said...

Sia, I need a warmer please!

Lexi, congratulations on, well, everything. From coming up with a plan to the follow through. More and more I hear about self-publishing and more and more I am intrigued.

Best of luck to you and may the walk that inspired you lead to a best seller.

Jo said...

I would imagine self publishing would necessitate having some money - at least you had your jewellery income to finance your self publishing. Not so easy for others. I wish you lots of luck and don't fall of your bicycle any more.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lexi, I'm reading and and enjoying Replica. You certainly know how to draw a reader right into the story!

Kat Sheridan said...

Shiny things! Shiny things! No, wait, BOOKS! And shiny things! Ok, sorry but Sia will tell you what a gem-junkie I am. The books sound wonderful and I loved hearing how you challenged yourself to succeed, and did it! Best of continuing luck to you!

Lexi said...

Thanks for having me on your lovely blog, Sia, and for reading Replica.

Tonya, for me the UK market was the easy one - it's the US I'm still hoping to crack. I would recommend visiting the UK Amazon forums, where if you don't overdo it, you can pick up readers. KUF is worth joining, too.

Thanks, Elle - right now is a golden era in self-publishing. Writers are so lucky to have this opportunity.

Jo, the beauty of writing is that you can fit it around the day job. Having said that, I'm lucky that my daughter is now twenty-one so I have more time to myself. I will never cycle in icy weather again, that's for sure :o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lexie. Very interesting to hear about your decision process in deciding to self-publish after shopping your book through agents. Congrats on selling 20K copies and best of luck with your writing.

Lexi said...

James, I'm still open to mainstream publishing if the contract is right. I've recently approached the two agents who, after reading Remix, said they'd like to see my next book. I'm interested to see what they say now I've proved there is a readership for my writing. But I'm not holding my breath...