Turns out that Kim had published a couple of short stories on Amazon to wet her feet with the publishing process – with no success. Then, she wrote her novel and published it on Amazon. Two weeks later, she had sold 12,000 copies and reached #11 in the entire Kindle store – without the strength of any platform behind her.
MMJaye has interviewed Kim, who sounds like a lovely person and a dedicated author. I strongly suggest you read the interview in its entirety, but I wanted to focus here on the things Kim did right, so that we can learn from her extraordinary success.
Lesson #1: Write What You Like
Kim wrote the kind of story she was intimately familiar with. As she says in her interview, she loves bad boys and sassy girls and the love/hate dynamic between them, so she wanted to create that kind of story.
Lesson #2: Study the Market for a hot trend
Kim looked at the Amazon top 10 to see what was selling, and saw that stepbrother romances are the hot trend. As she wanted to make writing her full-time business, she discovered a trend that she found really entertaining and that engaged her.
Lesson #3: Read
Once Kim had identified her target market, she sat down to read some of the top books at the time for inspiration. Only then did she set to putting together her own bad boy stepbrother story.
Lesson #4: Find a Good Editor
From the start, Kim’s process included a great editor, who looked at everything from typos and simple proofreading to plot inconsistencies, logic, character consistency and flow. They had a process that put the book through several iterations.
Specifically, the first step was to self-edit the book, in order to get rid of awkward phrasing, inconsistencies, slow points etc.
Then, her editor read through the book quickly, like a reader, and gave her big picture feedback. The book’s slow here, or a guy like Gavin would never do something like this, or whatever.
Once Kim fixed those she agreed with, she passed it back for a more in-depth pass. As she says, this is where it was important to be humble, because her editor was merciless. Whole passages were cut, rewritten, adjusted and added, all in the name of making a better book. Once Kim had responded to those edits, there was a final read-over to make sure nothing got broken in the edit process.
Finally, she sent the book out to a handful of beta readers who read the book and gave their own feedback. Once she had responded to those, the book was ready for ARCs and publishing.
Lesson #5: Be Fast
An interesting aspect of Kim’s process has to do with her remarkable speed: only 3 months to write the book! This was in part because she could condense the time spent collaborating with her editor. Essentially, she wrote the book while it was being edited.
Kim did all her writing in Google Docs, and then she just shared the document with the editor, giving her commenting rights. Kim had split the book into smaller parts, so as soon as the editor was done with a part, Kim could jump on that one while the editor started the next. That made corrections almost instantaneous.
Lesson #6: Write a Blurb with a Good Hook
The tagline for Rebel is simple: “I married my stepbrother.” As MMJaye puts it, absurdly illicit, yet tempting. Given the market for stepbrother/stepsister romance, who can argue with that?
Lesson #7: Low Price Sells
When I first looked at Kim’s book, it was priced at only 99c. I now see that her book is priced at $2.99. I believe that keeping the price within this range has been instrumental in her success.
Lesson #8: Self Publish
Hot trends like the stepbrother one come and go quickly enough that by the time a traditional publisher is ready to publish a book, the trend has passed. They work with horizons of months to years, while she worked with a horizon of a few months, if not weeks. That is why there are no traditionally published stepbrother romances out there.
I hope the above has been inspirational for all of you wishing to mimic Kim’s success. If you want to check out her book, here is the Amazon link! If you want to read her her interview, visit MMJaye’s blog.