Friday, January 6, 2012

The Stand Alone World of Indie Publishing with Guest Blogger: Phyllis A. Humphrey

Welcome Book Boost featured author
Phyllis Humphrey to the blog!

She's here to discuss her journey into the world of Indie Publishing and here's what she had to say...

I’ve joined the Indie Publishing revolution and am very excited about it. In fact I have put three books up on Amazon within the past month from my back list and have sold five copies already.

Of course, most of my books (but not these three) have been available as e-books from their various publishers for a few years, and usually my royalty statements show more e-book sales than trade paper. But this time I’ve done it myself. Well, hubby did it actually, but I’m technologically illiterate, dontcha know.

The newly-sold e-books are North By Northeast and The Green Bough, both for $2.99, and Once More With Feeling, which I priced at 99 cents to see what would happen. Didn’t I read that some guy sold a million copies of his 99-cent book? Plus the local newspaper book page listed two 99-cent books on their best seller list recently. And they were not by famous writers like Stephen King or Sue Grafton.

Once More With Feeling is the second romance novel I wrote, way back in the early 1980's and was published by Kensington for their short-lived Precious Gems line in the 90's. I set it in San Francisco, where I was living at the time. Two of the characters in the book are 85-year-old twin aunts of the hero, and on two different occasions I was told by readers that they knew those ladies and wondered how I came to know them. The truth was I didn’t. I thought I had invented them. Small world, isn’t it?

Because my hubby did it for me, I can’t boast about how easy it is to self-publish like this, although many other authors have said so. However, reading the blogs of Anne R. Allen, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and J.A. Konrath convinced me this is the wave of the future and I hope to be there.

Besides, I have my own horror stories about publishers who literally held my books for years--one for 26 months and another for 35 months--before returning them. Another published my book but went out of business before paying me. Still another wanted the rights for the life of the copyright. (That’s the life of the author, plus seventy years!) I didn’t sign with them: I may be technically challenged, but I’m not stupid.

I also rejected a contract that offered me a “generous” ten percent discount on any of my own books I might buy. And one which charged writers $35 to enter their annual contest, the winner of which might be published. One publisher--a woman--claimed to be suddenly hospitalized and asked her authors to please buy a bunch of books so she could pay that month’s bills. (I fell for that one; found out later she did it every year.) One male publisher wanted to put his name on my book as co-author. Oh no, that was an agent. But my agent stories will have to wait for another day and another blog.

At any rate, whatever happens, I’ve decided I can’t do any worse, and may do better in Indie-land. Stay tuned.

A Note from the Book Boost: Phyllis, your blog was like a breath of fresh air! I love your "can do" attitude. Tech savvy or not you're making strides toward accomplishing your dreams even after all the hurdles you've endured along the way. Good for you! Please tell us more about your latest.


Fresh from three years in America, Englishwoman Elizabeth Shallcross has big plans for her future, and they do not include remaining in England as a lowly governess. She agrees, however, to one last obligation. She must accompany Richard Graham, an American widower, and care for his little girl on a luxurious voyage to America.

Their ship? The Titanic. On the fateful trip, two men vie for her attention. But when the ship strikes an iceberg, who will survive?

Excerpt (edited for length):

“If I’m not being too bold, may I ask if I may assist you further? You seemed to be searching for someone in this crowd. Perhaps I could find a safer place for you to wait?”

Since he was obviously a gentleman, she had no qualms about telling him the circumstances.

“You’re right. I am waiting for someone--Lord and Lady Wheatly--with whom I’ve just returned from America.”

He gave a broad grin. “What a coincidence. I came here today to meet them myself. Are you a relative of the Wheatlys?”

“No.” She decided quickly that explaining her position would be awkward as well as unnecessary and said no more.

“Forgive me.” He touched the brim of his hat. “I should have introduced myself at once. My name is Richard Graham.”

“Elizabeth Shallcross.”

He took her gloved hand in his. “What a delightful coincidence. Since you are a friend of Lady Wheatly, I expect we shall see a great deal of one another in future. I shall look forward to it.”

His smile and the length of time he held her hand in his could mean only one thing. He was flirting with her, obviously wanting to become better acquainted. She’d had admiring glances before and suspected he might, as other men she’d met recently had done, attempt to pursue a closer relationship. His next words confirmed her opinion.

“You say you were with the Wheatlys in America?”

“Yes, I was.”

“I understand the Bennetts are planning a welcome-home party for them. No doubt you will be attending.” Without giving her time to answer, he went on. “If no one is escorting you to the soiree, may I offer my services in that regard?”

Elizabeth felt her cheeks warm. How marvelous it would be to attend such a party, and in Graham’s company at that. But the acceptance she framed in her mind never became spoken words.

An imposing voice--which she recognized at once as belonging to Lord Wheatly--broke the little tete-a-tete and Mr. Graham released Elizabeth’s hand.

“Richard, my boy,” Wheatly said to her companion, “how good of you to come to meet us.”

Almost at once, Lady Wheatly appeared behind her husband, both hands occupied holding onto those of her two children. And behind her, a uniformed steward pushed a heavy-duty cart laden with steamer trunks, boxes and leather bags.

Richard Graham bowed again. “Lady Wheatly. Sir. I took the liberty of engaging a large motorcar for your return to London. The rack on top will hold all your luggage. I hope that meets with your approval.”

“Capital,” Wheatly said. “Very thoughtful of you.”

Penelope, who was eight years old, pulled her hand out of her mother’s and rushed to Elizabeth’s side.

“I see you have met the children’s governess,” Lady Wheatly said to Graham. “Elizabeth Shallcross. But we call her Beth. We somehow lost touch with one another leaving the ship, but it seems you have found her for us.”

After taking Penelope’s hand in hers, Beth looked up at Lady Wheatly. “I’m so sorry if I caused you any worry. I returned to my stateroom for the gift I’d purchased for my mother.”

During her explanation, Beth watched the smile fade from Mr. Graham’s face. She knew exactly what he thought. No doubt an aristocrat, he’d presumed her to be one as well. Now he knew she was only an employee of the Wheatlys’. So much for his offer to be her escort to a party. A knot formed in her midriff. In spite of changing times, the class system was obviously still alive and well in twentieth century England.

A half-hearted smile reappeared on Richard Graham’s face. “Yes, Miss Shallcross and I have met.” He paused. “However, I’m not sure if there will be room in the motorcar...”

Beth spoke again. “I shan’t need a ride back to town, Mr. Graham. I expect my parents will be meeting me here very soon.”

“Admirable,” Lord Wheatly said.

Lady Wheatly leaned toward Beth. “But this is au revoir and not good-bye. You remember we have much to discuss, and I shall expect you to call on us in a day or so. When it is convenient and you’re rested from the crossing.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” She dropped her gaze, unwilling to look at the others any longer. Why had she allowed herself to be enticed even for a moment when Richard Graham introduced himself earlier? She should have known nothing would come of it. She supposed her three years in New York were responsible for such optimism. Little, if any, class consciousness existed there.

“Well, let us be on our way,” Lord Wheatly said. “Richard, is the motorcar nearby?”

Mr. Graham stared at the procession of automobiles threading their way through the slowly-diminishing crowd. “I believe I see it now.” He paused. “Miss Shallcross, a pleasure to meet you.”

She detected no warmth in the smile he gave her then, but she nodded her head for an instant and said nothing.

Both Penelope and Charles, who was six, gave her the polite handshakes she’d taught them to give when greeting or parting from others. She watched them enter the large silver limousine where the steward arranged the luggage on top. She recognized it, from magazine pictures she’d seen, as a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Seemingly almost as large as a railroad passenger car, it provided plenty of room for her, especially if Mr. Graham were to sit in the front seat with the chauffeur.

But he apparently preferred not to include her, and the steward placed her own steamer trunk at her feet. Although she chafed at the slight, her common sense told her she didn’t want Mr. Graham to see where she lived anyway. She curtsied to Lord and Lady Wheatly, and they, too, climbed into the vehicle. Richard Graham apparently entered from the other side, and she didn’t see him again.

She sighed. Most likely she would never see the man again.

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Anna Taylor Sweringen said...

Thanks for sharing. Have you considered writing and publishing a story that isn't from your backlist? I'm not seeing many accounts from people who are selling something for the first time, with the one exception of that guy, but he has a huge following.

Phyllis Humphrey said...


Thanks for the comment. Actually, both NORTH BY NORTHEAST and THE GREEN BOUGH had not been published before, so they are "front list" in a way. I self-published them - but not on Amazon in trade paper to sell at book fairs - until now.


Angela McCallister said...

I loved the excerpt, Phyllis. Thank you for sharing some of your publisher horror stories with us. I knew some scams were around, but didn't realize it was that problematic. I'm glad you were able to recover the rights to your books ;)

Phyllis Humphrey said...


Thanks for your kind words. Like everything else, writing teaches us lessons we need to learn. I'm so grateful to be where I am in this career.