I began my publishing journey in 2010 when Cephrael’s Hand first found its way into print with a hand-drawn map and a cover I created in photoshop. The world of independent publishing back then would be hardly recognizable to those entering it now. Indie Publishing wasn’t even a term in general use at the time.
Those of us forging the path at the beginning of this decade had to navigate our way through a mine field of companies supposedly there to help aspiring authors but who were actually preying upon the burgeoning self-publishing industry with high-cost do-everything pricing (that you could do for yourself for free, if you only knew how) and ‘marketing’ packages that approached piracy.
It’s been fascinating to watch the growth of the industry over the past ten years. Whereas finding a cover artist in 2010 meant a long crawl through DeviantArt.com, now there are countless companies offering high-quality cover art (not to mention oodles of other low-cost services). In 2010, it was all but impossible to find professional freelance book editors. Now there are hundreds of websites listing quality professionals catering to all aspects of the industry. At the beginning of the decade, no one had ever heard of a conference for independent publishers. Now there are dozens of them, along with a vast network of successful authors offering their advice and experience (often free of charge) to help others walk the same path.
Over the last ten years, I’ve watched my industry grow from a fledgling startup floundering in the domineering shadow of the traditional publishing ‘Big Five’ into a powerhouse industry with a vast support network of freelancers catering to its needs.
That much growth meant the industry changed dramatically year by year, morphing along with social media and always bouncing on the wake of Amazon’s massive expansion. Marketing tactics that worked in 2012 fell flat by 2014. Every year the industry underwent some kind of metamorphosis—and it’s still evolving.
In the past decade, I’ve evolved from a self-published author into an independent publisher of an award-winning series. I’ve gone from rising at 4:30am to write before work to rising at 4:30am to write a twelve-hour day. I’ve published 1.5 million words and have more on the way. And I have four #1 bestselling fantasy audiobooks in A Pattern of Shadow and Light for Audible listeners to enjoy (book five just released on December 30th, by the way. Happy new year!).
I’m one of countless independent authors making their living (a good living) publishing their own works, and I count myself immensely blessed to be successful at it.
But what all of this means to me, really, is deeply personal. This path has enabled me to reach you, my dearest readers, without whom none of this would be possible, and to reach you directly—without anyone interfering with my communication to you. I know that what I write, in the way that I’ve written it, will open before your eyes (or ears) exactly as I intended, and that the messages and philosophical explorations in my work will not be subject to the interventions, critiques, arbitrary evaluations, judgements or opinions of ‘experts.’
You’re the only experts whose opinion matters to me. And I’m immensely grateful that so many of you regularly write to me to share your thoughts on my work and the ideas explored within.
So as I look back on the accomplishments of ten years, five books and 1.5 million words, I say with the utmost heartfelt gratitude, Thank you for joining me on this journey. I look forward to many more adventures in the next ten years, and I very much hope you’ll be adventuring along with me.
So glad for your success we need more high fantasy authors. I will continue to read your books, and don’t care how many books you make this series into. Your books are well written with the high fantasy flair I was looking for. Keep doing what you do love your work and your ever-expanding imagination.
I appreciate that very much, Kurt. Thank you for reading.
Again best series I’ve read ,and I’m going to be 60 in Feb I’ve read thousands of books and series,this series is the best and truly amazing Thankyou for a great magical journey
That means the world to me, Deborah. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying my series. Thank you for sharing that with me, and thank you for reading.
Melissa, your work is extraordinary! Many years ago a co-worker recommended you, and I thought to myself, “Oh boy, a self-published fantasy novel…”. Fast-forward to today and we’ve all read everything you’ve published, and many people including myself, have an entirely new appreciation for all the work behind the scenes. Suffice to say that if you keep writing, we’ll all keep reading!
Thanks so much
LOL, Alexander. Sadly, I’ve had the same thought myself before. It’s still a bit of a crapshoot what you’re going to find, but there are so many great independent authors now that the scales are definitely becoming more weighted towards the quality, ingenuity and uniqueness that is the indie hallmark, whether that’s art, music or writing. 🙂 Thanks for taking a chance on my work, and thank you for reading. 🙂
I started reading fantasy in the early seventies. It all began with the Hobbit and progressed to authors like Eddings, Jordan, Martin and too many more to mention. But none have managed to touch me on an emotional level like you have. You truly have became my favorite author. And your interaction with your fans and humble demeanor makes you all the more attractive to your devoted readers.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Robert. It’s interesting – I find a lot of readers have been on the same fantasy journey that I have. I know my own journey has informed my work. I definitely find kindred spirits in readers who’ve followed a similar fantasy path. Thank you for reading.
I love the depth of the characters, the details of the worlds and your amazing creativity to take us along the journey! Thanks so much
Thank you, Anna. I’m honored that you’re taking this journey with me.
I still remember seeing that first Facebook claim “If you like Robert Jordan then you’ll love this.” In desperate need of a new fantasy series and hopeful to support a deserving new author I took the plunge. I am so glad I did. Your claims weren’t over reaching at all. Every foray into your masterfully built worlds transports me to a place that only you could take me. I am forever grateful for your guidance on this journey. One of Brandon Sanderson’s characters once mused that people craved novelty more than creativity. I think he got it right – and so did you (by doing both). It’s refreshing to read something that is fresh in such a heavily trod genre. Here’s wishing you many more decades of success doing what you (and we) love.
Mark, thank you so much for such a beautiful acknowledgement of my work. I’m honored to hold such a high place in your esteem, and immensely grateful to have you as a reader. I’m working to make book six another memorable installment in this story. It’s a bit of a daunting task as this point. 😉 LOL As always, thank you for reading.
This was great to read, it’s always so interesting to see how an industry evolves.
Having A Pattern of Shadow and Light for the last 10 years has been wonderful. To this day I still pick up Cephrael’s Hand and reread Carian and Trell’s adventure in the prison and with Yara whenever I need a smile. I love what authors like Scott Lunch and Joe Abercrombie have brought to the genre but having a series like yours with so many characters I can root for is absolutely necessary and appreciated. I can’t wait to see where you take this series.
Thank you, Jonathan. I appreciate your perspective on the range of storytelling that now comprises the fantasy genre. I’m honored that you’re glad my work is a part of that.
Melissa, you are without a doubt one of my favourite authors, for me you stand up there with Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The depth and intricacy of your work is exemplary, and what is better is that you still retain the ability to make us all “feel” the characters, that alone makes you stand-out in a crowded genre. I always recommend your work to anyone who is asking for something new to read. The way you interact with your fan base is second-to-none, you are even better at it than Brandon Sanderson, and he is exceptional. I would happily read anything you write, you could even make the weather forecast interesting :-). Long may your success continue, it is very well deserved.
Now I’m blushing, David. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m honored to have gained such a high place in your esteem. Thank you for recommending my work to others, and thank you for reading.
Melissa, thank you for writing, don’t ever stop 🙂
I just finished audio book 5 and am obsessed with your work, it hurts to know it will be years before I hear another word from this universe. 🙁
Daniel, I’m honored by such a compliment. I know how you feel. It’s very difficult for me being out of the world in between finishing one book and writing the next. Maybe there will be time for a reread before book 6 is released? 🙂
Your work is magnificent. I almost don’t want to finish the Sixth Strand because then I’ll have to wait a long time till the next one.
Do you have any notion or estimate how long we might have to wait for the next installment?
Your work is magnificent. I almost don’t want to finish The Sixth Strand (only 3 hrs left) because then I’ll have to wait a long time for the next one.
Do you have any notion or estimate how long it might take till we see the next installment?
I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Sixth Strand, Dan. I’m hoping to have book six out in 2021. That’s a tight target right now, but I’m going for it. Thank you for listening.
That’s wonderful news! I can probably re-listen to all of them at least once or twice before then. Thank you for being the author that cares about your fans! I almost hope you don’t get as big as Sanderson, because then you’ll be too busy to answer all of our questions and comments =).
I’ve had that thought myself a few times, Dan. 😉
I stumbled upon your books by pure happenstance. I use audible as a way to get my mind off of the purely mundane and repetitive nature of my job. I had just finished another series that Nick Pohdel had narrated and really liked his style so I was going through other things he’d narrated. I won’t lie, I picked Cephrael’s Hand because of the cover art. I know its shallow. I didn’t even bother listening to the sample, I literally saw it and was just like “oh, this looks cool, lets give it a chance?”
Here we are going on two years later and I have read all of your books four times over (well, only twice with The Sixth Strand) and listened to them many times more (currently on my third go round with the Sixth Strand).
Your books have served as an inspiration for me, not only to continue my own writing without the dauntless question of “how the fethe am I going to publish this?”, but admittedly escaping into the world you’ve made has gotten me through many, many a depressive episode in recent months. Thank you so much for continuing to bring us these thrilling stories. I can’t wait to read and listen to what happens next.
I love your books, they are so in depth with philosophy and extremely detailed. I found them in a dark part of my life having loss my son a year ago as I write this. The long hours listening to your books helped me focus, and to find myself again. And I want more I was excited to see the new book and just finished it while weeping at the end. I am a bibliophile and I will have to say that your world is the most extensively created worlds that i can not begin to express. They are an amazing in itself! Thank you for your books and what peace they have given me!
I’m so terribly sorry for your loss, Kelli, but I’m glad that my work was able to help you through that time of your life in any small way. Your kind words mean a lot to me. Thank you for listening.
Congratulations Melissa, everything you’ve achieved has been well earned.
I do so miss those “debates”
Mothers and son’s
Robin Hood, ethics and morality
Are we mind, body or both.
Actions and consequences
Free will vs. Destiny
Victims or victimized
Ends justifying any means
The beauty of flawed humans
Beyond books, such wonderful questions about life. The 2x were 12, how many years does that make?
Keep creating, it’s your calling.
That’s quite a list, Bill. Crazy to think about all of those big ideas in one little unassuming fantasy series. 😉
Only recently came across your work via a post on Fb in a WoT group, I’d just like to say how amazing I have found your books, I’m currently 300 words away from the end of the Sixth Strand and I’m dreading finishing it. You definitely have a fan for life!
I’m honored to have you as one of my fans, Stephen. Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I truly appreciate the feedback, and I’m thrilled you’re enjoying my series.
Anytime! Your world building is unbelievable, looking forward to the next part of the story 🙂
I had no idea you did the whole indie publishing route. I guess I was so mesmerized by the art that is your writing that it totally escaped me, or maybe it was some 4th strand stuff at play. In any case, I’m so happy to have found your books and am thoroughly enjoying the Sixth Strand. Thanks so much for putting so much heart and care into your characters and your stories so that we might enjoy it.
Thank you for your kind words, Jeremy. And thank you for reading. 🙂