Imagine you’ve written a book. You hold the manuscript that took you hours, years, decades to craft. A company promises to turn those pages into a published book, for a fee, and you gratefully accept.
The process begins. Your books arrive in the mail — ones you paid the company thousands of dollars to print and sell back to you. What about the marketing they promised? They decided not to do that part, leaving you holding a whole lot of books and broken dreams.
This is a true story. The author was in her 80s without knowledge of self-publishing or online marketing, or where to even begin. She’d spent nearly $10,000 and asked for my advice. But it was too late.
Angered, I created a step-by-step guide to publishing a book and uploaded it to Amazon as an ebook. Within a few hours, it hit No. 1 in the Business Short Reads category and stayed there for more than two weeks. I was floored. And my solution only cost $5.99.
I’m trying to protect other authors from being charged thousands of dollars for a process that I can accomplish for about $500 per title.
As an author of 12 books and an editor of nearly 100, I have spent years studying the art of writing, editing, and publishing books. I’ve spoken at conferences across the country, to tens of thousands of students in schools, and shared my knowledge freely through my podcast and YouTube videos for authors.
My stories are about everyday kids becoming heroes, where readers can escape their world and find answers in mine. As a little girl, I dreamed of signing books in bookstores, but as an independent author, that is close to impossible.
I diligently knocked on that door, and when it finally opened, I signed a deal that included 15 visits around the state in six months. I was a “real” author!
Until the virus hit. My doorbell rang and a damaged box sat torn open on the porch. My books — improperly packaged and returned from the bookstore — had pages warped from weather, covers ripped from shifting, and edges dented and dinged. I immediately called the company. They told me they weren’t responsible for books after they left their facility and I owed them $1,200.
I became the author who was taken advantage of.
Discouraged to the point of throwing in the writing towel, I shared this experience with my Facebook community. I was distraught, depressed, and defeated.
In the midst of this pandemic, when people are out of work, my followers and fans rallied. To the tune of many book orders. My heart swelled. My mission to help others came to me tenfold — an unexpected delight in the midst of a great storm. It was a beautiful display of kindness that showed me my stories do matter and my books do make a difference.
Jaimie Engle writes realistic fiction that questions reality. Her books have received numerous awards and her non-fiction has hit Amazon's #1 New Release. She teaches craft through conferences, classes, and a podcast hosted by Space Coast Podcast Network based off her how-to “Write a Book that Doesn’t Suck” on Amazon.
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