Nikki Rae is an independent author who lives in New Jersey. She explores human nature through fiction, concentrating on making the imaginary as real as possible. Her genres of choice are mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.
How I Became An Indie Author
When I was 14 or 15, I wrote my first book, Sunshine. I broke my knee that year and had nothing to do. I’d written shorter things before, but I figured the six month recovery home from school on the couch was a good time to start something longer.
At first, writing Sunshine was just something I did for fun. I wrote a few chapters during the day in a spiral notebook, and when my friends came home from school, they would read it, and they always wanted more chapters by the next day. Soon, I was able to sit at a computer for a few hours a day, so I began to type it and make copies for everyone, and then they shared them with the other kids at school. I started to fall in love with the idea of people reading what I wrote and I loved that there were kids at school that I didn’t know reading my story.
But once I was better and had to go back to school, I set Sunshine aside and didn’t touch it again until I was in my first year of college.
I told my creative writing professor that I had written a book before and wanted to maybe work on it for class. After reading some of it, she encouraged me to try and get it published.
I spent a year researching how to publish traditionally, editing, and revising my book. Then finally, I started sending query letters to agents.
I did that for about five years.
Most of the agents I queried never wrote back and the ones who did sent me rejection form letters. There were two, however, that personalized their rejections:
One agent told me in so many words that the themes in Sunshine were “too mature” for Young Adult audiences, yet “not mature enough” for the Adult genre.
The other agent told me flat out that the “market” wasn’t looking for vampire novels anymore, but I could query them again if I either took the vampires out, or wrote them something different.
It was around this time that I took a break from querying.
I transferred a different college in 2010, and in my second semester, I met H.D. Gordon in Intro to Creative Writing. We had a lot in common: we both wrote books about vampires and we had both been through the querying process. She told me about Self Publishing on Amazon, how she was doing it, and how people were reading her book. She thought I could do it too.
Once I knew about this option, I started considering it.
I made a deal with myself to try to query one last time. I’d send letters to fifty agents, and if none of them wanted to read more of Sunshine, I would Self Publish.
But with every letter I sent out, I remembered how it felt, back when I was in high school and people were sharing my work with each other. I thought about how much easier it would be if my work was on the internet; how many of my friends and family could read it.
I think I only sent out about ten more letters before I began researching Self Publishing.
After promoting and asking for help from book reviewers, I finally published Sunshine on Amazon on January 28th, 2013, and almost instantly, my friends bought it for their kindles and computers. That was what I was expecting, and if nothing else happened, I was happy.
In the first few weeks, I had sold 200 copies.
About two months later, Sunshine reached Amazon’s top 100 Best Selling Ebooks. It stayed there for a month straight.
On June 28th, 2013, I published the second book in The Sunshine Series, Sun Poisoned.
As I'm writing this, I have just finished my sixth book and I am constantly overwhelmed with the support from the indie community. They've helped me become a writer and editor full time, and I have two jobs that I love.
I don’t regret trying to traditionally publish my book, and I think in the future, I’ll eventually try again with a different one. I learned a lot of things I would not have learned otherwise, the most important thing being that “failing” to get a book traditionally published didn’t mean failure, and that there was more than one path to take, depending on what story I wanted to tell and how I wanted the story to reach people.
I think I would have eventually figured out that Self Publishing was the right path to take for Sunshine, but I’m glad I got that little push. Now, my story isn’t just being passed around in between classes; it’s being read by people all over the world. That’s all my books really wanted in the first place: to be read.