Michelle Isenhoff

The Evolution of an Author

Some of you guys have been with me on this publishing journey from the beginning. You’ve watched me break out into the self-publishing market in 2011, make some major mistakes, learn how to rectify them, and gradually come to produce children’s literature that has consistently received high ratings. I was an elementary school teacher, and I’ve homeschooled my own kids for 12 years. Kid lit has always been my niche. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished, and my blog (and therefore you guys!) has been an integral part of that.
Though my books have paid for themselves, they’ve never turned much of a profit. There are three very good reasons for this: The children’s genre is the smallest market. It’s the last market that has not opened up for indie writers because it’s so completely dominated by traditional publishers like Scholastic. And I have never seriously schooled myself in how to sell books. I’ve been writing for love, and it’s been great. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
But this spring, everything changed.
My first child graduated high school, and my third has decided to attend public school with my second. For the first time in over a decade, I WILL NOT BE HOMESCHOOLING! For the first time in seventeen years, I will have no children at home during the day.

So I’ve been faced with some new decisions. Do I want to go back to teaching, which means taking classes and upgrading my cert? (No, I don’t!!) Do I get a part-time job? (Possibly, but I’d be stuck working weekends.) Or do I commit to turning my hobby into a money-maker? (This sounds awesome!)
I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how to sell books. A major part of that is writing books in genres that sell, and remember what I said about children’s books? As part of this transition, I’ve had to make some hard choices, and I’ve decided to quit children’s lit altogether. I’d already begun to make the break with the Ella Wood series, but I’ve now decided to continue only in YA and adult genres…dystopian sci-fi, historical romance… I’ll experiment. But that means unless some of the marketing strategies I’m learning actually bring up their sales, I will not be finishing my Taylor Davis series, and I’ll be downgrading my incomplete Mountain Trilogy to a Mountain Duo. Hard as that is, I’m giving them up and moving on.
I’ll also no longer be reading and reviewing children’s literature. I want to reclaim that time to write. Two years ago I downgraded from three reviews a week to one, and my publishable words per year went from 40,000 to 100,000. I want to double that–triple that!–now that I’m not homeschooling.
So, yes, I’ll be giving up my blog.
I’m not taking it down. I still may post reviews occasionally, and I’ll announce my upcoming releases, but it will definitely downgrade. So this post is a farewell of sorts. A permanent parting from my past and a turning to new things in the future. It’s been an awesome journey. It’s STILL an awesome journey, and I hope you hang with me on it because, hey, you’re awesome too, and I appreciate making the journey with you.
It’s just going to be a different path from now on.

The Evolution of an Author

10 thoughts on “The Evolution of an Author

  1. Wow, you have caught me by surprise! I can understand your wish to grow as a writer and I’m glad you’re learning about promoting your books. Since you are going to continue to write YA, you may want to check out Susan Raab’s
    marketing agency http://www.raabassociates.com/. I’ve heard her speak on several occasions and I have one friend (self-published) who consulted with her. I was impressed with her. You may find her website of interest as she does offer courses too. Now that you have more time, have you thought about attending SCBWI and other conferences in your area where you are more likely to connect and learn more about the business. I wish you good luck in this chapter of your writing life. I agree with your area of focus, especially after reading your Ella Wood series.
    I re-read Blood Moon and am glad I did because all of the details are fresh as I read Ebb Tide. You certainly start the Ebb Tide off with a lot of action!

    1. Actually, I feel like I outgrew SCIBWI long ago. Their conferences are mostly about how to write and how to break into the traditional market, and I’m just not interested in tradpub at all. I’d be open to an agent eventually, but at this point I’m simply gleaning from the indie authors who are making decent money at this. There are scads of resources available, and I’ve already got a strategy in place. In fact, I’m already seeing a big difference. I had my second most successful month EVER in May! It’s just going to take me some time to really dig in and produce more books to sustain an income long term. I’ll do a post soon about what’s changed! I’m really excited about this!

      1. I’m excited for you! Will look forward to your post! Do you attend any of the big book fairs and promote your books? I’m glad you have a support system with the Indie authors.

        1. I’ve attended lots of library, homeschool, and community events (none of them huge) and it’s usually not worth it with children’s books by the time you pay for paper copies and space. So I haven’t in a few years.

  2. Good luck with your new endeavours. I have always been in awe of how you have handled your writing career. It is a career, not a hobby! You will make the most of your free time and we will be seeing many more wonderful books coming from your pen.

  3. Mazeltov, Michelle. Despite our political differences, you have been a good writing role model, and I have learned from and valued the wisdom you’ve acquired and generously shared in the indie novelist field. Best of luck to you! I think you have found your niche.

    1. Thank you, Gretchen. Yes, friendship can be broader than politics. I’m glad some of my experiences have helped you, though I still feel like such a novice. Let’s both keep writing!

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