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Our guest blogger for this week is Debra Holland, sharing her journey to success. Debra’s latest book, Mail-Order Brides of the West: Darcy, is available today!

Self-Publishing: From Inspiration to Completion

vintage flowersSomewhere around 2009, discouraged by years of publisher rejections, I gave up writing fiction. In spite of three Golden Heart finals (one win) and two agents, my stories didn’t fit the market, mostly because they weren’t sexy.

So I set aside the dream of writing fiction to concentrate on my second dream—writing nonfiction. I figured that even if my nonfiction books didn’t sell to a publisher, I could self-publish and hand-sell them at the back of the room when I gave speeches and workshops. (This was before the self-publishing wave hit.)

What I didn’t realize in those years of not writing fiction was that I was also squelching my creativity. I’d get an idea for a story, and I might jot down notes. But more likely, I’d just push it away, thinking, It’s too much work to write a book that doesn’t sell!

However, I didn’t stop attending my local RWA meetings and attending writers’ conferences, continuing to hang out with my friends, network, and hone my craft.

My first official sale to a traditional publisher was a nonfiction book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving. While I was writing that book, some friends told me how well they were doing with their self-published romances, and I decided I’d follow in their footsteps.

So in April 2011, I became an indie author with Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky, the first two books in my Montana Sky Series, with plans to publish four books. After years of rejections, I had no expectations about sales. Much to my surprise, the two books took off and started selling well. All of a sudden, I had a reason to return to writing fiction, and I began work on Stormy Montana Sky, a book I’d set aside years earlier after only having written sixty pages.

In the first six months after self-publishing, more and more Montana Sky stories came to me—an unexpected flood of inspiration. That’s when I realized how much I’d been suppressing my creativity, and that I actually had untapped possibilities in my inspirational well.

Now, I have written sixteen books—eleven of them in the Montana Sky Series. Montlake Romance acquired the big books in the series, and I self-published shorter books, novellas, and collections of short stories.

I’ve sold about half a million books and made the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists. In 2013, Amazon chose Starry Montana Sky as a top 50 Greatest Love Stories pick.

This week I was cleaning out a box of old papers and came across a Christmas program from 2011, with notes for Glorious Montana Sky scribbled on the back, although I didn’t write that book until spring, 2014. Now Glorious Montana Sky is available on Amazon for pre-order with a release date in October. But as I held that Christmas program in my hands, I remembered listening to the music and having a scene come to me—complete with dialogue. Glorious Montana Sky was only a dream then, one that wouldn’t be realized for several years.

I’ve just finished my ninth book in two years—all but one was self-published. Each book was a dream, some which I’d carried in my mind for many years. Self-publishing made my new career as an author possible. If I hadn’t self-published those first two Montana Sky books, the rest of my stories would not have come to fruition. Now I give my imagination free rein, knowing I can dream up stories, bring them to life, and get them into the hands of my readers.

Amazon-7121Debra Holland is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Montana Sky Series. Her latest book, Mail-Order Brides of the West: Darcy, is out today.

You can find Debra at her website and on twitter.

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