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November 7, 2016
By Drucilla Shultz
Indie author Janice Petrie urges indie authors to make the most of social media and to be persistent.

Janice Petrie’s life has always fueled her writing. Her experience as an outreach specialist for the New England Aquarium helped inform her picture books, while growing up near -- and once staying the night in -- a haunted, lakeside cottage gave her non-fiction a unique perspective. When she decided to try self-publishing, she wanted to “produce well-written books that readers would find entertaining and interesting.” Perfection to a Fault, an indie true crime tale of a gruesome 1916 murder of a wife by her husband, received a positive review from Publishers Weekly, with our reviewer calling it “crisp” and “quick-moving,” and praising Petrie for “expertly put[ting] details into historical context.”

When she started her own indie publishing company in 2000, Petrie admits self-publishing wasn’t a popular choice: “There wasn’t a lot of information out there at the time…I familiarized myself with the importance of copyrighting my work, found a wonderful copyeditor, and explored avenues of distribution, a necessity if you want to have a presence in many nationwide bookstores. My focus was more on writing and illustrating than marketing at the onset, and I’ve spent the past couple of years adjusting this important balance.”

Early on, Petrie underestimated how difficult it would be to create a following for her work. “As an individual making the decision to become an independent publisher, there’s nothing to fear, but achieving success will take a creative marketing strategy, and a bit of luck,” she says. “Without marketing firmly in place, your books stand little chance of being read by many.”

Petrie also stresses the importance of editorial reviews and awards: “Understanding how the review system works was a game changer for my titles. I was unaware that independent publishers' books would be considered for awards.”

We asked Petrie to give us three tips for aspiring indie authors:

Harness Your Passion

“Write about subjects for which you’re passionate, and be ready to share your expertise with others. People will be attracted by your enthusiasm, and want to learn more about you and your work, which could ultimately lead to a following.”

Explore Social Media

“Learn everything you can about social media and leave no avenue unexplored. Make sure your work is polished, and seek out reviews and awards. Enter trade shows where your target audience is gathered. It’s your best chance to reach potential book buyers, without having your own daytime talk show.”

The Importance of Persistence

“The most important attribute you need is persistence. Even if you have great books, you’re going to experience roadblocks and rejection. You have to be resilient. After a moment of despair, you need to pick yourself up, and understand with an unwavering belief that you will triumph in the end.”

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