Dee Ellis, an indie author by choice...
Married with two children, Ellis is a girl from the Midwest who just happens to roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Boston Celtics and Red Socks. An avid reader, she jokes that she's also a movie "nerd," who hits the theater as often as possible.
"I am indie," she states proudly. "I chose to be because I want complete control of the situation and none of the demands of another person/company." Yet, she admits it is challenging to get in front of readers when competing against "traditionally" published authors, who have the advantage of an entire team behind them. "It's hard to keep going, do all of the work, and see little return, but I do it because I love to write. If a few people read me versus thousands who read traditionally published authors, then I am still lucky."
She began writing short stories and poetry as a kid. Those stories eventually turned into fanfiction, but she didn't dare share them with anyone. That is until she had a story she was confident enough to share. And so, her first Contemporary Romance novel Let it Burn was born, which she published in August 2016.
To date, Ellis – who has hit #1 on Amazon's Bestseller List several times – has published over 25 novels, among them a four-book firefighter series, a ten-book holiday novella series, several collaborations with Flirt Club (a multi-author collaboration group), and a few stand-alone works. Her latest is End Game, a Contemporary New Adult Sports Romance novel.
The author explains that she chose Contemporary Romance because it features strong female leads who, though flawed, are worthy of the love they get to find. "I love reading it [the genre]. It has so many possibilities, because even if it's steamy, it's not about the steam, it's about the human moments."
She has also ventured into the Paranormal Romance genre with a co-author and would love to do Horror as well. "Just for fun," she says.
My most recent story came to me during a hard time...
I wrote the happy ending I knew she would not get."
To find inspiration, Ellis relies on stories that pop in her head about relationships, people dealing with life, and the fallout of both. "Music," she goes on, "also gives me story inspiration, but a funny interaction I see somewhere or a conversation with a friend can inspire a story too."
Her leading men and women, she explains, usually come to her without having to look for them. ''My most recent story came to me during a hard time, when a friend got sick. I wrote the happy ending I knew she would not get. My process with characters is just to listen to the story they want to tell. Even though I plot and outline, I never feel forced inside those guidelines because, like real people, a character can change its mind or make a bad choice as I am writing."
As a teller of stories, there aren't many subjects she won't touch. "I am pretty open about relationships and how they are different for everyone. So, there is very little I truly consider taboo, but some things just don't seem fun to write, like Daddy/Little Girl or Torture Romance. But you never know," she leaves the door open. "Anything with abuse is hard to think of writing, but because those things are a reality, I could never say I will never go there."
For Ellis, as for most indie authors, getting in front of readers is one of the biggest challenges. "Writing the book is the easy part. Getting the courage to share it and listen to bad reviews or negative feedback and still try to ask more people to read it and not give up, that's the hardest part for me."
And it's all exacerbated when you have to tackle your own promotion and marketing. "I am still learning to do it, as it's ever-changing, but expecting to put a book out and sell just because was a hard lesson learned."
The best promotion, she claims, are people who read your books and like them enough to talk about them, as well as sending newsletters to readers who want to hear about your books. In fact, Ellis asserts that it's a good idea to reach out to readers and not authors, because the point is to find those who care about books and not about writing. "Find people who care about the stories we tell, instead of who is selling, who's topping charts, or who the competition is. I have author friends, but my closest friends in the community are readers. I trust them more than my peers because they know what they want."
To new authors getting ready to release a book, she advises to prepare well in advance with edits, covers, teasers, promos or ads in order to reach readers. "Build a team of people you trust and who are honest with you, and do it because you love it, not to get famous or rich."
"I write because I love it as much, if not more, than I love to read."
Although she says hitting #1 isn't her priority, she'd love to be able to focus all of her time on writing. "I don't have that luxury yet, but I keep pushing, I keep writing, and I keep working, hoping one day I will."
In closing, Ellis states, "I write because I love it as much, if not more, than I love to read. I write because when I wake up I have stories in my head; at work, I get stories in my head; while eating dinner and before bed, I have stories in my head. They are stories about people, about love, about relationships, about flawed people who make mistakes and do foolish things, but who are all worthy of love. I want those people, those stories to find at least one person who loves them. And that is why I do this, and I always hope to do it."
Thank you, Dee, for being kind enough to share your story. I so identified with your love of writing and your take on the Contemporary Romance genre. Bravo!
To the readers, thank you for taking the time to read this piece! Please check out Dee's books and follow her on social media.
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The Thing About Love… and The Thing About Ever After…, Book 1 and 2 of my trilogy – Book 3 is in the works.
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