Ripley Patton on Succeeding as an Indie

Today we are joined by paranormal YA author Ripley Patton. I asked Ripley by, because if one name stands out to me as an indie who is doing all the right things to reach her audience: it’s Ripley Patton

First of all, Ripley, what are you drinking? (I’m sipping my coffee from this morning that has long since gone cold and wondering how early is too early to switch to hard cider).

I drink a weird combination of apple cider vinegar, honey, and hot water. I also love honey mead and root beer, but contrary to the common writer stereotype, I hate coffee.

In your PSS Chronicles, the main character, Olivia, suffers from a condition called Psych San Soma. She has a Ghost Hand. How in the world did you come up with that? How’d you pull it off so well?

The inspiration for Psyche San Soma was the real phenomenon of phantom or ghost limbs that amputees often experience. People who have lost limbs, or even been born without them, sometimes still feel the presence and sensations of those missing limbs. For Ghost Hand, I simply asked myself the question “What if those limbs really existed in the form of ethereal energy? What would people be able to do with them? And how would society react?”

And to pull it off so well, I have great brainstorming sessions with my best friend, who also happens to be a nurse. One of the most frequent comments I get about my books is that PSS seems so real many readers actually think it is and go looking for more information about it online, only to discover it’s wholly fictional.

You write for a YA audience, how are you able to put yourself into the shoes of a teenager in a way that comes across as authentic?

I remember being a teenager very well, but my mother died when I was thirteen, so I had to grow up fast. I think one reason I write YA is to try and recapture some of the adolescence I missed. And I also had a teenage son and daughter in the house while I was writing The PSS Chronicles, so they were my best beta readers and kept me in touch with the current YA world. 

How long did it take you to write the PSS chronicles?

All together it took me seven years. The first book took three years all by itself, but that was mainly because I had no idea how to write a novel. Once I learned that, it took me about a year to write and publish each book, though the last book, Ghost Hope, took a little longer. 

What does your writing routine look like?

I usually write for about 3-4 hours a weekday in the afternoon and feel good if I get 1500-2000 words a day written. Overall, I think I’m a slow writer, and I tend to overwrite, so there’s always a lot to cut and edit when the writing is done. 

How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was 13 and that was short stories and poetry mostly, though I had my first magazine article published just out of college. 

How long Have you been publishing?

I had my first short story published in 2005, and I published my first book in 2012, so I guess over ten years now.

What are the top three pieces of advice you would give to new indie authors?

  1. Be a sponge. Absorb everything. 
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment and put your work out there.
  3. Be flexible because the publishing industry is constantly changing.

What have you done to build your audience and promote your books?

Everything I could possibly think of and a lot of things I saw other people doing that were working. That list includes, but isn’t limited to, building a website, blogging, social media, review requests, FB parties, giveaways, paid advertising, booklists, blog tours, Wattpad, making my first book Permafree, sale promos, book bundles, instafreebie, Noisetrade, Kickstarter, Patreon, author cross-promotion, live events, conventions, book signings, Kindle Unlimited and going wide.

What kind of budget should a new author consider when trying to break into publishing?

I budgeted about $2,500 for the publication of each book, and I didn’t have the money so I raised it through Kickstarter. Once you have the book out, there are lots of ways to promote it for FREE or very cheaply. I suggest an author use the cheap and FREE methods first, and carefully experiment with paid advertising until they can pinpoint what works for their book and genre. Always watch what others are doing that works and emulate that, but also think outside the box and try some new methods. 

At what point is a professional edit worth pursuing?

I believe in a good outsourced edit, and I’ve paid to have every one of my books professionally edited. That being said, professional editing is a mixed bag. You don’t always get what you pay for.  I’ve paid for expensive edits that were really crappy, and cheap edits that were really well done. My advice is to ask around and see who other authors are recommending. 

Is there anything else you you’d like to tell us about?

If you love to write, go for it. Tell your story and find your voice, because it is rewarding and empowering. But don’t expect to get rich quick. Most “overnight successes” are years in the making. 

The PSS series can be found on amazon:

Ghost Hand

Ghost Hold

Ghost Heart

Ghost Hope


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