Fresh from the Literary Festival

by Renea Winchester 

I have just returned from one of my favorite literary festivals held in Canton, Georgia. If you are working on a manuscript, attending festivals and workshops is the best way to meet authors and gather information about how they have successfully marketed their book. Here is what I learned.

While sitting on a panel with Stephanie McAfee, I, and many others in attendance, marveled when she told us that she sold 145,000 copies of her (then self-published) e-book. Not only that, but Stephanie sold those copies during a time when the sale of traditional books fall flat. Her sales came in January and February.

Those who have read my book Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author know that I am firmly against releasing a printed book during January and February. Why? Most people are on a budget and, during the months of January and February, have limited funds by which to purchase books.

The exception… those who receive a new Kindle and gift cards.

Kindle fledglings scour Amazon searching for cheap (or free) books. Stephanie’s plan was simple. Write a book. Release it in January during a time when people were uploading  99 cent ebooks. Then wait. Hope. Pray.

Caveat: what worked for her then may not work for you today. She released her e-book on the cusp of the Kindle explosion. Today, there are literally tens of thousands of 99 cent ebooks.

Stephanie also shared that once the book started selling well, (well above average) she became embarrassed at the number of typographical errors it contained.

“I didn’t have an editor,” she explained to those in attendance at the conference. “So when I started selling a lot of copies I was embarrassed at how many mistakes the book contained. If you are considering publishing, please invest in an editor.”

Today, Stephanie is living every author’s dream. She has a three-book contract from a New York Times publisher. She also has a tremendous amount of work ahead. With three books to write in addition to marketing those books, she spends a lot of time locked inside her home office.

“I asked for my agent for an extension,” she announced at the conference. “I thought the publisher would give me 90 days…they gave me thirty. These are the things new authors learn fast.”

Certainly, Stephanie’s e-books will never again be priced at the bargain price of 99 cents, but for her, the low-price strategy worked.

Thank you for reading and remember, keep writing.

Renea Winchester is currently working on her third book titled: In the Kitchen with Billy. She was recently named the Atlanta Pen Woman Author of the year. Visit her at

To learn more about Stephanie visit her at