Winning against all odds

Author Camilla Monk

Almost six years ago, at the end of August 2013, I sat in front of my keyboard in Paris, and I, a French girl, started writing a book in English. I was, I am sure today, catastrophically bad but I continued, over the weeks, to weave a story with fuzzy contours, which gradually took shape in front of me. I wrote five thousand words, ten thousand, fifteen thousand, twenty thousand … Arrived at twenty thousand, I had the beginning of a novel and a synopsis filled with empty chapters: it was at once nothing at all, and at the same time too much to give up.

So I continued. In the evening after work, during my lunch breaks, at night, on weekends. I wrote forty-two versions of this story, and at the end of six months, I began to share my now almost finished novel with another apprentice author, who ended up becoming a dear friend. We exchanged our chapters, corrected them mutually, and she was the first to tell me I may have just enough talent to look for an agent for my book.

So I risked a thousand dollars to have my manuscript corrected and edited, and I went looking for an agent, methodically. I sent only six emails, but after carefully studying the profiles of the agents that I sought. In May 2014, almost eight months after I started writing, I received a positive response from an officer in Florida. My book was going to be sent to publishers. I tweaked the manuscript, wrote a summary of a series project, started writing another book, while patiently …

Three months later, in August, a mid-sized publishing house signed a two-pound publishing contract with me for an advance of $ 15,000. It’s hard to describe the joy I felt, but basically when my agent called me in the middle of the night, because of jet lag, I remained silent.

Seven months later, in May 2015, my first book came out. Nobody had ever heard of me. My publisher promoted the title on Amazon for about a week. Sales began to rise, then collapsed due to lack of support beyond word-of-mouth. Meanwhile, the second book of the series was finished but the publisher who had bought my series had left the publishing house. The new publisher, under our contract, has released the second book, but at the end of the most difficult and frustrating collaboration of my professional career and this time without the least effort of promotion. Sales were disastrous; We were in February 2016, and the editor who had obviously made his decision for a long time, announced to abandon the series.

The rights of my first two books owned by my publishing house, it seemed impossible to continue the series: it was useless to try to release a third book while I have no control over the price and marketing of first two, nor any support from the publisher. My dream had turned into a nightmare. I was burned out, broke, angry at the editor who had made my life complicated and had tried everything to sabotage the series, even trying at the time to prohibit the cover of second book from containing the logo of the series.

But, during this eventful journey, passengers had boarded my ship: my readers. Few, it is true: I had sold hardly 10,000 copies, which was a very bad figure in the eyes of my publisher. But those faithful and enthusiastic passengers, who wanted the continuation of the adventures of my characters, wrote to me day after day to tell me that my books had entered their lives, into their heads, and that this world that I had created belonged to them. now also a little.

So I fought the French way: screaming. I copied the top management of my editor, revealed the disastrous work done by my editor on the production and marketing of the second book, and I threatened to tell my story to a newspaper with which I had been in contact. My publishing house, which was not all white (but obviously not all black either!) And had the philosophy of avoiding advertising, offered me the choice between recovering all my rights on my books for no consideration and immediately, or leave my rights at home with the promise of a miraculous double promotion. The trust was broken on my side, I chose to resume my rights, certain that the dream was over, but that at least the fruit of my labor would belong to me.

We were in May 2016, a year after the release of my first book. And I almost gave up. But I continued. After a painful rewriting process, my husband and I invested $ 15,000 from our pocket to re-record the first two audiobooks in my series, have them professionally edited, and also audiobook the third book. I designed and created my own covers, redid my website and managed all my marketing to bring out the first two books in self-publishing. Finally, on November 30, 2016, the third book of my series is out.

And there, sales started to climb. I had no ads, but readers recommended my series by word of mouth, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, blogs … As for audiobooks that had cost us so much to re-register, they turned into a mine Golden: the publisher or publisher paid me only 84 cents per sale, in self-publishing I touched almost 5 dollars!

Then, in December 2016 came an event that was going to change everything in my life: I had a Bookbub. Just one, for a day. My sales went from $ 500 to $ 5,000 a month. I released in May 2017 the fourth book of my series, then a new one in July. I earned $ 71,000 in royalties in 2017, 50,000 in 2018. I was living now, and still living off my books.

My name is Camilla Monk, and this first book was called Spotless. My publisher had sold 10,000 books, I sold 110,000 more, all alone like a champion. Writing this book is the best thing that ever happened to me (after my husband’s meeting, but that’s another story!), And tonight, as I’m about to release a new book that was rejected by twelve different publishing houses during the year 2018, that I must complete the 5th book of my first series, and advance on the French translation of it, I needed to remember why I do all that. Because my books are the most important things I have done in my life, even though no one in France knows that there is now in Montreal a French girl who has sold more than 120,000 books in self-publishing.

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