In this episode of the PublishHer Podcast, author Ellie Hall shares her journey to becoming a USA Today bestselling author in the sweet romance genre through self-publishing. With insights into her rapid publication model, disciplined writing routine, and challenges of maintaining a sustainable income, Ellie offers valuable lessons for aspiring indie authors seeking to achieve bestseller status. Her candid discussion about the fluctuating nature of book sales, the significance of building an email list, and the use of newsletters to connect with readers provides practical strategies for navigating the complexities of self-publishing. Ellie's commitment to meeting reader expectations while staying true to her creative passions underscores the importance of aligning personal interests with market demands. By delving into her experiences and strategies, Ellie Hall's episode offers a compelling guide for indie authors aiming to reach bestseller status, making it a worthwhile listen for those seeking practical insights and inspiration in their writing pursuits.

Ellie Hall is a USA Today bestselling author known for her expertise in romance novels. With a strong focus on collaborative efforts, Ellie achieved bestseller status as a self-published author, emphasizing the significance of a rapid release model and the advantages of connecting with a community of authors. Her commitment to a monthly release schedule since 2018 underscores her dedication to engaging with her audience.
Ellie's journey as an indie author exemplifies the importance of balancing creative output with the demands of administrative work and audience engagement, providing valuable insights for aspiring authors seeking to achieve bestseller status.

Your book might be the one. There's nothing saying that it can't. So keep at it because you just never know. – Ellie Hall

Key Takeaways

  • Master the art of crafting novels for publication.
  • Strategize to build a robust author email list for increased engagement and readership.
  • Harness the benefits of newsletter swaps to expand your author network and reach new readers.
  • Achieve bestseller status as an indie author through proven strategies and tactics.
  • Implement a rapid book release strategy to maximize your impact and visibility in the market.

Memorable Moments:

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:01:23 – Writing Sweet Romance and Achieving Bestseller Status
Ellie shares her expertise in writing sweet romance and achieving USA Today bestseller status as a self-published author. She emphasizes the importance of collaboration and the changing landscape of book lists.

00:04:37 – Speed of Publication and Productive Writing
Alexa praises Ellie's rapid publication schedule and inquires about her writing process. Ellie discusses her writing schedule, outlining process, and the challenges of maintaining a fast-paced writing routine.

00:08:38 – Balancing Writing and Administrative Work
Ellie reflects on the challenges of balancing writing, social media engagement, and administrative tasks. She expresses the need for a more manageable pace and the impact of long-winded books on her writing process.

00:11:59 – Writing to Market and Genre Selection
Ellie shares her journey into writing sweet romance, driven by her love for Hallmark movies and romance novels. She discusses her organic entry into the genre and her passion for romantic storytelling.

00:12:53 – Early Success in Reader Base Growth
Ellie talks about her early success in finding a growing reader base for her books, attributing it to luck. She emphasizes the importance of meeting reader expectations in her writing.

00:13:26 – Print Books and Reader Satisfaction
Ellie discusses her experience with print books, expressing her preference for paperbacks over hardcovers due to reader satisfaction. She also mentions her venture into large print books for libraries.

00:15:22 – Pen Name and Genre Separation
Ellie explains the importance of maintaining separate pen names for different genres to meet reader expectations. She shares her experience writing under a pen name for fantasy and paranormal romance, emphasizing the joy of pursuing different genres.

00:18:21 – Building Readership Through Diverse Streams
Ellie advises starting with what brings joy when building readership, whether it's social media, newsletters, or collaborations. She emphasizes the importance of being patient, persistent, and consistent in growing readership through diverse streams.

00:22:29 – Making a Living as an Author
Ellie shares that she is making a full-time living as an author based on her family's cost of living, noting the impact of her children being adults and not living at home. She emphasizes the importance of setting financial goals and budgeting for sustainability.

00:24:43 – Early Success and Fluctuating Income
Ellie talks about her initial success after hitting the USA Today bestseller list, seeing a spike in sales. However, she also discusses the fluctuations in income and the unpredictability of the market.

00:25:29 – Unpredictable Book Sales
Ellie reflects on the variability of book sales, emphasizing the importance of having a healthy backlist and diversifying formats like audiobooks and large print to maximize the use of intellectual property.

00:28:21 – Income Milestones
Ellie shares her journey of reaching a modest but comfortable income for discretionary spending after the first year, sustaining a modest lifestyle in the second year, and experiencing a significant increase shortly after hitting the bestseller list.

00:34:58 – Email List and Marketing
Ellie highlights the significance of building and utilizing an email list for marketing. She discusses the effectiveness of newsletter swaps, promo discounts, and reader magnets in growing her subscriber list and driving book sales.

00:37:06 – Building a Writing Business
Ellie discusses the three indispensable tools in her writing business: Mailerlite for her newsletter, Canva for graphic design, and Vellum for book formatting. She emphasizes the importance of cultivating relationships with readers through her newsletter.

00:39:28 – Importance of Newsletters
Ellie highlights the value of direct reader communication through newsletters. She shares how asking about readers' lives and sharing sales promotions have a positive impact. She also emphasizes the importance of batch scheduling for newsletters.

00:40:39 – Finding Newsletter Swap Partners
Ellie explains how she initially built her subscriber base through and Facebook groups. She emphasizes transparency and the supportive nature of the author community in building relationships for newsletter swaps.

00:46:35 – Understanding Genre Expectations
The conversation delves into the complexities of defining genre-specific terms like “sweet” and “clean.” Ellie emphasizes the importance of meeting reader expectations and navigating genre-specific nuances when collaborating with other authors.

00:49:12 – Writing to Market
The importance of understanding genre expectations when writing is emphasized. Writing to fit within a specific genre can make it easier to navigate collaborations and reader expectations. This conversation highlights the influence of genre on audience reception.

00:49:27 – Future Book Releases
Ellie plans to release a book every other month in 2024, with possible box set collections. She also mentions the need to take a break to focus on personal matters and ease off the hectic schedule.

00:50:04 – Personal Life and Balance
Ellie talks about the challenges of moving and unpacking, highlighting the need to focus on personal responsibilities alongside her writing career. She emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between work and personal life.

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