Staci Mauney, Author of the Echoes of Joy devotionals
My journey to being an independent author started over a decade ago when I had a creative nonfiction story published in Chicken Soup for the Shopper’s Soul. I continued to dabble in writing and had a fiction short story published in an anthology, Oklahoma: The Fountain of the Heartland.
After those stories were published, I didn’t know what to do. This was in the early days of self-publishing, and Amazon’s self-publishing service had just made independent publishing possible for anyone. Self-publishing (and those who chose to self-publish) were looked down upon as “not real writers.” I decided to steer clear of something with such negative connotations, and since my experience up to that point was with the short form of writing, I focused on submitting short pieces to magazines and anthologies.
Then a friend suggested that I start a blog, and in 2011, Echoes of Joy, my devotional blog, was born. The blog provided an outlet to produce the short content I was used to writing. I practiced the craft of writing and got used to meeting a self-imposed weekly publishing deadline.
My first book, Echoes of Joy: 30 Days of Experiencing God’s Grace, came about in 2017. That’s when I began writing and editing full time through my online professional editing business, Prestige Prose. I realized I could take my existing blog entries and combine them into a book, as well as reach a new audience with my message.
I took my existing devotional entries, cleaned them up, wrote some new ones, and put them in a book. I found a group of beta readers to provide feedback and then revised again. When I had the content the way I wanted it, I had a proofreader do a final pass for typos and grammatical errors. Even though I’m an editor myself, it’s important for me to have someone else read my work because I know what I’m trying to say and therefore am more likely to miss errors.
Publishing my first book was an experiment. With the blog, I was in control of what I published and when, and those same aspects drew me to self-publishing. Because of that, I didn’t send query letters or approach traditional publishers.
I discovered Linda Boulanger of Tell-Tale Book Covers through a referral from a mutual writing friend. She has designed all my devotional covers. I knew I didn’t have the eye or skills to create a professional looking cover. A professional cover designer can make sure your cover fits your genre. They can also ensure that your font stays the same and the placement of your name and title stay the same across a series of books.
Initially, I published my devotional as an e-book only through Amazon’s KDP service to see if there was any interest in what I had to offer. I marketed the e-book through Facebook, and readers would contact me to see if I had a print version. That’s when I realized people prefer a devotional print book. Luckily, as a self-published author, I can fix things like that pretty easily. I contacted Tell-Tale Book Covers and purchased the print cover, reformatted the manuscript, and voila, the print book was born.
Once I had the print book in hand, I signed up to attend local book fairs. I discovered it was difficult to sell books as a new author unless I could go to events in person and connect with readers. They were more willing to take a chance on my book that way.
I continue to promote my books on social media (mostly Facebook and Instagram), and I maintain my blog, which is also a great promotional tool for my devotional books. Speaking engagements, vendor fairs, and craft fairs are three more avenues that I use to get my name out there and in front of readers.
Now I have six self-published devotionals, with the most recent one released in October 2021. I’ve also ventured into the world of fiction with my Christian cozy mystery, Death by Dice: A Bunco Club Mystery. With each book, I’ve learned new lessons and processes, but the thrill of clicking publish never gets old.