The Grand Conversation on ebooks: Vicki Tyley

Vicki Tyley writes fast-paced mystery and suspense novels in contemporary Australian settings. She is the author of Thin Blood, Sleight Malice, and Brittle Shadows, all of which are doing well as Kindle ebooks on Amazon.

Vicki is the poster child for Australian indie self-publishers. She climbed aboard the indie train relatively early, and her mystery novels have sold like hotcakes. To the best of my knowledge, she’s the only Aussie who has cracked the 10,000 sales barrier (and who is in the current Amazon bestseller lists), which is why the story of her journey was an essential inclusion in the Grand Conversation:


“Rinse and Repeat”

Ebooks or paperbacks? Self-publishing or traditional publishing? Does it have to be a case of either/or? I know many won’t agree with me here, but I believe it’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too.

My story is typical of the Australian debut writer: write book, have manuscript assessed, query the three Australian agents accepting unsolicited submissions in your genre, write another book, query the same three Australian agents … rinse and repeat.

But that’s where my story changes. Realising that the chance of securing Australian representation was next to none, I started querying US/UK agents. More rejections followed. One agent, however, went to the trouble to explain his reasons. When I completed the next novel, Thin Blood, he was the first agent I submitted the manuscript to. Robert Fleck of Professional Media Services, Las Vegas, now represents me.

One small problem: Many US publishers refused to even look at the book. “Americans don’t want to read Australian mysteries,” he was told. I wasn’t about to give up, though. I continued writing and Bob continued pitching.

In October 2009, with nothing to lose, we decided to release Thin Blood electronically on Smashwords. That received such a good response that Suspense Magazine selected me as their featured New Author for April 2010. At the end of April, we made the novel available in Amazon’s Kindle store. Taking Bob and I both by surprise, it rocketed up the charts to #1 in Kindle mysteries and peaking at #6 in ALL paid Kindle books, selling in excess of 25,000 copies in the first two months alone. At the end of last year, Thin Blood was named an Amazon Best of 2010 Customer Favorite.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want a traditional publishing contract. Quite the contrary. My goal is to have my books available in every format – in both paper and digital – “wherever good books are sold.” The ebook experiment means those same editors who were not interested in looking at an Australian mystery writer have cause to rethink their position. Not only that, but after years of struggling, I’m now earning a good income.

It’s what you call a win-win situation.


Vicki Tyley’s bestselling novels are available from Amazon, Smashwords, and wherever good ebooks are sold.


The Grand Conversation on ebooks will run here at www.jiraiya.com.au until February 28. If you’d like to contribute a guest blog post, email me at shane@jiraiya.com.au.

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