Ep. 318: How to Become a Bestselling Self-Published Author with Steff Green of Rage Against The Manuscript

This interview with Steff Green was absolutely fascinating!

Steff writes fiction novels & she’s an Amazon best-selling author. In this episode, she gets deep into the nitty-gritty of how to test your ideas on Amazon and everything else you need to know to be successful.

She also has a website called Rage Against the Manuscript where she teaches people who want to become fiction writers and go past the gatekeeper of the traditional publisher. She teaches you how to write, publish and sell your books on Amazon.

Steff's also legally blind – and her story is so fascinating! Even if you have no intention of ever writing a book, there’s a ton you can learn from this interview and I really can’t wait for you to meet Steff!

Steff and I talk about:

  • Her journey from archeologist to a paranormal romance author.
  • Why Steff decided to self-publish.
  • How to frame your marketing to attract your ideal client.
  • The biggest thing Steff sees writers get stuck on that holds them back from finishing their book.
  • Her best advice if you are struggling to get traction in your business.
  • The belief she had to change about herself to get where she is today.

My favorite quotes from Steff:

  • “You have to push through and you have to be okay with things not being perfect because perfectionism is procrastination.”
  • “You'll spend as much time getting from 95% to 100% perfection, as you will get in from zero to 95%”
  • “Don't quit before the miracle.”

Shannon Mattern: Steff! Thank you so much for being here on pep talks for side hustlers. Can you share a little bit more with our audience about you and what you do?

Steff Green: Thank you so much. Shannon. I'm so grateful to be here. Um, so my name is Steph Green and I write paranormal romance and supernatural romance under the pen name Stephanie Hawkins, and I self-publish my books on Amazon and I make a really wonderful, amazing living doing so, and it is pretty much the most fun I can imagine the heaven while also doing the job. And I also run a website for writers, which is called Rage Against the Manuscript, and it's all about helping writers to basically do what I'm doing and stuff, publish their work and tell their stories and, you know, get their work out into the world. And that's been really, really rewarding as well.

Shannon Mattern: Okay. I have so many questions for you about this. So when did you start writing these paranormal romance books and then why did you decide to go the self-publishing route? Can you kind of take me back to the, to the early days of your journey and kind of walk us through how this all happened?

Steff Green: Ooh, so it's actually, it's actually a long, massive twisty turny story.

Shannon Mattern: My favorite kind! Let's hear it.

Steff Green: Awesome. So like, you know, like all writers, I have always enjoyed writing, you know, I grew up reading a lot reading what's the stories, especially kind of fantasy stories about faraway worlds and things like that. And I always enjoyed writing, um, and always enjoyed telling stories, but I actually never thought I was going to be a writer from the age of about seven. What I wanted to be was an archaeologist and I wanted to be an archaeologist up until I graduated university with my archaeology degree and it's worth knowing at this point that I am actually legally blind. So I have this rare condition, uh, where, uh, so normal person's eyes have rod cells and cone cells and you've got millions of each. And on a basic level, you use your cone cells during the day to see colors and see depth and, you know, get around.

Steff Green: And then you use your rod cells at night, um, to kind of discern the shapes and the kind of the vague things. But you see, uh, like rod cells don't really have like depth perception and things like that. And you've got millions of each, unless you're me and I have got no cone cells whatsoever, so I use my rod cells during the day. And so it means I have no, I have no color vision whatsoever. I have very poor depth perception. So I'm always like tripping over things, falling down stairs or, you know, really awkward things like that. And, um, and it also comes with like, I'm severely short-sighted to the point where I'm considered legally blind. So I was bullied quite a lot as a child and you know, all those kinds of wonderful things that go along with having a disability.

Steff Green: Um, and I always wanted to be this archeologist. And so I graduated university top of my class, went to try and find a job and that was weird. And I hit, I hit a brick wall and it was basically no one, no one would hire me because of my eyesight. And they said things like, you know, we, we just stomped that we can trust you around artifacts. You know, they would say things like this and even trying to find, so after sort of a year of trying to find a job, I started looking for any job, what, just give me a job, I'll do it. You know, and yeah. And like, I went to my husband's work and that they had a job for like a secretary or something like that. And, and he was talking to them about maybe hiring me and they said to him all, well, we just, you know, we just don't think that we, you know, we have to spend all this money, you know, making it things so that we could able to work with her.

Steff Green: And it's ridiculous because they weren't religious have to give me your computer and I could do the things. But yeah, so, so I struggled with that a lot. And I had one particularly bad, um, that incidents where someone said something quite this to my face, it was very, very upset. I'm going home, came home and I was really sad. And my husband said to me, well, you know, you kind of look at it one of two ways you could say, you could say, what can maybe I've done the archeology. You know, I worked on all these sites and I volunteered in museums and I'd done all these really cool things. And you say, well, maybe I've done that. But what would be a thing that I would like to do next? That was not something that people could continually tell me that I can't do. And the thing that immediately came to mind was I would love to be a writer. I love to tell stories, but I had absolutely no idea how a writer actually in delivering made money or anything like that. So I Googled because that's what we do. I Googled hell.

Steff Green: And I tried to do every single thing that Google tell told me basically. And so I taught myself how to start a blog and I started kind of doing freelance work for businesses. And I started pitching articles to magazines. And I just, I just kind of did the sort of random Brighton for a while. And at the same time, I'd duck out this menu scratch, which was like a fan, like a vampire fantasy book that I'd kind of fiddled with in the university. And I dug it out and I finished it off and I sent it off to a publisher and I ended up, um, at the same time I was, I was working a day job. I was doing all this freelance writing. And then I was working on this novels with this publisher. And I kind of spent was about somewhere between five to eight years, working with this publisher on different novels.

Steff Green: And they kept sending them back to me and they're saying, look, I really want to publish you, but it's not this book. It's not this book. Just write another book, you know? And so I wrote some books, I wrote a lot of books. And then finally they said, it's this book, this is the book. Um, you know, his book deal, um, you know, you're going to do three books and they're actually science, science fiction books, quite serious science fiction. And they said, yeah, we're going to give you this publishing deal. And I thought, yeah, finally, I've, I've made it, you know, all this time, all this work. And finally it's going to happen for me. And then what happened was they, the publisher, my editor at the publishing house quit her job. And she retired and good honor. And the publishing house used there as a chance to kind of cut her list.

Steff Green: And I was one of the authors that got cut. And so my books hadn't even been published yet and already I was back to square one again, no publishing deal. And so that was quite upsetting. And at the same time, there were all these authors online who was starting to talk about what, you know, they were publishing eBooks through Amazon KDP and w which is Amazon self publishing platform. And they were making all this money and they were finding these readers because people were suddenly starting to read on Kindles. And I had just been given a Kindle and as a, um, as a vision impaired person. And it was really amazing to be able to like make all my books, large print and to carry around 300 books on my wallet without like my arm falling off kind of thing. It was so cool. And I was thinking, well, maybe this could be me.

Steff Green: So I self-published the series that the publisher rejected. And it did really mediocrely. I was making about $20 a month kind of thing, but it was just so much fun. I got to choose a cover and choose an editor. And it was just, it was so cold and the whole, my, my actual book that I'd actually written in my heads and you know, how cold this is, it's just, it was the coolest thing. And so I was reading all the stuff about self-publishing and how to do it better and kind of thinking about things. And then I did this complete one 80 when I went to a party one night and it was a friend Theo, who's talking about 50 shades of gray. And I had read the first check through the book and quit. Cause I thought it was terrible. And she loved those books and I was being quite, probably quite rude about it.

Steff Green: And she said, well, it's not like, you know, it's not as if you could write a book like that. And I sort of thought, well, you know, I think I said out loud, I said, gee, you know, you're probably right. But in my head I thought, well, challenge accepted. So the first book [inaudible], I wrote wasn't quite like 50 shades of gray, but because I love fantasy and I love anything paranormal. So it was this kind of shape. It was book about it, a Fox, um, shapeshifter men who check shifts into a Fox. And, um, it was 30,000 words and I wrote it completely in secret. And I wrote it in about three weeks and just this flurry of creativity, it was just so much fun. And don't think I'd hit this much fun writing fiction in a long time. And I decided I would publish it under a secret pin name. I wouldn't even tell my husband. And then, you know, in six months time, I might tell my friend and we'd just have a laugh about this book that I wrote because she said, I couldn't. And so I did that, and this was May, 2015. And I put the book up on Amazon, like paid someone $50 to make me a cover that looks like a romance book cover. And it sold a thousand copies.

Steff Green: Yeah. And I went, Ooh, it's well, you know, successful self-publishing looks like, okay. So I kind of, I just sort of didn't know what to do. I was like, well, okay. So I sort of had to tell my husband that I had made all this money, but not from my super serious science fiction, because that's always what I thought I was. I thought I was a really serious, quite dark science fiction author. And I had to tell him, I made all this money, but not from my super-serious science-fiction, but from this 30,000 word novella about shape-shifting Fox who falls in love with, you know, what's a, what's a woman. And when he stopped laughing, he said, what are you going to write some more? And I said, well, yes, yes I am. So I finished the series two more books of about 30,000 words and finished off that series another couple of months.

Steff Green: And the just kept, you know, I just kept selling books. And so I kept writing them. And I basically from 2015, up until 2018, when I quit my day job, I was writing and publishing a romance novel approximately every two months. And so I was writing about 2000 words a day and all around my day job and publishing just them basically, as soon as I finished them. And in 2018, we finally got to the point where I sort of earning enough and we felt comfortable enough that I could quit my job. And yeah. So since then I've been full time and I'm still publishing I think last year I published 10 books. Um, but this year things would be in a bit slower because I've launched a self-publishing course and coronavirus of course. And so I think I've only done three, I've got two to three books this year. Um, yeah. But yeah, that's that's me.

Shannon Mattern: Okay. There are so many interesting parts of the story, but the first thing, like you went through so much adversity to, to get where you are. It's just like talk about someone that's just never going to, to just quit or like, I love as soon as you said, your friend said you could never do that. The words that I thought in my head were like challenge accepted, and then you were like challenge accepted. I'm like, Oh, this is my kind of girl. Right. Like tell me I can't do something and watch me. Right. Oh yeah.

Steff Green: And, and I've always, yeah, no, go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah. Um, I've always, I've always been a bit like that. I think in a actually, you know, growing up with, um, a disability and I often can be a bit, you know, people say, Oh, you probably can't do that. Or you probably shouldn't do that because of your eyes. And that immediately makes me want to do it. So, um, I've done some crazy things in my, in my life just because, you know, it's not the sort of thing that people would think that someone with an eye condition could do. Um, uh, my husband and I, we we'd love to travel a lot because we'd both have an interest in archeology and, and the same sort of music. So we, we travel a lot to, uh, go and look at old ruins and, um, you know, go and see music festivals and things like that. And, uh, last year we went to England and we went to this really crazy place where you can drive a 10, like a, like an army tank

Steff Green: Can, can my wife drive the tank? And they were like, hell yes. So I drove this tank around this enormous field that I couldn't see out of. And it was amazing.

Shannon Mattern: I'm just thinking, like I say, it would not be my biggest challenge and actually driving a tank. Like I think that would be the least of my worries. Uh, I love that. And, and just, you know, your husband just seemed just that the comment that he made about like, maybe this is the end of that chapter. Um, I thought that's, that's really interesting, uh, interesting way to kind of reframe, you know, moving, moving on to, to whatever's next, you know, and, and thinking like, you know, how can, how can we, how can we transition from, you know, trying to, trying to get the job in archeology and having people say all kinds of ridiculous, dumb things to you about your ability to do that. It's like if I was able to get the degree, I'm pretty sure I could do the job. Right.

Steff Green: Exactly. And I mean, there was some parts of archeology. I definitely can't. Um, but there are, there are other parts where I'm like, ideally suited and they're often the parts that no one else wants to do, because what everyone wants to do is like digging the dirt, which is kind of the part that I had terrible edge. Um, but there was just this real barrier, um, yeah, around, around the eyesight. And, um, my husband, it's interesting because he like his role in my life, um, is basically to just cut through the, the, the bullocks. Um, and he has a way of kind of just in like a single yeah, like in a single sentence, he can articulate things that maybe have been in the back of my mind for awhile, but haven't quite, haven't quite solidified. And I think at that point I was definitely falling out of love with archeology and, you know, and that single day, it just, he just kind of, it was able to articulate that, and that may be, it was time to move on. And, um, he, he still does that for me now because he's actually my beta readers. So he reads my manuscripts, my super sexy supernatural romances, um, before they go to my main editor and he, again, he does this, he always just cuts through, you know, something that's not working and he can just, maybe I know something's not working, but I don't know why. And he just looks at it and he goes, you need to do this. And he's pretty much always right.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. It's like, by the way, honey, I am a top secret romance writer under a pen name, just so you know, I love it. So can you do, so I want to know, like, what was the difference between what you did with the romance novel, um, versus the, the other, the science fiction that you were writing? Were you able to kind of pinpoint like what it was that made that novel, so successful compared to the ones that were kind of just limping along?

Steff Green: Yes, I think I can. And I think the difference was was that because I got so-so the science fiction, that was something that I wrote. I wrote it for me. And so it had elements of every single thing that I really enjoy, but I wasn't thinking about the people who would read the book and with the romance. Um, I came to that as a, as a romance reader and because I knew I was never going to tell anyone about, I wasn't really, I was kind of doing it as a, you know, how do I write a romance book? So I, you know, I read lots of romance books while I was writing lots of books in the same genre. And I deliberately, you know, wrote a story that kind of reference those books. And I chose a cover, not based on what I liked necessarily, but you know, what are the 20 other books in the top 100 on Amazon?

Steff Green: What are their covers look like? You know, could you just make me a cover that looks like that? And because it didn't have my name on it, it was like this, this click in my hint where I didn't have to, I didn't feel like it ha had to necessarily represent me. And it was kind of representing readers of whom I have always been one. Um, and so because of that, of course, but appealed much more to readers because I had had thinking about them when I wrote it, then my science fiction books where the readers didn't factor into the equation at all whatsoever. Yeah. And yeah, that's basically it.

Shannon Mattern: Oh, that is so, so interesting because I mean it's, and for those of you listening that are authors or whatever business that you do, it's the same thing for whatever, whatever it is that you do. Like, we all have the thing that we do that we're passionate about, you know, and we're passionate about how we do it and why we do it in the way that we do it, because we get a lot of enjoyment out of it, out of it and doing it really is for us. But if you want to actually sell it and make money off of it, you do have to like talk about it and, and make it for the person that it's for. And so you do have to, to think about like, who is this for? What do they want, what, what problem is this solving? And talk about it, talk about it, like from their perspective, rather than your own perspective.

Shannon Mattern: And I think that's one of the things that, like I personally struggled with in the very beginning of my business, you know, trying to talk to people about like web design and marketing from the perspective of a web designer and marketer, not from the perspective of like someone who wants to grow an online business and how they think and what they want and, you know, meeting them where they are. So that, I mean, it just goes to show that like, that applies across the board regardless of, of what it is that you do, um, that, that you really have to be doing it for, for that person. So, so I guess my next question is like, did you feel like that kind of took over, like, did you like writing those books even though they weren't for you specifically?

Steff Green: I loved it. And I mean, I, I think probably part of what I loved is almost that, that feedback, like almost more than the money that came in was the, you know, the, the reviews where people are like, Oh, you know what, I love these characters. I love this story and, you know, writers. So live

Steff Green: For positive, you know, positive feedback and just, yeah, seeing that there are people who are, you know, I can't wait for the next book because I left it on a cliffhanger. Cause I'm really mean like that. I can't wait for the next book. Why isn't it out yet? You know? And that's, so that's such a driver almost. Um, yeah. Um, and it's not like you don't put yourself into your books. Like, you know, all my romance books are, so, you know, they, so obviously written by me, like, so they're sort of very definitely my, you know, my unique kind of take on the worlds and they're filled with like references to, um, ancient traditions and, you know, all the, all the kind of archeology stuff that I love is all in my books and all those supernatural things and all the ghost stories that I've read over the years, they're all, they're all in my books.

Steff Green: Um, and yeah, so you can totally, you can write a story that is written for the readers, um, and it also is for you. Um, but I think it's that it's striking the balance and kind of flipping that thing in your head, which says, you know, as a writer, if I want to be rich, I have to think about, who's going to read me and what do those people want out of my books, which like you see it as exactly the same way that you, in any business, you have to be thinking. And, you know, my readers are all there because they are, they're super busy. They're usually they're working mothers. Um, you know, they have these women with these really busy lives and for three hours a day, they just want to sit down and be somewhere else with someone else with, I feel like the center of the world and, you know, and, and that there were problems, you know, that they're dealing with in the book that are never fit. You know, they're never going to have to deal with the shift of war or, you know, falling in love with a vampire or, you know, it's just so nice to escape to someone else's inside someone else's head for awhile. And that's what I've got to give to them. And as long as I give them that with it satisfying happily ever after then I can throw all the weirdness. I wanted them, all the stuff I want. And then,

Shannon Mattern: Um, so good. So you S you land on this thing that starts working. It starts, it's very successful. You keep you repeat that formula, you keep doing it again and again, you get to 2018, you quit the day job. At what point do you, um, start teaching other people how to, self-publish

Steff Green: Sort of

Steff Green: Always done it on the officially, um, probably from 2016 onwards. So yeah, sorta last four years, because there's, there's a lot of, um, Facebook groups online and I'm in a couple of really amazing, um, sort of online forums, uh, um, with lots of writers together. And it's always been about sharing information and what works and what doesn't then, you know, you can, you know, if you try a new promotion should method, you know, I would always, you know, write a post and say, well, I did this and here's what I did. And here's what the money I spent and here's the return I got and, um, know always doing that. And, um, because so many amazing authors helped me in the beginning and helped me to kind of get to the point where I am today, just with, you know, free advice and hand-holding and all that amazing stuff.

Steff Green: I just really wanted to be one of those authors, you know, I just really wanted people to be able to go, well, yeah. You know, you gave me this help and you gave me the step up that I might not have had otherwise. Um, yeah. And so I've always kind of done that unofficially and I just love talking to writers. They're just the coolest people. Um, and yeah, so last year I sort of decided, you know, maybe it was time because I was starting to get, you know, starting to grow the business more. I'm starting to become more kind of known as a romance author who, you know, does a decent living at this. I'm starting to get more and more and more questions, and I'm starting to think, well, you know, it's probably time. I kind of flip to making my, you know, my particular methods of my particular advice, sort of an official thing.

Steff Green: And then I could just point people to that. Um, instead of, you know, always typing out individualized responses and stuff, and that's what started the website. And it was really just a, really, just a place for me to put, you know, my kind of my thoughts down and things like that. And then, you know, and then I wrote a book, um, which is called how to rock self publishing. And then I kind of, people kept having questions about that. So I spent at the book into an online course, which is held to rock self-publishing school, and then it just keeps growing. Like every day, I just keep thinking, Oh, I could do this and I could do this. And, you know, w what would help other authors? And, yeah, it's, it's, I never expected that to be part of part of the business, but it's really, really rewarding. Um, and yeah, I, I definitely want to keep going.

Shannon Mattern: I think those are the best, um, the best things are like the Annette, like you just let the path kind of unfold in front of you, you know, as you embarked upon the thing that you love to do, and then, you know, you see these other opportunities. Yes. But just ways to do the thing that you do in, in so many different ways. And I, I agree with you, it's like very rewarding to help other people kind of have, have the success that you, that you have, because I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that are just like, Oh, I wish could love to. I wish I could write for a living, but I don't think that's possible. I need a day job. And you're like, no, I'm here to show you that, like, you really can, like there, you really can't do it.

Steff Green: Yep. Exactly. You really, really can. And it has never been a better time to be a writer then right now, um, I mean the self publishing, the Kendall being able to sell books online and the digital format, it's never been a better time to be a writer. Um, and I really, you know, I'm just, uh, you know, I'm just a blind girl from New Zealand and I make multi-six figures, selling books online all over the world. And if I can do it, you can do it.

Shannon Mattern: So what are some of the things that people think, you know, that really hold them back from getting started? I mean, you're, you're proof that there has never been a better time for, for them to do that. But what about the people that are listening that are like, Oh, well, you know, easy for her, she got started back then, you know, all, all of that. Like, what are some, what are some of the things that like you hear from people that really prevent them from getting started?

Steff Green: I mean, the biggest thing for writers is that we're often kind of perfectionists. And so we think, well, I can't put this book out into the world until it's perfect. And the thing is it will never, ever be perfect. And if you, and so there's this, this big difficulty with finishing things. So very often authors come to me and they are stuck on the first three chapters of their book. And they're like, I can't move on until these three chapters are perfect, but they just keep going over and over and over as the three chapters. And the thing is is that if you actually finish the book 90%, you're more, you're, you're pretty much probably gonna have to cut those first three chapters anyway. So you might've spent three years of your life going over and over those three chapters that aren't even going to be in the finished book.

Steff Green: And so the important thing, and this goes for everything that goes for writing, it goes for editing goes for South publishing, you have to push through and you have to be okay with things not being perfect because, um, procrastination, sorry, perfectionism is procrastination. It's basically the enemy of getting stuff done and getting things out there. And, you know, so, so often people have a finished book, but they just want to keep you editing and editing that and, or just do one more pass and we'll just, you know, just do another Edison or just send it to another person. And, you know, it's going to sound horrible. But the thing is, is that readers don't really care if the book is perfect, they will overlook so many typo and so many continuity errors. It's not funny as long as you'd give them a good story that they really love, and I have a really good example of this.

Steff Green: I published was about my 15th book or something like that. I've got 40 books published now. So it was, you know, I I'd done a few work of books. It was about book number 15. I published. And the, uh, there was character in the book. The main character was named was Rosa. And there was a side character whose name was Rita. And my inner came back to me and said, I think you need to change Reach's name because Rita and Rosa are really similar. And so what I did was I just went, okay. I went to my manuscript and I will find replace Resha with Margaret. And then I published the book, the books sold about three and a half thousand copies in about six months. So three and a half thousand people read this book. It had 4.4 stars out of five on Amazon.

Steff Green: So really high reviews. And after six months a reader emailed me and says, Hey, I don't know if you know this, but in this book, you've got this weird word migrated. And it turns out what I done was a head, the word heritage in the book. And the find replace had replaced Rita with micro church about five times. And no one had in those three and a half thousand people until six months later, no one had pointed that out. No one had mentioned it in a review or anything like that because they loved the story. And so it's perfectly okay to put out a book that's 95% perfect because you'll spend as much time getting from 95% to 100% perfection, as you will get in from zero to 95%. And for me, that's the biggest thing that I see authors get stuck. Hold bet. There has to be a hundred percent perfect and it's never going to be

Shannon Mattern: Okay. You just said something that I would like you to say again, was something you will spend just as much time getting from 95% perfect to a hundred percent perfect as you'll spend getting from zero to 95. Did I hear that correctly? Exactly. Oh my gosh. That's like a mic drop moment here because I see this, everything you just described for an author. I see the exact same thing. Cause I teach DIY web design. Right. I see the exact same thing happened with people who are like, I want to start this online business. I want to get all this done, but I'm going to spend forever perfecting my website and making sure it's perfect in my mind. Um, before I put it out there and they, it never sees the light of day. Like they get so wrapped up in, you know, their own insecurities about this thing, having to be perfect, that, that they, that it never, they never reached the goal of, of doing the thing.

Shannon Mattern: And I, what you said is everything. And I agree with you wholeheartedly that like, people do not care if you know, the spacing around that picture is not perfect. If you have the pro, if you have the solution to the problem that they want, or you tell them an amazing story that, that like gives them relief at the end of a really crappy day or whatever it is that you're doing. And like, by, you know, by letting your perfectionism prevent you from putting that thing out in the world, like, you're just, you're keeping all these people from experiencing your brilliance. You know, it really, it's really unfortunate when I see when I see that happen, but the way you just put that in perspective of you'll spend as much time trying to go from 5% to a hundred percent as you did going from zero to 95, like, wow. Yeah, exactly. Oh my gosh. So what's um, what, like, can you walk us through the self-publishing process for anyone listening? That's like, I would love to do that, but I have no idea, like what that even entails. Can you kind of give us the cliff notes version of, of how that works

Steff Green: If

Shannon Mattern: There is one version,

Steff Green: So it, it, there's a bit of a chicken before the egg. So, um, so, but it will kind of avoid that, which is, you know, thinking about what is the kind of book that you're going to write and who's your audience and things like that. And we kind of skipped past it a little bit. Um, so you've got a book, let's say you finished your book. You've decided it's 95%. Perfect. So it's ready to go. And you, hopefully you've been sort of clever enough that you've written your book with a specific audience in mind because readers are very, they read by genre. So like, like I'm, cause I'm an author. I have quite wide reading tastes. I read like, um, like mystery, these and I read romances and I read non-fiction biographies and I read all these random things, but readers tend to stick really closely to one specific genre.

Steff Green: And so then they know exactly, you know, they read mysteries because they want to solve a puzzle and the will of the puzzle to be solved at the end, or they read romances because they want to hit with the Raptor. So they read for the specific reason. So hopefully you've thought, okay, well, I'm going to write this book in this particular genre. And I'm going to make sure that I use all the genre conventions. So I've written the mystery and the mystery gets solved at the end of this great puzzle. Not I've written the mystery and it's such a surprise. There's no, you know, the mystery doesn't get solved at the end is not going to make readers happy anyway. So let's say you've done that. You've written the book and you know, this is the genre of my book and this is, these are the readers who are going to be reading it.

Steff Green: So you, then you can go to Amazon and can sign up for free to KDP, which is their publishing platform. And it's a very easy sort of three page three step process you've got to, um, you've got to make sure that your book is in a format that can be read on Kendall and also, uh, on print, if you're going to do a paperback version, which you definitely should. Um, and so there are lots and lots of tutorials. You can find online to do this, and it's something you can do in a Microsoft word or Google drive. Um, so kind of make the prettiest file. Um, but it is going to make a file that will work. And we're all about getting stuff done, not doing things perfect. So you can do that yourself, um, or you can hire someone to do it and make a pretty file.

Steff Green: So you've got your formatted file ready. And then you, you, you know, you choose a title for your book. Um, you've got to write a really compelling a blurb, um, that will make people really interested. The right people really interested in say, this is a mystery. You know, this is kind of hints of what the puzzle is going to be. Um, and this is a hint of who our characters going to be. This is why you should read it. You put your blurb up, um, you choose the categories and the keywords, which will help those readers who love mysteries, find your mystery. So you put it in the mystery category, funnily enough, not the self-help category on Amazon. And you, um, you put, you put the keywords, which are like the search terms that people might use. So maybe if you've written this mystery and it's got, uh, an amateur female sleuth, um, you'd put amateur females sleuth in the keyword category, and there's all sorts of tricks to these things, but this is the cliff notes version.

Steff Green: So you do that. Um, you decide, are you going to put your book on preorder or are you going to make it live now? Um, probably say, we're going to make it live now. So you click that. Um, you need a, some cover. Um, so you've hired an artist and this year we're very, very good artist yourself who knows a lot about book covers, but you've hired an artist who's made a book cover that looks really similar to all the other mystery with amateur female sleuth book covers on Amazon. So that those readers immediately go, Oh, it's a mystery with the amateur female sleuth. I can tell that from the cover, that's exactly what I want. And they one-click, it, you upload your cover, you upload your manuscript, you decide how much you're going to charge for the book. You decide if the book is going to be in Kindle unlimited or wine, which is Kendall and lemme should is Amazon's Spotify for books program.

Steff Green: So it's just

Steff Green: Like, uh, readers pay $10 a month and they can read as many unlimited books as they want that are enrolled in Kindle unlimited for us authors. If you put your book into Kendall unlimited, it means that you can't sell

Steff Green: Your ebook anywhere else

Steff Green: On the internet. It can only be on sale on Amazon. Um, and they don't pay you a royalty. So when someone buys your book, um, it counts as a sale. And if your book is priced between two 99 and nine 99, you will get 70% of the royalties. But with Kindle unlimited, they have this really complicated process. And basically they pay you a certain amount of cents or 0.0, zero 4 cent for every page that someone reads of the book. And so you get this page reads number, um, that you were paid from. So it's not the same as a royalty. Um, so you decide if you want to be in contact with them, should a lot of, you know, there's a lot of vantages. I, the majority of my books are in Kindle unlimited and it counts for about 70% of what I earn. And that's because I write romance and romance, readers are super, super for ratios. They often read like one or two books a day. And so they love Kindle unlimited because it means I can get lots of books for really cheap. So it's kind of a, it's kind of a decision that you often make depends on what genre you write, um, or, you know, you can, or you only have to be in Conduent limited for 90 days, and then you can take your book out. So a lot of people just try it and then if they don't like it, they can put the book up other places.

Steff Green: So Ken's one of them said, you just like what you're going to sell your book for. You took a box that says, you know, I own the rights to this book. I'm not trying to republish Harry Potter and Amazon, you say, cool. And then Amazon puts up the book and sort of anywhere from a few hours to about three days later, you bought Colby life on Amazon. And then you get a link to that page and you can then direct people to that page and they can start buying the book. And you can see immediately in real time, how many pages people have read, how many royalties you've made at, you know, how many salads you've made, what your role is. Right. And it's really, really adjective and really fun.

Shannon Mattern: Okay. That is fascinating. So obviously the process of writing the book takes away longer than the process of actually like self publishing and marketing them too. Yeah. Uh, yeah, that's, that's really interesting. So like, I just, for anyone listening that, that thought like, that sounded, you know, that they could never figure out how to do that. I mean, now you know how to do it. So like go write the book. Right, exactly.

Steff Green: And yeah, I've got a self-publishing course and a self publishing book, which has like super detailed, you know,

Steff Green: How to do everything, you know, which categories you should choose, you know, how to write a great blurb. It's just all those kinds of, always kinds of things. But you got to have that book, got to have that book first, definitely link

Shannon Mattern: All of that up in the show notes for anybody that's listening that wants to check that out. But I want to switch gears a little bit and ask you, you know, now that you are self-employed, um, you know, what's a typical day look like for you.

Steff Green: So I get up about 6:00 AM. Um, and I go and feed all the animals cause we've got lots of cats and chickens. So I go and feed you for one. And then I sat down and my goal is to write 2000 words in the morning. Uh, so I try to do that cause I, I work the best in the morning. So I try and get my best kind of 2000 words written in. Um, and then I'll usually have a bit of time before lunch where I can sort of do some admin and answer email and think about, um, sort of like social media, you know, doing a social media posts for the week, um, kind of thing. Um, and then I have one, uh, and then I go back to the afternoon and I try and write another 2000 words. Um, and I often use a timer.

Steff Green: So I go put the time on for 20 minutes. Uh, and then I try and close all my tabs and when the time is going, I just write and write and write and write. And then when the timer goes off, I can take like a two minute break and check Facebook or something. And that often I'll get sort of 500 to 700 words in the 20 minute time slot. And so if you do that kind of six times, you'll wind up with your 2000 words. Um, so sometimes, often I'm not that disciplined, but that's, that's sort of the goal. And so in the afternoon I try and get another 2000 words and then I do a workout in the afternoon. Uh, and then I, when my husband gets home, I quit work for the day. And, um, you know, we do fun things together in the evening and I try not to work weekends. Um, but sometimes so my rule is that I don't do, like, I don't do emails. I don't do website stuff. I don't do admin. I don't do anything like that in the weekends, but sometimes I have a story in my head. And the only thing that I actually want to do is sit down and write it. And so if that's fun, I would do it. Um, and yeah, that's, that's basically it, I, yeah, that's basically it. I just live in the dream.

Shannon Mattern: R I R days sound very similar. Like I do the same thing. I get up early. I ma I do my best work in the morning. So I saved my projects for that. I also set timers for myself, um, just to kind of keep myself on track. It's like, you know, if I, um, I want to make sure, like, I, I don't spend too much time on something, I'll set a timer for myself. And then it just kind of like keeps me really focused. Um, so that I don't so that I don't like veer off into checking email or doing, doing whatever else. And, um, I'm the same way. I like, I don't like to quote unquote, work on the weekends, meaning, do stuff that other people want me to do or are asking me to do, but I have no problem, like working on something, that's going to be fulfilling for me to work on if it's related to my business, um, doing that on the weekend.

Shannon Mattern: Cause that doesn't really feel, feel like work at all. But I do, I used to have the bad habit, especially while, I mean, I was side hustling too, but like I would get home from work and I had spent every waking moment on my computer working. And my husband's like, like, do you live here? Like, I don't see you, you know, any all of that. So now, like when he gets home, um, I definitely, it's so funny cause he'll get home from work and he'll walk into my office and sit down on this bench that I have by the window. And that's like my cue to be like, okay, I'm wrapping up what I, what I'm doing. Cause it's like, it's our little appointment to like talk about your day and like all of that stuff. So I know that that's like my cue to, to wrap it up because otherwise I could just keep working forever

Steff Green: Exactly. And I'm exactly the same as I relate to that so much. And you know, I was the same, especially the, the year before I quit my job. I was working as a copywriter at a tech company and I had taken this job because my husband and I were building this house and they, they basically offered a lot of money for me to, to do this job. And I thought, this is what we need to just finish building this silly house so we can, you know, so I can quit. And, but the problem was was that because I can't drive myself to work. Um, this job was, uh, a car ride with my husband and in two buses and it was a five hour round trip to the office and they let me work at first. So they may work one day a week from home.

Steff Green: And then I broke down in tears one day in a meeting, cause I was just so tired and they, they let me do two days a week, um, from home. So, so it wasn't every single day I had to do it, but it was far too much time. And it was a ridiculous thing. Cause I was doing five hours commuting a day just to sit in an office and jam my headphones in my ears so that, you know, all the people around me wouldn't interrupt me while I was working. And um, when we took the job, I said, we sort of said to each other, that I'm only doing this job for a year and in a year's time, no matter what happens, where I'm quitting. And so I was like, right, I've got a year to get my business to a point where it's going to sustain us.

Steff Green: And so I, that year in particular, because I was commuting so much, I was working and then I would come home and I would do work and I would write books and all weekends I would write books and it was, it was, it was tight. We were building this house at the same time and it was tough on our marriage. And I had already spent many, many years working weekends and nights all the time and he was used to it, but that, that year was so bad. And so I am so aware now that that's not what I want my life to be. Yeah. And yeah, it's, yeah, it's really wonderful now to be able to do full time. And then at the end of the day, to be able to walk away from the computer and you know, I've done enough today, actually. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: Otherwise, you know, what is it all for? Right. Like we leave corporate so that we can create our own lifestyle that works for us based on, you know, whatever it is that we want out of our life. And then, you know, what I found myself doing in that first year was kind of like recreating the same situation I had where I kept telling myself like, Oh, I have to do this. I have to do this. I can't do this. I have to, I have to work. And it's just like, after that first year on my own, I'm like, who says, I have to do any of this. Like I get to decide, and I'm the boss and why am I holding myself to this like impossible standard that's keeping me, you know, it's keeping me putting my work first before my family and friends, which is the whole reason that I left the job that I had. Well, one of the reasons that I left the job that I had. And so, yeah, it's really interesting to get to the point where like you do really kind of like step into your, to your own power as the business owner and kind of deprogram yourself from that corporate mentality. At least that's how it, how it was for me.

Steff Green: We've got to be, you know, we are a bosses, so we've got to be like the nicest bosses that we've ever had.

Shannon Mattern: I remember my friend saying to me like your boss is a jerk. I was like, yeah, she kind of can be sometimes I need to work on that. So I have just a couple more questions for you before we wrap up. And this is one that, um, I ask of everybody that comes on the show and that is, you know, what advice would you give a new entrepreneur who is struggling to get traction in their business

Steff Green: And to get traction? I mean, who is don't quit before the miracle?

Shannon Mattern: Gosh, that's so good. That's,

Steff Green: That's the advice I have. So I have, so spice started really seriously with us in 2015. And I was quite, I had that, that first month where I went from like $20 a month up to like $3,000 a month. And then for a good two and a half years, I was stuck there, no matter how many books I released, I just couldn't seem to get sort of much higher than that. And I S I finally, the, the week I quit my day job, which was the, which was also the week of my birthday. I released a book and that series took off. And that, like, that was the, that was the series that got me over, uh, over five figures a month. And that was probably, that was probably my 30th, no, probably my 28th book or something. So I had to write 27 books before that book got me over that hump.

Steff Green: And then last year I had a book which was book number 34 and book number 34, hit the top 20 on the entire Amazon store and, and stayed there for a week or two. And I made just, it was just unbelievable. Um, it's unbelievable how that book took off. I had to write 33 books, 33 books before book number 34. And I have thought about question sometimes. And if I had quit before the miracle, you know, you just, you never know, cause it could be book number 34, it could be book 304, you know, it could be book number six and you just, you just don't know. So you just there's no, you know, just don't quit. Don't quit before the miracle.

Shannon Mattern: Uh, so, so good. So yeah, I'm just like, wow. So this last question, I also ask everyone that comes on the show and I'm so interested to hear your answer. Cause we've talked a lot about this topic throughout this whole interview, but that the question is, um, what belief did you have to change about yourself to get where you are today?

Steff Green: Yeah, and I think we've taught be we have talked a lot about this and I think that belief that I had to change was that I wasn't good enough. And that was partly related to my eyesight. You know, I've been told so many times in my life that I can't do the single that I'm, I'm not, you know, I'm not good enough or I'm not able to do that. And then coming from that archeology where, you know, it was things that I knew I could do and people were telling me, you know, you can't do it. You're not good enough. And then having the publisher reject me and feel like, you know, this was this one thing that I thought I'd found where I thought finally, I'm good enough. And then I, I got this rejection, you know, the, the, the rejection that you can have as a writer, you know, you thought you were good enough, but jokes are new.

Steff Green: And yes, thinking. And I think a lot of that comes into that. What we talked about with the 95%, you know, it's that, that final 5% where you're thinking this focus and good, where, you know, a lot of that belief is really about, I'm not good enough, you know, I'm going to put this out there and I'm going to fall on my face and people are going to tell me it's terrible. And you know, and for a writer, when people tell you your work is terrible, it feels like they're telling you that you were terrible. Yeah. And yeah, so I had to really, and I think the only way I really got over the debt was there. I wanted to be a Russia more. Then I wanted to be stuck at that place where I thought I wasn't good enough. And also reading things like 50 shades of gray kind of helped a little because I thought that book was really mediocre. And I thought, well, you know, she can do it. It's okay. It's like giving myself permission. If she can do it, I can do it. And if I mediocre, you know, that's okay. I, I, I think I'm happy being mediocre. You know, if I could be ELL James and I'm not quite, you know, James. Um, but yeah, I, yeah, I think, I think that is definitely, definitely the one.

Shannon Mattern: Uh, I could talk to you about this for hours. Like, so everything that you just said is like, there are so many obstacles that are going to come along that are going to like, just test your character and test your willingness and test, you know, your, just everything. And you do have to want it bad enough to continue to go in the face of all the obstacles and adversity that you faced. And, you know, the thing that I've had a similar experience, I didn't read 50 shades of gray and I'm not a writer, but I had a similar experience where I'm like, you know, you take these courses to learn how to market yourself or grow your business. And, you know, you, you, you buy them and you see how well they're doing. And then you're like, Oh, if they can do that and sell that for that, like, wha I, I certainly can. I mean, and it's like, you kind of have to experience that, um, that almost the positive comparison, I guess, you know, instead of saying, Oh, I couldn't possibly do that because it's already been done. It's like, Oh no, I could actually do that a lot better or, you know, different or whatever. Um, but if you're going to let the, if you're going to let everybody else tell you that you can't do it, and you're going to listen to everybody else, you're never, you're never, you're going to quit before the miracle. So

Steff Green: Exactly. And I think sometimes we, we build other people like other success stories up in their head as they have this like secret sauce that we don't have to have, like this magical fairy dust that they sprinkle on everything. And we don't have any magical fairy, just so it's never going to happen to us. And when you kind of peek behind the curtain and you look at what they've done, you kind of see why actually maybe there isn't any magical fairy dust. Maybe they've just, you know, they're just worked hard and they've just created the thing and they put the thing out there and, um, and you know, if they could make the thing and put the thing out, didn't, you can do that too. And you you'd actually just don't need any fairy just, and one of the things I always do is when I'm feeling a bit crap about, you know, things or feeling like, you know, people hate my books or something like that, it's like go and read all the negative reviews from all of my favorite books.

Steff Green: Like all of the books that touched by heart, I go and read all the negative reviews where people like this book is trash and this author should never that. And I'm like, they have people who think, you know, think that too. And those people were all wrong and crazy. And so it's, you know, it's okay. It's okay though. I have bad reviews, you know, it doesn't, it's a with a book it's not a review of me. And yeah, I think you just have to, you just have to find a way through and you've got to keep going

Shannon Mattern: So good. That is the perfect place to wrap up this conversation. Can you share with everyone, how can we get in touch with you? How can what's the best place to learn more about you self publishing, your books, all of the things.

Steff Green: Yes. So, um, if you want to read some really sexy vampire fiction of empire romances and, um, you know, go story romances and things like that, um, you want to go to DubDubDub dot Stephanie homes, um, and it's Stephanie with two ifs. Um, and if you want to learn more about self publishing and yeah, and, and how I got to this point and how you can tell your stories and find your readers, then you go to, um, DubDubDub dot rage against the menu, script.com uh, actually, um, rage against the manuscript.com/hello. And I've got a free ebook there, which is all about kind of writing and self-publishing and making, writing a career. And you can download that free book, uh, and is heaps of other free resources on the website. Um, and I've got my, um, self publishing course and sup option book coaches on that, on that website as well. And yeah, and that's probably the best place to, to come hang out with me. We've also got a, um, got the rage against the manuscripts, uh, private Facebook group, which has got lots of writers on there. Just talking about self publishing and what they're doing and answering questions. And it's a really fun little place where we all hang out.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, well, that's awesome. I will link up all of that stuff in the show notes. So you guys definitely go check that out, Steph, thank you so much for being here. It was amazing talking to you.

Steff Green: Thank you so much. It was so much fun.

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Steff Green is a USA Today bestselling author of supernatural romance books. She earns multi-six figures a year self-publishing stories about vampires and witches, and she speaks and teaches all over the world, helping authors tell their unique stories, find their audience and build a badass writing career through self-publishing. Oh, and she's legally blind.

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