Welcome to "The Writers Room" blog—a special space dedicated to self-published authors, offering them a chance to shine and inspire others. Dive into our Q&A sessions, where digital first authors openly share their writing journeys, experiences, and valuable insights with our community.
Let's meet this month's indie author, Christina Berry— who writes award winning steamy romance novels. Here is the Q&A we had with Christina in summer last year;
MUSO: Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?
I’m Christina Berry and I write steamy contemporary romance. My debut novel, Up for Air, won “Sexiest Consent” in the 2021 Good Sex Awards, and my first two Lost in Austin series books won the Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal in Romance - Sizzle in 2021 and 2022. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Currently I reside in a never-ending construction project (aka our house) in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two robot cats.
MUSO: How did you first get into writing and self-publishing your books?
My sister can draw. She became an artist. I can’t draw, so I became a writer. I first started writing as a way to describe what I could imagine in my head. I remember when I was a broody, gothy teen, I spent hours alone in my room writing and rewriting a scene from a vampire romance that lived rent free in my imagination. Writing back then was just a way to capture the images in my head, but several years ago I went through a stranger-than-fiction phase of my life, and I decided to write it into a story. That’s how my debut, Up for Air, came to be. It was published by a small press, as was my second novel, The Road Home, which was the story of a side character from Up for Air. However, I discovered I was not a fan of working with a publisher. I didn’t like the lack of communication and control over my titles. So when the first book’s contract ended, I let it expire. And I bought out the end of my second contract. I’ve been indie publishing ever since.
MUSO: What are the benefits and challenges of writing and self-publishing?
I like having total control over my content, cover, schedule, marketing—everything. But it’s a lot of work.
Also, it’s expensive. You’re spending hundreds or even thousands on cover photography and design, copy editing, formatting or the software to do-it-yourself. And that’s before you get to the cost of promotion and advertising. All that expense makes piracy so much worse. It’s a personal affront to indie authors.
MUSO: How many books have you published?
I have five published as of now, and my sixth Hearts to Mend, is set to release on September 28, 2023. I’m really excited about this next one because it’s the first book I’ve finished since I suffered a stroke last year, and I wrote a stroke into the story. So it’s a very personal book for me.
MUSO: What are the technologies that are essential for your work and or self-publishing business?
Scrivener is great for organizing the rough draft. It’s easy to rearrange chapters and sections. Once it’s time to share with beta readers, I download it to Word and from that point on, I work in Word. For formatting the e-book and paperback, I absolutely love Vellum. I tried Atticus first, but at that time they did not support the Cherokee syllabary font. That was a problem because I include some Cherokee language in my indigenous rockstar romance The Road Home. That’s when I switched to Vellum and never looked back. Canva has been essential for marketing design and social media post creation. It’s well worth the price when you’re doing so much marketing yourself. Muso is helping a lot on cracking down on piracy, which is important because Amazon has been punishing Kindle Unlimited authors’ whose work is pirated. Lastly, this one is more personal, but I could not have completed this latest novel without a speech-to-text app. I used Otter for a while, and now I’m using Google’s transcription service on my Pixel phone. None are perfect, but it’s a huge help for me. After my stroke, I struggled with writer’s block. It wasn’t that the ideas weren’t there, but it was hard for me to type it all out. So I started dictating the ideas to my phone for transcription, then I’d edit those transcripts into a coherent story. I absolutely needed that tool in order to get my brain back into writing.
MUSO: What advice would you give to anyone just starting out?
Be patient. Prepare to have to spend money. And don’t compare yourself with other authors.
It can be really discouraging to be an indie author, because when you first start out no one knows who you are. It’s a challenge to get your name in front of readers, and even more challenging to convince them to devote their valuable time to read your book. Social media is great for establishing relationships. Befriend other authors and support each other. Befriend readers and connect with them. Becoming known and talked about as an indie author is the goal, but that costs either time or money, or both. So be prepared for that. That said, all those relationships you establish are amazing. The indie romance community is awesome, and I’m sure there are great communities in other genres too. When there is a signing event, it’s so exciting because you finally get to meet some of the people you’ve been engaging with online for ages. So enjoy yourself and be kind.
MUSO: How do you feel piracy impact your work?
It costs me money. Most of my books are in Kindle Unlimited, so people can read them for an extremely affordable price. For those reads, I get paid. But instead of subscribing to KU, some people choose to read our work through piracy sites, and we don’t see a dime from that. I don’t consider those people readers, they are thieves. They cost authors money not only because they are depriving us of income, but because they make it necessary for us to invest in services like Muso to protect ourselves.
MUSO: How long have you been using MUSO and how has the service been?
Just a little over a month. It has had over 100 files of my books taken down from piracy sites. I was a little surprised that there were so many. I’m still mostly a no-name author. But I guess no author is too small to steal from.
Thank you, Christina! If you would like to be featured in the next writers room please email firstname.lastname@example.org