Steena Holmes on Falling in Love… With Indie Publishing

I met Steena last summer when I joined Kristen Lamb's online blogging class. From the moment I first saw her blog, I knew she was an amazing woman and now, nine months later, I'm in awe of what this woman can do! Her blog is gorgeous and she creates cover art that will make you swoon. Not only that, but she's written several books that are sultry pleasures to read. Oh yeah, and she loves chocolate.

A few weeks ago Barbara McDowell did a fabulous interview with Steena ~ definitely check it out when you're done here! Steena talks about her writing process and there's an except from her book, Devil Unknown. Since Barbara did such an outstanding job with the interview, I asked Steena if she'd be willing to tell us a little about going indie. And so, without further ado, here's Steena on how she fell in love…


Exactly one year ago this month I fell in love. It was an eye opening experience for me, something that I never expected, not in a million years. You know that heart pounding, stomach churning, teeth clenching, hand shaking type of feeling you get when your life does a complete 180 without you even realizing it?

That’s what happened to me when I decided to self publish a short story.

For years I had been seeking the right agent, the perfect agent to fall in love with my story. I perfected the query, trampled through writing a synopsis. Joined critique groups and did everything I could to garner the interest of someone who would help me fulfill my dream. And then I wrote an erotic novella based on a dare and found myself signing a contract with an epublisher.

I had friends try to talk me out of it. Epublishing was like taking a step backwards. Giving up my dream. Short changing myself. Can you image what they had to say when I decided to self publish a short story right before my novella was released?

It was as if the world was going to end. And that was only a year ago. But let me tell you – the moment I sold my first copy of that short story – I knew … I KNEW this is what I wanted to do. No matter what.

It’s amazing how times have changed. We now have NY best sellers self publishing their backlists, agents joining in the fray and offering to self pub their clients – and we have indie authors doing the unspeakable – joining the likes of Stephen King and Nora Roberts in their success.

Oh my!

It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to be a part of that. But let me warn you – it’s addicting. In 10 months I have 7 titles that I have self published, with more on the way. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it can be disheartening. But…it can also be exhilarating, exciting, heart pounding, control grabbing and addicting.

Why do I like indie publishing? Because it means taking control of my dream and being the one responsible for seeing it come true. It means taking what I’ve learned and using that to empower others. It means being able to prove to myself, my family and my friends that yes, I can write and yes, I’m good at it. It means seeing a monthly pay cheque that rivals what I make with my full time job and realizing that soon it will surpass that full time job. It means that sooner rather than later I will be able to say I am a full time writer!

I love indie publishing so much that I’ve made it my goal to help others be successful in this new realm of publishing. So much so that I joined forces with a best selling author – Lisa Renee Jones – and created The Author’s Red Room – A virtual publishing assistant. A one-stop shop for indie authors to go and find people to help them be successful in their journey. From covers to editing, to promotions and marketing.

I doubt I will ever turn from being an indie author. A few months ago I made the decision to take a novel that had garnered quite a few agent's attention and pulled it so that I could self publish it. This is a story that is from my heart. Finding Emma – the story of a mother who will do anything to find her kidnapped daughter. I’ve partnered with an agency – The Missing Children’s Society of Canada – and will be donating proceeds from every book sold to this charity. I want to help them reunite families that have been torn apart. I’m excited that I can do so. Finding Emma will be released April 1st.


I told you this lady is amazing. All the proceeds to benefit missing children? Awesome! Because Steena is so amazingly cool, she's agreed to give away a free copy of Finding Emma BEFORE it's release date! How do you win? Easy! Just leave a comment for Steena here or on her blog Wednesday when I'm guest posting over there (it's all about chocolate, make sure you stop by!).

Each commenter's name will be put in a hat and Steena will announce the winner on Friday. This book will grab your heart strings and not let go.

If you'd like to get to know Steena a little better, check out her blog Writing With Passion.

 Now it's your turn ~ What would you like to know from Steena? Got a burning question about romance? Going indie? Chocolate? Ask away!

84 thoughts on “Steena Holmes on Falling in Love… With Indie Publishing”

  1. Coleen PatrickColeen Patrick

    I love author interviews because they usually make me feel like I am in the right place, doing the things I want to do. Tameri thanks for sharing a bit of Steena’s story because it made me feel so much more hopeful about my writing dreams! For the last year I’ve been filing away the info and pros & cons of the choices in publishing–and this interview reminds me again that I am so glad we have choices!! 🙂

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Coleen – I’m amazed at the choices we now have as an author! There’s no limit to what we can do and it’s exciting! Each journey is different but will lead to the same destination – our dreams 🙂

      Good luck!


  2. Angela WallaceAngela Wallace

    Great post, Steena! I also fell in love with self-publishing. It fits my personality–well, in almost every way, which we’ve talked about. 😉 It really is an exciting time to be a writer. Yay for the coming release!

  3. susielindaususielindau

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on your successes! I hope to follow in your footsteps one day soon…

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Susie I have no doubt that you will be successful when you do!

  4. steenaholmessteenaholmes

    Tameri – thank you darlin for hosting me today 🙂 I’ve got the coffee on and was thinking of making some chocolate biscotti. Thanks for the virtual coffee date today!

  5. Debra KristiDebra Kristi

    Tameri and Steena, Thank you for this wonderful interview. Like Coleen, I’ve been filing things away and keeping the information handy. I like to know my options. Things have really changed in the last few years and I’m still on the fence, but feel a desire to give indie publishing a try at some point.

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Debra, there are so many options out there for us – I love that we now have the ability to decide with publication path we want 🙂 It’s all about choice and control!

  6. Angela Orlowski-PeartAngela Orlowski-Peart

    Steena and Tameri, I love learning more about my wana sisters, and these interviews have been the best addition to our Facebook and Yahoo groups.

    Steena, your self-publishing success story is of only impressive but also encouraging for the authors who are still unsure about that route. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  7. patriciasandspatriciasands

    Thanks for this, ladies! Steena is such a great role model for making things happen in indieworld. I just finished reading Finding Emma and will get a review posted. It’s a super good read, Steena, – gripping and emotional. Well done!

  8. Bridgette BoothBridgette Booth

    Thanks for this great information, Steena. Excellent slant, Tameri. I was just telling my husband about how successful you have been with self-publishing, Steena, and that you’ve given me reason to reconsider my career plans. I’ve always been drawn to self-publishing, but my friends gave me similar advice as yours. Your transparency has helped more than you know. 🙂

    I hope Finding Emma goes to the top of the sales charts!

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Bridgette – I found I had to listen to both sides – those who were against as well as those who have been successful to really make my decision. Not making one due to a lack of understanding or fear doesn’t make sense – and I’m so glad that I made the choice to find out for myself. Indie publishing isn’t for everyone, but for those willing to give it a try – I think they will be surprised at the outcome 🙂

  9. EmmaEmma

    It is addictive and exhilarating. Had a peek at The Author’s Red Room and it looks cool. Good luck with your writing career.

  10. Elena AitkenElena Aitken

    Two of my fave writing chicks in one place! Awesome stuff ladies!
    I too fell in love with Indie. It’s not a decision that everyone understands, even other writers. BUT…the best one for me…and obviously you.
    You’re an inspiration, my friend!

  11. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    What a wonderful interview you two – thanks so much for sharing Steena and for hosting Tameri. It’s so wonderful to hear from someone who obviously has found a joy, love and success as an Indie and is proud to shout it from the rooftops. LUV it! When I started reading and discovering self-publishing, that’s when I decided to try my hand at the writing I’ve always wanted to do because now, NOW I was in charge of my own destiny. Gotta love that. And The Author’s Red Room – AHHHMAZING!!! Steena, your commitment to helping others through the process is fabulous and I am shaking my hot pink pompoms!!! I can’t wait until I am ready to tap into all your resources….
    Here’s to your continued and unbelievable success – always! 🙂

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      WOO HOO on the pink pompoms 😉 Natalie, if I want to succeed, then I need to be sure to help others – that’s my motto 😉

  12. Traci BellTraci Bell

    Hello Ladies,

    I have a contemporary romance that I’ve been playing with the idea of self-publishing… Needless to say, Steena, you’ve given me lots to think about! I’m glad it is working for you, and I love what you’re doing with Finding Emma and The Missing Children’s Society.

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Traci, when you are ready, you’ll know which direction to take. It’ll feel “right”. Until then, take your time!

  13. Mama LauraMama Laura

    Yes Tameri. I have been “stealth” reading your blog without commenting. But Steena’s interview and the mention of chocolate persuaded me to break the silence. You are both inspirational to me! And as Tameri has been nagging me to finish that YA book I’ve been writing for years (although she still won’t let me see her book) and Steena has provided great self-publishing information, well, who knows. Maybe I just will finish. AND maybe sometime we can all get together because I am an excellent baker who will be happy to share baked goods for some girl talk! Go get ’em girls!

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      You said the magic words – baked goods 🙂 Finish your YA 🙂 That’s the most important thing to a writer – being able to finish that project! You WILL finish 🙂 And then celebrate!

  14. Adriana RyanAdriana Ryan

    That cover is breathtaking! 🙂 Finding Emma sounds exactly like the sort of book I’d pick up in a book store. I’ll be picking it up on my Kindle come April 1st!

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Adriana – thank you 🙂 The cover is amazing, isn’t it! I love it. LOVE it! I hope you enjoy the story when you read it 😉 Be sure to let me know!!

  15. Karen McFarlandKaren McFarland

    What a wonderful interview ladies! Loved your insight Steena on self publishing. I’ve had my reservations with both self-pubbing and traditional. It’s a confusing world out there and a wee bit intimidating. But I love your enthusiasium! Thank you Tamari for being such a gracious host. I’ll be picking up a piece of chocolate before I leave. Yummy! Thanks! 🙂

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      It is a confusing world Karen, I agree. But … you aren’t alone! Just remember that 🙂

  16. Louise BehielLouise Behiel

    Ladies, lovely interview. well done. for those of you who don’t know Steena, she is as gracious in person as she sounds here. Always willing to help out another writer and a font of information for the rest of us who are behind her in this journey. Steena, good luck on this release. I know it is a special book for you and will make lots of money for the charity.

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Louise, you are a darling! Thank you! Especially today, those words mean a lot to me!

  17. Kristy K. James...Living, Loving, LaughingKristy K. James...Living, Loving, Laughing

    I like reading articles like this one, Tameri. So many people look down their noses at indies…and they don’t have a clue about it. Glad you joined our ranks. Well, I guess I joined yours because I didn’t get started until July. 🙂

      • Kristy K. James...Living, Loving, LaughingKristy K. James...Living, Loving, Laughing

        Hi, Steena…nice to meet you. The writing is good, thanks for asking. Getting ready to release two books this spring, and working on two WIP’s and trying to find the time to start the fourth in my series. 🙂

  18. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    Such an inspiring woman and post! Thanks for introducing us to Steena, Tameri. I haven’t yet visited her blog (but am about to ;)) and am already a fan.

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      August – thank you! I hope you enjoy the site … it’s in the middle of a change (I’m just waiting for my hosts to change .. then watch out 🙂 I love my new site …
      oh shoot … here – go take a peek:

  19. Sheila SeabrookSheila Seabrook

    Steena, I’m super excited to have been able to watch your journey into the indie market. You rock, doll!

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Sheila, your encouragement through this process has been amazing and exactly what I needed – so thank you darlin!

  20. Lissa ClouserLissa Clouser

    Thank you so much for sharing this post! (And for giving us authors hope.) Part of me still strongly wants to go traditional. Part of me isn’t so sure yet. There’s still the old-fashioned me that wonders if I’m realllllly an author if I self-pub. (Self doubt only, nothing against the indies!) But now I’m veering off into certain territories that make self-pub very interesting. Or at least small press perhaps. We shall see. Thanks for the author’s red room link! I will be checking that out a LOT before making any major decisions!

    • steenaholmessteenaholmes

      Lissa, don’t be afraid to question and take your time. You’ll know what the right journey is for you – and I have no doubt that no matter what you decide to do – you’ll be successful at it! Good luck 🙂 If you ever have questions, give me a shout!

      • Lissa ClouserLissa Clouser

        Thank you very much! Best of luck in all of your continued adventures!

  21. Leanne ShirtliffeLeanne Shirtliffe

    You and Elena amaze me, Steena. You’re so good, so prolific, and so inspiring. Wow. And I’d love to win a copy. But I’ll probably buy one too. 🙂

  22. Diana MurdockDiana Murdock

    You are such an inspiration, Steena! I’m forever grateful to be in your camp on this. Indie fits for me because I love the control over my work. Learning from my experiences and others indie authors is so empowering. The well traveled road is not always the fastest or most enjoyable route to success, as you have proven. Thanks you, Tameri and Steena, for this wonderful post!

    • Steena HolmesSteena Holmes

      Diana, you are an inspiration to me 🙂 Let’s travel this road together and enjoy the ride 😉

  23. Bethany LopezBethany Lopez

    What a wonderful post! I loved reading about Steena’s journey, thank you so much for sharing it with us. Wishing you all the best!

  24. Tawny StokesTawny Stokes

    I fell in love with Steena the first time I met her…. knew instantly she was my kind of peep

    She is generous and funny and driven and bakes good chocolately stuffs. 🙂

  25. Marion SpicherMarion Spicher

    My fingers are stuck on the keyboard. So much to say and don’t know how to say it! Great article, and I will be visiting the Author’s Red Room. One of the best things about having to take a time out for body maintenance is having the time to get to know you all. Funny thing, time. It never changes … just our priorities do! Love you folks, and have learned a lot in the past few days.

    In October 2011, I had well known NY agent ask for 50 pages of my manuscript, and if you can believe it, though I am working hard on rewriting it to make it a better novel, I am not going to wait long for a response after I send it. At my age, my thoughts are leaning heavily toward concentrating on quality writing, polishing, beta readers, editors for various aspects of the novel, and marketing skills, rather than querying and tracking the traditional route. I believe in both methods and to each his/her own. A good book is a good book. But without marketing, the public cannot get their hands on it. And the marketing falls to the author unless they are a big name. Nite, all.


    This is a great post, but Steena, can you give some insight on how to avoid publishing before the writing is ready, or how to know when it’s ready. And how does an unpublished writer (making no income) get things like editing and cover art?

    • Steena HolmesSteena Holmes

      Hi Beth. I think the best way to know if your writing is ready is to have beta readers – people who can read it for you and help you with any gaping plot holes, character arcs etc.

      As for the $$ of self publishing. It is tough. I know. If you have writing friends who have sharp eyes – get them to help you with editing. Swap manuscripts with people and help each other out.

      And with covers … if you know how to do photo manipulation or can work with photoshop – then you can do it yourself. But take a look at a lot of covers in your genre, study them and make sure that what you put out is equal to what the Big 6 put out for their authors. OR … over at there are ready-made covers for only $35 (which is an amazing deal since normally covers can cost between $50-$3000).

  27. James W. LewisJames W. Lewis

    Great post. Every reason she mentioned highlights exactly why I’m enjoying the indie route. I also have multiple works online, and lovin’ every minute of the process. Creative control is the best!

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