Thirty-nine dollars. Such a miniscule investment netted Carole Bellacera priceless rewards. She gained control of her career. And her confidence resurged—a confidence that had been built by accolades from her peers.
A longtime Manassas resident, Bellacera is an award-winning author who experienced early success when New York City’s Forge Books published her first four novels. Her writing was also nominated for several industry honors. But with less than impressive sales, Bellacera was dropped by the publisher.
She tried other publishing houses and hired another agent, all while continuing to write. But her confidence waned—she even dropped out of the Romance Writers of America association.
“I felt like a fraud, like I didn’t belong there,” Bellacera said, even though the association had nominated her first book as both the Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book. Her second novel had also earned several awards.
That’s when a friend told her about Amazon’s CreateSpace self-publishing program. For just $39.00, she published her latest book, Tango’s Edge, and it is available at amazon.com in both paperback and e-book format.
The books are printed by demand only. “If you order a book online today, it will be printed in Charleston and delivered to your door in two or three days,” Bellacera said.
“It’s not the answer for everyone, like unpublished authors who don’t have a fan base, but it has helped me take control of my career,” she said.
Bellacera was able to choose the most economical publishing option because her husband formatted the text using the site’s software. The program offers a more expensive option with complete services.
According to Bellacera, the cost for using traditional self-publishing houses, known as vanity presses, averages about $4,000 to $5,000 and the author is provided with an inventory of printed books. That has been one of the only avenues to self-publishing for many years until technology transformed the industry.
With the advent of online sales and e-books, programs like Amazon’s CreateSpace “make it really affordable for an author to publish and sell books on her own,” she said.
Bellacera recognizes the potential negative stigma of the self-published book because she once subscribed to it herself.
“In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when I heard someone had self-published a book, I thought, ‘oh, she must not be a very good writer,’ ” Bellacera said. But the sweeping changes in the publishing and book sales industry made a believer out of her.
“As soon as the word gets out on the CreateSpace program, everyone is going to be doing it,” she said.
Bellacera is encouraged by early sales of Tango’s Edge, a romantic suspense story revolving around the Winter Olympics when a Russian ice dancer asks his female American counterpart to help him defect.
In one of “the smartest decisions I’ve made yet” Bellacera also gained back the rights to her first four books and they are all now available on amazon.com as e-books. She hopes to reprint them at some point.
She is planning a February release of her next book Lily of the Springs, a coming-of -age story set in Kentucky during the 1950’s and 60’s. It was inspired by her mother’s experiences.
Although a far cry from the $15,000 advance she received in 2000 for her final book with the big-time publisher, Bellacera’s checks from the sales of Tango’s Edge on amazon.com are somehow more rewarding.
“It feels good to be taking control and putting books out for myself. I don’t need the validation of editors or agents, just my readers.”
Note: Bellacera will be signing books Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Nokesville Holiday Bazaar from 9 a.m. 3 p.m. at Nokesville Elementary School, 12625 Fitzwater Drive