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Q&A: Mount Airy-based author reaches seven figures through self-publishing

Q&A: Mount Airy-based author reaches seven figures through self-publishing
Author Eliza Knight has a release coming up on June 25 for her book “The Highlander Enchantment.” (Courtesy photo)

Mount Airy resident Eliza Knight has been writing for a great deal of her life and has made a name for herself — and about seven figures — in the world of self-publishing.

Knight’s love for writing has evolved over time, from writing short stories in grade school to writing for the school newspaper in high school to becoming the author of over 60 books. Knight is a history buff and mainly writes romance, historical romance and historical fiction. Aside from being an accomplished author, Knight is also a wife and mother of three daughters, of whom the oldest has only recently been allowed to read her books and enjoys them, according to Knight.

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Knight has a release coming up on June 25 for her book “The Highlander Enchantment.”

The Times recently caught up with Knight to learn more about her success in the world of self-publishing and how she got to this point.

Q: How did you get started as an author?

A: When I went to college, I went in for journalism and the first year, I realized it wasn’t for me. … So I said to my parents, ‘OK, listen, I still want to write but I really don’t think that I want to be a journalist. Do you think I could change my major to English? Because I want to write for magazines or something like that.’ My parents said ‘no way, you need to have a degree that will make you some money. If you’re not going to do journalism, you need to find you something else that will give you a real career.’ So, at the time I was taking a class about relationships. I actually fell in love with the study of family and relationships, so when I was at that crossroad, I changed my major to family studies. Throughout the next few years, I really focused on couple relationships — marriage, dating, love, sexuality, the health of sexuality, health of relationships… When I got out of college, I did end up going to grad school right away to see if I would enjoy working in that field but there were no positions available. So, I ended up working at a mental health institution for a few years, which is really rewarding work but also really hard work. I was still doing writing on the side, but I wasn’t finding the passion at work. My husband was very supportive, and he was like ‘you love writing, why don’t you try making a go at it?’ So, I did. I started writing books and it was about two years of writing and submitting to contest, publishers and agents before I got my first contract in 2008.

Q: What was your first book called?

A: It was called “Warrior in a Box,” but it is no longer available. I had won a contest with it and then got my first contract.

Q: Who was your first contract with?

A: Wild Rose Press.

Q: When did you move to Carroll County?

A: We moved to Carroll County in 2002, I think. We first lived in Sykesville for about a year and a half, and we then moved to Mount Airy and we’ve been here ever since.

Q: What was your latest book called?

A: I had a book release in March that was called “The Highlander’s Secret Vow.”

Q: What made you want to start self-publishing?

A: My first book came out in 2008, and my royalty checks were pretty small. I thought at the time, ‘well, I’m a new writer, this is something I just have to establish.’ Most writers are starving artists, as we like to call ourselves. One of my girlfriends at the time, she mentioned that she had published her Highlander novel on [Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing], and she was mentioning her numbers and the success she was having. I got on the phone with her and we chatted because I wanted to know more about what was going on. I decided, I’m getting the rights back on three books, which were “Warrior in a Box,” “Lady in a Box” and “Lover in a Box.” Then I thought, maybe I’ll try putting them in a bundle and I’ll publish them on KDP just to see if this is something that’s viable for me. Within the first month of doing that, I had made more royalties with that set than I had made for the whole two years being published.

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Q: You’ve made a lot of money doing this, the big question is how?

A: I think the thing that really went to my success, well there are a number of things; one is that there’s this thing called the gold rush of self-publishing and it particularly took place between 2010 and 2013 and it was really the rise of e-book and the rise of publishing with Amazon. Publishers really hadn’t caught on to things like price point with e-book. So, there wasn’t much competition for indies, we could go in and publish our books at $4.99 and the publishers were publishing our e-books at $8.99, $6.99 or $12.99 even. So, it was really about the deals for the readers. … The sky was the limit and because of that, I was really able to build an audience and being prolific as I am, I was able to maintain that audience and continue to grow. First, I think it was a lot about being there for the timing but also taking your job seriously, putting out quality product for my readers, maintaining the quality product, constantly putting out books that they will enjoy.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: I get my inspiration from life, from history, I’m an avid nonfiction reader, I’m a history buff. I love documentaries, I read tons of articles online, I have thousands of books in my house. I guess the way my brain works is I see something, and the story starts. I always tell people; I’ll never be able to write all the things I want to write.

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