It might seem like becoming an international Best Selling Author takes a lot of time…and it does. But aside from the hard work and the talent, there’s one aspect to writing stories that can ignite the path to success—heart.
For local author Ivy Smoak, 32, getting her name out there took everything you would expect when following your dreams, but it was the fact that she believed in her dream so much that made the success possible through self-publication.
“I never really dreamed that I would be able to get my own stories down on paper and people would actually pick them up and read them—it’s been a crazy journey, “explains Smoak. “I’m also shy so this has been a way for people to hear my voice.”
The Wilmington, Delaware native began writing six years ago with her first book completed in college. “It was a fictional retelling of my story. I submitted it to publishers and got rejected…I gave up writing for a bit,” she recalls.
After her husband recommended going down a different route, one that involved romance with some inspiration from another wildly popular series (’50 Shades’), it was then that Smoak hit her sweet spot, put pen to paper and her ‘Hunted’ series was born.
The series starts out with ‘Temptation,’ where a shy student meets and falls for a man who is out of reach to say the least. The series then follows the same couple from the original book, Penny and James and goes on for a few more installments: ‘Addiction,’ ‘Eruption,’ and ‘Devotion.’ On top of ‘The Hunted’ series, Smoak has also written a few more—all surrounding romance, vivid characters and some adult situations. For the author, it’s definitely been a labor of love. In fact, all 26 books from Smoak are self-published.
“It really is an entrepreneurial type of [deal] being self-published, and I really have that spirit and I really do love doing my own thing without having to answer to anyone else,” says Smoak. “For the most part it’s whatever I want to say and I do really value having control over everything. My husband (Ryan Hauge) is my editor and [he also] designs my covers, so it really is a team effort.”
The duo has been so successful that it’s now a full-time job. Smoak’s work has recently just hit 2 million copies sold globally, a highlight that she says she’s very proud of in her career.
Smoak also has had success this summer releasing two books and an anthology. The anthology, ‘Hot Summer School Nights’ made it onto The USA Today and The Wall Street Journal Best Seller List, while her other recently released publication ‘The Society: #StalkerProblems’, has hit #4 on the Amazon Kindle Store on the release date and is currently sitting at #1 for Comedy. In the latter, the main character Ash has conjured up a lot of feedback from readers as a relatable character in so many facets, especially dealing with anxiety.
“People really identify with her and it feels good that people can get lost in a world that they feel safe in,” explains Smoak.
That’s something Smoak gets to see firsthand as well. The University of Delaware grad has a Facebook group with 20,000 members from around the world known as the Smoaksters that she interacts with regularly.
It’s not just the romance that pulls readers in, it’s also the emotion behind the stories that has made her self-made career a success.
“I do write mostly romance but the thing behind my books is that they’re also emotional,” she explains. “So I say I fail at my job if I don’t make you cry and laugh. My husband makes fun of me because I’m sitting here bawling my eyes out while writing one scene and then busting out laughing the next… If you can feel those emotions however, then I’ve done my job well.”
“I’m all about going after your dreams. You really have to write the book and put it out there whether you self-publish or go through an additional person, you’ve got to finish it. If your heart is in it…you can accomplish anything you want.”
Readers can find Smoak on social media @ivysmaokauthor or find her work at any bookstore, on Amazon or at ivysmoak.com.