Career Change Results in Best-Selling, Self-Published Works

After setbacks, Cynthia Woolf seized the opportunity to pursue her childhood dream and become a best-selling author

Growing up in the foothills of Colorado and working at a museum as a teen, Cynthia Woolf fell in love with the history of the western United States. Woolf’s father was a cowboy in Colorado and met her mother while she was visiting from Texas. The two began to write to one another and married soon after. Woolf was five years old when her father passed. Her mother became a librarian and raised her, along with her three siblings, as a single parent.

“As a teen, I worked at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Golden, Colorado and it was there that I learned a significant amount of western history,” says Woolf. “Westerns, history books and romance novels have always been of interest to me.”

Inspired by her parents’ epic love story and the beauty and history of Colorado, Woolf started writing her first novel in the 1990s, but never completed it due to the busyness of life and commitments. It wasn’t until 2011, when she was laid off from her job and endured a major health scare, that Woolf decided to pursue her life’s passion of writing.

“I was 55, recently let go, and in the hospital after what I thought was a heart attack. It was in that hospital bed that I decided to do what I love most in life which is writing historical western romance novels,” Woolf said. “I asked my husband to bring my unfinished book to the hospital, so I could pick up where I left off.”

Woolf learned about Amazon’s self-publishing service Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) through a friend and within a couple of months, she published her first book, “Tame a Wild Heart,” inspired by Colorado’s beautiful landscape and her parents’ love story.

The book launched Woolf’s writing career. She started to write and publish more novels on her own, teaching herself marketing skills to promote her books. Today, Woolf has more than 42 published titles and is releasing another book this November as part of her Brides of Seattle series called “Mail Order Melody.”  


“It’s so easy to publish on KDP,” said Woolf. “I encourage any aspiring authors to write stories that they want to read and publish independently. Traditional publishers told me that westerns were dead and that I needed to pursue a different genre, but I refused to listen.”

KDP is Woolf’s largest revenue stream and represents 70 percent to 80 percent of her income. She is able to make the first book in every series is free so that readers get a taste of Woolf’s writing, and most readers end up buying the rest of the series. Since 2011, Woolf has been able to hire an editor, formatter and cover artist to help with her books.  Each book typically receives between 50 to 1,100 reviews and all are rated an average of four to five stars.

KDP empowers striving authors to build audiences, brands and businesses through self-publishing. In Colorado alone, there are more than 45,000 authors, small and medium-sized businesses, and developers growing their businesses using Amazon products and services.

“I love what I do,” said Woolf. “I’m lucky to be able to work from my home in Firestone, enjoy the beautiful Colorado landscape, and make a living doing what I love most in life. KDP helped afford me that opportunity.”

Categories: Entrepreneurs