Let’s kick things off with a rundown of you and your books. In other words, tell us about yourself and what you write!
I’m a full time paralegal who loves to read and write. I‘ve been writing historical romances, but will be venturing off into contemporary romance in my next book. Down the road I may even wander further afield and write in completely different genres. I’m always looking for a challenge (though I’m already thinking of a third book for my historical series).
My romances are more of the “clean” variety in that they are not sexually graphic, though I do occasionally throw in some off color humor. I really try to immerse the reader in the time period, so I do a lot of research. The stories are set in England during the early, extended Regency period. While the books are not true Regency novels in the Jane Austen tradition, they do incorporate strong Regency elements and themes.
How long have you been writing? And how long have you been publishing?
I’ve had a passion for reading and writing since I was very young. My parents often found me under the covers with a flashlight. My profession as a paralegal has a heavy emphasis on reading and writing too, which is why it was a natural fit for me. Though I love writing fiction, except for a few fortunate authors, most find it difficult to earn a good living, and it’s becomingly increasingly difficult to do so.
My first work of fiction, Surrender of Trust, was independently published in 2013. Due to some family upheaval subsequent to that, I was not able to finish my second book of the series, A Gentleman’s Surrender, until the end of 2015. That story was published January 1, 2016.
What “kind” of writer would you describe yourself as? (Traditional, Self-Published, Hybrid, Something else entirely?)
I am an independent author (self-published), though I’m not adverse to being traditionally published as well. I think ideally, an author does best when he or she is a hybrid and can do both.
How did you decide what publishing route to take for your books?
That’s been a tough decision all the way around and is still in flux, as is the publishing industry in general. I’ll discuss this more in a moment, but for me, I wanted to publish something. It had always been a desire, and I was able to fulfill it by self publishing.
Whether to pursue traditional publication or self publication can be a tough choice. Being traditionally published is a more difficult route to pursue because of the sheer volume of people trying to do the same. Assuming the author has actually produced a good book, there is still the length of time involved with finding a publisher (or an agent) who: actually reads your manuscript; likes your story; thinks it’s a good fit for a publisher’s lines; and believes it’s the right time for your book to be published in the marketplace. Added to that is the fact that some publishers and agents also take into consideration your author platform (social media presence and the like) to evaluate whether you can assist the publisher in marketing the book.
Being traditionally published means you lose control of many things from cover design to marketing to editing. You also get a smaller share of the royalties. However, it also means you are not paying out of pocket for editing, pricing, cover design, etc., though you will most likely share marketing costs and will be expected to do your own marketing concurrent with the publisher’s efforts. My husband recently read me the credits from a traditionally published book. There were about thirty (30) people and jobs mentioned!
If you independently publish, you do all of the work and make all of the decisions (remember those 30 people credited in the book?). You get to be the “chief cook and bottle washer,” and it can be daunting and overwhelming. It can also be costly to pay for cover design, content or developmental editing, copy editing (yes, they are all three different), formatting for electronic and print books, and advertising.
On the flip side, you get to do what you want with the book. It’s yours. You decide where you want to list it for sale, how you want to price it, where you want to advertise it (free and paid), when you want to put it on sale, etc. You can have a cover designer create a cover, or take a stab at it yourself (though I would not recommend that). You can pay someone to format your manuscript for electronic publication, or you can learn to do it yourself. You can track your own sales and see if, where, and when you list your book makes a difference in sales and exposure. The same goes for advertising. If you are a control freak, then this is definitely the way you want to go. Everybody else needs to give it serious thought.
Anyone can self publish on a multitude of sites. Just remember one thing. Your story must be good. I cannot emphasize that enough.
What one piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to do the same?
Learn your craft. Be patient. Weigh your options. Dive in.
How long does it take you from concept to completion to write and publish a novel?
That can vary greatly. My first book, Surrender of Trust, was written in a year. My second book, A Gentleman’s Surrender, took me almost two years to write. Though in fairness, I was not able to devote as much time to writing the second book due to some family concerns. I also did three major re-writes to the tale because I wasn’t satisfied with it.
My third book has taken about six months and is almost finished and ready for its first edit. Of course, you should understand that as an author finds her (or his) “voice” and style, it’s natural that the length of time to produce a book should decrease. Just like anything else, the more you practice something, the better you become.
If you could make one decision differently in your publishing career so far, what would it be?
I would have exhibited a little more patience in publishing my first book in the series. There were some negative reviews after its release, some of it justified, which continue to haunt the book. I think those reviews still deter some readers from trying it. I did re-edit the book and feel like the story is much better now. Based on more recent feedback, readers seem to agree with that assessment.
In terms of writing and publishing, what’s something new thing you’d like to try in the future?
As for writing, I’m going to start alternating between historical and contemporary romances. I find my voice and style varies in response to the different stories. I hope that will keep me “fresh” from a story telling perspective. I may also eventually branch into some non-romance genres as well.
As for publishing, I may make more of an effort to be traditionally published and become a hybrid author.
What will you be working on next?
I’m taking a break from historicals and currently working on a contemporary romance set in Central Florida. I was hoping to release it in June, but the editor I am working with is booked until the end of May, and I’m sure she’ll have a lot of suggestions for improvement, so hopefully I can publish late summer.