Let’s kick things off with a rundown of you and your books. In other words, tell us about yourself and what you write!
Primarily, I write young adult urban fantasy romance. I currently have six YA books available. The Summoners series, which is complete, and an ongoing series, The Horizon Cycle. I’m publishing another complete YA series, Stealer, summer/fall 2016. The first book, Stealer, is out July 8th. Additionally, I write adult fantasy romance under the pen name, Cora Avery. My adult series, Claiming the Prince, is set to be complete this year as well (fingers crossed).
Since I never had aspirations to do anything outside of writing, I spent much of my childhood reading and writing, and focused all of my studies on literature. I graduated from the University of Iowa and continue to reside in the little city of literature, Iowa City, with my husband and son. Not that you’ll see me out and about very often. When I’m not with my family I spend virtually all of my time working on my books, either writing, editing, or publishing.
How long have you been writing? And how long have you been publishing?
Like so many authors, I’ve been writing stories for as long as I could string words together. Many of my old preschool friends can attest to the fact that I was telling fantastical stories prior to that. In February 2016, I celebrated my two-year publishing anniversary.
What “kind” of writer would you describe yourself as? (Traditional, Self-Published, Hybrid, Something else entirely?)
Self-Published. Though, I like the term “Indie.” You know, just because it sounds cooler.
How did you decide what publishing route to take for your books?
After college, I spent seven years playing the traditional publishing game. Mostly, this meant going to conferences, participating in critique groups, wrestling with query letters, and writing many, many novels. While I didn’t submit my books very often, I did meet with agents and editors at conferences and dealt with my share of rejection. I knew that was just part of the game. In the meantime, e-books and self-publishing were on the rise. I hadn’t heard much about them until I attended a conference where an assistant editor at Penguin gave an hour-long presentation about why we aspiring authors should send her our books. She went into great detail about everything that a publishing house does for its authors. In all the years I’d been attending conferences, I’d never seen an editor practically beg authors to send her submissions. Afterwards, I turned to my writing partner and said, “Something’s changed.” I promptly went home and got online. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out what was different. Amazon had opened the floodgates, so to speak. I was a bit stunned to find that amongst a certain (and growing) group of writers, self-publishing was no longer a four-letter word. I spent a year researching this fairly new phenomena, reading blogs and articles, and debating with myself. My decision was partly made for me when I submitted a couple of chapters of a novel to a workshop and the reactions I received were very different than previous ones. Strangers liked it. More than that, they were excited. I could see it on their faces. Suddenly, I had all the attention at the table. And the traditionally published author hosting the critique group pulled me aside, asked me to send her the rest of the novel, and told me that this book could get me an agent. I figured that if it could get me an agent, then it was probably good enough to publish myself. Instead of spending yet more of my time and effort trying to convince an agent or editor to publish my book, I decided to invest in convincing readers to give my book a shot. As far as I was concerned, readers were, and always should have been, the gatekeepers. After that everything just clicked into place.
What one piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to do the same?
It’s difficult to give one piece of advice to all writers. Everyone starts off at different points and has different goals and abilities. There’s no “one true path” for an author. If you’re considering self-publishing, get educated. There’s a ton of information available. And don’t think it’s going to be a golden ticket or that it’s going to be easier than traditional publishing. In some ways, it’s easier (that is, easier to get your book to market), but everything else is incumbent upon you. Everything. If you really want to make a go of it as a career, you have to view it as a business and be prepared to put in long, hard hours.
If you could make one decision differently in your publishing career so far, what would it be?
I would have focused more on launching my first series, gaining reviews, and building my mailing list right from the start. I didn’t think much about any of those things in my first year of publishing and not doing so certainly didn’t help my books.
In terms of writing and publishing, what’s something new thing you’d like to try in the future?
There’s always new things to try in the indie publishing world. That’s part of what makes it exciting, but it can also be difficult to stay on top of the latest trends. I’m trying many things that are new to me, but not so new to others: giveaways, ARCs, building a launch/street team.
What’s next for you?
In my immediate future, I’m preparing to release Stealer, a YA urban fantasy about a girl who finds herself in another world and is trying to get home again. In spite of that description, it has very little in common with The Wizard of Oz. It’s out July 8th, with the following two books, Hunter and Unraveler to follow immediately after. I also have the third book in Claiming the Prince to edit and publish, as well as the third book in The Horizon Cycle. I intend to have them all released before the end of 2016. After that, I’ll be slowing down my publishing schedule so I can refocus on writing and craft. I’ve had so many new ideas lately that I’ve had no time to work on, so I’m looking forward to giving them some attention.
A.M. Yates was telling stories long before she knew how to write them down. Becoming an author was always her ambition; so much so that she never came up with a fallback plan, which is why she received her BA in English.
She currently resides in a cabin overlooking a river with her husband and son.