Tag Archives: interview

From trad to indie: Interview with Alicia Rasley

I’ve “known” Alicia Rasley since the early nineties, when we were both active on the writing discussion groups (called RoundTables) of the now defunct online service GEnie. I was a rank beginner at the time, while Alicia had already been traditionally published, but she was always gracious and helpful. We bonded over Aphra Behn, and she was one of the first people to read (a very early) version of Chameleon in a Mirror. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Alicia to my blog.

Alicia Rasley, Tryst at the Brighton Inn

First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.
I write Regency romances and mysteries. I keep threatening to write a small-town Indiana series featuring regular people living regular lives (I live in Indiana and have a regular life myself), but for some reason, no one seems interested!

Do you have a writing routine?
I try to write an hour a day. But I’m still working full-time as a writing teacher, so some days I don’t get the hour in. I also always seem to have several projects going at once, so I spend time everyday trying to figure out which I feel like working on. So… answer is, I say I have a routine, but it’s not a very routine routine.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?
I was traditionally published for 20 years, and suffered most every horrible offense and injury possible — lines closing just after I pledged them a book, editors getting laid off just after they expressed interest, agents with serious issues who only pretended to submit my books to editors…. And after all the work and rejection and revision and editorial interference, the book would be on sale for three weeks, and then disappear — and the publisher, just for the heck of it, would keep the rights to the book for seven to ten more years. It was the worst system ever, but it was the only one available back then… until a few years ago, when indie publishing became viable and affordable. And I’m never going back to traditional publishing (unless one of those companies offers me a million dollars, but I don’t think we need to worry about that happening).

What have you already published?
I had about 12 books traditionally published, and most of those I’ve republished as an indie author. I also have some novels and some writing books published independently. My Regency romance-mystery just came out in February, Tryst at the Brighton Inn. It’s kind of a hybrid, as I’m publishing the print version myself, and the Kindle Scout program (an Amazon imprint) is publishing the ebook.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on revising a few of my old books slightly to make them fit together better in a boxed set of Regency romances. It will be called Lords of the South Coast. And I’m just starting a new series of young-adult novellas set in the period of the French Revolution, about a group of children and teens who run away from the danger and become the wards of a mysterious noblewoman with a rambling old manor house near London. I like to think that young people will enjoy historical stories about plucky teens overcoming terrible odds to find peace.

I think you may well be right. 🙂 Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?
I am not at all visual, so I rely on a cover artist. Kim Killion did a wonderful job on the Tryst cover. It’s traditional and yet striking.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?
Indie publishing is great because it offers so much control and freedom. For a battered and bruised vet like me, it’s almost a miracle to think I can write what I want, and reach my readers directly without some huge international conglomerate publisher acting as the “gatekeeper” (and usually slamming that gate right on my foot). The downside is that I have to do all the work myself, but I never made enough money for a traditional publisher that they did any marketing for me — so it’s nothing new for me to sell my books myself.

As for traditional publishing, if you are a bestseller and stay that way, you’ll probably be treated well by the publisher. No one below bestseller status has any real assurance of good treatment, but I think the weather is pretty sunny in the highest-selling group. Otherwise, the big advantage of traditional publishing is the prestige. You have some supposedly independent affirmation of your skill as a writer. I think that’s fading (the ultimate judge of our skills is the reader now), but I do think many writers feel more validated if they’ve experienced traditional publishing.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
If you’re trying to get traditionally published, give yourself a deadline, after which you’ll indie publish. Traditional publication can move glacially slowly, and sometimes you’ll spend a year trying to get an agent and then the agent will spend a year trying to sell your book, and then there’s a year between the sale and the publication… and three years have gone by. Consider having one book on the traditional publishing treadmill, and in the meantime, publish other books yourself. That way you might well end up with the best of both worlds!
But if (as so often happens) your books never seem to fit the lines of a traditional publisher, give it up and go all in to independent publishing. The readers might love all the stories the trad publishers rejected.

And if you’re planning to go indie, take the advice everyone keeps giving me — to conceptualize a series of stories rather than five “one-offs”. Readers love connected stories with a common theme or set of characters.

Good luck on all your projects, and thanks so much. Alicia! I think you’ve given new authors a lot to think about. 🙂

Getting in touch with with Alicia Rasley:

Blogs
Regency Escapades: http://aliciarasleybooks.com/?page_id=32
Edittorrent (writing and editing): http://www.edittorrent.blogspot.com

Facebook – Alicia Rasley, Author:
https://www.facebook.com/Alicia-Rasley-author-718519868222011/?ref=hl

Twitter – @aliciaregency

Advertisements

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Starting out as an indie author

In an earlier post in this series, I mentioned that since I’d heard so many horror stories about Google Play randomly cutting prices of indie books, and Amazon subsequently following suit — with serious consequences for the incomes of the writers involved — I decided not to try to sell my books through that venue.

But then I learned (on Kboards of course) that the stories I’d heard, while true, could be avoided with creative pricing. Apparently Google discounts all books in pretty much the same way. But while the percentages hover around a 23% discount, the discounts jump around a bit, and don’t apply to the lowest price points (supposedly). Luckily, the smart folks on the Internet have figured out what you have to do to get your book priced the way you want it. This in turn will keep Amazon happy and they won’t discount your book below the 70% royalty sweet spot of 2.99.

Here is a compilation of some of the suggestions I’ve found around the Internet for how to price your book on Google Play to make it end up the price you want:

Desired price / Price you need to enter on Google Play:

99c / 99c
1.49 / 1.49 (Apparently Google does not discount these)
1.99 / 2.54
2.99 / 3.93
3.99 / 5.18
4.99 / 6.48
5.99 / 7.78

I don’t know if all of these are actually 100% correct; you might need to experiment a bit within the price range to get the results you want.

Becoming a “partner” on Google Play

You cannot publish with Google Play without a Gmail account, so if you don’t have that yet, it’s the first thing you need to do. Once you’ve signed up, you can go here to get started publishing:

https://play.google.com/books/publish/

The Google Play dashboard is much less intuitive than Amazon, B&N, Draft2Digital and Kobo, the sales sites I have primarily used until now. On the left you have the following options: book catalog, analytics & reports, promotions, payment center, and account settings. Today I will only be going into “book catalog” and “payment center” since that is what you need in order to publish a book. (The “account settings” automatically gets populated with your Google account info and any publisher info you add when you sign in.) You do the actual publishing from “book catalog”:

Google Play

But although it is farther down in the list, I suggest starting with the item “payment center”: if you don’t, your book will not be published. The fist couple of times I tried to publish Part I of my serialized version of Yseult, I kept getting the error message “PRICE MISSING OR NOT APPLICABLE” which didn’t make a lot of sense to me, since Google allows you to set the price to free. Finally, I googled the error message and found out that Google Play would not allow me to publish until I entered my payment info. So maybe that should be first in line … ?

Anyway, in the payment center, click “Payment Profiles” and enter your bank account info. GP does not allow PayPal, unfortunately. If your bank is in the US, for Sales Territories select “WORLD – US/USD” and under “CURRENCY CONVERSION” TURNED ON.

Once you’ve saved your payment information, you can go to “Book Catalog” and actually publish your book. Click on the “Add book” button. If you already have an ISBN for your book, enter it here, otherwise check the box that you don’t. The “Book details” pane opens, which should be largely self-explanatory. One thing that bears mentioning, however, is that for GP you have to enter you bio for EVERY BOOK. Interesting, huh? The leading search engine in the world can’t find the biographical info for for a single author account …

Once you’ve entered the book details, in the next pane you upload your ebook and cover. The book itself can be either EPUB or PDF. In order to save yourself grief and repeated uploads, if you are uploading an Epub file, I suggest testing it with EPUB Validator first:

http://validator.idpf.org/

The next pane is for pricing. No dropdown menu for the currency, unfortunately, so if you’re in the States, enter USD manually. The box after “for” should be WORLD. For the price, see the list above. 🙂

The “Settings” pane is for metadata. The format is of course “digital” and for the subject, enter keywords that will get your book into the appropriate categories, such as “fantasy” and “historical.” The form then makes suggestions that you can choose from. For most of the other options, you’re fine with the defaults, at least as far as I could determine.

The final pane is for publishing, where you can decide whether to publish only to Google Books or also to Google Play as well. Seems a no-brainer to me to choose both. 🙂

I have only just started publishing with Google Play, so I can’t say yet whether all the work will actually be worth it. But it was fun finding the free book with my smartphone and downloading it. If you have Google Play, please do so as well! There don’t seem to be any Nestvolds other than me in the GP store, so the free book should be pretty easy to find.

Once I’ve been on Google Play longer, have published a few more things, and understand the system better, I will post more.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes, author of BOUND

For this week’s installment of “Starting out as an indie author” I offer you an interview with new writer Kate Sparkes, who — to judge by her rankings in the Amazon store — “did it right.” She published her first novel, Bound, in June 2014. The novel is a YA fantasy and the first in a trilogy – and has a beautiful cover that makes me drool. 🙂

Kate Sparkes, Bound

As of today, the book already has 88 reviews with an average of 4.7. The rankings in the Amazon US Kindle store are also impressive:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,212 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age
#17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

Especially for an author just starting out, those are excellent numbers. I think we can all learn from Kate on what and what not to do when self-publishing. On to the interview. 🙂

Welcome, Kate, and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First off, please tell us a little bit about your work.

I write stories.

More specifically, I write stories that I want to read, and that usually means there’s a good dose of magic or other-worldliness in my stories. I’m easily bored by real life, so I write Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. The first series I’m publishing is the YA Fantasy Bound Trilogy. Bound (book #1) came out at the end of June, and Torn (book #2) should be out in late February or early March.

How do you go about plotting and world-building?

It took me years for “my” world to come together in my mind. For the physical aspects of the world, I used a heavy dose of Earth, and Newfoundland specifically. It’s not my home province, but it’s where I live and where it feels I was meant to be. The landscapes here are rugged and beautiful, and seem to already be filled with magic. Geography doesn’t translate directly, but people from here who read Bound sometimes comment on how familiar the land seems. Things like cities, the Grotto, buildings and such come from my imagination. Often it feels like I’m exploring them as I’m writing, which is fun. As for the creatures in that world, I use many that are familiar from our legends and stories, but try to put my own unique twist on them.

What kind of magic systems do you use?

I suppose I use something between a hard and a soft magic system. Things tend to be well-defined, but there’s still a sense of mystery and wonder. Magic as it relates to humans is something like electricity. It’s there and available to be drawn on, but the amount a person can use and what they can use it for depend on the individual. Most magic-users will have at least one natural gift, but they can work and study to learn other skills. They do have to be careful, though; trying to work unfamiliar magic can lead to unexpected and even deadly consequences.

I could go into a lot more detail about ways that magic can be used and controlled, how Potioners differ from Sorcerers, how lineage affects power, and the effect of ambient magic, but it would take forever! And that’s just humans. Creating the magic system was a huge challenge, but a rewarding one.

Do you have a writing routine?

I hope to soon! Up until now, my routine has been “fit it in whenever I can.” I have two kids, and even during the school year always had at least one home most of the time. It made it difficult to set a routine. Starting this month, I hope to write in the mornings (plotting, drafting, revising, editing), and work on business and promotion-related things in the afternoons. My routine could also use a tweak in that right now it tends to start with WAY too much distraction before I get down to work.

What made you decide to go indie with your first book?

A lot of things factored into that decision. I thought I stood a better chance of finding an audience and making decent money by publishing independently, even if it meant never seeing my books in stores. The odds of getting an agent and a good contract were just too slim for me to invest time into that path. It was also important to me that I have full creative control over my work, that I be able to choose the cover and decide which advice to take from an editor. I also knew that as an unproven author I wasn’t likely to get a big advance or much promotional help from a publisher. There are risks and benefits with any road to publication. It’s a personal choice, and indie isn’t right for everyone. I respect and support writers in whatever path they choose. I certainly have no regrets about my choice for this trilogy.

How did you prepare for getting ready to publish a book on your own, i.e. what resources were most helpful for you in learning the ropes?

Ooh, big question! I list a lot of resources on my blog that helped me make the decision to go indie and that taught me the ropes. I read a lot of blogs and a few books, listened to podcasts, and asked experienced authors questions when I needed to. I didn’t focus on publishing too much while I was drafting. In fact, I didn’t know anything about indie publishing until less than two years ago, and assumed I’d go the traditional route. The information is all out there, and I’ve found indie authors to be incredibly helpful.

What services did you outsource before publishing Bound? (editing, formatting, cover) Were you happy with the results? Would you do it the same way again?

I hired an editor (Joshua Essoe) for developmental and line editing, and I will absolutely be using his services again. I knew I had a good story, and my beta readers were amazing, but I also knew it could still be better. My editor saw opportunities I had missed, helped me get my magic system in order, pointed out errors and character inconsistencies that I and others had missed, and slapped my fingers when things got too melodramatic. I’m glad I went for the full editing package, even though it was a bit of a financial gamble at the time.

My cover artist, Ravven, was amazing. I had no idea of what I wanted, except that I didn’t want a character on the cover. We tried to find something symbolic that worked, and she did mock-ups, but it just wasn’t working. She suggested a few ideas and we talked about how character covers might sell better, and worked together to come up with a cover that I love. I’ve lost count of the people who have said they gave the book a chance because of the cover. Obviously it was money well spent, and I’ve already asked her to do Torn.

I was going to do my own formatting, but when the time came, the learning curve was just too steep and I couldn’t get the professional look I wanted. Colin F. Barnes is an author and a friend of a friend who stepped in and gave me a beautiful book for a reasonable price, and I’m so grateful for that. I still want to learn the skill some time so I can go in and make changes myself (adding links, fixing typos, etc), but for now I’m happy using someone else’s skill.

The one thing I’ll do differently next time is that I’ll pay a proofreader. ARC readers were helpful with that, but a few typos still slipped through.

What steps did you take leading up to the book launch of Bound? Did you contact book reviewers? Use Facebook? Twitter? Blog? Did you organize or book a blog tour?

I didn’t plan a lot of promotion. Bound was my first book, and it didn’t make sense for me to put a lot of money into promotion when I had nothing else to offer to people who loved the book, or a lot of time that I should have spent writing the next one. I contacted a few reviewers, but most advance copies went to blog readers, book-loving friends and acquaintances, and fellow authors. Several wonderful author/blogger types helped host the cover reveal and announced the release to their blog followers, which was wonderful. I posted chapter one on my own blog, and set up a Facebook author page about a month before release. I shared that first chapter and cover image on Twitter and Facebook (and the cover copy when I finally had it), but was careful not to spam.

There was no organized blog/book tour. I think the best promotion was word-of-mouth recommendation from people who read the book early on and loved it. I frequently thank those people, but it never feels like I manage to express just how grateful I am!

I did have a launch party, just for fun. I live in a tiny town and don’t have enough local friends to have an in-person party, so Facebook it was. We had a great time, I gave out some e-books and a signed paperback. It might not have led directly to sales, but I think it helped drum up some interest in reading the book, and got the ball rolling on recommendations and reviews.

I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway for a signed paperback now, and that’s got a bunch of people to add it to their TBR list, but I’m not sure whether it’s had an impact on e-book sales. I think reader awareness is always a good thing, though.

What are you working on now?

I just sent Torn (Bound Trilogy book #2) out to beta readers. Now it’s on to planning and drafting Book #3, which is both exciting and terrifying.

What advice would you give to an author considering going indie?

Do your research, and then follow your instincts. I did a lot of things “wrong” (I actually have a blog post about that), but it has all worked out so far. I didn’t let myself feel pressured to do it anyone else’s way, but I did keep my eyes and ears open to learn from other people’s experiences. I would also say to try to put out the most polished, professional work you can, out of respect for readers if nothing else. This is your career, and it’s worth investing in.

Thanks for the informative and inspiring interview, Kate! I wish you the best of luck with Torn. 🙂

Kate Sparkes

How to get in touch with Kate Sparkes:

Blogs: – Disregard the prologue- http://disregardtheprologue.com
– Sparrowcat Press- http://sparrowcatpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesparkesauthor
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8282527.Kate_Sparkes
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kate_sparkes
Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/+KateSparkes
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/KSparkes
Pinterest board for the Bound trilogy: http://www.pinterest.com/k_sparkes/bound-trilogy/

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Interview with indie author K.L. Schwengel – and announcing her new book Emergence!

Today I have something special for my readers, an interview with the talented K.L. Schwengel, founder of WIPpet Wednesday and a multi-published indie author.

K.L. Schwengel

First off, please tell us a little bit about your work.
I mainly write fantasy, although I have delved into paranormal as well as dystopian, and there are some SF bits in my notebook. Basically, if my muse throws it out there, I run with it. My writing tends to veer toward the heavy, dark side of things, even when I try to keep it light, though I still try to interject some humor along the way.

When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?
The same way I write: by the seat of my pants. Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely accurate. But I don’t do a lot of note-taking or planning for my world. It tends to unfold with my story. My worlds are so complete in my head that I don’t really need to ‘build’ them in the involved way some authors do. For the most part, I like my world to unfold via my characters; what they come up against, how they react, who they are…all those details define my world.

What kind of magic systems do you use?
I’ve always had a problem with movies and books in which magic is the answer to everything, and doesn’t have any real consequences. That’s given magic a bad rap, I think. Especially healing magic. Although I have healers who also possess magic, it’s not the wave-a-wand-or-say-a-spell-and-you’re-all-better type. Magical healers get drained when they help someone, and their patients still need time to recover. My magic always comes with a cost, and is never the first resort in a situation.

Do you have a writing routine?
Not really. I work full-time, and have a busy schedule outside of the day-job, so I have to sneak my writing in where I can. The only constant is music. I have to have music while I’m writing. Usually sans lyrics or I get caught up in those and forget where I’m at.

What made you decide to become an indie author?
Ah…that’s a complicated question. There wasn’t just one thing and, to be honest, I went in kicking and screaming. I had this notion that indie authors and the books they put out were somewhat less than traditionally published books. Go ahead, idiot slap me. My Sage helped me to realize the errors of my way and I jumped in. A lot of it had to do with me being somewhat *cough* of a control freak, as well as my desire to get my stories out there in front of readers. I was anxious for the world to see what I accomplished. I don’t put out anything I don’t love. And if I love it, I want to share those tales with others, hoping they’ll love it as well.

What have you already published?
I have a novella in Best Selling Author Devin O’Branagan’s anthology Witch Hunt: Of the Blood based on the characters from her book Witch Hunt.
There is Greylands … I think it’s being called a serial collaboration … it started as a writing exercise of sorts on Krista Walsh’s blog, and became an intertwined dystopian story that was published several months ago. Nine authors contributed, creating characters that got to play in Krista’s world. It was great fun, and really came together nicely. I was amazed by the final product. Truly.
And then there is my fantasy series Darkness & Light. The first book in the series First of Her Kind was published last year. The second book, Emergence, just came out. I hope to have the third, Edge of Darkness, out by the end of the year.

Emergence by K.L. Schwengel

What are you working on now?
Edge of Darkness, that whole end-of-the-year deadline looms. I also have a sword & sorcery piece tentatively entitled The Coinblade Chronicles, that I’m working on. Those are the two main WIPs. On the back burner is another fantasy I was thinking of serializing, and a contemporary urban fantasy/paranormal romance. As well as…well…others.

Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and worked in advertising for a few years, so I’m cocky enough to believe I can create my own covers. I revealed the full spread from Emergence here and I’m actually quite pleased with it. But I’m also my own worse critic, and can be a bit picky (which is why I’m currently re-doing the cover for First of Her Kind). I think I would drive an artist crazy if I were to hire one to do them for me.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?
On the indie side you have complete control and total freedom. You truly own the entirety of your book’s fate. That’s a bit daunting for some, but I enjoy it.
On the traditional side, there’s that highly touted monetary advance, and the knowledge that you have a whole team of people handling (or at least helping with) editing, marketing, marketing, editing, distribution, all those things you have to figure out on your own when you go indie.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Write. No excuses. Every day if you can, even if it’s only a few words. Get that first draft on paper and don’t look back until you type ~Finis~. Yes, it’s going to suck. Yes, it will make you cringe. That’s its job. You can’t fix it until the story is told.
Be true to your characters and their tale. Don’t shrink from something because it makes you uncomfortable, or because you’re worried what others will think.
Most of all, find one or two people who will be truly honest with you about your writing. We all want to be told our writing is phenomenal, and we’ve penned the next great tale. But empty praise won’t help you grow. Yes, it will hurt. You’ll need to develop a thick skin. But when you emerge on the other side, it will be a wonderful thing, and those tears and blows to your ego will have only made you stronger.

How can people get in touch with you?
Blog: http://myrandommuse.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KLSchwengelWrites
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kathils01/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KLSchwengel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6871795.K_L_Schwengel

Thank you very much for joining us here on Indie Adventures, Kathi, and best of luck with Emergence!

Kathi’s new book can be purchased on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes&Noble, and will soon be coming to Kobo as well.

An interview, some words, and more goal sorting

Yesterday, Randomize Me posted an interview with me, revolving around my (at the time of the interview) most recent publication, Beyond the Waters of the World. Check it out! 🙂

Since my last post, I’ve gotten about 2,000 more words done on Chameleon in the Mirror. That’s not quite where I would have wanted to be, but on the other hand, I spent most of my writing time today reading up on pre-Arthurian legends, taking notes, and deciding on the project I’ll tackle for NaNoWriMo this year. I’m shooting now for a prequel in The Pendragon Chronicles series, my version of Arthur’s conception, which isn’t particularly romantic, since it revolves around rape. I took my inspiration from some early stories of Uther and Igraine, most of which emphasize Uther’s lust for Igraine and his determination to have her by any means. Didn’t seem too far-fetched to me to make out of that a story of abuse, rather than the standard masquerade-seduction story (which I never bought in the the first place *g*). Hey, how would you feel if someone used magic to masquerade as your spouse, sleep with you, and kill your spouse in combat while you were having sex with the impostor? Would you then marry the asshole on the spot? I didn’t think so . 🙂

Anyway, contemplating the above psychological idiocies led me to some of the implied details in Yseult. Which I hope to explore in more detail in my version of the story of Ygerna.

Author feature of me on the Kindle Boards blog today: From traditional publishing to indie

The Kindle Boards blog has a very nice profile of me today, “From traditional publishing to indie.”

Harvey from the Kindle Boards also sent me the code for a nifty badge:

Also a reminder that the Codex Writers Ebook Promo is going on today and tomorrow! Twelve books by eight great up-and-coming speculative fiction writers. Check it out!

Interview, free book, and hand-painted shoes

A bit of a potpourri today. First: Marshall Payne has started up his interview series with speculative fiction writers again, and today he posted an interview with me. You can read it here.

Also, Looking Through Lace is available FREE today and tomorrow, for perhaps the last time. I’ve opted to take it out of KDP Select so that I can try uploading it (and a few other things) to the Kobo store, which just came out of beta for indie authors. That means I will also republish with Smashwords, although the sales there are negligible. Anyway, pass the word along!

Finally, on a very different note, I wanted to point people in the direction of an amazingly original business idea that my niece Emma has come up with: hand-painted shoes.

E Design

Don’t they look stunning? Way to go, Emma!

Interview with Indie Author J. R. Tomlin

In honor of Summer Solstice Free Fantasy, I have an interview today with author J.R. Tomlin, writer of fantasy and historical fiction.

What is it about historical fiction and fantasy that makes you write in those genres?

I suppose the main reason is that I read them. I love both genres. I started reading historical fiction very early, by the time I was ten years old I was plowing through The Three Muskateers and then writers like Nigel Tranter. Later, like a lot of people, I fell in love with Lord of the Rings. I’m not sure if that I read them is why those are the genres where I feel that I have stories I want to tell. After all, it’s all about telling the story, isn’t it?

When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?

I have a co-author in writing fantasy, C. R. Daems, who does a lot of the world-building. I am better at figuring out the characters. He’s good at maps and the technical side. We make a pretty good team because we have very different strengths.

What kind of magic systems do you use in your fantasy?

It varies. I don’t like to do the same thing over and over, although I’ll do a sequel to Talon of the Unnamed Goddess next year. That is what I would call a light-magic world. The magic enhances their strengths such as making them stronger or smarter but there are no fire balls taking out the enemies.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?

Complicated question. I really resisted. Victorine Leiske, who I knew from a forum, was doing very well and Joe Konrath was preaching the “indie revolution” but I’d started writing when self-publishing was an admission of failure. It took quite a while to get past that and realize that now indie publishing is just another choice, a perfectly valid one. About that time my agent had been pitching my historical novels to some big publishers and although I’d gotten interest from them, they didn’t feel that they’d be a good sell to book stores. But I was absolutely convinced that these were stories that would find a readership so I decided to take them straight to the reader.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing puts you in book stores — for a few months at least. But you give up almost all control of things like covers and pricing. I’m a bit of a control freak, so I love being able to control those things. Also, to be honest, I think it is easier to find a really good editor at a traditional publishing house. I always have my indie novels edited, but the quality of editing isn’t always as good. There are good freelance editors out there but finding one who is right for your work can be more difficult.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

It depends on where you are. Very few authors don’t have to write a couple of novels before they learn what they need to know. Be willing to learn by doing is my basic advice. Understand that your first novel may not be good enough to make money whether you go indie or traditional. You wouldn’t expect to play the piano well enough to go to Carnegie Hall the first time you sat down. The same is true with writing. Get feedback on your work and read some of the standard works on the craft of writing such as Stephen King’s On Writing.

For a writer further along, I’d just say to keep your options open and educate yourself on the changes that are taking place. We writers have more choices than we ever have before and it’s a shame to not take full advantage of that.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another fantasy, well, I suppose actually a paranormal called the Voodoo Seer. It’s set in modern day New Orleans and the main character is a young woman who is a Vodou priestess.

You can find J. R.’s novel Talon of the Unnamed Goddess along with 29 free ebooks by 23 authors as part of Summer Solstice Free Fantasy. Check it out!

Interview, guest lecture, and Shadow of Stone publication delay (sorry!)

There’s a new interview with me from Lisa Binion up at BellaOnline. Check it out!

Part 1

Part 2

The guest lecture at my old alma mater, the University of Stuttgart, was today, and it went well. Before the event, I only had one anxiety dream about arriving late, and the students seemed quite interested and asked a lot of questions. It was in a seminar in the German Medieval Studies department (Mediavistik), which to me was quite an honor. For my Masters, I double majored in English and German, with emphasis in German on medieval studies, but my Ph.D. is in English. Even though I’m not an expert, people in Germany are starting to notice that Gottfried von Strassburg was one of the primary inspirations for Yseult. Given how completely skewed my priorities are, I am really, really enjoying being treated with Gottfried in a university seminar. I wasn’t a mouse in the corner, so I don’t know how much I was found lacking, (luckily), but it’s still beyond anything I ever would have expected that I was compared to Gottfried in the session before I babbled at the students about the research methods of my buddies in the Codex Writing Workshop. I’m quite sure I flunked, but for those who are not familiar with German literature, Gottfried is one of the gods of the German literature hierarchy, perhaps a bit like Chaucer for medieval literature in English. It’s an honor to flunk when compared to Gottfried. 🙂

Unfortunately, a nearly direct result of the guest lecture is that I’m going to have to push back the publication date for Shadow of Stone. No surprise — I underestimated how much time I would need for preparation, which is not exactly new. Besides, my Wonderful Hubbie ™ is totally overworked this week, and before I send Shadow of Stone out into the cold, cruel world, I want him to at least spot check the manuscript I got back from the copy editor I hired. I’m working through it one more time myself, but I know my eyes are not enough. I spent several years working on the thing, after all. It’s a lot harder for me to see the mistakes. Which is why one hires outside help. 🙂

Interview, plunging ahead with Aphra, and using up my free days on Never Ever After

Great Minds Think Aloud posted an interview with me today:

http://www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=interviews&thread=1329

They are also hosting a contest to win a copy of Yseult, which you can access here:

http://www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com/index.cgi

The new version of Chameleon in a Mirror from scratch is going very well. It’s great fun to get back to Aphra Behn, who has been my idol since I first read about her decades ago. I’ve upped my target word count to 1500 words a day; here’s hoping I can maintain it.

In sales news, Looking Through Lace is still doing pretty well since its freebie:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,864 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#15 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Short Stories
#24 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Anthologies

Earlier in the day today, it was in the top ten in the categories for short fiction, but it’s slipping now. At least I got another 5 star review out of the freebie. 🙂

Starting tomorrow, April 18, I have another free promotion scheduled: my revisionist fairy tale collection Never Ever After will be free for Kindle for 48 hours. Once again, I am using up my free days before I take the ebook out of KDP Select, so get it while you can! And please, pass the word along. The monetary reimbursement for freebies has let up drastically since I first released Yseult in January, but it’s still one of the most effective ways for indie authors to get potential readers to notice their fiction.