Hello everyone! Confident Reads is a feature I have here each week and is a way to open communication between readers and Indie authors. This is to help readers feel confident in the books they spend their money on, and for authors to feel confident in the book they publish.
I decided to start doing author interviews regarding their indie/self published experiences. I think that we all can learn from these as we see everyone’s different experiences.
This week I invited Misty Provencher to the blog. She’s the author of Cornerstone and Keystone, YA paranormal/fantasy books that I LOVED as well as Hale Maree a NA/Adult (quite steamy) contemporary romance that I also loved and Mercy: a Gargoyle Story, a NA dark fantasy that was just released.
When, and how, did you come to being an indie/self published author?
I officially went Indie in November 2011. I lost my literary agent and decided to just go it on my own. And blam! Here I am.
Did you attempt to publish traditionally? What were your experiences?
I queried and had goobs of interest, but things never seemed to work out right. That route taught me that the traditional publishing machine can be verrrrrry slow. You have to be a pro at patience. It also taught me that people are just people. There are professionals out there and there are absolute non-professionals. You don’t know which are which until you work with them a bit. I also learned that rejection is not a reflection of the quality of your work. It’s a reflection of what the particular agents tastes are, what publishing houses are buying at the moment, and a million other little rattles and bangs that are distilled into acceptance and rejection letters.
If you were offered a deal with a traditional publisher, would you take it?
Don’t know. It would depend on what was offered, I suppose. It’s a lot like having your first boyfriend. When I first started querying, I would’ve agreed to go along with the first person that would take me. After querying a while, I realized I had to say yes to the right person and I got a lot more careful about who I was querying. And now, at this point in the journey, I’m Indie and there are as many rattles and bangs to my saying yes as there would be on the publisher’s side, I think.
What is the best part of being indie/self published, for you?
There are a LOT of best parts, but for me it’s all summed up as the freedom. I can write the stories I want to write and I only need to please my readers, rather than my agent and then my publisher and editor and then, at the very end of the pile, my reader. I like the direct contact. I can put my fingers on the pulse of my actual reader and hear from them what they like and don’t. I think it is a much purer connection and I appreciate that.
The indie/self published scene is constantly changing. Even quite a few traditionally published authors have ventured into the world of self publishing. What do you predict for the future? How do you think the indie scene is changing and where do you think it will go?
I think it will eventually become a traditional playground. Right now, we can all be swinging around out there, but I think in the future, the publishers will figure out a way to put a new bend in the pipeline to separate Traditionally published from Indies. I think they’ll find publicity outlets and a way to control the mass outlets, so it will make the traditional route more advantageous again. It’s all about being able to access a broader marketing ability.
That was the original name of the game with Traditional and still is somewhat- an Indie still can’t get onto Barnes & Noble’s shelves. We don’t have the contacts to get movie contracts. We don’t have the big marketing blitzes that some Traditional authors have, with in-person book signing tours and spots in ginormous Expos, unless we either set up and pay for our tour or it’s specifically an Indie Expo.
But, with the internet, Indies have been able to accomplish the heights of marketing that were previously only attainable if you had a pubbing house behind you. It shot the Traditionals in the knees that any Joe Whoever Author can go and reach the other side of the world all by themselves, right from their couch. It’s an amazing opportunity for Indies, but it does unstack the Traditional deck a little.
As an indie/self published author, what has been your biggest obstacle?
Getting the word out. Just letting people know I’m here. Sometimes being an Indie feels a little like Whoville, caught in some dandelion fluff. Traditional publishers are generally the Horton in this scenario, but for Indies, we’ve gotta go ahead and just make a louder megaphone ourselves.
In the world of indie/self published not everyone goes about things the same way. Many make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them). What are the biggest mistakes that you think authors are making and how do you suggest they improve?
I make every mistake at least twice. The only way in which I’ve found to improve is to slam my face hard enough against a brick wall. Then, I learn to turn around and go in a different direction. So, my advice is: if you hit a brick wall, TURN AROUND SOONER.
How do you approach reviewers? And what has worked best when doing so?
I write personal letters to everybody. I would want that, so that’s what I do. It’s pretty rare (it’s never, actually) that anybody would get a letter that I fired off to a hundred others. It takes a while to find reviewers, but when you find some who like your work, they help you by introducing your work to friends.
When it comes to sales, what do you think has worked the best for you and had the biggest impact?
Probably the tours. The tours have helped me to reach more people, more quickly.
Get a big, fat, thick skin. So many writers take criticism hard and that can really wear you out in this game. You can’t make your novels your babies. While I definitely get the metaphor (and it fits really well for the most part), I think it’s dangerous to think of your work that way. What you write is just a thought you thought at one particular moment in your life. Your manuscript is not a living, breathing child with it’s own spectrum of feelings and a vulnerability and innocence that you have to protect from the world.
Not at all.
Your work is only a compilation of thoughts that happened to pass through your brain at one point in your life, and you happened to write them down. If someone disagrees with it, who gives a rip? Besides, YOU might even change your view on that same thought and realize that if you’d listened to all the disagreements, you could write a better thought.
Criticism is there to help, but it can’t if you’re running around sticking your manuscript in your kangaroo pouch.
We all know covers are important; can you tell us about your cover story?
Oh, cheez whiz. Covers will make and break your book, I think. The covers and blurb are the only thing people have to go on, so- enough said. It’s an ongoing fight for every Indie, I think. The game is to bring a rockin’ cover and a rockin’ blurb. Easy right?
Bad reviews are inevitable; most every author gets at least some. How do you handle things when you get a bad review so you don’t get hung up on it or possibly lash out which could cause more damage in the long run?
Remember that rant two questions ago about thick skin? That. I don’t usually read my reviews because I realized early on that I didn’t believe the good ones and that the worst reviews didn’t always seem accurate. It was ridiculous.
The turn around for me was when I saw one reviewer gripe about my editing and then the next five reviews complimented me on having such a clean read. If you get enough reviews, you’ll see that none of it means anything. It comes down to: did you like the book you wrote? Is it making money? If the answer is yes, then good. If the answer is no, write another book. Easy peasy.
Can you list 5-10 indie/ self published titles that you recommend? Please include genre as well.
This really isn’t fair. There are a ton of great Indies and I can’t jam them all into one list.
Michelle Leighton’s titles. She’s got Adult romance, New Adult romance, YA fantasy- you name it. Something for everyone to enjoy.
Colleen Hoover’s Slammed. YA contemporary romance.
A. M. Hargrove’s Dark Waltz. Adult romance.
Lila Felix’s Emerge. YA contemporary romance/coming of age.
Shelly Crane’s Significance. YA paranormal romance.
It’s your turn! Ask my readers one question that you are dying to know the answer for.
What Indie books have appealed to you and why? What was it that got you to read?