Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
TIN GOD is about a woman (Jaymee) who believes she and her child were victims of an illegal adoption. When Jaymee connects the recent murder of her employer to the slaying of her best friend four years earlier, she realizes that she herself is the connection between the two. She believes the killings are related to the cover up of a black market adoption ring.
Do you have a favorite character?
In this book, it’s got to be Jaymee. She has had a very hard life and is bitter at times, but also vulnerable and loyal to those she loves. She tries hard to do the right thing, and I am really proud of her character arc in TIN GOD.
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Yes. Cage is a secondary character in TIN GOD, but I liked him so much he is the hero for the second book in the series, SKELETON’S KEY (October).
How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
I had decided to query small presses because I knew breaking into the big houses was next to impossible. I queried with my first novel, INTO THE DARK, and had four offers within a few months.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
I decided to self publish TIN GOD because I realized I wanted control of my work, and that I was capable of putting together a team who would help me put out a quality product. I hired a freelance editor (formerly) from Penguin NAL and learned an immense amount from working with her.
I was able to have final say over the cover design, price, marketing–everything. With the state of traditional publishing and the vast opportunities for indie authors, deciding to self-publish was easy for me.
That said, I didn’t cut corners. I look at my books as a business I have to invest in to see any real success. My main goal is putting out a quality product that can stand up against a traditionally published novel, and I think I’ve done that with TIN GOD.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I used to be a panster, but as I’ve learned craft, I have become a pretty strong outliner. I don’t have to have my outline complete before I start, but I like to have the first act, midpoint, and turning points all figured out. Once I write the first act, I have a better feel for the story and where it needs to go. Then I’ll go back over my plans and make adjustments accordingly.
I also have a fantastic critique partner to bounce ideas off of, and I can’t tell you how much that helps. We are very like-minded, but she is the first one to tell me if something isn’t working.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, yes, yes! I honestly believe we can’t chinze out on this. I have a developmental editor, a line editor, and a proofer, as well as two beta readers. The development and line editors were investments but well worth it.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Patience is a virtue I need to work on. I’ve done everything I can in terms of putting out the best book possible. But I have to remember it’s only my second novel, and very few writers are discovered overnight. I have to keep my nose to the grindstone (to use a terrible cliché) and keep writing and not chase sales. That’s something I have to tell myself every single day.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Do your research. Figure out what your strengths are, set a budget, and stick to it. Make sure your budget has a good amount set aside for editing and cover art, because they are vital. Join indie publishing groups on Facebook, network with other authors. And realize that there is a lot to learn, and most of the time, there is no right answer. You have to figure out what work best for YOU.
What’s next for you?
Skeleton’s Key, the second book in the Delta Crossroads Series, is with the editor right now and is due out in October. I’ve just started plotting the third book (as yet untitled) and hope for a spring 2014 release.
Thank you so much for having me today!