Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
Though I’ve written short fiction, plays, etc. since the age of eight, I didn’t start my first novel, BLOOD ROSE, until I was 17 years old and didn’t complete it until I was 23. It was a 600-page monster that was absolutely horrible. But, valuable lessons were learned. 1) Don’t spend six years writing one novel 2) No writing is wasted writing. Though BLOOD ROSE will never see the light of day, I learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t work. I’ve completed five novels since then. Two are currently available in the Kindle Store (LIVE AGAIN & THE DARKNESS KEPT) and two more will be available by the end of the summer.
Did you query agents and traditional publishers? How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
For each novel I’ve completed, I’ve queried agents and publishers. In this process I’ve had minor successes but many more defeats. Like most writers, I’ve got a stack of form rejections accumulated over the years, and I never really cracked the barrier until this past winter when querying my YA mystery novel, WHISPERTOWN. I sent out 15 queries to the agents I’m sure we’re all familiar with and got back 10 requests for my manuscript. Ultimately, no offers of representation came, but I got some great ‘rave rejections’. Many agents agreed that I had a fresh idea, good voice, and compelling characters…yet they all had reservations, even though each was certain some other agent would be willing to take me on. That was slightly heartbreaking because a book deal feels as elusive as ever, but several of my short stories have seen print through traditional means. In those cases, I queried editors traditionally, and the results can be seen in the DARK DREAMS anthology series edited by author Brandon Massey for Kensington Publishing.
Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle?
I am not under contract with anyone, and I do have novels I will publish on Kindle. In fact, I see myself starting a cycle of writing a novel a year, giving big publishing a shot, and if no one bites, go to Kindle.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I design my own covers. I’m semi-competent with Photoshop, and actually find the process to be relaxing, like a hobby. I’ve started picking up the Photoshop trade magazines to improve my skills, so I hope to do much more with my covers in the future. Though I have limitations because I’m not a graphic artist by trade, it’s nice to see the end result I envision versus something filtered through another person’s vision of my work.
How did you feel when you got your first sale?
In a word, ecstatic. I made my first short fiction sale when I was 21, I only made 5 bucks, and I never even bothered to cash the check. I was just happy someone liked something I did. The problem was the high wore off almost immediately, and it became all about selling the next story, and the next. I know it’s a tired analogy, but it is like a drug. And, when you have periods where no one’s paying attention to what you’re doing, when you can’t GIVE work away, it’s the ultimate Cold Turkey. That’s why it’s important to not get addicted to praise, and get your high from finishing work, versus selling work. If you do enough finishing, you’ll get better, and the selling will take care of itself…
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I mostly use Twitter (@LRGiles) and my blog (www.lrgiles.com) to promote my work. I think Twitter is a great tool for pointing people to things right away…whenever I tweet about a new development, traffic on my site spikes almost instantly.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, all of my books are available on Smashwords.com as well as in the Kindle Store.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a sci-fi/fantasy novel about a teenage girl with the ability to dream things into reality, and is on the run from the government and the gruesome nightmare monsters that she created but can’t control. I plan to query traditionally when the novel is done since I made some great contacts during my last query adventure, but if that doesn’t work out, I plan to continue my efforts as an independent author.