Next up is author Donna Fasano. Donna has sold over 3.5 million books over her writing career. The Merry-Go-Round is her first foray into e-publishing. Welcome Donna!
Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
It’s all my husband’s fault! (It’s okay to print that. He’s happy to accept the blame.) I was a stay-at-home mom during my children’s pre-school years. Once both of them were ready for school, I started thinking about taking a part-time job. I’ve always been a voracious reader; my husband glanced around at the piles of books and said, “Why don’t you try writing one?” I thought he was nuts, but my mind started churning with the possibilities and soon characters starting dancing around in my head. Once people start talking to you (and no one else can hear), there’s no turning back.
Did you query agents and traditional publishers? How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
My first thought was to finish a manuscript from beginning to end. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. Then and only then, I decided, would I take the next step toward publishing. It took me about a year and a half to finish that first novel. I remember that time as being very thrilling; I was doing something different, something new, creating a whole world with its own characters. I often got lost in my work. While I was churning out those pages, I found a local writers group chocked full of talented, supportive authors willing to help me. They brainstormed with me, critiqued my writing, edited my pages, bolstered me when I was down, kept my head from swelling when I’d written a really great scene. I attribute a huge amount of my success to those ladies.
When my book was finally finished, I was too afraid to contact an agent or an editor. I had worked so hard on that book, put so much of myself into it. One small ‘no’ from an agent or editor would negate all my time and effort. Sure, my writer friends said the book was good, but they loved me. (I’ve been battling that doubting writer’s soul for a very long time.)
So I entered my manuscript into a national contest. Mountain Laurel won a place on the finalist list (top 5%) and an editor was the final judge. Although the editor didn’t choose my book as the winner, she did buy the manuscript for publication. Just a few days later, I was contacted by an agent. Within a few short weeks, I was flying to Boston to attend my very first writer’s conference and meet my editor and my agent. Needless to say, I was floating around on a cloud. I feel extremely blessed for that amazing experience. Most writers I have talked to have struggled and fought and scrabbled their way toward success, while the biggest battle I faced was with my own self-doubt.
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 at the moment. My father is ill and I am his primary caretaker. I have discovered that life is full of seasons and I am happy to devote this one to the wonderful man who has done everything in his power to support and love me my entire life.
The ebook I am offering on Kindle (and Smashwords, B&N, and Borders) is a book that was purchased by my editor at Harlequin for a women’s fiction line of books that the company called NeXt. One of my books, Where’s Stanley?, had already been published as a Harlequin NeXt, and my editor bought more in a 2-book deal. However, the NeXt line went defunct before my books could be published and the rights to them reverted to me. Rather than see The Merry-Go-Round gathering dust on a shelf, I decided to offer it for sale as an ebook. The second manuscript of that same contract (working title, Hindsight) is completed and I hope to polish and offer it for sale soon, as well.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
The Merry-Go-Round has had 2 covers. The first was very fetching (to my eye, anyway...can you hear the grin in my voice). It was bright orange and featured a large carousel horse on the front. But sales were dismal. A very brave writer friend and fellow indie author contacted me to suggest that the cover, at first glance, gave the impression of a children’s book. So I redesigned the cover and I hope what I came up with gives the reader the idea that the book is a fun, whimsical relationship novel. (I must admit that sales are better since I changed the cover. Thank you, KM!)
How did you feel when you got your first sale?
If you go to my website, you will see that I have sold over 3.5 million books world-wide. Of course, this is over a 20-year period during which I sold 34 novels, but I can’t take credit for those sales numbers. Harlequin really knows how to market their product! But when I sold that first copy of The Merry-Go-Round, a book that I wrote with little-to-no professional input, I was ecstatic. There’s just something very satisfying about seeing the sales of an honest-to-goodness do-it-yourself-er. It’s also uniquely gratifying.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I am taking a crash course in social media. I’m on twitter (@DonnaFaz) and facebook (@Donna.Fasano) every day. I have a webpage (www.DonnaFasano.com). And I bounce all over the internet, chatting with writers and readers at Kindleboards.com and Mobileread.com and GoodReads.com. I also visit the discussion forums at both Amazon and B&N. I’ve been featured at TheIndieSpotlight.com. I’ve just started contacting bloggers. In my career as an author, I’ve never had to worry about marketing. But things have changed—big time!
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, my book is available at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9466
And at B&N: http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?store=EBOOK&WRD=the+merry+go+round
And if you do a search on ebay for my pen name, Donna Clayton, there are lots of my romance novels available. There might even be a copy or two of Where’s Stanley? available if you search under Donna Fasano.
What’s next for you?
I plan to spend some quality time with my dad, and in between doctor visits and medical tests, I’ll be polishing up Hindsight and creating a cover. Oh, and I’ve just signed the paperwork to regain rights to my first eleven books. Once the contract is finalized, I’ll begin uploading those romance novels to the internet. All of this is so very exciting; it seems the publishing industry is changing every single day.