Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
My first book goes back eighteen years, and that one will never see the light of day, along with the second, third and fourth. It's only been in the last eight years that I've seen that my writing is good enough to publish.
Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
Yes. I actually had a contract with a small publisher, who did a few things in publishing the first book I had with them that made me unhappy. They cancelled my remaining contracts at my request.
I didn't seek out agents or publishers for my epic fantasy series, LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON, because it was one book separated into three (the first part, LEGENDS, is available now at Amazon). I knew it would be a hard sell and didn't even try again. Instead, I started posting installments on my website as a free weekly e-serial. I figure it'll run into early-mid 2011. But I've decided to go ahead and make each complete book (three total) and the omnibus available at Amazon.
I did query every agent under the sun who took anything like STARFIRE ANGELS and had a couple of nibbles but no takers. I figured there'd be a ready market for that one. Angels are becoming the next "in" thing, but these are aliens that have been visiting Earth for thousands of years with their technology that humans didn't understand, so of course humans thought they had supernatural powers. I couldn't let this one go at all. I always felt there was something extra special about this story, so I made it available.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Part of it was that I couldn't stand seeing my stories languish on my hard drive. Stories are written to be read. Granted, I would never publish the early stories. Those were "practice" writings.
The other part is that I figured they were good enough for a small publisher. I could do everything that publisher did while retaining all my rights and bringing in a higher royalty. Why not?
Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I'd like to say I did it at least once in my life, but not a small publisher. I've gone that route and they don't offer anything more than self-publishing. If I can't attract a large publisher, then I'll continue to self-publish my work. I know my work meets a minimum standard but I'm always striving to improve. Nothing is perfect.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
Actually, yes. I did all my own cover art. I've answered the cover art question before, so I hope you don't mind if I quote the answer I've given previously:
So far that has just been stock images. I use Paint Shop Pro and put it all together into something. So far, my covers have all been pretty simple. Since right now I have two series going, I've tried to keep cover themes running with each.
If you look on http://www.melanienilles.com/books.htm, you'll see that the base image for all of the LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON ebooks use the same base image (which is a pic of storm clouds I took a couple years ago, flipped, colored, and applied special effects to). The dragons on parts 1 and 2 (LEGENDS and LEGACIES, respectively) are from a stock image site and modified to fit into the clouds as if they're part of the setting.
For my STARFIRE ANGELS novels, I kept it very simple also with the feather motif on the first book and adding to that in the second. On the third, I don't plan to use a feather but something else. The illumination against the black background will be there, though, to highlight the central piece.
For WHEN ANGELS CRY, the prequel novella to the STARFIRE ANGELS series, I saw an image on a stock photo site and it just felt right for that. Since WAC is actually a prequel, a novella (as opposed to a novel like the rest of the series books), and is more of an add-on for those who want a little more in the series, I didn't mind going with something different. But I added the feather to tie it together.
When I'm ready for the latest fantasy stories to be released, I may end up using an actual artist to create those covers. I have an idea of what I want for each of those, and I can't do that with stock images and Paint Shop Pro.
How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
Excited. Each sale gave me delusions of grandeur. Then the slow days brought me back down to reality. Now, I'm always cautiously optimistic. I hope people are enjoying my books but I realize that things can come to a screeching halt with the fickle tastes of readers.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
All of the above. I tweet on Twitter under the name "amsaph", which is actually the first initials of each of my family members' names, starting with Allen and Melanie, then our kids, and last our two cats, Padme (our Siamese, who's named after the Star Wars character—Allen and I love SW) and Harlee (aka Harlee Quin, spelled a little different but named after the Batman character and it fits her pefectly). Sorry to ramble, but I also use amsaph for LiveJournal, and I'm sure people wonder what it means. I keep a blog with my website at www.melanienilles.com and I'm on Facebook with a personal and a fan page. I'm on several forums also, like Kindleboards.com.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. I also have them listed with smashwords.com, and through their distribution, the books are available in other online ebook stores, like bn.com.
What’s next for you?
More writing. I have one book that I finished this last winter which I feel would be perfect for a big publisher, but I'm not afraid to self-publish. I'll query that later in the year, after some thorough editing. I've workshopped it a little already with great results, but it still needs a lot of attention.
My publishing schedule is pretty full for now, especially as I like to give each book some time for proper editing and cover design. Here's my schedule for the next year:
July 2010: LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON: LEGACIES (book 2 of 3)
September 2010: BROKEN WINGS (Starfire Angels Book 2)*
November 2010: LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON: DESTINY (book 3 of 3)
LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON: LEGENDS, LEGACIES, DESTINY (three complete novels)*
April 2011: FIREBLOOD (a Legend of the White Dragon novel)
Fall 2011: Untitled book 3 of Starfire Angels series*
All books will be available for the Kindle and other ebook formats.
* indicates books that will also be available in print.