Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I had always wanted to write a book, ever since I was a little girl and learned to read on my grandmother’s knee. I’d had the idea for the first book, Secrets In The Shadows, for a while, but due to one thing or another I just never got around to writing it. I naively thought I could just sit down one day and start writing, and that is what I tried. Turned out it wasn’t that simple. I had the basic premise of a plot, knew my main characters’ names, but hadn’t really thought beyond that. As I sat down with my laptop and the few notes I had written, I realized that I couldn’t keep track of who did what, who was related to whom, etc. I had no idea what types of jobs my characters had, what their family lives were like, and with that realization, I knew I was going to have to do a lot more prep work than I had originally thought.
I put the laptop aside and pulled out pen and paper. I created detailed genealogical charts for basically the entire town, then took those lines and expanded them with biographical information. I also created character sheets for the businesses, and drew up a map so that I wouldn’t get ‘lost’ within my own town. Once I had this research completed, I sat back down with the laptop and the story poured out. Once I knew who my characters were, the book was so much easier to write. I learned that I may be the author, but the characters’ personalities drove the stories.
After all the prep work was completed, it took me around 4 months to actually write the book, including editing. It was definitely a learning experience, and hopefully the second, third and fourth books will go much smoother now that I have a process in place.
Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
I did not. That was something I had considered, but once I learned about the freedoms of self-publishing, I decided to try that route.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
When I started looking at what my options were, I happened across a couple of blogs that discussed self-publishing versus traditional publishing. I was intrigued by what I saw and decided to research the issue further. I ended up with a couple of books on self-publishing, and what I discovered shocked me. I found that authors who went through traditional publishers gave up a considerable amount of control, including not being able to choose the title of the book, the cover, whether to keep chapters in or have them taken out, and that any material that might be considered offensive and politically incorrect could be taken out on a publisher’s whim. If you are a big name, such as Nora Roberts or Stephen King, the rules might be different, but for unknowns it was a little bit of a crap shoot. Add to that the pressures of producing a certain number of books based on a contract and the fact that the percentages authors receive from the sales of each book is usually less than 10%, and the choice was simple for me. I’d rather retain control of my work and be responsible for failure or success than to place that responsibility into the hands of a publisher who may or may not let my work stand on its own.
Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I think what I will probably do is complete 4-6 novels in this particular series and then submit them as a collection to a traditional publisher. Of course, this will depend on how successful the books become as self-published entities.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I co-designed it with my husband, who is a graphic designer/engineer. His company is Streetlight Graphics, which can be found at www.streetlightgraphics.com.
If you used a graphic designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I was very involved, and designing the cover was one of the hardest parts of the entire process. It is similar to naming your baby - the cover is how the world will be introduced to the book, so choosing a good one is vitally important. We went through several designs before settling on the one we chose, and as part of the bonus section on my website, we’ve posted that cover progression.
How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
The first sale was one of the sweetest moments - that someone (who I didn’t know) would actually spend money to read something I’d written - there are no words.
Sales are going as expected, which is to say normal numbers for a debut author and a first book. There has been steady interest, and I know that I cannot expect a dramatic increase until book two and possibly three is out there.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I’m new to all the social networking stuff, and still learning my way around things. I have a Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/tlhaddix, and my own website, www.tlhaddix.com. There is a link there to my blog, which I do not update as often as I’d like. I’ve also joined several author forums and have made connections locally with some book clubs and libraries. I’m slowly building (I hope) a reputation and learning my way. I’m trying to focus right now on learning the ropes and hopefully I’ll have it figured out before too long.
My husband and I have also been long-standing members of Pantheon Comics, which is a very interesting group of writers and artists. It’s a non-profit group based in Louisville, Kentucky, which is devoted to sharing and promoting creativity, comic books and sequential art. You can find out more about them by visiting www.pantheoncomics.org.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, there are. I am on Smashwords.com, and through them www.bn.com, as well as Createspace and through my own website.
What’s next for you?
Next is book two, which is about 50% finished (first draft). I expect to have it finished and published by late summer 2010, and then it is on to book three - which right now is in the outline stages. The rough idea for book four has started forming, and I can say that for the next year or so, I see myself writing more of the Leroy’s Sins Series.
I am also working on my very first short comic, to be included in an anthology put out by Pantheon Comics.