Next up in my author interview series is Cathy Wiley, Zapstone Productions LLC. Welcome Cathy!
Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
About five years ago, I was working on a short story where a pregnant woman gets killed. One night while I was writing, my best friend called to tell me great news, that she was expecting a baby. My morbid imagination immediately thought how horrid it would be if my stories came true and my best friend was killed.
That started the first version where the murders in a mystery author’s novel get copycatted and the first victim is her pregnant best friend.
The story was depressing to read and even more depressing to write. It took over five years to finish it. After talking to agents, who nixed the idea for other reasons, I realized this was just the wrong concept. I prefer lighter, funnier mysteries myself. So I rewrote the entire thing, keeping the main characters—although now the best friend gets to live—and changed it so the victims are the subject matter experts she consulted to write her books. I wrote the first draft in five months. That alone convinced me it was the right book.
Did you query agents and traditional publishers? How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
I presented the original concept for the book to six or seven agents at writing conferences or special events. All of them told me the copycat idea was overdone and didn’t even look at the book. That turned me off a little; they wouldn’t even read the first page.
At the same time, I met Terry Roy on a writer’s message board. She had a small publishing company, Zapstone Productions. Having read my writing, she offered to publish the book. Since then, I have joined the company, which is why it’s now Zapstone Productions LLC.
Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle?
I plan on publishing all future books in this series with Zapstone, in print and in ebook form.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
Terry is not just a talented author, editor, and publisher… she’s a freaking amazing graphic artist as well. That’s what she did professionally before we focused on publishing.
Her portfolio: http://www.teryvisions.com/portfolioindex.html
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or PMd at the Kindle Boards as terryr.
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I came up with the original concept of a pen leaking blood. The main character is an author, and something connected to her and her writing seems to be resulting in multiple murders. That’s where the concept of the cover, as well as the title, came from.
Checking my emails, it seems I suggested the idea to Terry, and two short hours later received an email from her with the absolutely perfect cover. Although she later changed the pen to a mechanical pencil, since my main character, Cassandra Ellis, prefers pencil.
How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
When I got my first sale, I was ecstatic, but also a little scared. After all, now people were actually going to read this book I’d been working on for years. People who didn’t know me or already love me.
Sales have been pretty good. I had a wonderful day in November when I sponsored the Kindle Nation Daily and was featured on Daily Cheap Reads on the same day. Sales were fantastic; I got down to #307 in Paid Kindle Books… and was ABOVE Janet Evanovich and JD Robb’s books in the Woman Sleuth category.
It was fleeting fame, but I adored it while it lasted.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I try, really try, to blog at cathyreality.wordpress.com. Real life often gets in the way, though. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, although the latter mainly through Zapstone’s account.
I’m also on GoodReads, Kindle Boards, Amazon Discussion Boards, B&N Discussion Boards, and on two book-related sites.
It’s amazing how much time you can spend on the internet trying to market your book, or more, trying to let readers get to know you (since I try not to do the hard-sell type of posting).
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and the publisher’s website, www.zapstone.com.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the next two books in the series. Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Write will focus more on James Whittaker, the homicide detective and love interest from the first book, and Write of Passage will be Cassie and James on a cruise ship.