Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My most recent release is Air: Book Two in the Elemental Series, which is a Young Adult Urban Fantasy series set in Southern California. The series follows the lives of three teens, Shayna, Jodi and Steven, each of whom can control one of the four elements, Earth, Air and Fire respectively. In the first book, Earth, the trio battled a demon, summoned by a black magic user, but in this installment the three are trying to stop a psychotic Air Elemental from ruining the lives of a local family.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did try the traditional route to publishing. I tried for a couple of years, never really getting very far. Unfortunately it isn’t always about how good or bad your writing is, but how saturated the market is; it doesn’t matter that readers still want more paranormal books, agents and editors are getting a little tired of it and it is just that much harder to break into the market. I really, really wanted to be traditionally published but it just didn’t work out. But I have been really pleased with going my own way; this year may prove to be the year I can pay all my bills with my royalties and that’s a huge accomplishment.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I don’t have a critique group, but I do use beta readers and they have been invaluable. The problem with editing your own work is that you’re just too close to it. Even if you get to the point where you can emotionally separate yourself from the work, sometimes you just can’t see the forest for the trees. But people who have no idea what the story is about or haven’t put months into the crafting of it, can see the issues and help you see it from a reader’s viewpoint.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
All the success stories that came out in 2010 and 2011. I just couldn’t believe how many people were able to start writing full time or had created a huge fan base without the help of a big publisher behind them. It was so encouraging I decided I had to try.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Oh, yes. I was a writing tutor in college but I didn’t think I would be doing myself any favors without professional help. I was very lucky to meet a girl through a friend who had a MBA in literature and when I approached her with the idea of proofreading my first book. I couldn’t believe what an amazing job she did, now, thanks to her experience with me, she’s a part time editor and proofreader for Red Adept Editing. So it worked out for both of us!
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Reach out to as many bloggers as you can to read and review your work and when you do, find out which ones offer blog tours and do them! Do them as much as you can without overloading people with promoting. I know I didn’t do enough to promote the release of my first book because I was so new to all of this, but now I know better. I am releasing the third book in my series in June and have already finalized the cover so I’m doing a cover reveal tour next month and then I’ll be doing a blog tour for the actual book.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, my books are available through Barnes and Noble, Itunes, Kobo, Smashwords and All Romance Ebooks.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have a blog, shaunasspot.blogspot.com, I’m on twitter @dyingechoes, I have two Facebook Fan pages, an author page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shauna-Granger/268859386472141) and a page for my series (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leila-Bryce-Sin/179754018804186) but I try very hard not to overwhelm my followers with promotion. I think it’s important for fans to feel like they’re getting to know me as a person and not just as a billboard for my books.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
No, I try to make sure I have designated times of the day for each. I write in the morning and try not to do anything until I’ve hit my word goal for the day. Then, if I’m working on a tour or something, I have the whole afternoon to do that. As for tweeting or face book posts, I try to do those naturally throughout the day. You just have to find your balance, but what is most important is your writing. First figure out when you write your best and schedule your day around that; nothing else matters if you have nothing else to put out.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Join the Kindle Boards forum and read as many posts you can about people’s experiences. I didn’t know about the Kindle Boards until after I was published and I wish I had. There are so many successful indie authors on those boards who are very active and eager to help others, it is an invaluable tool.
What’s next for you?
I am working on the third and fourth books in my series, Water and Fire. Water is being released in June and I anticipate having Fire ready for release in December of this year. After I finish editing Fire I hope to start on a new project, an Adult Paranormal Romance to give myself a break from The Elemental Series before I write the fifth and final installment, Spirit.