Thursday, April 19, 2012

Interview with Grace Elliott

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
I am constantly writing and in the past 3 months have released two books, one fiction and the other non-fiction.

The latter is "Cat Pies" - a collection of feline historical trivia. This book answers questions such as: why is cat gut called 'cat gut' when it's made from sheep intestines, who invented the cat flap and did the Victorian's eat cat meat? The idea behind 'Cat Pies' came to me as a result of my blog posts, which are a blend of my passion for history…and cats

My latest fiction release is "Eulogy's Secret." This historical romance is a story of greed, prejudice and a stolen identity.
In the four weeks since her guardians’ death, Eulogy Foster has lost everything. Penniless and alone she seeks the help of her estranged brother, Lord Lucien Devlin. But Devlin throws Eulogy out onto the streets and the mercy of a passing stranger, Jack Huntley. As Eulogy seeks the truth behind her birth, she is drawn into the world of art and artists, where her morals are challenged and all is deception.
Jack Huntley: bitter, cynical and betrayed in love. He believes women are devious, scheming, untrustworthy creatures - and when he rescues a naïve Miss from being raped, his life is about to change forever. As his attraction to Eulogy grows, caught in a deadlock with both denying their true feelings, events take a sinister turn as someone seeks to silence Eulogy….forever.

The book was great fun to write and I hope readers will find it an absorbing page turner to read.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Like most writers, I thought approaching publishers and agents was the only way to go, but now I know differently! Eulogy's Secret is my second published novel, but my first independently published book. My debut historical romance was A Dead Man's Debt, which was published by Solstice Publishing. I will forever be grateful to Solstice for taking me on, because without them I would never have had the confidence to strike out on my own.

That said, it rapidly became apparent that although I had a publisher, the main burden of marketing and promotion fell on my shoulders, whilst they took the lion's share of the royalties. After much debate, I decided to go Indie with Eulogy's Secret and hand-on-heart, I haven't regretted it for a minute.

Perhaps I'm a power freak, but I love have total control over cover design, editing, price point etc. It enables me to try different marketing strategies and to find out what works best for me and my books. And then there's the obvious benefit of a higher share of the royalties! What's not to like? Who knows what I'd do if ever I was approached by a major publisher (well, you've got to dream!) but for now I'm no longer wasting my time approaching agents and publishers because it's Indie all the way.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
If I'm truthful the major factor is a personal one. I'm a Kindle owner. I love my kindle and it goes everywhere, and I mean everywhere, with me. I was one of the early users of eReaders of which my first device was a Sony 550. I found the Sony a bit 'clunky' to download books and so one birthday my hubs kindly bought me a Kindle. Talk about being converted! The Kindle is such a great product and so easy to load books onto, as as a reader I know that authors whose books aren’t on Amazon are missing out.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Totally, 100% yes. It is essential to make an indie book as professional as possible. As an author, I could not possibly edit a book myself to a high enough standard. I know the story so well I start to go word blind and also I'd far rather use my time writing the next book. Although I use beta readers to give their opinion on character consistency, plot flow etc, an editor's input is also an essential as part of this process. I was lucky enough to find an editor who is a specialist in the Georgian period (I write regency romance) - and she spots the odd incongruity of speech or gesture, not appropriate to the period. Invaluable!

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I have learnt so much by going Indie, mainly about the generosity of other authors (a perfect example is Debra, whose blog I'm appearing on today! Thank you, Debra.) There is a camaraderie amongst the indie community that is awe-inspiring and makes you feel part of a team, even though you are alone at your laptop.

I've also learnt that nothing is fixed, that if a new opportunity comes along (such as Kindle Select) then give it a go. You never know, your book might end up at #1 (as both Eulogy's Secret and Cat Pies did in their respective free download categories.) Above all, it's taught me to be optimistic, that if you have a great story that's professionally edited, your book can challenge the best.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I am one of the early adopters of the Amazon Select program and until the end of March, my books are only available at Amazon. Prior to this they were also to be found on Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, Kobo, Nook etc. I'm still keeping an open mind as to what I'll do when my initial period ends with Select, but it's likely I'll broaden my base again and go back to those other platforms. 

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I love social media and am active on many forums. I post regularly on the following sites:
Twitter: @Grace_Elliot
Email:  Grace (dot) elliot (at) virginmedia (dot) com

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
In answer to your question, it's a case of 'not enough hours in the day. What works best for me is if I write first, and when I've achieved my target (be it a word count or editing a chapter) then I'll allow myself onto Kindle Boards or Facebook - where I lose myself for hours.

Last November I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and this really helped me focus. With NaNoWriMo you have a set word target to be achieved each day - this was a much higher number than I normally achieve and I was amazed at what could be done. Now my secret weapon in the writing war is to set myself targets, and only move onto marketing once the former has been met for the day.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
It's a great idea for new authors to join forums such as the Writers Café at Kindle Boards. There are plenty of alternative platforms out there on the web, but it's crucial to a part of one of them. The advice and depth of knowledge in these threads is invaluable and there are so many generous writers who will answer your questions on anything from polishing your blurb to tax. Plus, when you get the inevitable bad review that makes you feel that quitting forever, there is so much support to be had from writers who have been there, that you wont feel so alone

What’s next for you?
I'm nearing the edit stage of the next book in the Huntley trilogy, titled Hope's Betrayal.  This story features the middle Huntley brother, Captain George Huntley, who has been sent to the south coast of England to sort out a smuggling problem. Unfortunately for Huntley, when he captures one of the smugglers, he also ends up losing his heart.

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