Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interview with Tessa Stokes

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Well I published two books almost at the same time.
Devon Ruthin and a Vampire in Love: Volume one in The Ruthin Trilogy and The Task: Book five of The Seven Spell Saga.

For Devon Ruthin and a Vampire in Love
Bliss is lonely and taking chances when she goes off on holiday and meets the man of her dreams, Devon Ruthin. She is trying to replicate the life of a character in a book she has read recently, and without realizing it, she enters a twilight world. A world filled with strange people, beautiful powerful beings who seem to be the saviors of the man she falls in love with.

This is a darker tale than first meets the eye, and as the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that the beautiful people, who are seemingly so wonderful, have secrets of their own. On her journey, Bliss encounters the pale and attractive Drew. It seems fate has a trick up its sleeve when we discover that he has met the mysterious people before. The chance meeting with Bliss sets off a series of actions by Drew that uncovers a hidden past belonging to Devon. This is a love story, a story of revenge, hope, violence, immortality, and fate.

The Task book five of The Seven Spell Saga
The three friends and lovers unite at the request of Aristide the old wizard to whom they owe a favor. Chloe, Oliver and Tristan have not seen each other for nearly three months and now they have gathered to hear the nature of the favor. It soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary favor and the three fall into the habit of calling this favor the task as they talk and prepare for it.

Still in love, Oliver and Chloe take up where they left off and the romantic moments are back immediately. Chloe still loves Tristan and the old dilemma of being in love with both the beautiful, immortal knight and the equally gorgeous modern guy Oliver dominates Chloe's thoughts through some bizarre incidents. Chloe faces danger from a surprising source. Time travel takes the reader to a rock concert and to the twelfth century.

There are so many romantic moments between the characters that you just know something is waiting to go wrong. This book is about love and fate. In book five The Task is not just about the favor owed to Aristide it is about Chloe deciding to choose between Oliver and Tristan.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did briefly try the traditional route. I sent off to three agents and two publishers who had open submissions at the time and I heard nothing from the publishers and two of the agents but one sent back a pro forma email which basically said no thank you. I knew about indie publishing and had read lots of indie books and so I decided to go down that route just to get my work out there instead of it languishing on my computer. So I bought a batch of ISBN’s and went from there.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
No I do not belong to one although I have looked and lurked on a couple of online groups.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
It was very easy to do. I formatted using the Mobi pocket software or the Caliber software and found I could use that easily. I had control over putting my book cover in the file and could check what my book looked like. I find the ease of use and the ability to reach readers is the deciding factor for me to publish on Amazon. I would love to have a few more categories for my books to be listed under as they are cross and genre blend and so choosing the category is difficult.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I did with my first manuscript hire a creative editor and then a copy editor. With the last manuscript I only got it copy edited.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
To be tougher and not let things hurt so much. To contact and communicate with other authors so that I get a more global view of everything indie.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Most of my books are for sale on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, KOBO, iBooks, Sony, Diesel. I did have books on Lulu and Xin Xii but recently took them down as they simply did not sell one copy. Since Amazon KDP select has come into being I had unpublished two books from all the sites they were for sale on but put one in KDP select just to test the water. I am considering re-publishing the other book on other sites again.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I advertised on Google Adwords and used advertising on major sites such as Kindleboards and Kindle nation daily. I have thought of doing fliers or contacting journals and newspapers with press releases but so far have relied on blogs, Facebook and twitter. I know about marketing but it’s difficult to spread yourself thin enough to reach where readers of particular genres are. I have posted chapters on places like Wattpad and Worthy of Publishing in the hope that readers will be reached that way. I have gone down the offering a book free route to boost my presence; it’s hard to know what works.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes definitely, as since I generally have more than one book I am writing at a time it gets frantic. Marketing is, in fact, a full time specialist job and I think writers never have enough time to do it properly.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Join forums where many answers to questions you don’t even know you have can be found. Expect things to go slowly. Believe in yourself and realize there are lots of malicious people around and as an author you need to in the words of a favorite author of mine be ‘sensitive and vulnerable, but tough and brave’. Write your heart out and know that if even just one reader has enjoyment from your book then that’s cool because they have seen inside your heart and you have touched theirs.

What’s next for you?
I am just re-reading my second book in The Ruthin Trilogy and doing my edits before it goes off for checking.

I am also writing another novel (about two thirds of the way through that) and have notes for the sixth book in The Seven Spell Saga after writing the first two chapters and then having to stop because the other two books were calling me.