Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Interview with Valerie Gillen


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
It’s called A Little Magic. Siobhan Kelly is a California girl who comes to Vermont when the grandmother she’s never met falls into a mysterious coma.  Alicia, a local girl dabbling in dark magic, tells Siobhan that her grandmother was a witch, and is demanding that Siobhan help her do a powerful dark spell – or else.  Siobhan’s own powers manifest with a vengeance and suddenly there are fairies in the back woods, claiming that Gran has stolen the sacred Jewel that is the font of their magic.  Siobhan must help them get it back – or else.  But when her mother warns her that magic is evil and to stay away from it, Siobhan is at a crossroads.  She has promised the fairies to help get their Jewel back, in return for their aid in lifting the curse that has caused her grandmother’s coma. Somehow, she has to find Gran’s spell book, wake her up, avoid Alicia and her evil schemes, and save the world of Fairie.  So, no pressure.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did, but I just got sick of submitting to agents and traditional publishers, hoping to even get a response from somebody, hearing stuff like, well the market is very competitive right now, this had more fantasy than I'm interested in, etc. etc.  

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
It’s not a formal critique group, but I have a few good writing friends and we run our new stuff by each other, just for a second set of eyes, and helpful comments.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
My friend, Jeanne Miller, who’s a pet psychic, has a successful book on Kindle, and she was a big help to me in navigating those waters and getting my book up there.  I'd rather have my book out there, hopefully to be read and enjoyed by people, than sitting in a drawer gathering dust

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
No – but I did have the above-mentioned writing friends look it over for content, continuity and grammar.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
It’s been an interesting one!  There’s a lot of friendly, helpful people out there who are glad to help and have your best interests at heart.  As well, there are people who will take advantage of your situation, so you have to be careful.  I’m very fascinated by the exponential growth of E-books and feel that this is more and more, a viable place for those who want to publish their own books and connect directly to the reader.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, they are also available on Smashwords, Shelfari and Barnes and Noble.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I’ve done guest posts on blogs, twitter, done giveaways on Library Thing and Goodreads, approached some local newspapers, and I’m being interviewed for the Authors Show, which will be up shortly on http://www.TheAuthorsShow.com

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I think it can be.  You want to work on that next book and get that out there, which in turn will get your name out there and give people more options to buy your books, but on the other hand, you want to market your current works to get them in front of the biggest amount of potential buyers possible.

10. What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
The Writer’s Café on Kindle Boards is a great place to go for help and advice.  There are so many people on there that have been through it and can help you with different issues.  If you want to self-publish, either have the book edited or have some friends you can trust to give you an honest opinion.  You want your best work out there, not only in content, but basic stuff like spelling and grammar.  You don’t want anything to throw people out of the magic of reading your story.

What’s next for you?
The YA book I’m working on now is called Everything to Live For and is also in the paranormal realm.  It's about a girl who suffers a great loss, and really doesn't see the point of going on with things.  She's getting into trouble and failing out of school, when she comes into possession of a brooch that belonged to one of her ancestors, who was hung as a witch in 1700s Connecticut …  And then the adventure begins.  A young woman on my family tree was actually hung as a witch in the 1700s, so that’s where the idea for this one started.