Friday, March 8, 2013

Interview with Ashley Robertson

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Crimson Flames (book #2 of the Crimson series)
Half-vampire Abby Tate is determined to learn more about the sorceress powers that were awakened inside her when she was turned into a vampire—making her a whole new hybrid species. There’s a group of rogue vamps banding together and forming a Resistance against the vampire governing body, The Head Council, and Abby’s newly discovered powers are the key to the Council’s victory. Now the Resistance will do anything possible to remove the hybrid threat, and with no other options, Abby is forced to rely on the aid of the Council, yet can she trust the very vampires that hunt for her human lover? And even worse, can she fight the unwelcome attraction that’s growing between her and one of those ancient vampire rulers?

Do you have a favorite character?
My favorite character written by another author is Cat from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. I love how strong she is on the outside, and yet on the inside, she’s vulnerable and needy, but she only shows that soft side to Bones (her vampire soul mate). And currently my fave character that I’ve written is Abby from the Crimson series. In my newest release, Crimson Flames, she’s stronger now that she’s embraced the fact that she’s a vampire hybrid and she isn’t taking any more crap from anyone. She’s made some tough decisions that could end up getting her killed, but she doesn’t let her fear stand in the way of doing what’s right. I’m very proud of how Abby has become more confident in herself and her powers, and she’s gotten a lot feistier too.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
At first, I hated the idea of self-pubbing—absolutely hated it. I mean come on, who would love being rejected by countless literary agencies? But it was the few personal rejections I received that actually motivated me to self-publish. Apparently a lot of agents are sick of vampires, and anything to do with them is an automatic “no,” so when a few of the agents responded with, “I like your writing style, do you have something else you can submit to me?” I knew I couldn’t just put my book to the side and abandon it; there had to be others out there just like me that still loved the mysterious, sexy, and sometimes malicious undead. So I moved forward to publish Crimson Groves, learning everything I could about the indie industry along the way. By the time I had my second book, UnGuarded, ready to publish, the whole process was a LOT easier. Thankfully I’ve formed a system to the madness of self-pubbing, and so far, it seems to be working. I have a wonderful editor (Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services) and graphic designer who does my book covers (Claudia with PhatpuppyArt). Yes, these are additional expenses to your book—but they are essential to your success as an author.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I’m a team player and I feel like our combined ideas resulted in three fantastic covers. I worked with Phatpuppy for both UnGuarded and Crimson Flames. Before that, I’d hired an artist from Crowdspring to assist me with Crimson Groves.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence? Usually I need absolute silence when editing, but when I’m working on first drafts I enjoy listening to house music.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I’m a freestyler for sure—I actually wrote an article for another guest post about this called “Freestylin’.” I’ve never done an outline, and whenever a synopsis is asked of me, I totally cringe. Basically, I just write what’s in my head and that gives me freedom to flow with the characters.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
In my opinion, this is one of the most important steps of the publishing process. I have used Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services on all of my books and he’s amazing to work with.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes: Smashwords. Barnes & Noble. Books-a-Million.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Keeping a good balance between work and other responsibilities is extremely important. For me, I’ve found that creating—and sticking to—a schedule helps.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
I could go on forever here and totally make this question a guest blog post. But in an effort to keep things short, here are a few important bullet points that are a MUST:
1.     Finish your manuscript! Whether you want to publish traditionally or self-pub, you’ve got to have a completed book on your hands before you can do anything else.
2.     Hire a professional editor! Not your friend! You want someone that will shoot straight with you and not give a damn if they hurt your feelings because at the end of the day, you want your book as good as it can be for your readers, right? I use Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services and he’s pretty badass.
3.     If you’re not a graphic designer and can’t manipulate artwork on a computer, then hire a cover designer! People really do judge a book by its cover, so you need it to look as good on the outside as it is on the inside. I use Claudia with and she can do some pretty amazing things with graphics.