CURSE OF STARS is a dark YA fantasy about a girl who cries diamonds who is kidnapped and taken to another world. Turns out it’s actually the world where she was born and her parents are hated fugitives from that world. While her diamond tears got her into this mess in the first place, a latent magic decides to come out and may be the solution she needs in order to get herself out of it.
It is part of a planned trilogy with a novella between books two and three. The only reason it’s not a four book series is because the story that I need to tell in that novella shouldn’t be too involved and shouldn’t render it’s own 90,000 word book. Famous last words on that one, but that’s the plan.
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Not in CURSE OF STARS, but in a book I’m working on that’s currently on Wattpad, BEFORE I’M DEAD. It’s a novel about the vampire apocalypse and it was originally about a girl whose life gets turned completely upside down and everything she knows is thrown into shambles and it all started with finding out something huge about her friend.
The friend made one appearance in the book, in the very first chapter and for only a handful of paragraphs. That’s it. When I did the Wattpad Block Party in August I was like “oh, why don’t I write a little short story about how this friend got into this situation in the first place.” And that was the end of that. That friend ruined everything I’d already written. She basically came in and was like “WRITE ABOUT ME” and took over the world. So I scrapped 50,000 words and started from the beginning with the friend as the protagonist.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
I queried the book for two years before making the decision to self-publish. I had some really good feedback on it and people liked it, just not enough to take on. Eventually I forced myself to decide which I wanted more: to be published or to be read? I decided I wanted to be read more. Don’t get me wrong. I still want to be commercially published. But I’m going to continue to write the stories I want to write, not cater to the market and what could potentially sell to a publisher. If things happen to match up, great! If not I’ll self-publish.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I don’t do the muse thing, but same concept. I’m a pantser when I write so I just go with the flow. I’ve taken to outlining a little bit, just to keep track of the plot and details and so I don’t have a complete mess when it comes time for editing. But mostly I just see where it takes me. I find I get the best twists and plot developments that way. I’m very much of the mind of “no surprises for the writer, no surprises for the reader.” Having everything planned out makes me feel like I’d be missing out on those surprises.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
You can find my eBook on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Amazon. I’m working on the print edition too. It’s basically ready. If it’s not available by release for purchase it will be soon after that. I’ve just been having some printer difficulties, but once I get those hammered out it’ll distribute and be available from all the major retailers too.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I blog (http://www.imaginewrite.net), I have my Facebook author page (https://www.facebook.com/dcompbooks/), Twitter (@dcompbooks), Instagram (donnaduck13), my Goodreads author page (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15517019.Donna_Compositor), tumblr (http://donnaduck87.tumblr.com/), and Wattpad (@dcompbooks). I use all of these avenues to one degree or another in order to promote. I use Twitter, Facebook, and Wattpad the most as I’m most active there, with Instagram coming in a close second. I tried Facebook ads (not worth it in my experience), Goodreads giveaways (had a solid response out of that), and Xpresso Book Tours, which has worked the best. Getting my book on NetGalley is where I’ve gotten my reviews from to date, which is awesome. The book blitz helped to get my book out there and I’m hoping the blog tour will drum up even more interest in my little brain child!
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Throw in the fact that I have a regular job too and yeah. It gets difficult. Being in a position to pay for someone else to do the marketing for me has been very beneficial and has cut down on the time I’ve spent having to hand sell myself to people. While I’m spread out pretty widely in terms of social media I really just stick to Facebook and Twitter for the pure social aspect of it and Wattpad to promote my writing as a whole. You can’t be all things to all people and there are some aspects of marketing that just aren’t worth my time. I’ve spent hours and months hand selling the book to people to try and get reviews. The few acceptances I did get haven’t otherwise returned anything to date. Meanwhile I dropped some money for Xpresso’s NetGalley co-op and the response was almost immediate. Done. I’m not hand selling anymore. The return just isn’t there. I need to work smarter, not harder, with the spare time I do have. Finding that balance can take some time, but it’s ultimately worth it.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Persistence is really key. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep plugging away. Keep writing, keep marketing, keep socializing, and people will find you eventually. Find what marketing avenues work right for you. Some people will be really insistent that you should do X, however X may not work for you or your title. Have the patience to find what does work. And be prepared to drop some money. Unless you have friends everywhere, you’re going to have to spend something at some point, whether it’s on marketing, editing, cover design, whatever. You’ll spend it somewhere.
And just a note on editing, watch who you have editing your book. There are a lot of people out there offering services and while I think a lot of them have the best intentions, if they don’t come recommended by someone you trust, if they’re not providing valid references (edited a dozen different books, but don’t name the books or if they’re all self-published books check samples to see just what kind of editing’s been done), and they don’t have any actual industry experience at all, it’s best to walk away. I mean I found people who their only qualifications were that they were avid readers. That’s great! But it doesn’t qualify a person to content, line, or copy edit a book (which are three completely different things). And make sure the person actually meshes with your work. They should edit the work based on what’s best for the work, not based on what they think it should be.
Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Dogs or cats? Both. I’m indiscriminate about dogs and cats now. I have one dog and three cats so I can’t favor at this point. They’ll converge on me.
Chocolate or vanilla? Depends on what it is. I love chocolate, but prefer vanilla ice cream and vanilla cakes. But you can keep your white chocolate. Blech.
Coffee or tea? Tea, definitely. I drink it all the time, pretty much any kind (except pure blacks or oolongs). Never developed a taste for coffee.
Talk or text? Text. I’m not much of a talker. Never have been. I would have been all over text messaging if cell phones were a thing when I was in high school. Yuck. Hated the phone. Still do. I don’t even like to order food over the phone. I make my husband do it.
Day or Night? Night, probably, although I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a night person. I’m not a morning person either. I’m more comfortable staying up until midnight than my husband is, and I sleep a little later, but that only means maybe 8:30 if I’m lucky.
What’s next for you?
After the Diamond Crier series is over I have a couple different directions I can take. I’m just not sure which one I want to take at the moment. I have the vampire apocalypse novel I’m working on that’s up on Wattpad at the moment. I could set myself to editing the crap out of that one when I’m done. I have another vampire-related one I want to write inspired by The Lost Boys. I have an historical vampire romance that has a few chapters written. I have an 80s-set urban fantasy/supernatural series-potential story about a psychic on Coney Island. Or maybe the stand alone historical fiction about the Mossad that’s drilling itself into my head. It’s anyone’s guess right now!
Donna has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.