1. Who inspired you to complete your novel and publish?
For Bleeding Heart, I was especially inspired by a new author friend (and my cover designer!) Lena Goldfinch, as well as a writing challenge called Speedbo, hosted by the Seekerville blog in March (similar to NaNoWriMo). I think being witness to Lena’s journey to self-publishing Aire (YA fantasy romance), as well as having the opportunity to challenge myself to complete a book “alongside” other authors, helped give me the push I needed to finally finish a book that was about two years in the making.
Beyond those two influences, I think it was just that season in my writing life – a time when I felt ready to finish the story and share it, and when I felt the urge to go through the things I needed to go through in order to accomplish that (like hiring an editor and a proofreader, working with a cover designer, etc.). I’m sure it helped that I was working with my first client for my freelance editing business (who contacted me in February) on preparing her book for republication via self-publishing. Through our shared journey, I got to see how all the details would come together.
All in all, the time was right, and I feel blessed that God allowed me to meet and form friendships with people who would help me through the steps of self-publishing. Bleeding Heart is now available in Kindle format and will soon be available in paperback.
2. What advice would you give to aspiring authors regarding the publishing and marketing process?
There are so many options available now for publishing! For deciding which route to go, I’d take into account the stories of other authors and writers you know, blog posts and articles about the process, the story you want to share, and your personality. For example, with Bleeding Heart, I had seen Lena Goldfinch and my client’s successes and experiences with self-publishing. It seemed to be a great option for me because I had such wonderful people to help me through, and I had been learning some neat things about how self-publishing through Amazon worked. The story itself would not be an easy one to pitch to editors and agents, as it’s not typical for its genre and it’s shorter for a novel. And self-publishing allowed me to be in control of the process – to be creative in my marketing and branding, to work with the people I wanted to work with, etc. All of this added up to a decision that just sort of became obvious to me, and one that excited me.
All of the different options have their pros and cons. I know that traditional publishing opens up doors that self-publishing cannot, and it offers a level and appearance of quality that’s harder to replicate on a self-published level. But self-publishing offers a lot to the author, including more choice and higher royalties and less of a wait time (no querying or getting an agent required, generally). So basically, I’d recommend that aspiring authors weigh the options and consider what their goals are for the story they want to publish. Each story might require a different journey, too!
As for marketing, I think it’s important to find your brand or identify the theme of your story/stories and run with it! Be creative and connect your story with you as an author and your online presence. Pick the social media sites you love to use or would be most interested in learning how to use and focus on those, matching them with your style and using them as a way to communicate with other readers and writers – and not just about your book! Make friends, be a friend, and then share the story/stories of your heart with those people. They’ll be the ones you turn to when it comes time to look for cover-reveal participants and reviewers.
3. What would you tell authors to "Start Now" concerning social media?
It’s never too early to build your platform. I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t let social media distract you from writing, as writing a good story is the most important aspect of marketing – and I agree! However, if you enjoy reading and interacting with other readers, and if you enjoy learning the ins and outs of the book world and social media sites, I think it can be very helpful (and super fun!) to find some online places to hang out and build into your “home base” for future writing endeavors.
I started a blog almost three and a half years ago (Seasons of Humility), and it has given me so much insight into book marketing and writing, in general. Through it I became a part of the book-blogging community. I started reviewing books, learning more and more about the sorts of books that I love and why I love them, as well as the sorts of books and book covers that readers enjoy. I branched out and joined reader sites like Goodreads and Shelfari, then eventually went on to join Twitter and Pinterest when other readers showed me the merits of those sites. And the original “seasons” theme that holds my blog together ended up bleeding into my freelance editing business (Editing Through the Seasons) and the name of my “publisher” (Seasons of a Story).
Each author might favor different sites and different ways of reaching out to readers, but I think taking a chance and starting somewhere (I recommend blogging, if you have the time!) is so important for building a readership and meeting the people that will support you through your writing career.
Thank you Amber for an insightful interview! I wish you the best along your literary journey!
Tomorrow, hop on over to the next two stops on the blog tour!
Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.
Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.
But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?
A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.
All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.
Inspirational Historical Romance
Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart.
You can connect with Amber on her personal blog (Seasons of Humility), the group blog she contributes to (The Borrowed Book), Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Shelfari, and LinkedIn.
To drop Amber a line, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She would love to connect with her readers!