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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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Interview with an Author: Valerie Wicks, Part 2

Last week, I published the first part of my interview with first time author, Valerie Wicks. Valerie is the author of the middle-grade/Y.A. series Seven Spectral. The first book in the series has been released and the second is due out this fall. 

With seven books in total, this is an ambitious book series. But what makes it even more ambitious is that Valerie has been self-publishing. It is a very involved process that requires dedication and research, and I was able to get an insider look into just how much it takes.
Valerie Wicks signing copies of Into the Red World

LBC: Ok, so I'd like to switch gears a little and talk about self-publishing. It's really impressive that you are now going to self-publish not one, but two books. Can you walk us through the process of that? I wouldn't even know where to start.

VW: The key to self-publishing is to do a looot of research. Before I began, I didn't do enough research (or any really), and spent the next year backpedalling, and setting up things that would have made the launch of the first book much larger. The other big thing is to go to a few writers' conferences before your book is even finished. Meet people. Make connections. Go to panels. Learn a lot. That saturation in the business of publishing is absolutely key if you're going to run your whole campaign. Because it is a business, not a project.

The process of self-publishing begins with writing the book, as you would imagine. Once a draft is written, you should hire an industry editor as well as have several "test readers" who are not your friends read the book and give you feedback. 

While that's happening, you as the author should be setting up your marketing platform -- your successful blog, twitter following, blog tour, Facebook author page with plenty of likes. The better all your social media is doing before you launch your first book, the better your book will do (my other first mistake. I had zero online presence). 

Then you edit, edit, edit the book. Have more people give you notes. Edit more. My first book had 20+ drafts. The whole time you should be promoting the release, more by being a helpful social person than by talking about the book. This part is the hard for writers, because most of us are introverts. But you have to connect with people, especially online.

Hire and excellent designer to make your cover -- it is the face of your novel, after all. Make a book trailer. It will be the quickest, easiest tool to spread the word. 

Last comes the nuts and bolts -- finding an ePublisher, formatting, etc. I go with Amazon's Create Space, but that is controversial in the publishing world these days. Do your research and choose which is best for you. Then, you spend a few days formatting it into an eBook, and for the print on demand version. Make sure your big, public release party is planned, and then...let her fly!     

Then be present all over the internet as yourself/an expert in the topic of your book and let that sell it for you more than saying "buy my book". Then write more material so you can adjust sales with product packages! Self-publishing is a never ending, crazy ride!

LBC: After going through all of this with Into the Red World, do you think that publishing The Orange World Outlaw will be easier for you?

VW: Actually, publishing The Orange World Outlaw hasn't been an easier process so far, hahaha. I thought it would be, but you find that once you get the hang of one thing, it frees you up to take on more. So, I am busier than I've ever been, in a good, but whirlwind sort of way. It's a larger release for sure with new and different challenges.

LBC: Self-publishing seems very challenging! Are you planning on self-publishing the entire series? Do you have an end date in mind for when you want the full series to be released?

VW: I would love to go traditional if the right agent/publisher came along. I could only really work with people who are as passionate about my stories as I am. As I said before, self-publishing is a lot of work so it would be lovely to relieve my poor friends and family of some of their support duties.

As far as when the series will be done, I aim to release at least one book a year and hopefully speed up to every nine months -- baby style. So at the latest, I would like to finish in 2018. That said, some characters beg for more time and attention than others, so nothing is set in stone!

LBC: That is a long journey. How do you think you will feel when it comes to an end?

VW: I think I will feel relieved, and ready to move on to some projects that I need a little more life experience to tackle. Or at least I hope! Either way, I will definitely feel proud.

So there you have it. The journey of self-publishing is long, hard, and unpredictable. But I think it can also be very rewarding. I wish Valerie good luck with the rest of the Seven Spectral Series. We should all be looking forward to seeing where her stories take us.

You can check out Valerie's kickstarter to pre-order The Orange World Outlaw, the second installment in the series. For up-to-date news on Seven Spectral you can visit the series' website as well as follow Valerie on twitter: @SevenSpectral.

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