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Thank you for having me.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
I chose to self-publish for a variety of reasons. For one, I wanted to retain creative control over my manuscripts and covers. I also wanted to create my own publishing timeline. With a publisher, you're restricted in so many ways. Word counts have to come in under a certain number, covers are usually created with little input from the author, and you're bound to the publisher's schedule. And, of course, I wanted to retain my royalties.
What are the positives of self-publishing?
I think the two biggest positives are the retention of creative control, as well as the retention of royalties. I also like working at my own pace, and self-publishing allows that. I'm not on someone else's timetable. I'm on my own. And when one story is speaking to me when another one isn't, it's nice not to have a publisher imposing deadlines on the piece that's not speaking. I don't like forcing a story to talk when it's not ready to, because the result is always regrettable. In the past, when I've forced a story that wasn't ready to come out, I ended up rewriting half the book.
What are the negatives?
You're alone. It's all on you. You're the author, the scheduler, the editor (although I do have an editor, I do a lot of editing on my own), and the formatter. You're responsible for all marketing and promotion, you have to find all the conventions you want to attend, you have to coordinate with the cover artist, editor, beta readers, and proofreader. Honestly, it can become overwhelming at times, and occasionally, I'm kept up at night by everything that needs to be done.
Also, I'm missing out on an advanced level of learning by being self-published. While I love my editor, I would like the editing machine that comes with a Big Five publisher for the simple fact that I would learn something new from someone new and trusted, who is educated and trained. I believe in learning constantly, and one way to learn is by shaking things up, encouraging change, and working with new people with different perspectives. I recently began working with a new group of critique partners and have already noticed an improvement in my overall skills. I thrive on feedback from my beta readers and critique partners, and I think that if I were to work with a Big Five publisher's editing, marketing, and promotions team, I would learn so much more about writing and the industry overall.
A specific question, how hard is formatting per venue? Is it as difficult as everyone makes it sound?
For me, formatting is the easiest part of self-publishing. When I first started out, I studied the Smashwords formatting guide, which is pretty much the industry standard for ebook formatting, and created a multi-page process document that I use every time I format a book. Over the past couple of years, I've tweaked this process doc to include pretty much everything I need to do from start to finish. It takes several hours to work through, but by the time I've finished formatting a manuscript per Smashwords' guidelines, it's pretty much ready for every venue. Of course, I need to run it through Calibre software (free and easy to use) first and prepare the individual files for a couple of the sites I load my books to, but the formatting is done. Uploading to each site is a breeze once the formatting and files are finished.
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on Good Karma, the first book of the Strong Karma Trilogy. I'm also working on book two, Coming Back to You. I started Good Karma a year-and-a-half ago, but set it aside to work on my All the King's Men Series. And while I know fans desperately want the next AKM book, which is Trace's (a HUGE fan favorite), I can't finish it until I get these first two Strong Karma books done. They're clogging up my mind to the point that I can't work on anything else, so until I get them out, Trace's book is bottle-necked. And, like I said earlier, I don't like to force books out. Right now, Trace can't get through because the Strong Karma books have taken over my mind. Once the first two Strong Karma books are out, I think Trace will open up again. I desperately want to reach a point where I can live in the AKM world for about four straight years. I have a lot of characters in that series waiting in the wings for their stories to be told.
Of course, Micah (my #1 AKM character) is all for that. He says he's eager to get Trace's book rolling again (it's mostly drafted; I just need to finish it). Micah and Trace have a special bond. Unbeknownst to Micah, though, that bond is about to be tested by a kick-butt female named Cordray. In the draft of Trace's book, called Bound Guardian Angel, there is so much information that wants to come out that I'm going to have to break out bits and pieces for two related novellas, one of which could become pretty tense as the dynamics shift among characters, including Micah, Trace, Cordray, and Samantha. Believe me, I'm looking forward to writing it, but first things first.
Best way for readers to contact you.
Readers can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks Donya. You are on your way to great things! Congrats on the IPPY!