Happy Monday! Welcome back to another week in the self-publishing interview series! This week’s interview is with romance writer Mary Tate Engels. Enjoy!
Thanks for inviting me, Liza. Since I’m published in both eBooks and print, I hope readers and writers will find inspiration and encouragement from my story.
- What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on eBook or print only or both?
What do you have to lose?
In a roomful of writers, editors, and agents at the RWA Conference in 2010, a prominent agent was asked about the advisability of self-pubbing eBooks. At that time, the entire conference was denying any substantial change in the industry. The room grew deathly quiet when he said, “What do you have to lose?”
I had already obtained rights to my backlist from Dell and Harlequin but wasn’t sure what to do with them and how e-pubbing would affect my career. The question struck me – what, indeed, did I have to lose? I could take my books from the out-of-print shelf to selling again. That’s win-win for me!
I had met Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer and CJ Lyons and watched what they and others did to take charge of their careers. They didn’t lose a thing by e-pubbing. Other influencers have been from Marie Force and all of the member/writers of the self-publishing loop. They keep me informed and encouraged.
- What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from a someone, could you share who?
For me, coming from the old school, agent-model, my learning curve has been huge. It started with accepting the changes in the industry, then my commitment to continue doing what I love – storytelling. So far, I’ve e-Pubbed 8 of my backlist – with 21 to go. The process began with scanning, then correcting and editing to update, then – cover designing! I studied how I want my name to appear and a few specific design elements, like the cat in my name and the zig-zags on my Southwestern books. My cover designer is http://www.digitaldonna.com and I love working with her. The other digital stuff is done by my husband and one of our techy sons.
- What did you do to promote your work?
I feel that the best thing a writer can do is to write and produce a good book and another, so that has been my priority. I’m working on establishing my platform as a contemporary author writing about chasing dreams and finding love. I change my website landing page monthly and am considering a blog.
- What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?
The most difficult – promotion. Most writers will agree. The most rewarding – creating each book the way I envisioned it from cover to character arcs and fulfilling story. That’s powerful!
- Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?
Big Picture vs. Bottom Line
- Perpetuity of my book vs. a shelf life determined by a sales force that doesn’t know me and is only looking at the bottom line.
- Global sales vs. limited sales determined by publishing house distribution centered on their own bottom line.
- Full control for the writing and publication of my books vs. full responsibility. I like the control, perpetuity, and reaching readers globally. But it’s a lot of responsibility and hard work.
The reward of hearing from my readers, many in foreign countries, that my stories or characters touched them is my bottom line.
- Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?
At last count, I’ve sold over 15,000 books and 3 times as many on Amazon as on Smashwords. Foreign sales are picking up, which I find very exciting. And I always offer a book each month for 99-cents.
- What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
What do you have to lose?
Just this: Your reputation as writer.
Make a commitment to produce the best book possible. If you produce crap, even once, you risk losing readers. Give them a good story, entertain them, excite them, and inspire them.
- Make sure your writing is stellar – hire an editor if necessary.
- Craft your story the best it can be.
- Ensure the formatting is correct so that you’re giving the reader the best quality in a book form that they’re accustomed to.
- What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?
Published in both fiction and non-fiction. Books are listed on my web site: www.marytateengels.com
I write Romantic Women’s Fiction – strong women chasing dreams and finding love.
I have 8 contemporary Western eBooks:
Speak to the Wind – currently 99 cents
A Rare Breed
Under the Desert Sky
Under the Desert moon
Coming soon: Irish Hearts trio: Claire’s Embrace, Dark Embrace, Embraceable You
Nonfiction – Southwest History:
Tales from Wide Ruins, Jean & Bill Cousins, Traders;
Corazon Contento, Sonoran Recipes & Stories from the Heart
- What do you love about the genre(s)?
What I love to read and write: Sexy romance, strong women, inspiring characters, amazing in spite of difficulties, exploring cultural differences, kickass adventure and travel, awesome and upbeat stories.
- Where can readers find you?
My website http://www.marytateengels.com; on www.facebook/marytateengels.com ; Amazon for Kindle; www.smashwords.com for B & N’s Nook, Apple’s iBook, Kobo and all other readers. I offer a 99-cent special each month because I want my stories to be accessible to everyone.
- Where can readers find your books? Print/eBook?
My eBooks are all listed on my website and all major eBook distributors. My landing page is a mini-newsletter giving info about my current activities, books, and travels. Also, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from my readers and will always answer.
- What works do you have coming out in the future?
I am so excited about these three related books, all of which will be out by March.
Claire’s Embrace, a prequel set in the 1960’s, is Three Weddings and a Funeral meets Love Actually.
Dark Embrace, set in Ireland, is Sex, Lies, and Video Tape meets The Chieftains.
Embraceable You, set in a small Maine town, is LL Bean meets Victoria’s Secret.
- There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?
All? No way! Some, maybe, but I believe the competition in the marketplace will take care of shoddy work.
- What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?
Read what you like, who you like, and what resonates with you, no matter about the reviews. Just like determining whether to read a book off the shelf, go for the author who speaks to you. Or…
- If a friend recommends an author, the book probably has merit;
- If the author has more than one book out, chances are that author has developed experience and writing skills that rise above;
- Many Indie authors have specials that introduce themselves to readers, so you can get a book or novella at a reduced rate.
- Take a chance and discover a new author for yourself by reading the blurb and the author’s description of the book’s content.
Eliza, thanks for the guest spot and opportunity to talk about my passions, my books. I hope something I’ve said here inspires, encourages, and informs someone about following their dreams. Maybe it’s not writing, but art or crocheting or starting your own business. Commit, determine the process, and go for it. What do you have to lose?