Friday, July 15, 2011

Rebecca Gives her spin on self-publishing

Today brings another interview - this time with Rebecca Knight and her experiences with self-publishing:

CF: Why did you begin writing?

RK: I actually have been writing since before I could write! When I was 5 I used to draw “books” telling alternate versions of Peter Pan with myself as a main character, etc. Then, I dictated stories to my parents until they insisted I practice my six-year-old scrawl and write down my own tales.

I’ve always written stories and poems, but the one who convinced me to try to write a novel was my husband, back in 2005-2006. I didn’t believe in myself like he believed in me for several months, but when I did, I sat down, and wrote Legacy of the Empress.  It’s awesome to have such a great support system at home J.

CF: Tell me a little about your personal writing process?
RK: I’m not going to lie—while I was writing Legacy I learned a lot about what NOT to do. I swear I rewrote that book at least 5-6 times while I was learning how to craft a good story.  Now, I’m a total outliner.  I have to have a beginning, middle, end, and all of the main points in between before I even start. This goes for short stories, too.  If I don’t have a path to follow, I sit down and figure it out before I start. 

CF: What is the hardest part aspect of being a writer?
RK: I think the hardest part is keeping focused and balanced.  I get really excited and almost manic when I have a great idea, and want to drop everything to write it, even when I’m working on another project. I also don’t want to do things like sleep.

My husband is like this with his creative projects, too, so we take turns helping the other one keep focused. He tells me to write down my next idea and helps me prioritize, and I do the same for him.  For example, I have my next 3-4 writing projects planned out, but I have to finish my current one before I can move on.

Writers and artists are all crazy. We’d never get anything done without a little organization.

CF: How do you manage to balance writing with other real-life things (like children, etc)?
RK: I don’t have any children, so that’s got to make it easier J.  After work, I write for a couple of hours while my husband does his projects and/or plays video games. Just so I don’t burn out (which I did before and am trying to avoid), I make sure I relax for at least an hour before bed and take one day a week to do sweet, sweet nothing, no matter how much I “have to get done.” I think it’s important to take care of yourself, or you won’t have much to give.

CF: What is your book about (in 140 characters or less)
RK: Dark magic is devouring the people of Taleria. Only one girl can stop it by freeing an ancient Empress who fought the evil centuries before.

Ha! Exactly 140 J

CF: What was the inspiration for LEGACY of the EMPRESS?
RK: I actually got the idea for Legacy back in college when I was taking a fiction writing class. There was a writing prompt we did where I imagined lines of magic intersecting all over the world like a grid, and an Empress imprisoned in a crystal fortress.

I never did anything with it, and ended up finding it a couple of years later in my journal just sitting there, waiting to become something cool.  It’s awesome finding treasures like that in old notebooks J.

CF: I know you've talked alot about why you made the decision to self-publish this, but could you brefly summarize that decision for my readers here
RK: When I heard the news about Amanda Hocking, I realized that I’d almost bought her books several times when browsing cheap reads for Kindle, and I’d had no clue that she was self published. I quickly thumbed through the e-books I’d recently bought, and wouldn’t you know it, 9/10 were indies!

This blew my mind. Before when I was trying to get an agent, self publishing meant you went with some vanity press and tried to sell books no one wanted out of the trunk of your car.  Now, it seemed a totally viable option.

I researched it further, reading blogs like J.A. Konrath’s, and the fact that people are making a much better living as a self published mid-list author than a mid-list commercially published one really sealed the deal for me. My entire goal as a writer is to be able to do what I love for a living, and this option, numbers-wise, seemed like the best way to meet that goal.

I recently read that only 1% of new books are from debut authors, and I know for a fact the majority of those aren’t in my genre. I’ve been haunting publisher’s weekly for years now waiting for the market to change, and it’s just tightening up further and further for new genre writers.  Self publishing is the smartest move for my career at this time.  I’m loving it so far!  I definitely made the right call.

CF: What is the most important thing for writer's to consider as they think about diversification with publishing?
RK: I think the most important thing to consider is what your Main Goal is. Do you want recognition from the Industry?  Do you want to be on a bookshelf in Barnes and Noble?  Do you want to sell as many copies as you can?  Do you want to get paid to write for a living?

Once you discover what your main goal is, it’s a lot easier to figure out which path is right for you.  For me, it was self publishing, because I don’t give a crap about being validated by the industry. I don’t care about being in a brick-and-mortar bookstore because they’re pretty much going out of business anyway. The only thing I care about is getting my writing out there in front of readers, so it was an easy decision for me to make once I had all the facts.

CF: What have you learned in this process that you wish you knew earlier?     
RK: When I think about the fact that I could have published for kindle 2 years ago, I want to go back in time and kick myself! I could already be making a living. However, everything was just taking off then, and hindsight, of course, is 20/20. At least I’m doing it now!

CF: How about marketing and distribution - any advice on these?
RK: As far as marketing goes, I’ve had a lot of success connecting with readers through twitter and my blog. Also, meeting other authors on the kindle boards and working to support one another (like you’re doing right now) is great. However, I’ve noticed the biggest bumps in sales as soon as I release another story.  The best marketing is to write more stuff, which is something that every author can control J.

The thing that doesn’t seem to be working for a lot of indies is buying ads. It’s all about the free social networking, from what I can tell. I spend an hour or two a day hanging out online.

CF: What are you currently working on?
RK: I’m currently writing another two stories for my Fairytale Assassin short story series J. They are so much fun, and I love them!  They’re basically paranormal stories about an agent named Veronica Grim who fights real life fairytale villains.  No Rest for the Wicked is the first part of the series and contains two short stories: Blood Don’t Lie and Heartless.  It’s currently free on Smashwords and B&N.  The second part, Carnivore is only $0.99 cents on Amazon and Smashwords.

When I’ve got five of these stories, I’m going to bundle them into a collection.  After that… you’ll just have to wait and see!

CF: Would you ever consider traditional publishing? Why or why not?
RK: I would if they could ever give me a better deal than I have with self publishing. I get 35% royalties on my $0.99 titles and was getting 70% on my $2.99 book before I put Legacy on sale.  Basically, if I sell these books myself, I’m making more in royalties with a more competitively priced book than any publisher can offer. 

If a publisher gave me a better deal than that, I’d absolutely consider it J. But until that day, not a chance with the contracts the way they are now. I’d be shooting myself in the foot.

CF: Randomness time:
sweet or salty?  Salty!
online on in person?  Online! (I’m shy)
fav genre of writing?  It’s between fantasy and sci fi, but I also love me some romance!
most inspiring writer and why--  Dan Simmons. He wrote my favorite book of all time, Hyperion, and continues to create absolutely gorgeous sci fi. I love you, Dan!  I want to be able to make someone breathless with my writing, like he did with Hyperion. P.S., read Hyperion.  Seriously.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Christine! J It was a treat, and I appreciate your support so much.  You rock!

Thank YOU Rebecca, for sharing your journey with us. Having read Legacy, I can say...GREAT JOB!!! You really make me consider self-publishing as an option for some of my works...


  1. Awesome interview, and I'm totally with you on your reasons for self-pubbing :) Congrats!!

  2. Thanks, Michelle! :D Also, a big THANK YOU to Christine for having me!

  3. great interview, Rebecca! Inspiring as always!


Thanks for your input!