Australian author Jenna Whittaker stays busy but manages to make time for her writing. In this interview she explains what self-published authors have to do to make their work a success.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest book is The Leavers. It’s a fantasy novel set in a marshland, bordered by an invisible barrier that nearly no one dares to cross. Novia, the main character, wakes up at the edge of it, and finds a Leaver – one of the ones who do cross the barrier, and never, until now, return. With his return comes desolation of the marshlands, the arrival of the beings from Beyond, and what you think is good and bad is turned on its head.
2. How have your sales been?
I’ve not gotten too much time for promotion lately; working on my current WIP, my part time job, and starting up my own pet sitting business! I get a few sales per month and I’m happy with that; I love every review that comes in!
3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Have you sought an agent or any work with traditional publishers? If not, why not? If so, what has been your experience?
I decided not to go the traditional publishing route. I’m not sure why; mostly because of my impatience to have my book released, I think! My mother is a traditional/e-book publisher, so I made sure to have a properly formatted/edited novel ready for publication, based on what I’ve seen of her requirements and some of the more questionable submissions!
Self publishing is great, but only if you know what you’re doing or willing to put in the effort to learn. It’s vital to get a professional book cover, proper editing, and work on promotion constantly.
4. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that firstly, your book idea isn’t completely unique! That’s not what’s important; getting it written, making sure to learn as much as you can about developing your voice as an author, is integral. Get the book done…and worry about your special, unique, bestest-ever-idea that just must have this sentence or that plot point or that other awful cover, later (or preferably not at all). The saying is to murder your darlings, usually in reference to causing problems and suffering for your characters, but you can also apply it to editing and cutting your work with a harsh hand, and welcoming critique! That’s the key to a successful publishing journey, whether self-publishing or traditional.
5. New authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books, whether they go the indie or traditional publishing route. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Research is your friend. Join forums and groups, – the harsher and more realistic the better – and listen to their advice. It’s simple if you do it right, but you’ve got to put in the time and effort to market and promote your books, and be prepared for your ego to take a hit sometimes!
6. What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on one WIP, at just over 60,000 words now. I’m aiming for 80,000, but I tend to write too short! It’s a science fiction story about several different people on different worlds experiencing life under one totalitarian regime that controls the entire galaxy of planets. They’re brought together by different tragedies, and begin to work together to destroy the regime.
7. How can readers learn more about your books?
You can find all my books here.