T.L. Chasse has used author talks as a means of promoting her books. She discusses the pros and cons of self-publishing and how writing fan fiction has shaped her craft.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest book is called Oh, Henry, A Vintage, Maine Novel, about a young man named Henry Titan who discovers that he was adopted. He spends the summer in a small town called Vintage, Maine, trying to track down his birth mother. Henry also happens to have a condition called achondroplasia. During his adventurous summer, Henry gets tangled up in small-town gossip, lies and treachery – there may even be romance in the air.
I was motivated to write this book after watching Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) talk in an interview. He stated that it was always hard for a dwarf to find roles of real people – rather than playing an elf or a leprechaun. I decided then to feature a young man with dwarfism in a novel.
It has been a wonderful experience. I contacted the New England Chapter of Little People of America. One of their admin set me up with a sensitivity reader, whose feedback was tremendously helpful. I’m so excited to launch Oh, Henry and am looking at a spring release.
2. How have sales for your books been?
My sales have been relatively low; however, that is my own fault. I have not been very proactive with marketing and PR. But the feedback that I have received on my first two novels, as well as the few beta readers for Oh, Henry have all been very encouraging.
3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Tell me more about that and how you got into it.
When I first decided to write, it was mostly for myself, as a hobby. After having several close friends who I had shared my stories with request copies, I decided to look into a print-on-demand venue. I went through Createspace and have been very happy with it.
4. What are some of the pros and cons of self-publishing you’ve experienced?
Pros: I’m on my own schedule. I have no deadlines other than the ones that I impose on myself. I can do things as detailed and/or business-oriented as I want (or not). I am in charge of my own creativity.
Cons: I have no team helping me with covers, marketing, titles – doing the legwork. Basically, I’m on my own figuring things out.
5. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I have joined many groups on Facebook – some for writing support and some for promotional purposes. It has been a positive experience and I have met some wonderful people through these groups.
6. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
As I stated, I have not been overly proactive with marketing. I am looking more into author talks this year. I did one at a local library this year and it was very successful and a lot of fun. Last summer, I had a table at a local festival and will be doing a few more of those this year.
Working full time and having a rather busy social life, most of my spare time is taken up by writing. Some day, I’ll get more into marketing and public relations. For now, though, I’m happy with what I’m doing.
7. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I haven’t really thought about it.
8. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
That it will make doing your taxes more complicated.
9. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I’m not sure. At the moment, I’m satisfied with my choices.
10. 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. Do your research. Know what is out there for traditional publishers, agents and self-publishing routes. Learn your options and what each one entails. I’m a big “list” person. Make lists, find pros and cons of each, and list them side-by-side. Study them. Ask questions.
11. What other projects are you currently working on?
I have created a fictional town called Vintage, Maine, located somewhere in northern Maine. Each of my novels and short stories takes place either partially or fully in Vintage.
In addition to Animal Coventry, North Wind Manor and Oh, Henry, I have an outline done for my fourth book and several folders of ideas for future novels. I also have several novellas in rough draft stage, to be published in a compilation. That will be my next project after book four.
I have also been working on a blog site. Once up and running, that will be a place where my readers can go and find snippets, drabbles and short stories about my characters. Some will be about minor characters from my novels, and others will be about the main characters.
Sometimes, when I am not in the mood for writing, I may work on building the world of Vintage, Maine: creating characters, businesses in the town, working on the map, or discovering the history of the town.
12. Talk about some of the writing you did prior to producing your first novel.
I started out doing fan fiction. I know that it has a bad reputation, but I think it is a great way to break into writing. There are plenty of forums. The characters are familiar – you know them already – it’s fantastic experience to write something, staying in character, experimenting on your writing styles and techniques.
There are arguments on both sides regarding fan fiction, but I choose to focus on the positive experience it can give new writers.
13. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Come visit the small town of Vintage, Maine – you never know who you’re going to meet.
14. How can readers learn more about your books?