Indie Author Interview – T.L. McDonald


Today’s Indie Author Interview is with T.L. McDonald, author of the YA urban fantasy series, Marked!

Why have you decided to self-publish?

Originally I wanted to go the traditional route, but after doing a lot of online reading about self-publishing I decided to go with that. With self-publishing you have full control over every aspect of your book and I liked the idea and freedom of that. Plus, after finishing my novel I was so excited (and unbelievably terrified and nervous, but mostly excited) to share it with the world, and going indie was the most direct route.

Would you pursue traditional publication?

Yes. I like being an indie author, but there are times where having the financial backing of a publishing house would be nice as far as mass marketing goes.

Do you have an editor? Did you edit your own manuscript? Do you have advice for other authors editing it themselves or hiring someone else?

I edit my own work (mainly because a professional editor—which would be ideal—is currently not within my budget 😦 ) with the help of my trusted beta readers and a few wonderful indie authors I’ve gotten to know through my ongoing self-publishing journey. The only advice I have is to really go over everything with a fine tooth comb, and then do it again a few more times, and then have your betas do the same, if you’re going to do the edits on your own. Especially when it comes to grammar. It’s so easy to miss things, especially when you get wrapped up in the story. 😉

Where did you find your beta readers?

Most of my beta readers are people that I know and trust. Some I’ve known my whole life and others I met while working at a local bank.

Where have you decided to publish your books? (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.)

I decided to take my books wide from the get go by publishing with Smashwords, who then distributes my eBooks to many other retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Apple iBook’s, and Kobo, to name a few. I am also published through Amazon’s KDP program. I didn’t want to only have eBooks out there so I also published paperback versions through CreaeSpace, which will also distribute to Barnes and Noble and so on.

Have you found success more through one distributor over another?

I have actually. Not sure what iTunes/iBooks is doing to become the most successful, but whatever it is, I hope they keep it up.

Do you think there’s a “sweet spot” for ebook prices?

Yep. 99 cents – 3.99. I also found it helpful to have the first book in my series priced lower than the rest.

Did you format your own book? Did you run into any trouble formatting it? Do you have any advice to fellow authors about formatting their books?

I did format my own books, and to be honest, I did have a little trouble with it here and there. But Smashwords offers a free eBook – Smashwords Style Guide that I found to be really helpful. It breaks down all the steps for you, and all you have to do is follow along. With that being said, when I sit down to write my next series, I’m considering having it professionally formatted so I’m not so stressed out trying to figure everything out on my own.

Who created your cover art? If you did it yourself, could you explain how you did it? If someone else did it, how did you hear about their services? What was it like working with them?

11CreatespacesuntreeMarkedcoverOriginally, I created my own book cover for Marked. It was okay for what it was (a picture I took myself in the graveyard next door) and I used GIMP (which I still don’t know how to fully use, lol), to set the coloring and add text. But it never really screamed ‘YA Urban Fantasy’, so I decided to have it re-done. I had no idea where to even begin to look for a cover artist; being that I had pretty much just threw myself into the self-publishing world. But luckily I was reading one of Amanda Hockings blogs and she had mentioned, so I checked it out and fell in love with the artwork of Claudia McKinney. From there, I contacted her through the phatpuppyart website and we worked through emails. She was extremely nice, professional, and helpful, never once getting irritated if I wanted something changed or added.

What have you found most helpful in marketing your book? What have you found least helpful? Is there anything you want to warn authors to stay far, far away from?

Any type of advertising is helpful. I’ve used Facebook ads, giveaways (which is a really great way to get your book on peoples TBR lists), submitting my book to go out in email newsletters like Ereader News Today, Fussy Librarian, and hopefully one day (when I’ve saved up enough and the stars and moon are aligned just right), Bookbub. I’ve also tried my hand at creating fun little ads using stock photos and whatnot in GIMP and posting them on Facebook and Twitter. Having a multitude of reviews also really helps in visibility. Goodreads groups are a great way to help bring in some initial reviews.

Most of the marketing stuff I’m still figuring out, so I haven’t really come across anything that wasn’t helpful in some way or another. I may not always get ‘big results’ but as long as I get some results, I’m happy because any results I get, a sale or a review for instance, is one more person reading it and recommending it, and it can only spread from there.

How do you connect with your readers?

Social media mostly, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, but when I get the chance to, face to face is always fun.

How did you find the opportunity for face-to-face contact with your readers?

The first time was during a local event near where I live. It’s called Final Friday’s on the Square and they do it every Friday. Mostly it’s to support local and small businesses and anyone in the community can set up a booth. The second time was during a Local Author & Illustrator Fair that was hosted by a Library in my area. Once I have the next book in the series ready for publication I hope to do these events again and possibly others.

What do you love about being an indie author? Do you hate anything about being an indie author?

The thing I love most about being an indie author is having full control over every aspect of my work. And the only thing I don’t really like is the marketing stuff. Sure, it can be fun sometimes, but it’s also very time consuming and can be expensive depending on what it is you want to do.

Would you like to see your book in another medium? Audiobook? Film, TV series, video game…?  

Absolutely. I’ve already looked into having my books translated into audiobook format, but I’ve yet to make a decision as I want to do a little bit more research first. But I would love, love, love, to someday have a movie or TV series created out of it. What author wouldn’t want to see their stories come to life on the big screen? I’ve even fantasized about whom I’d want to play the main characters. A video game would be pretty cool too, or even a graphic novel.

Have you made a “dream cast” for your characters?  If so, who’s playing who?  And why you choose those actors?

I have. For Hanna, I’m thinking Chloe Grace Moretz. I just think she would make a great Hanna. She’s within the right age range, she’s already got the blonde hair, and she’s very talented.


For Jared, I’d love to have Theo James play the part, but he may be a little too old to play a teenager. But this is a “dream cast” and actual teenagers hardly ever play teenager in movies and tv so…let’s stick with Theo and go with Dylan O’Brien as a back-up. Lol.

For Will, I want to go with Chase Crawford, because in my head, he looks like Will. Dark hair. Blue eyes. Great smile.


For Kat, Vanessa Marano all the way. She is exactly how I envision Kat to look like.


For Zoe, maybe Alexandra Daddario because she has such a sweet innocent face…and I’ll stop right there for spoiler reasons regarding Zoe’s character.


For Adam, possibly Luke Mitchell. I totally loved him on Marvel Agents of Shield.


For Officer Jensen I would love for him to be played by Jensen Ackles. He was the inspiration for the Jensen name in the book after all. Plus, it’s Jensen Ackles.


 And finally, for Blondie I’m going to go with Jamie Campbell Bower. I think he can totally pull off a bad guy.

Marked was your first published book.  What was it about this story that made you want control and freedom over its publication?

When you write a story, it’s a part of you that you’re sharing with the world and I wanted to go into it without judgment. I wanted to write the story I felt inside and not have somebody say, “You know, I think we should cut this scene.” or whatever. I wanted it to be all me. And as far as the publication goes, when you go indie you get to chose where you want to publish, how much you want to sell it for, when you want to release it, and so on. I liked that.

Who’s your favorite character, and how do you want your readers to feel about that character?

Honestly, Blondie is my favorite character because he was so much fun to write. As far as how I want the readers to feel about him, I hope they find him evil and creepy, and sadistic as I wrote him to be.

I found it interesting that you said Blondie was your favorite character, especially since he’s a bad guy. How come you chose him over a good guy? Do you feel there’s less inhibition writing a bad guy over writing a good guy?

It’s not that I don’t love all my characters, because I do, I just found writing the bad guy to be fun. There’s just something about tapping into the dark side that’s alluring. And maybe it is that there’s less inhibition because when it comes to bad guys there are no rules. They do whatever they want whenever they want. Plus, I’m a huge fan of the horror genre so to create my own bad guy and make the scenes as scary and creepy as possible was exciting.

What kind of cliches of YA urban fantasy do you embrace the most in your writing?

The love triangle. I know it’s been overly used and some people hate it, but I love it. I find it boring sometimes when the relationships in books are to monotonous. I like there to be some drama, something that is or could tear them apart. What better way to do that than with a good old fashioned love triangle. Plus, it’s fun when the readers pick sides. Team Jared versus Team Will.


by T.L. McDonald

‘There’s something terribly wrong with his eyes. My mind struggles to rationalize what I’m seeing and I tell myself that it’s just a trick of the light, or that maybe I’m hallucinating due to the crushing amount of fear I’m feeling, because when I look at them, all I see is darkness. Deep dark voids that threaten to swallow me whole.’

When 17 year old Hanna Harper agrees to see a local band at The Iron Knife Club with her two best friends, she has no idea her life is about to change forever and that everything she thought was impossible…isn’t.

Marked with a mystical symbol by a dying boy, she’s thrust into a world she never imagined existed where her eyes are opened to the reality that fallen angels are very real, and very dangerous. And with just one look from their soulless black eyes, they can take everything from you.

And now, because of the symbol and the secret it contains, a secret she must protect at all costs, those black eyes have set their sights on her.

Purchase Marked here!

Version 2
by T.L. McDonald

‘The ground at my feet crumbles, each piece falling away into nothing. I struggle searching for any kind of traction. There’s none. His hand tightens around my throat. Without warning he lets go and I fall into darkness with the sound of his laughter echoing all around me.’

Hanna Harper would give anything for her life to go back to being simple and ordinary, but the truth is, things are only getting more complicated–and absolutely terrifying.

Marked with a new symbol she’s brought back from the brink of death to protect her best friend–the boy she fell madly in love with, the Chosen One in an ancient prophecy who’s fated to either save or destroy the world when his powers awaken on his 18th birthday. But keeping him hidden and safe isn’t easy, even with the help of The Guardians. Especially when one of them is trying to steal her heart and her greatest enemy is trying to undermine her efforts every chance he gets. So when the truth is discovered and Hanna’s brother is taken hostage, a decision has to be made.

Does she risk the fate of the world to save her brother by handing her best friend over to The Fallen, or does she risk losing the only family she has left to keep him safe?

Purchase Fated here!

Author Links

Website – www.tlmcdonaldauthor.comIMG_0863
Twitter @ tlm_215

T.L. McDonald lives in Ohio with her husband, her three wonderful children, and her little miniature pinscher Lola (who thinks she’s a big beast.) When she’s not spending time with her family or friends, she can often be found staring at the computer screen as she writes new material (okay sometimes she’s actually just surfing her newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter), curled up with a good book, or occasionally binge watching an entire series on Netflix. Although T.L. has been writing since her childhood, Marked is her very first published novel and now that she’s gotten this far, she has no plans of stopping. Nothing makes her happier than knowing she’s put something out into the world for people to enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s