Why have you decided to self-publish?
I self-published ‘Freshman Fourteen’ to get it out into the world more quickly. After working on the book for nine years, I really wanted to get it published and then worry about finding a traditional publisher later on. My writing matters most, and having it out there and available for people to purchase and read is thrilling for me and more what I’m excited about than anything else.
Would you pursue traditional publication?
Yes, I would. It was always my goal to be traditionally published, but with the way the market is right now, it just made more sense to self-publish first and then see if I can build on that with traditional publication later on. The pros of self-publishing are that you get your book out there quickly and get to promote it in whatever way you want. The cons, however, are that the marketing takes tons of time, and having a traditional publisher sometimes may help with that.
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 read over my own manuscript several times during the course of writing it and then at least a couple more times once it was completely done. I have friends and beta readers who looked it over to ensure I caught everything, many of whom are editors themselves. My advice for those authors who may be editing themselves or hiring someone else is to be sure that you don’t ever rely on just one person. Even if you hire an editor, you should be checking it yourself. If you check it yourself, you should have at least one other set of eyes to look it over. No one is perfect, and flaws are inevitable, so having at least a couple people willing to give it a once (or even twice) over is essential.
Where have you decided to publish your books? (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.)
My novel, ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ is available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.
Do you have a title for Freshman Fourteen‘s sequel?
The title is not set in stone yet, but I’ve had a lot of people ask whether it will be ‘Sophomore Fifteen,’ which it won’t be. I hope to publish it later this year.
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?
My husband and I worked on formatting my book together. It was difficult at times to make sure everything lined up exactly as I wanted it to. It is also extremely time-consuming. My advice for fellow authors about formatting your books is to spend the bit of money it costs to have someone else format it for you. This will save you time and energy that can be better spent figuring out how to best market and publicize your work.
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?
My husband actually did my cover art for ‘Freshman Fourteen.’ It was fun to work with him and find the images we wanted to use to make the cover best fit the content of the book.
Does your husband have any advice on creating cover art?
He says, “It’s important to use large and distinctive images and text so that the book can be recognized even at a long distance from the eye.”
Will your husband be doing the cover art for the sequel?
The plan is for my husband and I to once again work together to choose images for and create the cover.
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?
I wish someone had told me how hard it would be to do marketing. It is time consuming and not usually easy, and I wish it was, but little by little, I make progress, and I suppose that’s all I can ask for. The most helpful part in marketing my book is listening to the suggestions and tips of other authors who have tried a variety of ways to promote their books. The least helpful part is having people tell you how much something worked for them and then trying it to find out that it does absolutely nothing for you. Everyone is different, and even if we all use the same methods, we won’t all get the same results. This is an essential idea to keep in mind.
How do you connect with your readers?
In terms of social media, I am on Facebook (facebook.com/bethrodgersauthor), as well as Twitter (@bethrodgersauth), Goodreads (search ‘Beth Rodgers’ or ‘Freshman Fourteen’), and, of course, my website (BethRodgersAuthor.com). I also, in a more figurative sense, try to connect with readers by writing what I think they’ll most enjoy reading. I write from the heart, and I can only hope that readers feel as invested in my writing as I feel while I’m writing it.
Do you find that readers are more receptive on one social media site versus another? I suppose Facebook is where the most interaction occurs, but it would be great to have more of a blog presence. I’m always posting reviews of new and older books I’ve read. They are mostly YA, but some are adult fiction or memoirs.
What do you love about being an indie author? Do you hate anything about being an indie author?
I love being an indie author because it makes me feel accomplished in a way that I never had before I published my first novel. I love the camaraderie with other indie authors and the amazing feeling of knowing that you do not have to be traditionally published to have a voice in the writing world. On the other hand, I don’t really hate anything about being an indie author. It is a journey all the time. If I had to change something, though, it would be figuring out a simpler way to market and promote my novel so that more people learn about me and my writing more quickly.
Would you like to see your book in another medium? Audiobook, film, TV series, video game…?
I’ve considered making an audiobook of ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ but I haven’t begun work on that quite yet. Other than that, maybe when I’m done with the entire series of books that revolve around main character Margot and her friends, I would be able to see it as more of a film or potential TV series, but for now, I enjoy it as the piece of writing that it is, and I hope others will too!
What is your next book about? Right now I’m working on the sequel to ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ and I’m hoping to have it out later this year. It will follow Margot and her friends, plus a new character or two, through their sophomore year of high school. Even though I love reading a wide variety of YA books, I don’t find too many sequels out there that follow the same group of high school students through those four years. Sometimes there are sequels where a different character gets the lead, but in this case, it will still be Margot at the helm, and all the other characters will be showcased in their own unique ways as well.
You wrote on the sign-up form that your favorite character is Mrs. Gribble. Do you have a “Mrs. Gribble” in your own life? How does Mrs. Gribble affect Margot’s life? I do not have a Mrs. Gribble in my own life, at least not to the extent that her character bothers Margot. Mrs. Gribble is the mother of Walter, the nerdy boy who likes Margot. She is always trying to make it so that Margot and Walter are stuck together doing things because she thinks they make the perfect couple. This bugs Margot to no end, but she finds herself constantly dealing with Mrs. Gribble’s craziness. She was fun to write because I felt her character was way over-the-top, but believable in the way that she is like a helicopter mom trying to steer Walter’s life in the direction she thinks it should go.
Are any of the other characters based on people that you knew from your own high school days? Not really. I think that I made the teen characters a mixture of a variety of people I knew in high school, while at the same time keeping with the “types” of students that exist in any high school setting – the popular kids, the nerds, the kids who try to stay out of the spotlight, the bullies, etc.
What’s something you wish you had known before starting high school? I wish I had known that even though high school may not work out in just the way I would hope it could, that everything will come together in the end anyway.
You also write on the sign-up form that you don’t like predictable endings. How much did that influence the ending of Freshman Fourteen? I must say that even though I don’t always like predictable endings (twists and turns make everything so much more exciting, in my opinion!), sometimes predictability is really nice. In the case of ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ I wanted readers to see growth in Margot’s character as the novel progressed. I think I accomplished that, and we see her relationships with all the other characters in the story develop in expected, and sometimes unexpected, ways. It’s nice when I read a book and ideas I thought were done with come back into the picture. I tried to incorporate that style into my own writing, and I hope that readers will appreciate it.
How do you balance writing and raising two little ones?
It sometimes is a challenge to write and raise two little ones (one son is 3 years old and the other is 5 months old), but I try to jot notes down at night when they go to sleep and then write at points in the day while they are busy playing or sleeping. My husband and my other family are very supportive and helpful in allowing me to focus on my writing as much as possible.
by Beth Rodgers
Navigating the halls of Kipperton High should be easy for someone like Margot Maples. She’s smart, sweet, and ready to start fresh. But with her best friend moved away, she’s stuck wondering just how to fit in. Making her transition more difficult is Max, who always knows how to push her buttons, Walter, her geeky suitor, Cassie, the girl who seemingly has it all, and Peter, her first true crush. So, life doesn’t go just the way she hopes. Join Margot on a journey through the beginning of ninth grade – a time when your reputation is determined by the most trivial of matters, including where you eat, how many friends you have, and – most notably – who you kiss.
Purchase Freshman Fourteen here!
Beth Rodgers is an author, editor, and college English instructor. She started writing as a little girl and never gave up on her dream of one day being a full-fledged author. Besides her love of writing, she is an avid TV and movie watcher, and she loves to hunker down with a great young adult novel any chance she gets. She lives with her husband and two sons in Michigan.