Why have you decided to self-publish?
I always considered self/indie publishing as an option for my work because I’d read many success stories about great authors who used it to break into the industry or remained independent throughout their careers. For me, I started out by querying agents, but after receiving blanket rejections from 111 agents, I decided to self-publish rather than shelf my work.
Would you pursue traditional publication?
My next series, the Loom Saga, is traditionally published through Keymaster Press.
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?
Of course, I edited my own manuscript, but I think one set of eyes is never enough. In fact, I think two sets of eyes isn’t, either. My current editing process is as follows… I draft and edit my own manuscripts to the best of my ability for continuity and content. During this time, I have a primary beta reader who is very critical of my work and has read all my drafts and manuscripts. I consider and incorporate his suggestions as I feel makes sense. Then, the manuscript goes to the editor for a high-level content pass that results in a 3-7 page editorial letter. This covers things like characterization and major plot points. I edit again before it goes back to the editor for line editing. We go back and forth until it’s right. When it is, it’s off to the proofreader who gives it one last look for purely grammatical purposes.
My advice is to get as many eyes on it as you can. If there are two places worth investing in for your book it’s editing and cover art. You get what you pay for, and finding a good editor is worth their weight in gold.
Where have you decided to publish your books? (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.)
I partnered with a distributor, Gatekeeper Press, for my first series. Through them, Air Awakens is listed on most major retailers (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, The Book Depository), as well as on Ingram with returns enabled making it easy for brick and mortar stores to order and shelf my book for a signing or at someone’s request.
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?
Gatekeeper Press did the formatting of my book. While I knew it would be something I could figure out myself, I wanted to focus on what I really need to be doing – writing new manuscripts and marketing. Something like formatting was convenient to outsource and I had no trouble doing so.
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?
For Air Awakens, Merilliza “Meril” Chan did my cover artwork. I knew I wanted illustrated covers to harken back to the old days of high-fantasy with beautiful painted cover artwork. Knowing this, I went on Deviant Art and narrowed it down to about 5 artists. Meril was just the right mix of the price I was looking for, professional, and passionate about the work. She’s been amazing to work with.
For the Loom Saga, I’m working with Nicholas D. Grey.
The process for both series is similar. I work with the respective artist to help conceive the design – usually via them supplying a few sketch thumbnails to choose from/modify upon. Then, they fully render the illustration. Following that, I do the text layout and prepare the document for final printing.
Did Keymaster Press pair you up with Nicholas for the Loom Saga book covers?
No, I found Nick the same way that I found Meril.
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?
Networking with bloggers I think was one of the most helpful things for me. I accepted that I would take some initial financial “losses” on Air Awakens to provide advanced reading copies to interested parties. Those contacts in the blogging/online book community have been invaluable, and I’ve met some of the most amazing people.
However, to that end… If there’s one thing that I’d warn authors to stay far, far away from… it’s trying to get involved in online book review communities to the point of commenting on reviews for your books or bothering people for reviews. FACT, not everyone will like your book. FACT, not everyone will even want to read your book. Sometimes, you may feel a review is unfair, and on a rare occasion, you may be right. Accept it and move on. I’d say there’s almost nothing more damaging to an author’s online reputation in the blog-o-sphere than arguing with reviewers or pestering people to review your book. Book reviewers do it for the love of books, don’t intentionally make their lives difficult in any way.
How do you connect with your readers?
For sure over social media. I’m basically always on Twitter and most people know they can reach me there. I also have an active Street Team group on Facebook that I check in with. And, if all else fails, I keep a contact form on my website that allows people to contact me via email. I try to keep the proverbial door wide-open for any readers or authors who may need or want to get in touch with me.
How did you create your Street Team? Do you have any other advice on creating a network of readers?
My street team was something that happened organically. I got the initial idea from an author friend, Michelle Madow, and propped up a Facebook group for anyone who wanted to join with links and information off my website. From there, as I saw needs and opportunities I just tried to seize them on behalf of everyone who was supporting me.
As far as general advice… I’d just recommend remembering that while your street team is there to help, they are volunteers. No amount of giveaways can repay them for their kindness and support. So treat them with the utmost respect and give them everything you can in return.
What do you love about being an indie author? Do you hate anything about being an indie author?
Well, as a hybrid author now (someone published both independently and traditionally) I can say there’s pros and cons to both worlds. As an independent author I love the amount of control I have over my work and the ability to really publish on my own schedule. Also, let’s be real, the royalty structure independently is far more in the author’s favor than the traditional side of things. The largest downside I’ve found to independent publishing is the amount of barriers to getting your books in reader’s hands. Print on demand is more expensive than a mass run, meaning your physical books cost more than your traditional peers. There’s also no major distribution to bookstores/brick and mortar retailers.
Would you like to see your book in another medium? Audiobook, film, TV series, video game…?
I’m currently working on an audiobook that I hope to release sooner over later. As far as other mediums… I think those are things every author dreams of. But, I also recognize that I write high fantasy, which is an expensive genre to adapt well due to makeup, costume, set, and special effect costs. So, I’m not holding my breath on anything.
How did you find the narrator for your audiobook? Has listening to your narrator’s portrayal of the characters changed how you view them?
The current narrator I’m working with is a friend with a background in acting. Because we have a good existing relationship it’s a really collaborative process in trying to bring the words to life, so I wouldn’t say it really changed anything for me.
The Air Awakens Series
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?
Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.
Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.
Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?
The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga, #1)
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Her vengeance. His vision.
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).