Friday, 26 December 2014

Author Interview: Lisa M. Green

Lisa M. Green, author of The First, Self-published using Trident Publishing

Here is another self-publishing story with a slightly different route from an author who decided to start her own publisher.


A tale of myth, mystery...and a past long forgotten...

Something is out there.

And the people live in constant fear.

But their biggest threat lies within their own village. Everyone and everything is dying, slowly and without hope of salvation.

In a world where almost nothing is truth and isolation is the purest form of self-deception, the possibility of hope exists only in the heart and mind of a young woman who chooses to follow an unknown path in order to save everyone she knows and loves. Before long, she discovers that her most vital beliefs are based on a deception that will rock the foundation of her entire people. To save them, she must learn to open her heart and sacrifice…everything.

You may think you have heard this story before, but be warned.

You haven’t.



~*~


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a high school English and Special Education teacher who specializes in writing. I’ve been working on trying to get a class geared specifically toward writing going for several years, but so far, it’s a no-go. In the meantime, I do what I can to teach the kids how to follow processes when it comes to writing.

I’m also a mother of a fourteen-year-old girl who hates that mom is in the same building as her (sometimes just around the corner) all day. She is my main job and certainly the most stressful.

I’m a life-long writer who scared herself into waiting twenty years to write and publish a novel. But here I am, one published book under my belt and another whole set on the way (slooooowly, but on the way). I think that’s pretty freaking cool. Some people love my story, some people don’t. All agree it is well written, but I still feel like I can always hone my craft. I think that goes for any of us, even the big name writers.


How long did it take you to write The First?

Actually writing it took about six months. The story came to me with the ending already there. In fact, that was one of the first scenes I saw in my mind and one of the first that I wrote. I was writing, editing, and researching night and day for many of those months. My current WIP is taking much longer, but that makes sense because 1) the world requires more in-depth work, and 2) it is going to be a series.


How long did it take you to start writing it? 

As I said, twenty years. T-W-E-N-T-Y. Don’t do that. It’s stupid.


Where did you get the inspiration from?

I’m digging the fact that you ended with a preposition there. It’s an inane and nonsensical rule, if you ask me. Sometimes fixing it sounds absolutely silly.

I’m sorry. You asked a question. My inspiration… hmmm… is hard to explain without giving away key elements, but I wrote a spoiler-free blog post about it a while back. I was sitting on my couch, days after we had been hashing over ideas for a story, and suddenly I was smacked in the head with an idea loosely based on something we had previously discussed. The idea came from nowhere, but there was an aspect that I knew came from my fascination with “something.” I can’t say what that “something” is without giving away the ending.


Do you find being an editor gives you an advantage? Did you still use beta-readers or an editor other than yourself to help you?

It certainly gives an advantage in the final product, but the disadvantage is in the way many editors approach the writing process. I have a writer friend who is also an editor and a writer, and she has the same problem that I have. We edit as we write. I cannot stop doing it. Of course, I still go through it after the fact about 40 times and give it to others to read as well, but I’m still guided by my inner editor when I write. Even if my creative flow is on like gangbusters, I cannot continue with a sentence or paragraph if I know there is a mistake or something that I need to fix. It’s like an addiction. I’m addicted to grammar. I am a grammar addict. The first step is admitting you have a problem. That’s about as far as I’m going to get.

I use several other people to help go over my writing, and I plan to look for more beta-readers for my WIP. I have another editor go through and copy edit after my edits. We sometimes argue, but I get the final say, right?


Who is your favourite author? How have they inspired you?

I have several favourite authors, but the ones who have inspired me the most are C.S. Lewis and Ursula K. Le Guin. Lewis was a part of my life since I was a child, and his ability to tell a beautiful story with so much symbolism (Narnia, the Space Trilogy, etc.) always captivated me because I believe that stories should, at their heart, have a message that resonates to everyone in their own way without being preachy. Le Guin had a heartbreakingly beautiful story to tell, but I didn’t discover the Earthsea series until I was much older. There are darker themes within her novels that I can appreciate because life is sometimes dark. Happiness may be found at a cost, but happily-ever-afters are rarely true to life.

My writing reflects many of the foundations I learned from them. Lewis is known for having considered George MacDonald one of his greatest influences in writing. It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me by a reader that I realized how many of the darker elements of Lilith were echoed in my novel. Not the story itself, but certainly the atmosphere.


When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?

In the fourth grade (around nine years of age), I won an award for my writing through the school system. I was so proud of that! My passion continued through high school, but as I approached graduation, I talked myself out of following a career in writing. Too much uncertainty and not enough stability. Was I wrong to do so? Maybe. But maybe it was wise to wait. The publishing field is not what it was twenty years ago. The opportunities are out there now, so I think I got here when I was meant to. One of my favourite writers once said:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul


What did you do to prepare your novel for publication?

I did a good chunk of the editing myself, and then others went through it as well. My husband is a graphic designer and web developer (and British to boot), so I was extremely lucky on all fronts. He designed my website, promotional materials, and the cover art for the book. He and I also handled the formatting for print, epub, mobi, and pdf. We spent several weeks just learning how to do this. Combined with the knowledge and experience my husband already had with similar projects, we did a bang-up job, I think. An UNBELIEVABLE amount of time was spent on this aspect because we wanted it done right. We wanted a professional product that didn’t look like so many of the self-published novels I’ve seen. There were additional elements (like the chapter heading images) that had to be done in a painstakingly slow manner due to the nature of the effect we were trying to pull off (I bet you’ll go back and check them now, won’t you?).

If you want to self-publish, go the distance and don’t skimp on any detail. Get a professionally designed cover. Get a good editor (or three). Get someone who knows what they are doing to format the book, or take a lot of time to learn it yourself. I know everyone hears these statements being shouted from the rooftops and on every webpage about self-publishing, but they should be the Three Commandments of Self-Publishing. If you can manage those, and if you are willing to put in the time to avoid doing a sloppy job, you can certainly handle the self-publishing route.


What was the hardest part of self-publishing?

Learning how to do each step carefully and then following those steps without getting impatient and rushing forward. There are two routes in self-publishing: the quick way and the right way. Do it the right way and you will learn so much! I was so stressed out at the time, but I’m so excited now that I’ve learned how to do so many new things. The feeling of accomplishment is definitely worth it.


Did anything surprise you?

Yes. All of it. I knew it would be difficult, but I wanted to cry. And did. Many times.

But… I’m glad I did it now. And next time will be smoother.


Any marketing tips?

Focus on what works, not what looks good on the surface. Facebook likes are great, and sometimes they lead further, but many times, they will not get your book sold. Focus on what drives sales and engages people. Goodreads self-serve campaigns have been one of the better options for me, but everyone is going to be different. I’ve sold a few copies through book signings and a local bookstore, so always be sure to look into things of that nature going on in your area.


What would you do differently next time?

Take it slower. Sleep more. Ramp up my pre-release promotions. Sleep more.


What is your best piece of advice?

Treat every process like its own craft (because that’s what it is!). Writing is a craft, but so are editing, formatting, designing, and promoting. Organize yourself to spend certain amounts of time on certain types of work. Like many writers, I write best in the mornings. I save everything else (promotions, email, social media, etc.) for later in the day. And give yourself a break. Don’t let all of it overwhelm you. I know I did. Bad decision.


Who would you recommend it to, and who would you deter from self-publishing?

Self-publishing is for highly motivated individuals. If you cannot stay self-motivated, it won’t work for you. It just won’t. You have to be a very determined person with a goal-oriented personality.


Tell us a bit about Trident Publishing. Why did you decide to start your own publisher? Is this an easier route?

Trident Publishing is the name I chose to start my own publishing company. I decided to go this route because I knew for a fact that 1) the quality of my product was at least as professional as that of a traditional publisher, and 2) I would continue writing and publishing into the future. I was forward thinking.

Sounds simple, right? In theory, perhaps, but this is not a decision to take lightly. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that slapping a publisher name on your book will suddenly turn your baby into a professional work of art.

No. Just no.

Deciding to create your own publishing company implies that you already have a professionally edited, designed, and formatted product. If you don’t, this screams deception to your readers. You think word spreads like molasses in a slow-motion matrix-style scene when people actually like and rave about your book? Watch the word-of-mouth movement flip to lightning speed when you lack professional-quality editing and design, combined with what will be deemed as a dirty, dirty trick to lure unsuspecting readers to your book.

I’ve heard stories. You do not want to be known as a liar among the reading community, trust me. Reputation = ruined.
Honestly, you are far, far, far better off sticking with Createspace (or whomever) as your “publisher” name than you are trying to pass off mediocre finger painting as the Madonna and Child. I say this with love, but no matter how much you think you have mastered the art of designing and formatting things yourself (If nothing else, this experience has taught me to tip my hat to all the typesetters out there. Your. Job. Is. Tedious.), you need to have some professionals at least look it over to double-, triple-, and quadruple-check every little thing. If it isn’t on par with what’s coming out of big publishing houses, then it isn’t professional enough to warrant your own publishing name. Period.


For those who understand the issues and think they can handle it, what would you tell them?
If you’ve read all that, and you are still sure you fit this small category of self-published authors, then by all means take the leap. Pick a name that isn’t already registered within your state if you live in the U.S. (search for the official lists online), and set it up as your own business. The process is different depending on where you live. You may or may not need to apply for a DBA (Doing Business As) license, or there may be other procedures to follow.

Get a domain name that works with the name you chose, and set up a website. No, you cannot skip this step. Register a business email with the publisher name (not gmail or yahoo). No, you cannot skip this step. Connect everything between your two identities so that people who go to one site can slip over to the other. You don’t want to hide what you are doing. If you do, please reread this section carefully and be honest with yourself. If you aren’t being honest with yourself, you aren’t being honest with your reader. And that’s the most important relationship you’ll ever have as a writer.

~*~



Author Profile


You can find out more about Lisa M. Green through her website and blog or follow her on GoodReads. You can also purchase her novel, The First, from pretty much anywhere: AmazonKindleBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo or Smashwords.

And if you want to hear the novel as an audio-book, then show some support for this author and take a look at this Kickstarter project before December 31st.