For all you angel lovers out there, here's the tale of how Nikki Morgan's fantasy romance novel got its publishing wings.
When love is a matter of life and death, it's not about losing your heart, but saving it.
On a bitterly cold New Year's Eve, seventeen-year-old Evie Anderson jumps from the Old Bridge to her death. Seeing her fall, Josh Winters plunges into the river to save her. But Josh is the Angel of Death sent to collect her soul, and saving Evie is against the rules. As their worlds collide, they must conquer their demons, in the battle to survive. With Death standing between them, can love triumph as they fight for their lives?
Click here to watch a trailer on youtube.
Just over two years. I had the concept in my head whilst I was finishing my first novel, Blackthorn: Revenge of the Dragon Rider. I wrote a lot of notes for it during this time but, when I came to review those notes, it seemed I had far too much material for just one book - I spent a lot of time refining my ideas before I wrote it down.
Where did your inspiration come from?
I wanted to remodel The Little Mermaid fairy tale because - although it's one of my favourite fairy tales - the ending had never seemed right to me. I wanted to rectify that. At the same time, the concept of the Angel of Death popped into my head and I ended up thinking to myself, "What would make an Angel of Death go against everything that he stood for?" The two concepts somehow merged together in my crazy brain and the Angel of Death suddenly became the mermaid in my mind. As the mermaid gave up her voice - and her life for her prince - the Angel of Death, Josh Winters, gives up his life for love.
I also wanted to question the gender stereotyping of the mermaid so that, although you might think Evie is the damsel in the beginning, by the end of the book that concept is turned on its head.
What is your favourite novel?
I have so many and I'm an eclectic reader - The Godfather by Mario Puzo, the Harry Potter novels, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder are all favourites. But I couldn't pick one – that would be like asking me to choose a favourite child! It just won't happen.
Self-publishing is a long process - what types of things did you do to prepare your novel for publication?
The whole manuscript has been read by members of my writing group, and family have helped too. I'd love an editor, but that's just not going to happen at the moment as I have no money! That's not to say I've just rushed Everlong out for publication. I have written about fourteen drafts which has taken me over two years, and each time it's been through a process of reading, editing and re-writing. I may not be able to afford an editor (yet) but I want my story to be as polished as I can physically get it without help. The story and the reader deserve that at the very least.
What was the hardest part?
This part now, the selling and marketing. Now that's a steep learning curve! I'm trying to build an online presence. I've got an author page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NikkiMorganauthor), and a profile on Goodreads. Goodreads is great because I can interact with readers and other authors. I've had a promotional weekend on Amazon recently where I gave Everlong away for free, which proved really successful. I've also done a few author interviews. I'm also signed up to do an author reading at a local independent book shop. Although it's difficult, there are some brilliant rewards; I've had a few people reach out to me who have liked my work. Building those relationships is proving really special and was something I didn't expect.
Are you glad you went through with it?
Yeah, and whatever happens, I'll still be writing, even if it gets panned by everyone (which it won't). Writing is in my blood (a cliche, I know!).
Any advice for those who are self-conscious about their writing?
If you want to write, and I mean it's like a fire in your belly, don't talk about it, do it! It doesn't matter how bad it is in the beginning as long as you get it down on paper. You can't produce a novel without writing it! Join a writing class, get people to comment on your work, and read everything you can on the art of writing. It's a craft; you've got to start somewhere. Also, more importantly, be gracious. Not everyone who reads your work is going to like it, and sometimes people will tear it to shreds. That's fine. Suck it up. Deal with it. It's in those moments you learn about your craft and yourself. And remember all work is flawed by nature. Perfection is an illusion.
What would you do differently next time?
This is an interesting question. I love what I'm doing, but I would also love to get professionals in to help me edit etc. That costs money, so if the money's not there, I can't do it. So would I do anything differently? It depends!
What is your best piece of advice?
Ignore all advice and go with your gut. Everyone contradicts everyone else anyway.
Is there something in particular you ignored from others and are glad you did?
I was told not to self-publish. I take advice and listen to it (usually) but I've learned to listen to my gut instincts, especially if they're screaming at me! I'm glad I've self-published because it's helped me to let go of work that I would otherwise still be working on. Either that or I'd be staring at the bottom of a bottle as I tried to negotiate all the hoops traditional publishers want you to dance through whilst feeling like I'd failed and was worthless. I may be self-published but it's allowed me to move on and keep control at a time when I need that.
Is there anyone you would recommend or deter from self-publishing?
I'm not a gatekeeper, so I wouldn't deter anyone from doing it, but if I saw a manuscript that was in trouble, then I'd just say to the author that it needed help. Why should I deter people from using the very tools that have allowed me to do it? Good stuff will always rise to the top.
What publishers have you used, and how would you rate them?
This is also a good question and a difficult one to answer. I have my first book on Amazon and Smashwords because I just wanted to get it out there and to get readers.
Everlong, however, is a different beast. Now I know that I can write, I'm trying to approach it more professionally so I've opted to use Amazon's KDP Select program to try and capture more readers. Amazon are great at getting your book out there if it's on promotion (Everlong reached #6 in Kindle Store > Books > Romance > Paranormal >Angels whilst on its free weekend), they are easy to use and it's simple to upload your work. However, exclusivity to the KDP Select Program means I can't publish Everlong on Smashwords or any other platform to reach other audiences such as those on Kobo, Nook and iBooks. I would use Amazon again, and maybe in the future I'll put it on Smashwords too.
Nikki Morgan is the author of Everlong, which can be purchased through Amazon. Check out my review here and read her inspiring article on developing ideas.