Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Indie Author Kait Nolan Interview: Forsaken by Shadows Author talks to Scathach

The absolutely fantastic Kait Nolan has agreed to be this weeks interviewee. She's the Author of Forsaken by Shadow, a paranormal romance. Here at Scathach Publishing we love paranormal romances, so we just had to find out what the novel's about.

Cade Shepherd is on top of the world as this year's Ultimate Fighting Champion. He doesn't even remember his life as Gage Dempsey, a Shadow Walker with the ability to magically transport himself from shadow to shadow. In fact, he can't remember anything before waking up in a cheap motel room ten years ago with mysterious burns on his hands--not even the woman he almost died for.

Embry Hollister has picked up the pieces of her life, learned to control her ability to generate flame, and now works an enforcer for the Council of Races. But when her father is captured by the human military and the Council refuses mount a rescue mission, Embry has no choice but to go rogue. All she has to is find the man with the new name and new life who was completely wronged by her people, give him back the memories they stole, convince him to join her on what's probably a suicide mission, and hope that after ten years of living as a regular guy he still remembers what her father taught him.

And after that, she just has to leave him. Again.

Sounds good, can't wait to read it. What do you think is the best price for an e-book?

Well, here’s my take on the whole thing. Ebooks do not have the attendant costs of paper, printing, warehousing, shipping, etc. that drive up the cost of paper books. Ergo, they should be cheaper than the paper books. For a full length novel, $2.99-$3.99 is about my cap. For a novella (which is what Forsaken By Shadow is), I started out at $1. And this was great because it’s less than somebody spends on a cup of coffee, and people are more likely to take a chance on someone they’ve never heard of at that price point. I’ve done quite well there. I ultimately shifted to a price point of $1.99, just to see how it affected sales, as there are those out there who believe that no one will take a book priced at only a buck seriously. I couldn’t really say how sales were affected, though, as Amazon discounted it back to $1.00 because one of my other distributors has not updated yet. And that’s fine. At the 35% royalty rate on Amazon, you get that percentage of the LIST price (which is $1.99) no matter what they sell it for. For a little while I’ll get the benefit of what is essentially a 70% royalty of the sale price, which is a nice little bonus and is going toward funding my next book cover.

Where do you get your ideas?

I don’t know about other writers, but I hate this question. Not because I find it annoying but because I find it incredibly difficult to answer in any way that readers find satisfying. Because the short answer is: everywhere. Eavesdropping. Dreams. News reports. Discovery Channel. Science Channel. National Geographic Channel. Spike TV (yes, I’m serious—I watch a lot of shows like Deadliest Warrior, Fight Science, Fight Quest, and the like—they really help with fight scenes and make the hubs happy). Anything goes, especially when you write paranormal and don’t have to take things literally.

Occasionally the inspiration will have an obvious and direct connection with the outcome. For example, a few months back when I saw that news report about that football player Michael Vick who was arrested for dog fighting, my immediate response (after a choice diatribe of cursing and opinions on the fact that they ought to leave his punishment to the dogs—the jerk), was an idea about how one of the illegal sports in my paranormal world would be werewolf fighting. That somehow the wolves would be in collars that would keep them from shifting back, and they’d be kept in an animal state and forced to fight. Talk about a new definition of bloodsport.

Other times, there’s no logical connection to the outside observer between inspiration and outcome. I read an article about the Turritopsis nutricula, a variety of jellyfish that is biologically immortal. No seriously, go look it up. It’s really cool. Well I took that idea and twisted it into an origin story for each of the major paranormal races in my world. What do immortal jellyfish have to do with wolf shifters, vampires, fae, and other paranormal races? Well, you’ll have to read my Mirus series to find out. :D

Smashwords has rules on what it will publish but, crucially, these rules do not concern the quality of a work. Do you think Forsaken by Shadow may be negatively affected by being around work that might be of a lower quality?

I think the real value of Smashwords is not so much in its own sales platform but in its distribution partners. I think that there is some difficulty in separating the wheat from the chaff on Smashwords since there tends to be a lot of friend/family/not serious reviews of stuff, and sometimes it makes things difficult to find. But most people I’ve spoken with don’t do their primary shopping at Smashwords to begin with, so if they wound up buying my book there, it was because they went specifically for IT rather than just browsing. As Smashwords proper is such a small percentage of my sales, that hasn’t been much of an issue for me.

Self-publishing naysayers often say d-i-y books are a money-sucking hole. Considering how much you have spent on editing, on cover art and any other expenses in the publication of your book, have you made a profit from Forsaken by Shadow?

My total outlay for FBS was $100 for copyright, professional cover art, and stock photos. That’s it. I did not pay for a professional editor (among indies, we often barter our services). I didn’t pay for advertising or anything else.

    The nay sayers very often do not understand the difference between self publishing in e and self publishing POD. There is more outlay with POD, more money to spend on cover (since you need a spine and back as well as a front), and you’re forced to price much higher to cover printing costs, etc. POD only comes in trade paperback or hardback, which are necessarily more expensive. So often the higher price is more off-putting to buyers and it may take much longer to turn a profit.

    But starting in e only is virtually no risk. I made back my initial investment in a little over 2 months and have been steadily making a profit ever since. Not like a living wage kind of profit, but a healthy enough one that I’ll be able to continue to put that money into my work in the form of future covers and such and an eventual POD endeavor for the print only audience. This is the smart way to go about it if you’re on a shoestring because you can easily make back the initial small investment and then (if you’ve written a good enough book) use the profits to fund other endeavors without having a publishing money pit.

    A large part of this blog's focus is on ways to market fiction. Would you care to share a marketing tip with the readers?

    I am a big believer in the work selling itself, but I think one of the most effective things that I’ve done is to develop relationships with people on twitter. A lot of them are other writers, a lot of them aren’t. This isn’t about spamming people with “Buy my book ’cause I’m awesome”. It’s about genuinely interacting and making friendships. I had a really nice sized network of people in place who not only went out and bought a copy when FBS was released, but they went to tell their friends. They’re a really supportive group. And that led me to a month long blog tour for the month of May, a contest working on getting reviews, and so on.

    My next big marketing thing will be to release a freebie novella (it’s what I’m working on now) to both tide folks over until my next release and also to draw people in to my world with a stand alone sort of story in hopes that they’ll check out my other work.

    Retake Homemade is the idea behind your cookery blog, simple recipes that anyone can make from home. Are there cook books in your future?

    Not cookbooks, no, but I do have a series forthcoming about a kitchen witch who lives in the buckle of the Bible belt. Edible Enchantments will follow the misadventures of Lorelei McIllhenney as she comes to term with the fact that she’s a hereditary witch and accepts the destiny that goes along with that. There will probably be recipes in that series, but they won’t be the focal point of the stories.

    Books are often judged by their cover. Yours has a very simple yet elegant design, and I love the reflective symmetry. Who was your artist?

    Brenna Rae Dunlavy of the Memphis School of Arts. She’s a recent graduate, though she’s moving on to veterinary medicine.

    Where are you on the web? (ie facebook, your website, etc).

    Initially it was entirely about building an audience. I figured I’d put some short stuff out to start building name recognition and a platform so that when New York decided I was awesome, I’d have some actual awesome to back me up. And then as things have unrolled the last year or so, traditional publishing has continued to make asshats of themselves regarding digital content and the digital rights of authors. They are clinging to an outdated business model that’s starting to resemble the Titanic. More and more agents and editors are telling their authors to keep their day jobs, advances are getting smaller, author responsibilities are growing, and the authors themselves are not getting compensated for those additional duties.

    In my real world, I work 2 (was working 3 at the time) jobs, and it occurred to me that unless New York decided that I was the next Stephanie Meyer and gave me an advance accordingly, I wouldn’t be able to afford to quit any of the jobs, not to mention we’re going to be starting a family in the next couple of years, and I wouldn’t be able to manage the sort of turnaround time they would expect. So indie began to become more attractive to me. I decided that I could move forward in the next five years or so, continuing to put out my work independently, building a following, AND building enough of a passive income stream FROM it to get down to one job. And at that point I might be in a position to deal with New York deadlines.

Frankly, I want to write for a living. I’ve always wanted to write for a living. And if I can make as much or more off of independently publishing and maintaining creative control over my work and my book covers and such and not have to worry about my books going out of print or losing my editor or my publishing house closing because they live in a bubble, then it seems foolish not to. I’m not averse to a New York contract but I don’t have any desire to give up my e-rights only to have them mismanaged. That’s not in my best interest. Plus, this way I don’t have to stress over writing a synopsis or query letter. :D

Thanks, Kait, for the interview.

Check out Forsaken by Shadow now. And if the infinitesimally small $0.99 price tag is to high, it's being serialised on her blog. So go over, read a few of the excerpts, and then buy it.

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