An Interview with Emily Hill, author of “All Smart Cookies Can Self Publish: A Step by Step 2011 Guide to Independent Publishing” and also “JENKINS: Confederate Blockade Runner”
1. How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published
I came to ‘the dark side’ ;] after attending the Summer 2010 PNWA conference. Andres Dubois, the Welcome speaker had asked the sea of 500 writers how many had found their agent that year…he waited for the response scanning the audience. Five writers raised their hands. Five out of five hundred were not good odds in my book [no pun intended]. I already knew that the NY agencies were receiving 10-15,000 queries annually and that agents like Nathaniel Bradford were fatiguing. So, I signed up to attend the conference workshop, “The Dark Side of Publishing”. I’m basically a typeA control freak so determining my own destiny appealed to me, as did the pitch from Boyd Morrison. I was sold! The only way that I could have published my debut novel, ‘Jenkins: Confederate Blockade Runner’ in time for the 150-anniversary of the Civil War was to publish it myself. They say, “Don’t quit your day job!” but that is exactly what I did. At fifty-nine I took early retirement and turned my attention to my passions in life…writing and publishing. My story was picked up by eMag Independent Publisher and I began receiving mentor-guides from other IndieAuthors, like Zoe Winters, who agreed to be interviewed for my ‘All Smart Cookies’ self-pub guide. 18months later I have published my debut novel, and it’s receiving generous reviews. My two ‘All Smart Cookies Can Self Publishing’ guides are the backbone of a workshop series I now teach in the Pacific Northwest, and I love what I’m doing, for the first time in a number of years.
2. What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?
I use CreateSpace, DTPAmazon [now KDP], PubIt!, BookBrewer, SmashWords, and have just this week been accepted to distribute through Ingram’s Lightning Source. I’d rate CreateSpace a 5+, and BookBrewer a struggling 1-. Customer service is the key…CreateSpace has live, friendly, understanding CS reps and BookBrewer has an email address at the bottom of their website. Good Luck!
3. What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?
Yes! I have gotten [local] media coverage – hometown stuff; interviews, etc. Weekly I plug the name of my novel into the search engine and see who is picking up and covering the title. I ‘found’ AvidReaderBookReviews’ Lynnette Phillips had mentioned ‘Jenkins’ favorably, so I contacted her and thanked her for the mention. She offered to review my book and of course! I took her up on the offer. She liked ‘Jenkins’ and now I am paying attention to other bloggers who might be interested in taking a look at the life story of Colonel C.T. Jenkins.
4. What drove you to write this particular book?
Family history drove me to write ‘Jenkins’ which is biographical fiction; and necessity drove me to write ‘All Smart Cookies Can Self Publish’. I had researched my family history for fifteen years, inspired by the Civil War album that had belonged to my protagonist, C.T. Jenkins. The Civil War album was passed down to me by an aunt who had been a chorus girl in the Ziegfield follies. When I discovered that Florida historians had an interest in Col. Jenkins I decided to write the novel (a) for their community and (b) as a legacy to my grandchildren, as a way of passing on family history. Then, I realized that the novel might fit the mass market so…here I am!
6. Who are your greatest writing influences?
I’m crazy over Stephen Dobyns. His novel, “The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini” drives me mad. The twists, the turns, the surprises, the betrayals, the drama…it’s ALL there in one novel.
7. What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?
I’m retired, remember. After I send my husband off to work ;} I’ve got all day. My writing circle helps keep my feet to the fire, tho.
8. Would you self-publish again?
Yes! It. Is. The. Only. Way. To. Go! Publisher’s Weekly cites a recent poll that 90% of New York agents admit that their clients are now looking to self-publish their future works. Gosh! I think Indie-Authors have started a trend and stable-Authors are seeing how ‘green’ ;D the grass is. Getting only 15% and looking at the Kindle 1000 must drive most ‘Grisham’s’ crazy.
9. Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?
Do it right! Look professional. You ARE still competing for internet time with the Simon Schuster’s of the publishing world. Pick a few ‘IndiePub’ heroes and follow their business model. Good Luck!