EDITOR’S NOTE: I first met Heather in a writing workshop about five years ago and quickly learned that any time with Heather is time well spent. She has a beautiful heart, and I always feel better about the world after a little time with Heather and her handsome husband Norm. I love these guys so much that I asked them to emcee my wedding! They made the day so very special for me.
When you read Heather’s books, you know there’s an adventure ahead along with the laughs. Her books have heart as big as her own. So please post below for a chance to win one. You’ll thank me for it!
So here’s Heather Haven!
1) I know you were with a traditional publisher with your first few novels, but decided to strike out on your own. What led you to that decision?
I found when I was with a traditional publisher, there wasn’t enough effort devoted to shining a light on my novels. Yes, I was hot the first couple of weeks a book came out, but after that I was competing with the next author on the publisher’s slate. Also – and this was a big issue for me – I didn’t like the covers I was being given, didn’t think they represented the novels well. A book cover is an important aspect of selling an unknown author, such as me. As I’ve always been on the artsy fartsy side (did I just write that?), I decided to learn how to design my own book covers. It’s a big job, but I like doing it. Once I learned the process (with a lot of help from my friends), I felt my books were better represented. And they are selling well. Also, when you sign with a publisher, you relinquish a lot of rights. I don’t like that.
2) What was the most challenging aspect of self-publishing? The most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of self-publishing is doing a profession job on all the various components needed to get a novel on the shelf, whether it’s a real shelf in a bookstore or a virtual shelf online. There are many levels to it, such as proofing, editing, formatting, creating a cover, blurb, promotional campaigns, etc. It can be daunting. But daunt me not. Things are often just one foot in front of the other.
As to the most rewarding side of self-publishing, I have complete control of my novel from start to finish. I choose what to write about, when to finish it, where to advertise it, what venues to show it in, what parties to attend, conferences to go to, and so forth. Am I competing with the big guys from the bricks and mortar publishing houses? I’m small time but on some level I am. My novels sell consistently. I’m building an ever-increasing fan base, and having a good time. You can’t beat that.
3) What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to an author who is considering going the self-publishing route?
1 – Have a quality product i.e., write a good novel. And writing is rewriting. Once you have the first draft, you will probably need to go over it ten to twenty times, maybe more. That’s the way a good novel is written, no matter what the subject or genre. Never slack off, never compromise. Be true to yourself and your craft. Write the best novel you can write. Always.
2 – It takes a village to turn out anything worthwhile. Don’t ever think it doesn’t. Join a writing group, take classes. Have your work read by people you trust. The watch word here is TRUST. Don’t share it with small minded, insecure people. If you are suspicious of their intent, take a walk. Only share your work with writers who believe the work itself is the most important thing, superseding anyone’s ego or feelings of competitiveness. It doesn’t mean you should hear continually how fabulous you are. Not hardly. That’s not how we learn and grow. We all need another set of eyes, another voice of constructive criticism and insight as to our strengths and weaknesses. There are plenty of wonderful writers out there, willing to support and help you be your best. Find them. I did and still do. I’m working on being wonderful.
3 – Lastly – Respect what you do. Don’t ever think, ‘ah, who cares?’ ‘it’s good enough for jazz’ or ‘this will do’. You walk the path trod by Shakespeare, Dante, Jane Austin, Wordsworth, Virginia Wolf, Hemingway, Steinbeck, James Joyce, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, and many, many others. We are members of a noble craft. Never forget that.
Surprised I’m offering writing tips and not self-publishing ones? But I really am. The biggest mistake I’ve seen among self-published writers is the tendency to put the work out there too fast. Because they don’t have someone standing over them saying it’s not ready yet, they become over-eager and rush the product. Whether you are self-published or not, the quality of the work should be all. Do the three things above and readers will be clamoring to read your work, whether you are self-published or not.
And remember what Isaac Asimov said on persistence:
“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”
4) What’s guaranteed to always make you laugh?
Good golly, Miss Molly. I have no idea what makes me laugh. And there’s no guarantee what makes me laugh one day will the next. Maybe it’s my cat being graceful one moment and falling on his keister the next. Maybe it’s my husband making a stupid pun and laughing at his own joke. Definitely me trying to get into size 12 slacks (now that’s funny). Predominately, Life makes me laugh. Life is funny. Take it too seriously and you’re wasting your time. Plan, learn, grow, but laugh at every turn.
5) Now you’ve started your own publishing company, Wives of Bath Press. Tell me a little about that journey and what you hope to do as a publisher.
Along with my business partner and writing buddy, Baird Nuckolls, we are trying to establish a unique slant on publishing. Our goal will be to help deserving writers see the light of day. A lot of good writers don’t get a chance to have their work in print because either they aren’t ‘sellable’ or write on a variety of subjects, and sometimes in different styles. Most publishing houses like it when you write one genre, one style, and stick to it. We believe writers write what they write when they write it. These are the ones we’re going to be interested in representing when the time is right. At the moment we’re only publishing our stuff, but that is simply because we’re working out the bugs. Publishing is a mammoth undertaking and one, had I known how complex it was, I might not have entered into. However, I’m here and loving it. It’s one foot in front of the other, folks; one foot in front of the other.
BOOK GIVEAWAY! Heather is giving away the first book in her series Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, the first book in her serices the Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, and a copy of the mystery noir, Death of a Clown (btw, that’s a photo of Heather’s mother on the cover!).Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, April 24th to win! Please tell us which book you’d prefer and if you want a paper or an ebook. (US only for the paperback, anywhere in the world for the ebook)
Heather Haven is the multi-award winning author of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, the Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, and a mystery noir, Death of a Clown, spawned by her own mother’s stint at Ringling Brothers’ Circus. The third book of the Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, should be out in about a month.
If it’s humorous, Heather will probably write about it. She’s written many articles, editorials, blogs, sketches, and short stories on the foils and foibles of humankind. However, when it comes to a novel, something that takes months if not years, she prefers to write mysteries, most of them funny.
Heather’s blog at: http://heatherhavensays.blogspot.com/
Heather’s author page at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Haven/e/B004QL22UK/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1372537066&sr=1-2-ent
Email Heather at: Heather@HeatherHavenStories.com