The young and inspiring Terah Edun shares her journey as self-published author
It seems that everyone comes to a point in his or her life where they wish to write a book Whether that person writes a book and makes writing a career or that person only ever writes one short story in his or her life, the story or stories that person choses to write will make an impact. Many of these writers ultimately find themselves self-publishing their works and one such author, Terah Edun, began self-publishing her stories in the spring of 2013 on Amazon and has been writing and self-publishing ever since. “My goal is to be a model for a new generation of authors — authors who control their destinies and are very much engaged with their audiences. I talk to my readers through my website, a private readers’ Facebook group, and all the social media channels — Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s those connections that push me to keep being creative, as both an author and a marketer,” Edun said.
Edun is a young writer who self-publishes incredibly intriguing book series for young adults involving magic, fantasy, and strong female protagonists. “I was born and raised in the Atlanta metropolitan area, transplanted to the Northeast region for college, and spent a few years banging around countries like Morocco and South Sudan. Now I’m a writer who writes the stories I always loved to read as a young girl,” Edun said. “It’s funny because I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. It was a surprise, really, but once I started making my own fantasy fiction, I couldn’t stop.” Since her beginning in 2013, she has created and is currently working on two fantasy series for young adults. Her Courtlight series has eight published books, with its ninth being released at the end of July, and her Crown Service series has one book published and a second book that is in the editing process.
The Courtlight series has been well-received in the self-published world. The first book to have started Edun’s popular young adult series was Sworn to Raise, a book that introduces Ciardis Vane, an orphan living in poverty in a small vale outside of the empire. Spending every day as a washer woman, Ciardis hears gossip about the goings on in her vale as well as in the empire itself. Her life changes in an instant when she meets a Companion: a person chosen to aid his or her Patron using his or her unique magical abilities. This Companion sees potential in Ciardis and takes her to the Companions Guild to train and become a Companion herself. With no knowledge of having any magical abilities, Ciardis must look deep within herself to unlock the power within, for she is the only one who can raise a Prince to his rightful place in the Imperial Court.
The premise of the first book alone is enough to capture the attention of readers both young and old. Not to mention, the cover art for all of the books in Edun’s series are colorful and visually appealing. However, for a writer who never imagined herself as a writer, where did the idea for this fantasy series come from? “The Courtlight series and its covers came about as I was wondering what it was like to be a young woman thrown into a world of glitz and glamour, royalty and princes, without truly being a part of that world or from it,” Edun said. “The series is squarely aimed at a young adult female audience who want glamour, romance, and adventure all rolled up in one package. To play up the central story of a girl rising from her station as a poor orphan into what could be most influential Companion at court, I wanted the cover and the series trailer to reflect her vulnerability, her aloofness, and, at the same time, her sense of hope.”
Readers should keep in mind that Edun’s Courtlight series is indeed a fantasy fiction. Therefore, along with the glamour, romance, and adventure found in the series, there is also a major fantastical element: magic. Edun said that she is a fan of transitional magic and loves when television stars and book characters have magical abilities unique to their personalities. “For the Weathervane gifts, I wanted an ability that tied together the disparate magical gifts of everyone else at court. Ciardis was always intended to be the glue that held everyone else together and I couldn’t very well give her a gift that would put her in direct opposition to her allies. So, I came up with a clan and a background story that would explain why she had the potential to be the strongest and most gifted ally a courtier could woo, then I made her sassy and smart and feminine, because I believe a young woman can be anything and everything she wants to be while succeeding at her goals,” Edun said.
When it comes to self-publishing, readers and writers alike are always curious to hear what self-published authors thought of the self-publishing process. For the most part, it seems to be a fairly smooth process and, for Edun, the process has been just as smooth due to the platforms she has access to. “If I didn’t have Amazon’s e-book distribution system or CreateSpace’s brilliant paperback platform, I’d be tearing my hair out trying to contact printers and distributors. Instead, it’s a smooth transition from submitting my manuscript to seeing it populate on the world’s most popular online storefronts,” Edun said. “The stressful part comes in making sure that the manuscript produced is well-tailored to its audience and is a professional representation of my work. That means contracting with editors, cover artists, and book designers. Everything as a self-published author is up to you and so, if you are not on top of your game, the work simply will not get down. Something as simple as having a polished website means that you need to research designers and learn about the mechanics that go into how you present yourself to a public audience.”
Not only has self-publishing been a smooth process for Edun, her biggest support for writing has come from other self-published authors. These authors share their stories with her and give her tips and tricks to self-publishing her own work. “Authors who motivate me to push harder, write more, and never settle for anything less than seeing my books reach thousands of readers around the world,” Edun said. “I would recommend self-publishing to individuals who are willing to work hard and stay up-to-date on publishing practices, are willing to market their own books, and have the desire to succeed. You need all of those things to be successful.”
Edun is most certainly not finished writing. The eighth book in her Courtlight series was just released at the end of June and Edun’s next projects include finishing up its ninth book for release at the end of July as well as editing the second book of her Crown Service series. “I have dozens of stories I want to write, many within the same Algardis Universe as my Courtlight series. So those books might be written about new and different characters, but they’re set in the same setting. An example would be my series Crown Service, which opens three hundred years before the start of the Courtlight series and focuses on the journey of the war mage, Sara Fairchild, as she goes into battle in an effort to save the legacy of her executed father. I [also] have a third Algardis Universe series that I’ve been dying to release. I can share that it features young adult mages, a school for magic, and a dragon protagonist!” Edun said. “The greatest thing about being a self-published writer is being independent. I can make my own writing schedule and publish in a timeframe that is comfortable for me. I’ve published five books in five months and gone eight months without a single publication. My publication schedule ebbs and flows, especially if I’m focused on marketing to avenues like libraries and school classrooms (which is what happened during the eight month period), but I know that Amazon KDP will always be there for me when I’m ready to login and click publish.”
As any self-published author will tell other aspiring authors, Edun encourages writers to self-publish their own works due to the fact that there is nothing holding a writer back, but themselves. She warns writers to be prepared to work hard, but the rewards that come are more than could be imagined. “Just this spring, I got a box of books in the mail from my agent at Nelson Literary. And when I opened it up to see my hardcovers inside with beautiful covers, exquisite design, and my name blazed across the front, I teared up,” Edun said. “When I started self-publishing, I never realized the doors that would open up to me and I’ve never been more grateful than now that I started this journey three years ago because there’s been a wonderful surprise around every corner!”