Nuts ‘n Bolts of Publishing (Series) With Author Nicole Evelina
We are so proud to have award-winning author, Nicole Evelina, with us today sharing the ins and out of her publishing journey.
Nicole is a historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.
Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.
Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies, and traveling to locations when possible. She traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.
Nicole will be on tour for the next three weeks with Historical Fiction Book Tours to promote and give away copies of her latest book, Madame Presidentess. Beginning August 15, she’ll be on a week-long tour with Hello Chick Lit for her contemporary romantic comedy, Been Searching for You. Be on the lookout for her guest posts, giveaways and book reviews of both books throughout July and August.
Are you traditionally or self-published?
Self published. I started out going the traditional route and had an agent for two years, but ultimately decided to self publish because I wanted to get my book Madame Presidentess out before the 2016 election. I also wanted to finally get my other books in front of the readers I had been promising for years would get to see it eventually. I can’t learn from my books if no one can read them. For me, the control of self publishing is a good thing, but I haven’t ruled out traditional publishing in the future.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on what kind. Historical fiction usually takes me a year and half to two years from research to final edited product. Contemporary fiction takes about half that time.
What are your tips for staying focused?
I’m a naturally organized and focused person, so it’s weird to me to think of this as being something others struggle with, but I’ll give it a go.
First, turn off your TV and any other electronic devices, including social media. If you can get away to a room where it’s quiet and you won’t be interrupted, that is ideal. (You could even rent a hotel room if that’s not possible in your home.) I have to follow an outline in order to keep on task, but if you have a mental roadmap, that’s fine too. Whatever works, keep it in front of you when you write to remind you of your goal.
Then surrender yourself to your story. What I mean by that is let your subconscious mind and characters do what they want and write it down. You’re more likely to write something worth keeping if you aren’t forcing and/or editing yourself along the way. And some of my best plot twists came out of nowhere when I let my characters do what they wanted.
How do you balance all of the demands of a successful writing career (writing, marketing, etc.) and the myriad personal life demands?
It’s not easy. I’m fortunate that I don’t have any children or a husband to keep track of, but yet that means I have to do everything myself. I also have a full-time day job. I’ve learned to do what I can, when I can, and prioritize my writing over other things, like cleaning my house or doing laundry. As a wise friend of mine said, “If something is really important to you, you will make time for it.” She also reminded me that no one will be inspecting my house other than me and that as long as I have clean underwear and clothes that don’t smell, I’ll be fine.
I’m not a write every day kind of person due to my schedule, so I won’t tell you to do that, but definitely try to grab time when you can. I try to at least think about my book each day so that I’m advancing it in some way, even if I don’t have time to write or do a marketing thing.
How supportive is your family of your writing career? In what ways do they help and support you?
My family is incredibly supportive. My mom is my first reader and patiently listens when I need to talk out plot points. She also brings me food when I’m in the midst of a heavy writing or editing session so I don’t forget to eat. My dad is the best hand-salesman a writer could ask for. And my best friend provides constant support when I’m working my day job and via text (we live in different states).
What were your 1–2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
How much goes into self-publishing and how long it takes were my two biggest surprises. I gave myself this insane schedule of releasing four books in under seven months because I was expecting it to be a lot quicker than it is. I didn’t realize that layout and formatting take weeks, and there are all kinds of proofing and approval processes involved with distributors.
What would you have done differently if you could do it again?
If I had known then what I know now, I would have spaced my book releases out a lot more than I did. I don’t know how writers who function at this pace all the time do it. I’m exhausted!
What marketing or promotional activity produces the best results for you?
Hands down Goodreads giveaways, Goodreads ads, and Pinterest ads have been my most successful activities. The good news is giveaways only cost you postage and ads on both Goodreads and Pinterest are based on your own budget, so you can control how much you spend. Goodreads makes sense because you are an author marketing to readers so the demand is built in. But don’t underestimate how many readers are on Pinterest. If you have a cool cover (which you should always have), you’ll get pins and clicks. Plus, both companies provide you with robust reporting so you can track how well you’re doing and allow you to modify your ad at any time. Also, don’t discount Instagram. I just did a 25-day countdown to the release of my latest book on Instagram using quotes from the book and it netted me a ton of new followers and really increased my exposure.
Did you have a platform in place when you started this journey? What are you doing to build a platform and gain readership?
I had been blogging for four years and using social media for quite some time before I published, so I think I did have a bit of a platform in place. It wasn’t as big as if I’d been traditionally published in the past, but some of my fans are rabid! Weekly blogging and regular social media, in addition to speaking and book signings are the way I build my platform now. I’m also not afraid to talk about my books no matter where I am and I keep copies in the trunk of my car for spur of the moment sales to strangers, which happen more often than you’d think!
How important is utilizing social media to becoming a successful writer?
I think it’s important in that it allows you to connect directly with your fans and with book bloggers, but it isn’t the be all and end all. I try to be active daily, but sometimes I just need a break. Knowing your limits and stepping away for a while is key to keeping your sanity, especially as an indie writer, when everything is on you. At the end of the day, no matter how we are published, we are writers first and foremost and we have to keep that in mind. They say the next book helps sell the previous ones, and I believe it.
Best piece(s) of writing advice we haven’t discussed?
Ignore negative reviews. That is much easier said than done (I speak from experience). But nine times out of ten, the negative review has very little to do with you and everything to do with the person writing it. Your style or topic may not be their cup of tea, or maybe something you said hit a nerve or maybe the person just has issues. None of that means your book is bad. It just means it wasn’t meant for that person. You’re never going to please everyone, so don’t let it get you down when someone doesn’t like your work (another easier said than done bit of advice). Chalk it up to them not being in your intended audience and channel your feelings into your next book. And if it’s really bothering you and you can’t let it go, read the one- and two-star reviews on books by your favorite authors or ones who are highly acclaimed. Once you realize that even they get bad reviews, it will make seeing your own that much easier. (I may have actually done this myself…)
What are you working on now?
I am promoting the July 25 release of Madame Presidentess, a biographical historical fiction novel based on the life of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in the United States in 1872.
Once that is done, I’ll begin re-writing the crappy first draft of Mistress of Legend, the third and final book of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, and also begin research on a WWII-era historical fiction that tells the story of a real-life unsung hero of the war and Holocaust.
*** If you’ve read one of Nicole’s books, PLEASE consider leaving her a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads (or other website). Reviews are the fuel that keeps a writer going!***
Are you an author interested in sharing your writing and publishing experience? Send us an email at info @ forewordz.com (no spaces). We’d love to interview you!