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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can Librarians Make Good Authors? Author Interview with Librarian, Amber Polo

You currently write urban fantasies featuring librarians and shape-shifters. What drew you to this concept?
I've always loved speculative fiction and feel it gives an author the opportunity to explore topics in ways other fiction genres do not. As a librarian, I wanted to set a book inside a library and, because I had spent a period of my life in the world of dogs, I felt putting the two together was a natural and a refreshing escape from the usual werewolf shifter genres.

When did you actually start writing your first book?
I started my first novel as a spoof. I don't even know if I envisioned it as novel. It was just writing for the fun. I’d written a lot of marketing and computer materials, so I moved into the fiction area with a lot to learn.

How many re-writes do you think you did?
A lot. For me, editing is is an ongoing process.

Who encouraged you along the way?
I’ve always written by myself, for myself, but I did have a published writer friend who told me when my first book was ready to query.

Prior to writing fantasy books, you wrote two romance books which you've since re-released independently. Tell me about that early publishing experience.
My first book, novella, and shorts were with The Wild Rose Press, where I learned the process of working with editors and the basics of online publishing and promotion. Treble Heart Books, my second publisher, was a short run print publisher not POD which I initially thought was a step towards traditional publishing and had the advantage of having a presence in Arizona.

The industry changed quickly and although my editor was great, there was little promotion by the publisher. (THB is no longer in business.) My current publisher for my fantasy series asked me about my preferences every step of the contract process. And after publishing has fulfilled every point in the contract, given promotional support, and a lot of help getting the books in the hands of readers and reviewers.

Are you active with any writer’s critique groups?
I did not work with critique groups, but all writers groups are useful, thought I live in a rural area and most writers groups are far from accessible. As a librarian I used various research methods to hone my craft. And reading, lots of reading. The beta readers I found were sometimes helpful, but often saw how they would write the book. My current editor has been the most help in guiding me to learn how to shape a story for readers.

How did you go about finding your current publisher?
I loved her writing and when I saw she was publishing under her own imprint I contacted her, though she was not soliciitng manuscripts. I thought she would “get” my series, and she did.

Did you attend writing conferences?
I attended workshops for craft and inspiration not for the purpose of finding an agent or publisher. I also queried in the traditional way.

What has surprised you the most about getting published other than the joy of seeing your book in print?
I was surprised how fast the publishing business has changed in the last ten years. And of course the amount of non-writing time authors do. The good news and the bad is that writers become proficient in many unexpected areas. 

What do you know now about publishing that you wish you knew sooner?
I think it's a process and each writer needs to treat it that way, learning one step at a time. I think too many start out with the goal of self-publishing their first book. Don’t put out anything that might embarrass you later. It’s hard to take back what’s sent out into the internet. Writers used to have a couple in the drawer when the book was contracted. I wish I had more in that drawer.

What advice would you give someone who thinks they have the great novel in them just waiting to be told?
Know the core of the book. Write it. And rewrite it.

 What is the best advice you’ve been given from either an editor?
I think I’ve learned that some side trips that interest me don’t belong in a finished book.

How much time daily do you have for writing?
It varies. When I'm working on a book, it’s an intense process, with research, writing and editing all merged into long hours. Writing my non-fiction book, Relaxing the Writer, was written on a personal deadline of three months before I turned it over to an editor. I wanted to get back to fiction and knew I could research a non-fiction topic forever.

Thanks for your insights, Amber. If you'd like to learn more about Amber and her books, here's some links to help you.

Webpage      Amazon Author page      Wordshaping Blog      Facebook 


  1. Thanks Chris for interesting questions. Someday I'll answer the question "Can Librarians make Good Authors." There are many.

  2. Looked at the list. I wonder what books inspired Mao in his time at the library.

  3. Great Interview!

    Fan of Amber's Books: Kari Thomas,