Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Over the Deep for Writing: Author Interview with Samantha Wilcoxson
I have always loved writing and been an avid reader. As my kids became more independent and I had time for my own interests, I began to think more about taking the plunge into writing. My first novel was inspired by my daughter and conversations that we have had. It is written to entertain tween girls while also giving them some things to think about.
Why did you chose writing a middle grade novel?
My first two novels are written at the middle grade level because it felt like safe territory to me. I wrote almost as if I was talking to my own children, and it felt natural to tell stories this way.
How long did it take you to write the first book?
Being shorter lengths intended for younger readers, my first two books took much less time to write than my upcoming release. It was almost as if the stories were there, and I just needed to type them out. On the other hand, the book I am working on now took significant historical research and was more complicated to pull together.
How many rewrites did you do on it?
I haven’t done any comprehensive rewrites on books that I have written so far. The book seems to be complete in my head before I start. Not to say that I do not edit, but much of the story is retained from my first draft.
Who helped you with the editing?
I have two wonderful friends who read and edited my first novel. The second I edited on my own. As a freelance writer, I am quite comfortable with editing my own work in a way that it seems many writers are not. However, on my third book I am asking fellow novelists to give me feedback to ensure that the story I have on paper matches the vision I have in my mind. This will really be beta reading more than it is editing.
Your first book was contemporary but the second deals with the Titanic tragedy. What made you choose this topic for your novel?
My true love is history, but I was afraid to write about it at first. How could I possibly measure up to my favorite authors? I was inspired after a writing conference when my husband convinced me I should be writing the kind of books that I love to read. That is what lead me to choose Elizabeth of York as my next project. Over the Deep was a story that I was able to write remarkably quickly during a break from my Plantagenet Princess. It sounds cliché, but I woke up one morning with the entire story in my head and typed it out over a weekend. Of course, more editing and revising came after that, but it was simply inspired.
Have other books been started and stopped along the way?
I have a folder on my laptop of what I call “Story Starters,” but they are really books that did not come to me in their complete form. I am always eager to get what ideas I do have written down, even if I never finish them. One is based in a Victorian era asylum, and another is a contemporary story that is really my first attempt at a novel. I also have a sequel to No Such Thing as Perfect started. We will see if inspiration ever strikes to get back to one of these, but the process of writing out ideas is always helpful.
Did you try the normal route and try to find a traditional publisher to handle your book?
Traditional publishing wasn’t a big priority to me. While online communications has made it easier than ever to make your voice heard, it has also created a lot of noise. I feel like trying to be heard above the crowd to attract a traditional publisher is based greatly on chance, and I wanted to focus on writing.
How many sources did you pitch?
I only pitched my first book to a few Christian publishers. The second I sent to a few small presses and did have it accepted by one, but I could not discern any great advantage to this path compared to self-publishing.
Did you pitch any agents?
I selected a few agents to email my work in progress to, but am excited about self-publishing again.
When did you decide to self-publish?
When the publisher that I was working with for Over the Deep ended up not working out, I realized how much more I had enjoyed self-publishing with my first book. Self-publishing Over the Deep has been a simple process since I have already completed the steps before.
What has been your biggest challenge in getting your books out?
Formatting a book for self-publishing has been my biggest challenge. I have joked that it took me longer to upload Over the Deep properly for paperback and Kindle than it took me to write it.
How did you decide on your book covers?
I have used a book cover designer on Fiverr for my covers using images that I already had. This has been a great way to have covers with professional appearance without spending too much.
What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? This area is really my biggest challenge. As an introverted person who tends to choose books over people, I am working on improving my skills in marketing myself and my work. Each of my books has a Facebook page, I use Twitter for connecting with readers and writers, and I am very active on Goodreads and BookLikes.
Have you done a Kirkus or PW review?
I have not. As one who reads and reviews books myself, I do not favor paid reviews.
What has worked best for you in generating sales?
Connecting with readers and offering content that you are passionate about seems to be the best way to generate sales. If you aren’t excited about your topic, nobody else will be either.
I wish I had studied formatting and book covers more before initially releasing my first book. I have since released a second edition that takes reader comments into account, but I see many other independent writers making the same mistakes. Why take months to write a great story, then clothe it in a cover that does not inspire anyone to pick it up?
Your next novel, continues in the historical fiction vein and tells a tale of Elizabeth of York. What was it that drew you to her story?
I am passionate about history and especially love to read about the Wars of the Roses. Elizabeth of York is the vital link between the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties, yet I could not find a single inspiring novel written about her. On my 37th birthday, I decided to make her my focus. Since she died on her 37th birthday, I have felt a connection to her knowing that each day I write her story is one more than she ever had.
When do you plan to publish it?
I am hoping to release Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen by the end of this summer. Since I have begun freelance writing, the project has been slowed down more than I had hoped. Setting self-imposed deadlines is another thing I need to work on!
What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
Simply write. We are told that writing is a hobby and cannot be a career. If you are willing, opportunities exist that enable you to do what you are passionate about. I work from home and am more fulfilled by writing than I have been by any other career I have ever pursued.
Thank you for taking the time to share your writing experiences with my readers. If you'd like to learn more about Samantha's writing and her upcoming books, here's some options to do that: