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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Laughter and Love: Author Interview with Camilla Isley

Your book is a romantic comedy. Do you consider yourself a funny person? 
Yes, I do consider myself to be funny and I love to make jokes, even if maybe I tend to lean on the sarcastic side more often than not. I always loved stories with magic, from fairy tales to fantasy to Harry Potter—I find it fascinating. 

What inspired you to write a book with magical aspects to it?
When the time came to write my book I wanted magic to be a big part of my story. I’m a big fan of Romagic Comedies and since I try to write things that I would enjoy reading that’s where my imagination immediately went.

How long did it take you to write your current book?  who helped you along the way? 
It took about a year to complete the writing, then I would say another six months for editing, re-editing, and formatting. Most of the changes I did where in the writing itself and didn’t affect the story too much, except for one chapter that I had to change completely after one beta-reader suggested it should have a different vibe. It was the right call. 

Are you active with any critique groups? 
I don’t have a critique group, but I use beta-readers. 

Who helped you with the editing?
For the actual editing I hired a professional freelance, Mary Yakovets. Besides correcting the grammar she suggested some tweaks, cuts, and various other adjustments to help the flow of the story.

Have other books been started and stopped along the way?
I did start a book back in 2009, but only got down to writing a couple of chapters and it did not evolve further. I was still very busy with finishing school and starting my first job so I abandoned the project. I am not even sure if I still have those few first chapters; they’re probably buried somewhere in my old laptop or on a lost hard disk.

Is Pink Bloom Press your imprint? 
Yes it is my own imprint, I created it as an assumed business name to treat my writing venture as a proper business. My ISBNs belong to it, the copyright, etc... I think it is a good choice, it leaves many opportunities open. For example if I ever decided to write in a different genre or under a different name I could still publish under the same imprint.

What do you think is the most common misconception about self-publishing? 
I guess there are two main misconceptions on self-publishing. The first being that Indie authors self-publish only because they couldn’t get published in the traditional way. Some of us, like myself, didn’t even try to walk the traditional road. The second, and most painful, is that all self-published books are garbage. Frankly I think that there are good and bad books coming from all different sources. Sometimes I’ve enjoyed an Indie title more than a traditional one and vice versa. Also, tastes in reading are extremely subjective and I think no one can really say if a book is good or bad in absolute.

How much research did you do on self-publishing before choosing your sources?
To research the industry, I tried to read as many articles as possible on the subject, forums, and posts from other writers to see what everybody else was doing. (My “Publishing World” list on Twitter can give you an idea of some of my sources.) Again there’s no perfect recipe for where or when to publish, the only points that everybody agreed upon were to get professional help. Have a designer do your cover and hire a professional editor. If you’re not familiar enough with writing software I suggest you get help for formatting as well.

What has surprised or frustrated you the most in bringing your book to print? 
The biggest frustration has been copy-editing. Even if I had my book professionally edited, after the re-edit and formatting some typos lingered hidden in the pages, it drove me crazy. Next time I am going to hire a second copy-editor after I am finished with the formatting.

The biggest surprise has been that there are people actually buying my book and reading my words. I enjoy the most reading reviews—good and not-so-good. I had a somewhat critical review on Goodreads (3*) that made me smile, I could see some of the points the reader was trying to get across.

What type of promotions are you doing to help generate sales?
To promote my book I am working with many wonderful bloggers to do reviews, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways. I also did a couple of Goodreads Giveaways that got many entries. As for paid promotions, I’ve read almost everywhere that it makes more financial sense to have at least two or three books out before you invest serious budgets. So I am going to experiment with services such as BookBub in the future. I tried Goodreads’ beta-ads service, you can start with a budget as low as 10$, but so far it hasn’t been particularly successful neither in terms of number of clicks nor conversions rate. If you try it, I would recommend you ignore their initial budget suggestion of 150$ and start with 10$. You can always add more funds later.

What do you know about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
The first would be, as I said before, that you need one editor and afterwards one copy-editor. I imagine we all wish our work to be spotless and the idea of having typos in my writing is extremely daunting for me. Also that when you launch a new book it is useful to start at a lower price point, gain some momentum, some reviews, and then bring the price to your final point. I will try this marketing technique with my next release.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
The most surprising thing I learned is that stories have a way of evolving on their own. Characters will grow as you write and tell you the direction they want to take. My advice would be that you don’t need to have everything figured out when you start writing…words, plot twist, and new situations will come to you naturally. The most important thing if you have a story to tell is that you start telling it, don’t leave it in your mind. The more you write, the easier it gets.

Finally, I would say that the biggest piece of advice I can offer to anyone—not just writers—is to be kind and respectful to others. You have no idea of the extents people will go to help you if you show them kindness.

Are there any other books in the works that you would like to tell my readers about?
Yes, I’m almost finished with my second book and excited about it. This time there will be no magic but still plenty of humor. My plot starts with my heroine at the top of her game, with a job she loves, the perfect guy she just married, and a wonderful honeymoon ahead. Then of course I’m going to wreck her life… Literally!

Thank you for hosting me, I really appreciate the opportunity. 

If you'd like to learn more about Camilla and her writing, here's some links to help you along.

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