The veil I’m talking about separates the unpublished from the published author.
Ever wonder what’s on the other side? Want to peel back the veil for a peek? Or to actually speak to someone who has crossed over?
Now you can. I’ve lined up talented friends to talk about their experiences in getting stories published.
My first authoress extraordinaire is Ella Drake. Her publishers are Samhain Publishing, Liquid Silver Books and Cobblestone Press. Whether she’s writing about ancient cursed castles or rowdy space bars, her stories have a compelling magic that will capture your imagination and hold you on the edge of your seat.
Ella has agreed to answer my publishing questions which, I’m hoping, are yours, too.
1.How did you get started as a writer? I’m one of those people who thought about writing a novel “one day”. I love to read and had been taking literature classes at night. Then, one day after I had my second baby, I started daydreaming and before I knew it, had thought up a great idea for a space opera. After managing to turn off my internal editor long enough to write more than the first sentence, I was able to keep going and not look back. It was basically a lightbulb type of moment.
2.Getting The Call is the moment many unpublished authors fantasize about. It’s that moment when authors hear that a publisher wants her work. Can you describe your experience?
After writing a few manuscripts, I realized that not only were most of them too short for a traditional print market, but I also enjoyed reading ebooks, so I targeted several ebook publishers. I sent a short story to Cobblestone Press, and when I got the email that they wanted to sign it, I stared at it. I grinned at it. Then I kept opening and re-reading to make sure I read it correctly in the first place. It was a weird mixture of happiness, terror, and the inability to believe it. The first thing I did was call my husband!
3.How long was it from the initial publisher’s request to see your manuscript until it reached published form?
My first published story was “Wolf-Bitten”, a story about a woman who fled to avoid marriage with a werewolf, and the alpha were who tracked her down. The story was in submission for about five months, but once I signed, things went quickly. It was released within six weeks. This does seem a bit short, but epubs can make that kind of quick turnaround. Most of the timing depends on the publisher and their schedule. My last release, “Firestorm on E’Terra”, a novella in the Hearts Afire: December anthology from Liquid Silver, took six months because I was slotted for a December release.
4.What steps were involved to elevate your manuscript from a submission to a published novel?In all three publishers, the steps were similar. I signed the contract and sent it in. The contracts were all easy to understand. As a new author with a publisher, I then received different directions on how to learn about the company, was given access to author forums, or email lists. All three of these companies have a good infrastructure for asking questions and getting answers.
Liquid Silver and Cobblestone then assigned me an editor. Both houses rotate editors and you’re assigned to the next available. In the case of Samhain Publishing, the editors acquire the manuscripts, so I had my editor from the beginning. All of these publishers go through a round of three edits using change control in Word, which was a relief for me since I was well versed in using it. After edits, or during, I worked on blurbs and made cover art requests. Part of the reason I choose these three publishers is because of their wonderful covers. The last step was getting final digital copies, which was like a little present in the inbox. I just received a galley for The Forbidden Chamber, from Samhain. I have to proof the final form before it goes into print, which I’m definitely looking forward to. Of the three publishers I’m with, Samhain is the only one that has print books.
5.What surprised you most about being published?How the insecurities don’t really go away, they just change. Instead of wondering if I’ll catch the eye of one acquiring editor or agent, I’m worried about how readers will like it. And there’s more pressure to get the next one finished.
6.What advice would you give other unpublished authors who hope to interest your publishing house in their manuscript?
Read. Understand what kind of stories they’re acquiring and what their readers like. I think this is the best thing anyone can do if they’re targeting a publisher.
7.What reasons would you give an unpublished author for sending his or her manuscript to Samhain Publishing, Liquid Silver Books or Cobblestone Press? In other words, what do you particularly like about your publishers?
I love being able to write what I want, even if it’s out of the box, because epublishers and small press can take a chance on something out of the ordinary. I also really like the short turnaround time and the responsiveness of all of the people involved with these publishers.
8.How has your life changed since being published?(see number 5 above) Ha! For the most part what’s changed is that I have different stressors. But I love it! Wouldn’t change a moment of it.
9.Typically, how long does it take you to write a book? What’s your writing schedule?This varies widely for me depending on what time of the year it is. School schedules play havoc on my writing time. This year, I have a few hours every school day to write. Before now, I had to take the moments when I could grab them. It took me seven months to write The Forbidden Chamber (category novel length) and two months to write “Firestorm on E’Terra” (novella). My short story, “Scent of Cin” took a little over a month. Still, I have a full novel-length I’ve been working on for three years, so the time it takes varies widely.
10.How do you generate ideas for your stories? They come from everywhere. Little ideas that pop in my head and sit back there and grow. “Scent of Cin” came from a weird flash of a woman wearing a red teddy. (No, it’s not usual for me to daydream about women in teddies). I’ve also sat down to purposely brainstorm around an idea that came from reading a magazine article.
11.What excites you about your current work in progress?It’s unusual. The type of characters I’m putting together, I’ve never seen before. I’m really enjoying it, and I’m doing something different, I’m trying to write a series of connected, stand-alone novellas.
12.Could you share an excerpt from your books?
This is a short snippet from The Forbidden Chamber, a gothic/historical paranormal available from Samhain Publishing (link). Rukh cannot marry because his family’s curse leads to the death of his wives, but he wants Isabel for his own. This scene is a turning point in his denial:
Isabel did not see him when he slipped into the ballroom. Her back to him, she stood behind her mother who faced the dancers and chatted with her other daughters. Isabel studied a framed canvas of a windswept moor’s leafless trees filled with Ravens standing guard over a swaddled babe lost in the woods. The dreary scene had been a favorite of his as a child. The graceful curve of Isabel’s neck begged to be kissed when she cocked her head to the side and leaned forward for a closer view. That damned crescent birthmark made his mouth water.
Her intent posture captivated him. With her lush curves tempting his fingers to explore, he had at first overlooked her intelligence. He moved to the side to bypass the guests trying to garner his time and attention. Able to see her profile after agonizing minutes cutting through the crowded room, he smiled at her earnest expression and the critical slant to her lips.
What would she say if he told her the painting was by his father? And that the babe was him?
He started forward to ask but stopped in his tracks several feet away when a hand cupped beneath her elbow.
Rukh growled at the offending grip on Isabel and startled a nearby missus. The portly woman’s skirts nearly tangled her legs in her haste to move away.
A young man spoke in Isabel’s ear. She half turned and smiled at the boy.
Directed at another, her smile played havoc on Rukh. His hands clenched. The young couple moved to join the music starting anew. She danced with a Hayle, a nephew, Christopher. Of the same age, they fit together in a way he could never hope to achieve. He choked on a surge of red haze. A primal instinct to claim her and pull her from the boy bubbled from within. Perhaps for a taste of her, he could demand her sacrifice on his doomed altar of marriage.
Curse be damned.
13.Where can readers find you on the Web? (Twitter, blog, Facebook, Website)? Ella Drake is a Dark Paranormal and Science Fiction Romance author published with Cobblestone Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Samhain Publishing. Sometimes she dabbles in Weird SF stories (free read on her website). To learn more about Ella, visit her on her webpage at www.elladrake.com. Ella can also be found on facebook and twitter.
We hope you’ve found Ella’s interview interesting. We appreciate your questions or comments.
-- Brenda Nelson-Davis.