Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Publishing Secrets: Interview with Andra Watkins, author of 'To Live Forever'

Our guest today is Andra Watkins, author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, and is published by Word Hermit Press.  She is here to give her experiences as an small press author.


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

Andra: Someone once said if there’s a book we want to read, but it isn’t
written, then we need to write it. I’ve always been fascinated with history. I’d
close every biography with the thought, “What would this person do if he/she
had more time?” I wrote my book to give explorer Meriwether Lewis more time,
to answer that question for myself.

Is this your first book?

Andra: I would never let anyone read my first book. Ha. This is the first one I’ve been willing to share with the world.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

Andra: Word Hermit Press published my novel. When the last agent in the traditional publishing world told me I needed to gut my book and take
Meriwether Lewis out because readers wouldn’t buy him in the role I created, I threw up my hands and said, “Enough!” I turned to hybrid publication, and I’m happy with Word Hermit Press.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?

Andra: My story isn’t unique or different from the journey of any other author.
Almost 100 rejections. Countless pieces of advice to change the book so
someone could sell it. Numerous examples of the most unprofessional behavior
I’ve ever encountered in a twenty-plus year career in the business world.

Here’s what I say to any author: Believe in yourself. Believe in your story.
Believe in your characters. If you don’t believe in yourself, don’t expect
anyone else to believe in you. Take that belief, and make your story live. Other
people will believe, because you believed in yourself first.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Andra: I think this story sums up the publishing industry today.

I was at a conference. A couple of traditional publishing types were talking
over in the corner. One of them said, “I just got this book in, and it’s dreadful.
I mean, really, REALLY bad.”

“Why are you considering it?”

“Well, because the author won a big literary award for a short story, and ten other agents are going after it, and I feel like I need to try for it to stay relevant. But, let me say again, the book is just DREADFUL.”

I always hoped I would be a fit for traditional publishing. Now I realize that I
never could’ve made the book I did within that framework. Because of the way
I approached publication, my book is exactly what I dreamed it would be. I
want to write many, many more of them.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Andra: Absolutely. Believe in yourself and make it happen.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Andra: Write the best book you can. Spend money on an excellent editor.
Listen to him or her. Rewrite the best book you can. Assemble excellent people
who know more than you do about whatever role they’re playing on your team.

Listen to those people. Work your ass off to be accessible to your readers.
Never, ever stop believing in yourself and the story you were put here to tell.
Andra Wakins is a native of Tennessee but calls Charleston, South Carolina, her home for the last 23 years.  She is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis from Word Hermit Press which is a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809. 

You can visit her website at or follow her on Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.

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