Name: Eleanor Parker Sapia
Book Title: A DECENT WOMAN
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Booktrope Books
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?
Author: In 2000, after ten years of working as an exhibiting artist, I was given the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, as a gift. A year later, I invited eight creative women friends to join me in a creativity group at my home. After facilitating four The Artist’s Way groups, my friends encouraged me to add writing to my creative life, and I agreed—it was time. But what would I write about?
Well, both my grandmothers were wonderful oral storytellers, and as a kid, I sat at their knees, hanging on their every word about stories of Puerto Rico and Poland. When my maternal grandmother turned ninety-years old, I wrote a tribute to her, and included all her wonderful stories. After my now ex-husband read the tribute, he asked me to write an outline of my grandmother’s life, and he said I had a story to write. I realized I hadn’t read any books about Caribbean midwives, so I decided to introduce my Puerto Rican grandmother’s midwife, Doña Ana, to the world in a story about the complex lives of women in male-dominated, colonial Puerto Rico.
Is this your first book?
Author: Yes, this is my debut novel, and I’m currently writing my second book.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author: When I completed my manuscript and had it edited, I joined CreateSpace and made an account for my novel, A DECENT WOMAN, thinking that I’d self-publish. But I couldn’t upload my manuscript; something kept telling me to wait a bit longer. After two years of querying agents and getting nowhere, I had no issue with going the self-publishing route, but I submitted to Booktrope, an Indie publishing company based in Seattle, Washington and six months later, I had a publishing contract. I’ve been with them a year and it has been great experience.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Author: Booktrope authors form their publishing team from talented people within Booktrope—an editor, proofreader, cover designer, project manager, and a book manager. It took me a few months to get the perfect team together because of schedule conflicts with potential team members, but it worked out as it should. I call my team members—my dream team. Every person on the publishing team receives a certain percentage of books sales after the book is published, so it behooves every member of the team to work hard and to be professional. We work very well together, and I hope to work with my team again on my second book project.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: When writer friends congratulated me on my publishing contract, and when I finished my manuscript and uploaded it for layout a month ago, many of those same friends said, “Now the real work begins.” I couldn’t imagine what they meant because I’d spent nearly five years researching and writing my novel! Now that A DECENT WOMAN is published, I understand what they were saying—book marketing and publicity is not for the faint of heart. It’s an every day, never-get-away-from-it process that an author cannot get away from, or should ignore. I’ve learned how important social media is to an author, and how important it is to build a platform early in one’s writing career. I blogged for seven years before I made the leap into writing full time, and I’m glad I did.
I’ve also learned how stubborn, tenacious, brave, and nuts I must be because despite the long and lonely hours at the keyboard, I still can’t imagine doing anything else.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Yes, I whole heartedly recommend going the Indie publishing route. I’ve had a great experience with Booktrope, and I love working with my ultra-talented publishing Team.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Read, read, and then read some more. I’m a huge advocate of writing in a daily journal, which for me has become a valuable tool and writing practice, so I highly recommend jotting down feelings, impressions, overheard dialogue, and thoughts. This exercise has helped me get in touch with myself, and the great thing about journaling is that it encourages us to access the deep, dark corners of ourselves. We don’t lie when we journal.
And as I’ve mentioned before, if you’re a budding writer, build your writer platform now. Join and engage in social media now; don’t wait for your book to be published.
Thanks so much for having me!
Eleanor Parker Sapia