Name: Gabriel Valjan
Book Title: Turning To Stone
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
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: Gabriel Valjan
Is this your first book?
Gabriel: Turning To Stone is Book 4 of the Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing and available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and digital formats.
Some background for readers: Bianca started work as an analyst at a time when legislation against white-collar crimes was lacking in the U.S., so she is recruited for her hacker and pattern-recognition skills. After the initial excitement wears off, she realizes that many of the subjects of her investigations end up dead. Fearing for her life, she flees to Italy, assumes a new identity, and attempts to live a normal life. She falls in love and develops a circle of friends, who happen to do work similar to the kind that she had done in the U.S., but within her adopted country’s law enforcement agency, the Guardia di Finanza. A computer correspondent named Loki contacts her on occasion and feeds her challenges.
Bianca is in Naples for Turning To Stone. Loki, her mysterious contact, is now giving her baffling anagrams. They seem to lead to a charismatic entrepreneur who has a plan to partner with organized crime to manipulate the euro and American dollar. Against a backdrop of gritty streets, financial speculation, and a group of female assassins on motorcycles, Bianca and her friends discover that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Gabriel: Winter Goose Publisher is a small, but growing, indie press in California, with titles in a variety of genres in fiction and poetry. WGP had published Roma Series Book 1: Roma, Underground in 2012 and remains my publisher and supporter.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Gabriel: I started writing in 2008 when I was between jobs. In 2010, I started getting published, with one notable accomplishment: being short-listed for the Fish Prize, a prestigious literary award in Ireland. While I continued to write short stories, winning an award from ZOUCH for a flash fiction piece, I started writing novels. The genesis of the Roma Series was a challenge from a colleague to write a compelling, but flawed, female protagonist.
Alabaster/Bianca came into existence, with Roma, Underground written between September and November of 2010, submitted to Winter Goose Publishing in 2011 and published in 2012. I continued writing novels, three more of which WGP published, and I had anthologies and publishers accept more of my short stories.
I count my blessings that I did not languish for years before I was published. I’m grateful that my publisher has been both gracious and supportive, allowing me a say in editing and cover-art design. Cons, if there are any, have to do with doing my own PR and social media. I’m somewhat introverted and reserved so I had to cultivate an outgoing persona. It is important to remain positive and patient since there are so many authors out there, so many books, and it takes time to develop a readership.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Gabriel: In terms of social media, I follow Kristen Lamb’s 80/20-Rule in that I tweet or discuss what is important to me 80% of the time, and promote myself 20% of the time. I usually don’t do more than three tweets a day, and I never DM or automate messages to folks on Twitter to buy or read my books. I mention writers and other artists I like for good karma. I avoid trolls, as they are best left under bridges unfed. I understand (and accept) that not everybody will like my books, or that readers may not leave reviews, but it is important to remain positive when I feel as if my voice has the range of a kitten’s meow in the wilderness; it’s a big world out there in publishing, but I have four tangible books to hold in my hands and a growing body of blog posts and short stories out there with publishers.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Gabriel: A small press has its up and down sides. The positive side that I have experienced is having a greater say in how my book will appear to readers. In addition to my own editorial process, which includes a proofreader, a cultural editor, since my book involves a foreign culture, and a line-editor, I have two editors at Winter Goose whom I have found to be receptive and congenial. The design process for the book cover has been collaborative. I am not a graphic designer or artist, but I have a grasp of my story and ideas do come to me, and Winter Goose has listened, taking what I say and creating compelling covers for the Roma Series.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Gabriel: Stay positive. Don’t be discouraged. Keep writing and hone your craft such that each story and every novel improves for your loyal readers and the future readers who will discover you.