Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Publishing Secrets with Historical Novelist Joan Schweighardt

Book Title: The Last Wife of Attila the Hun
Genre: Historical fiction (with a legendary component)
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Purchase on Amazon

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?
Joan: I’ve been writing for many years, both professionally for other people, and on my own projects. I was very shy as a child and a teen and even as a young adult. Writing offered me a great means for expressing myself. And I realized early on that I was pretty good at it. Once in grade school I got an A+ on an essay about Stalin, based on a chapter in a history book that I’d never bothered to read. That sealed the deal for me.
Is this your first book?
Joan: I’ve written several other novels, and I’ve ghostwritten books for clients.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Joan: The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is published by Booktrope Editions. Booktrope has only been around for a short time, so it’s too soon to say how they will fare in today’s crazy upside down publishing world. But I was impressed with how they got started, presenting their vision at an angel conference and winning the top prize and garnering all kinds of investment money. And I’m impressed with their publishing model.
Unlike many so called “hybrid” presses, Booktrope does not ask you to buy a large number of your own books or pay them any money for production or anything like that. Once they accept your manuscript for publication, you go on their website and review the bios of the editors, proofreaders, cover designers and book managers who are signed up with them. Then you invite the people you’d like to be on your team to join you on your publishing journey, and you get going. Of course Booktrope has final approval on everything. When your book is ready, a Booktrope staff member does the layout and then your book manager takes over promoting the book to readers. Having been a writer most of my life, not only working on my own projects but also writing for clients to make a living, I can tell you that it is great fun to work with a team. Now, as the book sells, profits are divided between me, my team members and Booktrope, and me getting the lion’s share. So everyone has something invested and everyone gains if things work out. No wonder Booktrope won the gold ring at the angel conference! To me this sounds like the perfect model for these times.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Joan: My publishing journey has now included four publishers. Everyone has a different way of doing things. My first three novels were published with the Permanent Press, which is a traditional publisher, which was the only kind of publisher there was back in the 90s before the advent of ebooks and print on demand. Since then I’ve worked with three other publishers, two traditional and now Booktrope. My publishing journey has had its ups and downs, but it’s been a long journey with lots of surprises, and it ain’t over yet.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Joan: Things have changed drastically in the publishing world since my first books were published. It used to be that it was enough to be a good writer. Now you have to be good at social media and good at begging the few reviewers left in the world to review your book. Or you have to lower yourself to “buy” reviews. Or you have to have the money to advertise the heck out of your book. Being a good writer alone will not do it for most of us. I guess it’s a case of survival of the fittest. Except for the fortunate few who get published by one of the handful of huge publishers that still have lots of clout and money to get a book on its way, writers will have to adapt. It’s very common to hear artists of all stripes say, “Oh, I only do my art. I’m not into the marketing thing.” I know how they feel, but most will have to kowtow to the marketing thing if they want to make it in today’s world.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Joan: I am at the beginning of my journey with Booktrope. As I said, I think they have a great publishing model that suits the times.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Joan: Keep writing, of course. If you love to write, why would you let things like fame and money (or lack thereof) stop you?

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