Name: Tracy Weber
Book Title: Karma’s a killer
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
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?
Tracy: The idea to write a mystery series came to me on a rainy evening about five years ago, while in the middle of a brutal workout at my favorite health club. I was pedaling away, reading a Susan Conant novel to distract myself from the evil exercise bike, when a quote in Black Ribbon about crazy dog people made me burst out loud laughing. I knew I’d found my author soul mate. Someone who truly got me.
I went home, looked her up online, and stumbled across a site about cozy mysteries. As I read about hundreds of other wonderful cozy series, I began to wonder: What would happen if a yoga teacher with a crazy dog like mine got mixed up in murder? Kate Davidson and Bella popped into my head a few days later. The rest is history.
Is this your first book?
Tracy: No. Karma’s a Killer is the third book in my Downward Dog Mystery series, with hopefully many more to come in the future. I currently have a contract for six books in the series.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Tracy: My publisher, Midnight Ink, falls somewhere between traditional and small press, I believe. It’s not one of the big four publishers, but it’s very well regarded in the mystery field. It was important to me to see my books on the shelves of bookstores and libraries, so I wanted to go the traditional route. However I wouldn’t hesitate to self publish either. There are pros and cons to both.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Tracy: Everything happened so fast, which was both fabulous and a little crazy-making. I signed with my agent, Margaret Bail of Inklings Literary Agency, only a month or two after I started submitting the manuscript, and she sold the series within a month of sending it to publishers.
I wish I’d had more time to learn about the industry before I signed on the dotted line with an agent and agreed to a three (and now six) book contract. Ultimately, I probably would have made the same choices, but I would have felt better prepared, especially when it came to negotiating the contract.
So the biggest advice I would give to new writers is make sure that you do your research. It may take you years to find the right agent or publisher, or you may have one in weeks. You need to know what criteria would make you say yes or no to their offers.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Tracy: I think I’ve answered that above, though I would add that the publishing industry constantly changes, faster than anyone can keep up with it. Any lessons that I learned when I signed my first contract three years ago are null and void now. Amazon continues to roll out new programs, some of which are great for writers, others of which are still to be determined. And social media channels pop up and change faster than I can learn how to log on to them. So I’d say be prepared to strap on your rocket suit and hang on for the ride.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Tracy: I’m very glad I’m traditionally published, but it’s not the right solution if you’re a control freak. Once you sell your work to a publisher, you give up both creative and marketing control. In return, you get marketing and editorial expertise, a little prestige, and a potential path onto the shelves of major booksellers. If you decide to self publish, you need to be more than a writer. Successful self publishers are small business owners who spend as much time editing, formatting, and marketing their books as they do writing them. It’s all about trade-offs.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Tracy: Don’t give up! Writing is a TOUGH business. No one gets published without facing rejection. When I was trying to land an agent, I allowed myself 24 hours to feel bad about every rejection, then I forced myself to do something proactive. Send out another letter, connect with another author, write another page.
You can’t please everyone, and yet when you write, you so desperately want to. (At least I do.) Just keep writing what you love and know that your work isn’t defined by what any one person thinks of it.
Above all else, have fun! If you have fun on your writing journey, you will be successful—even if you never make it to The New York Times Bestseller list.