I'd like to welcome Vanessa Kelman author of Chasing Fate and Accepting Fate to discuss her adventures in publshing.
Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer.
If you believe in fate, I was destined to be a writer since before I was born! While my mother was pregnant with me, she was actually taking a writing course. To the best my knowledge, she's never had anything published, but I guess the interest was there, and the course was all it took to determine my life's work.
I've been writing stories since I was a child, though I didn't make the decision to have it be my career until relatively recently. When I turned 30, I found myself unhappy with what I had accomplished so far in my life. I didn't seem to be getting anywhere. So I made the decision to take charge of my life. And a big part of that was taking charge of my career. The only thing that had remained consistent in my life had been my writing, so I decided to focus on that.
Tell us about your novel and where readers can purchase a copy.
I actually have 2 novels that I've recently self-published. Their titles are Chasing Fate and Accepting Fate, and both deal with acceptance, reinvention and finding happiness – themes that really hit home for me and have become a bit of a focus. I call it "self-help fiction," and it's really about taking charge of your life and making it what you want it to be. Chasing Fate follows two characters, Melanie and Bobby, as they start to come to terms with the hands fate has dealt them. Neither is happy with their current lot in life, and how they move past that to find happiness is really what this story is about. Accepting Fate is a spin-off from Chasing Fate, and it follows a character we meet in Chasing Fate, Mary, and her co-worker, Kelly, as they deal with the disappointments of previous relationships and determine how best to move past them.
Both novels are available in trade paperback and in e-book formats. They can be found on Amazon.com, through my website (www.VanessaKelman.com), and on Smashwords.com. Chasing Fate is also available on Barnes & Noble's website.
What have you had published to-date?
In addition to my novels, I am a contributing writer for an online magazine, Suite101.com. I've written a variety of articles for the site, with my most current focus being children's birthday party themes. I've also written articles/pages for my website, Life Skills Simplified (a work-in-progress). In my previous life (aka before I got married), I also worked briefly as a town reporter for a daily newspaper.
What are you working on right now? Tell us a little about it.
I've got quite a bit in the works right now! I've just begun the third book in the Fate trilogy, Tempting Fate. I'm also still working on articles for Suite101.com on different children's birthday party themes. Plus I'm designing a website, Life Skills Simplified, that provides general information on a wide variety of subjects.
How much of the marketing do you do?
I do pretty much all the marketing myself. Of course, my husband and parents help, too. But at this point in time I can't afford to hire anyone, so it's either do it myself, or it doesn't get done!
Anything you’ve found to be particularly helpful in marketing your books?
Word of mouth has been the biggest success, but I'm really just starting with my marketing efforts. I had the website up a while ago, and I've tried contacting bookstores in the area, too. Neither seems to get me much by way of return, but, as I said, it's still early days. I'm hoping something will pan out eventually. And there are lots of marketing ideas floating around there that I hope to put to good use soon.
Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?
Both of my books are available as e-books. Since I can't afford the formatting services, I did all the formatting myself. I actually found it easier than formatting the paper versions. In this day and age, I felt it was important to offer my readers the e-book versions. A lot of people rely on their Kindle, or Nook, etc., and I didn't want to lose readers because I was limited to print.
Both Kindle and Smashwords made the process simple, and I'm glad I did it. It doesn't hurt that profits from e-book copies are higher than print copies!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don't give up. I've definitely had my share of ups and down when it comes to writing. There are times I just don't feel like writing, and times when I really don't want to edit or format or whatever. But sticking with it makes everything worthwhile.
Another bit of advice: take charge. I was getting frustrated with querying agents and not getting anywhere. No one had anything bad to say about my debut novel (Chasing Fate), but it was always "not right for us." When I decided to take charge of my career, I decided to change how I was approaching the process. That's when I looked into self-publishing. I haven't regretted it so far. I was able to publish the book I wanted. I was able to publish it on my time table. And, most important, I was able to get published! Everyone has been supportive, and I feel better about myself because I was able to do what I wanted, without having to wait for someone else to agree with me.
Where can readers find you?
The simplest way is through my website, www.VanessaKelman.com. I also have a fan page on Facebook, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, and an author page on Amazon. I love to hear from readers!