At some point in the near future, I will actually write a blog post. I haven’t done one since the new year. However, I’ve had so many fantastic authors on the blog recently that I’ve simply not had the time to shoehorn posts in. Saying that, I will be back to regular scheduled rambling within the next week, but for today, I have another wonderful author here, and I’m sure people reading this will enjoy hearing from her much more!
Natalie and I have posted on each others’ blogs already before, and I know how awesome she is. So when she asked me to be part of the Emily’s Heart release tour, I just couldn’t turn it down.
So, Natalie, Emily’s Heart is the final instalment of your trilogy. How does it feel to have the entire Akasha Chronicles out there?
It feels amazing! I feel relief, gladness and a bit of sadness. I lived with the characters in the Akasha Chronicles for six years! It was a bit bittersweet to finish the series.
But, I am super excited to move on to my next project (working title H.A.L.F.). I began my “new” project back in 2010, but put it aside to finish the Akasha Chronicles. So it feels good to get back into it. So many ideas, so little time 😉
Authors always seem to be split on this one. Do you feel that writing sequels is more, equal to, or less difficult than writing the first story?
Every book is difficult. I don’t find it any easier to write a sequel. Yes, you already know the characters. But characters change and grow (hopefully), so for each book in a series, I go through the same steps as I did the first. I walk through character development, motivations, character arc, etc. for each book, even if it’s a sequel.
The boom in digital and independent publishing has meant that authors can release works a lot faster. How do you think this has impacted the readership of series like yours?
It seems like readers are less patient in waiting for new books. Some authors are publishing five, six even seven or more novels in a year. This has led, I think, to some readers expecting all authors to pump out multiple books a year.
I don’t expect to ever produce more than one novel a year. It generally takes two months just to write a first draft. Then another six to nine months to revise, edit and re-write. Then, of course, you have to get final line edits, formatting, cover, etc. Even at my slow-by-some-standard of one book a year, it is still faster than traditional publishing.
It’s got to be difficult, letting go of a series, and a set of characters, who have been part of your life for so long. Any desires to write other aspects of the Akasha world?
Believe it or not, I don’t find it particularly hard to let go. Perhaps it’s just my personality. When I’m done, I’m done. Because I have this new series taking up residence in my head, I’m eager to move on so I’m not pining for old characters or worlds.
However, if I were to spend more time with any characters from The Akasha Chronicles, I might like to write Madame Wong’s story (which is, I think, quite interesting). When she was human, she lived in China around the first century. Her story of how a tiny, Chinese woman in an extremely male-dominated world became an impressive warrior and made her way to the Netherworld is strange and intriguing. It would require me to learn a lot about 1st century China, which would be so much fun, but so time consuming. We’ll see. Perhaps some day.
The first book in the series, Emily’s House, was featured on Wattpad and now has almost one and a half million reads (1,405,118 if we’re counting.) How do you feel the Wattpad readership has influenced what the series has become today?
Wattpad has been like a lifeline for me as a writer! Any writer out there may relate to having days when you feel like everything you’ve written sucks, everything you ever write will suck and you might as well just give the whole damned thing up and become a barista at Starbuck’s! On days like that, I pop onto Wattpad and see readers voting for my story and leaving positive comments. It bolsters me and helps be get a grip and get back to writing.
But the Wattpad readers have also helped me to define my target audience for Emily’s House (10-14 year olds who enjoy magic, mysticism and science fiction and adults who also enjoy magical stories). And based on Wattpad reader feedback, I rewrote the ending of Emily’s House last fall. The current version (both on Wattpad and in stores) is a completely revised edition.
You’ve self-published this series, and have done very well. What would you say was the biggest aspect (beside an awesome story) to your success?
Three things. Timing, authenticity and consistency.
Timing. I first published Emily’s House in November, 2011. At that time, self-publishing was still taking off. KDP Select still gave authors a huge bump on the paid charts after their free days. In fact, I sold more copies of Emily’s House from December 26, 2011 to January 31, 2012 than I have since then! Emily’s House hung out in the top 20 Young Adult chart and it the top 10 in Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy and Metaphysical charts in early 2012. I think that the early success of the series had a lot to do with Amazon having a much more generous algorithm to boost books after the free days. That brought attention to the book that I may not have otherwise had. Additionally, the number of books being published has exploded since then. It is much more difficult to get attention to your book today than it was back when I published my first book. The amount of promotion I’m doing now for a release is 10x what I did back in 2011 but with much less result. I attribute that to the massive amount of media (apps, games & music in addition to books) vying for reader attention.
Authenticity. You have to write what you love and in your authentic voice. If I could write erotica or romance novels, I suspect I’d be able to sell far more books right now! But that isn’t me. So I write the stories that are in me to write. I think the reader comments on Wattpad reflect how that resonates with readers. They see that the story is unique and not quite like anything else they’ve read and that draws them in.
Consistency. KDP free days and timing helped, but I’ve worked really hard to build an audience and that is about consistency. Consistent quality and consistently keeping in touch with readers. I keep my eye on the long-term. My first priority is to write the best books that I can. Last year, I promised Emily’s Heart to be released in the fall. But I wasn’t happy with the book, so I put off the release and re-worked things. The result is a much better book and I think my best to date. In addition, I interact regularly with fans on Facebook, Wattpad, Twitter and I blog. I try my best to pay-it-forward by supporting other authors by hosting them on my blog and reviewing their books (when I have time). Do what you love and do it consistently. I love writing and I love interacting with readers and talking story. So none of it feels like “work”. It’s about doing what I love to do every day.
Any desire to go to the other side of the fence and try traditional publishing for your next works?
I will definitely seek a traditional publishing contract for my next project. I think that writers need to evaluate each project to determine the right publishing option for it. For my first series, The Akasha Chronicles, I didn’t query that series with publishers. I went straight to self-publishing and I think it was the right decision for that series.
But what I have learned from self-publishing is that if you write books for people under the age of 18, digital distribution is not enough. Kids still learn about new books by perusing bookstores and looking in libraries in addition to online discovery. Also, they do not have their own Amazon account or credit cards. Thus, distribution of paper books remains a key factor to discoverability for that age group. It is a downside to self-publishing, IMO.
My next project is, I think, better suited to traditional publishing than my first series. I’ll give it a go. If I don’t get offered a contract, I’ll self-pub it 😉
While we’re on that note… what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
My current project is a young adult, science fiction series. The working title is H.A.L.F. It will appeal to fans of T.V. shows such as The X-Files, Roswell and Ancient Aliens. I’m not going to say much more about it than that at this time, but it will be a fun, action-oriented sci fi adventure that will appeal to teens as well as adults.
Natalie is the author of The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult paranormal fantasy trilogy. When not writing, blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Wattpadding or eating chocolate, Natalie nurtures her young daughter, plays with her two young cats, and feeds her dog too many treats.
Natalie enjoys walking in the high desert, snorkeling in warm waters, travel, and excellent food shared with family and friends. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, now lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.
Natalie enjoys chatting with readers, so stop by and say hi:
The Akasha Chronicles Boxed Set – You SAVE 30% off the Cover Price for All 3 books!
An Amazon Exclusive: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HY474BS
Seventeen-year-old Emily Adams unintentionally unleashed a shadow god’s dark energy power into the world and started an Apocalypse. But Emily is also the only one that can end the dark god’s reign. Though the powerful faerie magic of the golden torc is still coiled around her arm, self-doubt threatens to undo her. Emily wants nothing more than to feel the soft kiss of her one true love, but he won’t even speak to her. Her first crush is still quite dead and her best friend remains a prisoner in the dark god’s house of nightmares. A growing legion of black-eyed shadow people, devoid of conscience, roam the streets. Emily needs help now more than ever, but redemption seems far off indeed as she faces the expanding darkness alone.
Emily will need an army of her own if she is to save the world from being taken over by pure evil. But will a small band of Lucent geeks and freaks be enough to send the dark god packing?
Amidst chaos and ruin, will love blossom in Emily’s Heart?
Smashwords: *Please use discount code WX85L for 25% off Cover Price!
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I2U3DWWAmazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I2U3DWW