As part of August McLaughlin’s book release party for her debut thriller, In Her Shadow, she had an awesome raffle where entrants won copies of books and the chance to interview the author.
I am incredibly excited to have won a copy of Amy Shojai’s Lost and Found! It’s at the top of my to read list. But it gets better, Amy agreed to do a Q&A here on my blog.
She has multi-published with the Big 6 and also a smaller press. Many thanks to August and Amy for this amazing opportunity to pick Amy’s brain on her publishing experiences!
1. I read on your bio that you’ve published 26 bestselling pet books. Wow. That’s amazing! What do you think is essential to your prolific writing?
Deadlines and to-do lists are essential for me to get things done. If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist! I create a weekly to-do list and take great pleasure in crossing each item off as it’s finished.
Also I think many prolific writers simply are driven to get THIS project completed so they can begin THAT project, all the while looking forward to the OTHER project beckoning on the horizon. J Another aspect that inspires my muse is the bills that must be paid. I work for myself—I quit my “day job” back in 1992—so if I don’t meet my deadlines, I won’t get paid, and won’t be asked back. Writers are only as good as their most recent project, so we have to constantly up the ante.
2. Most of your writing is non-fiction, what made you cross over into fiction?
I started out writing fiction. That was back *mumble-mumble* years ago, and editors and agents weren’t interested. Probably that’s because my fiction writing suck-eth at the time, and also because what I wanted to write (pet viewpoint) was considered only kiddie fare, yet I wanted to write thrillers and horror. That was a major disconnect!
At the time, I worked as a veterinary technician and was asked to write articles for the local paper about a new shelter. Apparently my nonfiction suck-eth less, and I began writing articles and columns for a variety of pet magazines. Those were the days of print-only, and snail-mail submissions (no such thing as Email or Internet for regular folks). It occurred to me that a collection of articles might make a worthy book—and once I’d begun publishing nonfiction pet books and found a high-power agent, there truly wasn’t time for fiction.
When publishing began to change due in part to free Internet information, the nonfiction books became less sale-able. And I figured why not try the fiction once again, and publish it myself? After writing so many articles, columns and books, I’d learned how to suck even less as a writer. J Yes, there are degrees of suck-isity, at least in my world!
It took quite a while to write the LOST AND FOUND thriller because I continued my regular nonfiction commitments at the same time. I had freedom to write whatever I wanted, no publisher or agent telling me “that won’t sell.” I’d hired an editor, and felt the book was ready, but at the last minute decided to submit to Cool Gus Publishing, a hybrid publisher I’d worked with to bring out my backlist nonfiction books. I’m so glad that I did! As a result, LOST AND FOUND was the book that I always wanted to read. It got the attention and support it deserved, and I’ve had more input into the publishing process than I ever received from the so called “big guys” in New York.
I call myself the “reinvented writer” because every time I feel like progress has been made, life gives me a kick in the ass-ets to push toward that next goal. LOST AND FOUND success has given me more confidence to take chances and listen to my gut. In fact, I just got the go-ahead (and a deadline, urk!) to deliver a sequel to the book.
3. How did you make the decision to go with a small press? Did you consider self-publishing?
4. You’ve published several books with smaller presses, what do you see as the biggest pros and cons of a small press?
Actually, the only “small press” that I’ve worked with has been Cool Gus Publishing. All my other nonfiction titles were Big 6 publishers: Ballantine, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, New American Library, Rodale Press, etc.
The biggest “cons” of a small press are visibility and clout. The big guys already have all those connections made, such as accounts with major brick and mortar book stores. Small publishers may not be able to get print copies into book stores, or have the $$ to offer lots in publicity/promotion. That said, the “big” publishers won’t put $$ behind any authors except their front of the list A-team guys, so that’s a wash.
The biggest “pro” is the flexibility of the smaller press. There are fewer people so less hoops to jump through to get decisions made. That means a book can be accepted, edited and published within a very short amount of time. LOST AND FOUND was submitted in February 2012, accepted in late March, and published in September of that same year. That’s unheard of! The publishers in New York that I previously worked with had a turn-around time of 12-18 months. Small presses also may be more open to author input on cover design—New York houses rarely ask for input, or change a design.
5. If you had one piece of advice to authors in search of publication, what would it be?
Take a chance. Believe in yourself. It’s scary, but don’t hesitate to jump off that cliff. Don’t worry about what’s hot, or what someone else will think. Write what YOU LOVE; write what you want to read. If you’re passionate about the book, the readers and editors and publishers will recognize that.
Back Cover Blurb for Lost and Found
An autism cure will kill millions unless a service dog and his trainer find a missing child . . . in 24 hours. Animal behaviorist September Day has lost everything—husband murdered, career in ruins, confidence shot—and flees to Texas with her cat Macy to recover. She’s forced out of hibernation when her nephew Steven and his autism service dog Shadow disappear in a freak blizzard. When her sister trusts a maverick researcher’s promise to help Steven, September has 24 hours to rescue them from a devastating medical experiment impacting millions of children, a deadly secret others will kill to protect. As September races the clock, the body count swells. Shadow does his good-dog duty but can’t protect his boy. Finally September and Shadow forge a stormy partnership to rescue the missing and stop the nightmare cure. But can they also find the lost parts of themselves?
That’s her voice *s* and her own dog making a cameo!
Connecting with Amy
Amy’s Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyshojai @amyshojai
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-D.-Shojai/e/B000APBYV4
GoodReads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/AmyShojai
Where to Purchase Her Book
Barnes & Noble (Trade Paper, Nook)
Amazon (Trade Paperback, Kindle, Audio)
PDF, .Mobi EPub