From Traditional to Indie...
Today's Interview is with Rebecca Forster - Author of more than 20+ traditional published books has now released her first self-published Indie Book: Thriller Before Her Eyes.
Before Her Eyes is the story of how different people face death, what they are willing to do to save themselves even at the expense of those they love, and what we really see before our eyes when death is imminent.
Rebecca Forster has never taken a writing class, but she does teach in the UCLA Writers Program. Rather than teaching a pure craft class, she talks about wearing the two hats that make a writer successful: creativity and business. Is is so important to remember writers are not all about craft, especially now in the Indie Arena.
Interview with Author Rebecca Forster
Rebecca Forster: My degrees are in business, so I wrote plenty of marketing plans and memos but never poetry or a memoir. When it came to fiction, I was a late bloomer. I actually wrote my first novel on a dare. I had to save face after I uttered a horrid boast of "I could do that" when I met my client's wife - a famous author.
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite book, and who or what are your writing influences?
I love Stephen King. He is always pushing some sort of boundary but is so consistent with great characterization. I am a sucker for good character development and try to emulate King's craft. I also admire Scot Turow and think of him as the godfather of legal fiction. Wilkie Collins. He wrote a book called The Woman in White (1800s) which is considered the first legal thriller. It was inspirational to see how he wove a great story from the kernel of a legal premise - a woman's right to inherit.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
Because I worked corporately for so many years, I find I write best when I treat the day like a regular job. I normally start my work day around 7:30 and write until the early afternoon, but I'm usually on my computer doing something until seven or eight at night.
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
The easy part is the imagining. I hear a voice or see someone walking across the street and I start thinking "what if. . ." Then a story just starts to take shape. The hardest part is the actual writing and editing. The process is incredibly time consuming. In fact, writing is like being in a maze. Sometimes you have to retrace your steps, at others you can run forward. Eventually, you find your way out but it can take a while.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Even after my first books were published I didn't think of myself as a writer. I was a mom, an advertising executive, and just about anything else. Writer seemed to be a rarified title that described others. When I published my first legal thriller everything changed. I felt as if I had crossed some sort of creative threshold. I was not one of those people who thought themselves destined to write. Now I realize that was actually the case. Who knew?
"What made you going Indie?"
After being a "traditional" published writer of 20+ novels - what made you going "Indie"?
There were a lot of things that came into play. The market was changing, bookstores were struggling, the e-reader was taking hold, and it was getting more difficult to sell to New York. The final decision for me came down to a creative one. Before Her Eyes was a book I believed in with all my heart. It was unique for me because I incorporated a fantasy element with the procedural aspects. My agent and editor didn't think it had commercial potential. I was determined to put this book in front of readers, so I took the leap. Suddenly, I had a creative freedom I could have only imagined. Reader response to this book has been terrific and I followed up with another strictly indie effort, Expert Witness.
From your experience - what are the advantages/disadvantages of being an "Indie" now?
Advantages are creative freedom and the ability to set my own career course. I have also found an incredibly vibrant and ever-changing community of both writers and readers that is marvelous. The disadvantages are that I didn't realize how much I depended on the New York 'safety net' of cover artists, editors, salespeople, and promotion professionals. All those jobs now fall to the author and it's been challenging to figure out how to create a personal work schedule that isn't overwhelming. Like all indie authors, I am having to educate myself on many different levels.
Rebecca, please tell us a little about your novel 'Before Her Eyes'. What inspired you to write the book?
Both my father and father-in-law were very ill for a few years and passed away within three months of one another. As they became sicker, I noticed that both these gentlemen were experiencing fantastic personal realities that comforted them. On the other hand, their loved ones were scrambling, doing everything they could to keep them alive. So the questions that came to my mind were: does one's life pass before their eyes when death is imminent and what would a person do to save themselves or someone they love from it? In Before Her Eyes, I took my observations and questions and wove them into a thriller. What could be more thrilling than cheating death? Perhaps I was determined to see this book published because the story was strangely personal. Maybe it was a gift my dads left me. This book put me solidly on the path to independent publishing.
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
My target audience is anyone who likes thrillers and an intricately woven story. The twist in this book is on the very last page.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that there were teen fantasy readers who were embracing this book, too.
How would you describe the success of your book so far?
The sales have been very satisfying and the reviews have been great. I find that people are split on the ending, though. Some readers are actually angered by it, thinking it too easy and others are thrilled by the surprise. I have had a few readers tell me they have gone back to see what they missed and then they find that all the clues were there. For an author, evoking strong feelings is a hallmark success.
How long did it take it to write the book?
It took me almost two years off and on to write this book. It went through many incarnations, but one day the character Tessa came into incredibly sharp focus. It was smooth sailing after that.
Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
This book is available through all digital outlets: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple store, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.com. It's also available in print through Amazon.
"Readers haven't changed - they want and deserve a quality product."
How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues? What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
I spent over a year getting my backlist ready to publish and writing new books. There were times I wanted to give up because the indie universe was huge and my skill set on certain levels was nonexistent (social media, computers, etc.) After some panic, I took hold of the indie process the same way I take hold of a new book: I broke down the elements. I asked myself questions. What did I need to know? Which steps in the process needed to come first? How can I find out how to accomplish tasks? I took one step at a time and eventually the whole emerged from the pieces. For a new author, the most important thing, though, is to write a good book. Readers haven't changed - they want and deserve a quality product. What's changed is that they have more choices than ever.
Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
Yes on both counts. I use Jenny Jensen for content editing. I even used her when I was traditionally published to make sure my pitch was polished. She is beyond brilliant. I did my own covers initially, and now I use professionals.
Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
Understand that you must wear two hats: one is creative and one is all about business. Learn everything you can about each of these disciplines. Your writing will improve with every book, and you will have intelligent control of your affairs. If you don't know, ask. The answers are there. These days, your career truly is in your hands and success is a matter of working hard every step of the way.
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I'm working on the fifth book of the witness series. I laugh when I get a note asking when the next book will be out. I wish I could write as fast as people read. Eyewitness will see our heroine facing trouble that comes from halfway a world away. It is based on an Eastern European code of law. I just visited my son in the Peace Corps, and this book was inspired by that visit.
"I'm not moving forward, I'm running."
Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
I'm not moving forward, I'm running. I have plans to finish the witness series - at least 2 more books and maybe a prequel - and I want to make Before Her Eyes into a series. I am, however, represented by Trident Media Group so I still have a connection to the traditional world. They are helping with foreign rights, film, etc.. As an indie, I will never have the expertise to handle translation and marketing overseas. I won't rule anything out, though. That's the great thing about being independent. An author has options and access to information that helps us make decisions that are right for our career objectives.
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
That's a tough question and one I think about a lot. I imagine POD will be the norm, bookstores that survive will be very small, independent and as unique to the owner as voice is to an author. I also think there will eventually be some sort of quality controls. Amazon has made a step toward this by alerting authors when readers note too many typos, etc. I think content control is way in the future, and I have no idea who might arbitrate. Perhaps this is where the traditional publishers will step in, but they will have to adjust to authors who will not accept the low royalty rates, long term rights retention, and lack of promotion. I hope there will be more of a partnership with publishers in the future because they have an expertise that the indie author must work hard to secure and sometimes will not be able to afford.
"The key to becoming a full-time writer is perseverance..."
Do you write full-time or do you have another day job?
I've been a full-time author for about fifteen years. Before that, I wrote from 7 p.m.-11p.m. or 20 pages whichever came first after getting home from my day job. It got really tough when I had babies and a job and wanted to write. What I learned is that any creative person will always find time for their craft even if it's snatched in minutes here and there. The key to becoming a full-time writer is perseverance and a support system of people who believe in you.
How can readers connect with you?
I love to hear from readers so there are a ton of ways to find me. I still write to pen pals who connected with me before there were computers. [See Links below]
Thank you very much for the Interview, Rebecca.
About the Book Before Her Eyes:
As Dove sets his investigation in motion, Tessa Bradley, a 'hard-assed' Texas gal, faces off with her abductors. Her rangy beauty doesn’t mean a damn thing to the foreign men holding her at gunpoint. Just as one of them pulls the trigger, Tessa lashes out. Wounded but alive, she escapes her captors only to find greater peril lies ahead. As her life flashes before her eyes, Tessa struggles to stay alive, prays for rescue, and fights for her soul's salvation.
Read more about the book here >>> Book Feature on Indie Author News: Before Her Eyes
or Click here to Read an Excerpt
Links to the Author and the Book
Link to Rebecca Forster's Website
Connect with Rebecca Forster on Twitter: @Rebecca_Forster
Link to Rebecca Forster's Facebook Site
Link to Book Before Her Eyes on Amazon with Excerpt