Today I’m here with A. W. Exley – the author of a number of fairy-tale retellings, The Artifact Hunters series, and Heart Of The Kracken.
Her novel Ella, The Slayer has over 200 reviews and starts with the spell-binding hook below:
Ella is an Edwardian Cinderella with an undead problem…
The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks.
Except it wasn’t flu, and death gave them back.
Fairy-tales and zombies? Yes, please. That was a wonderful opening and thanks for joining me for an interview today.
How or rather when did you make the transition from thinking of your writing as a hobby to deciding to go professional?
AW. Exley: I was home on a parenting break from my job as an accountant and I didn’t want to go back! Lol I was looking for something to do to keep my brain engaged and decided since I had time on my hands, to take a serious crack at my writing.
Me: Who is your indie author role model? Why?
A. W. Exley: Lyndsey Buroker. I have followed Lyndsey’s blog for years and she gives back to the community with the information, advice and data she shares. I learned heaps from listening to her and her blog has helped me on the publication path.
Me: So, when you first got started what was your game plan? Did you have a specific approach to the wild jungle of the self-publishing universe?
A. W. Exley: I start off with traditional publishing. I spent 2 years in the query trenches but never secured an agent. I did land a publishing deal with a medium sized publisher. I spent 3 years with them before I felt I had the confidence and knowledge to turn to self publishing.
Me: What were your initial expectations? Would you say you were too optimistic or pessimistic now that you’ve been through the experience?
A. W. Exley: I was too optimistic! I thought I’d make millions of dollars and get a film deal. Then I discovered it doesn’t work like that for most people LOL Going trad first was hugely valuable to me. The idea of self publishing and doing EVERYTHING myself was overwhelming. Being with a publisher meant someone else was in charge of the process and it allowed me to learn about all sorts of aspects like cover art, editing and marketing.
Me: What would you do differently, if you were just starting the process now?
A. W. Exley: Hmm… that’s a tough one, as the landscape changes so quickly. In hindsight, I wish I had tried self publishing earlier as it would have allowed me more time to build a following.
Me: Ok, it’s time to go into the nitty-gritty: wide or KU? How did you make the decision? Do you think you’d ever switch for a new series?
A. W. Exley: Wide. The publisher had all my titles in KU, which allowed me to see how that worked and… epic fail. My books don’t appeal to the average KU reader, nor do I write fast enough to make KU work for me. I know some people do really well in KU, but it has never worked for me.
Me: So, when did you first join Wattpad and what were your publishing aspirations at the time?
A. W. Exley: I had to go look at my profile to find the answer! Lol I joined Wattpad in 2012. I can’t remember why now, but it might have been something the publisher recommended. I don’t think I was very active on Wattpad the first few years, as I was busy going through the publishing process.
Me: In what ways has your Wattpad audience helped you grow as a writer?
A. W. Exley: To be honest, it hasn’t helped BUT that’s because the works I have on Wattpad, are the final products that have already been through editors. It would be different if I was writing something new and using feedback from readers to develop the book as I wrote.
Me: What is the biggest lesson Wattpad taught you, which you then went ahead and used in self-publishing? Any transferable skills?
A. W. Exley: Again this doesn’t really apply as I published, then came to Wattpad and have put the series starters up that people can read for free.
Me: Did your Wattpad audience help in other ways during the launch?
A. W. Exley: You know, I haven’t launched using Wattpad. That might be something to try in the future 😉
Me: What were your three focus points during the launch?
A. W. Exley: I don’t have launch strategies! Lol I hit release, email my list and then get to work on the next book.
Me: What are your TOP 3 self-publishing resources?
A. W. Exley: I follow a number of blogs to keep up with what is happening in the industry and for tips and advice. My 3 favs are:
Lyndsey Buroker http://lindsayburoker.com/
David Gaughran https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com
Susan K Quinn http://susankayequinn.com/blog
Me: What would you recommend new self-published authors do first and foremost?
A. W. Exley: Read! And by that I mean books about self publishing so that 1: you know if it’s the right path for you and 2: have some idea of the process involved. Susan K Quinn had a book called “Self Publishing Bootcamp” which is invaluable and will give you a great over view of the process.
Me: In what ways do you keep in touch with your audience? Do you prefer Wattpad or other social media or both?
A. W. Exley: I don’t have a lot of interaction with my audience. Sometimes I think I need to do the mike tap and ask if anyone is out there! Lol I have the usual range of social media accounts (FB, twitter, instagram). I find Wattpad readers the most engaged and have some great discussions in the comments on my stories.
Me: What are your self-publishing goals for the next few years? Where would you like to see it all go?
A. W. Exley: I’m just going to keep doing my own thing and building my audience off Amazon. One thing I want to investigate is selling books direct from my website, so readers have another option. With regards to the industry, I’d really like to see Amazon tackle the problems with scammers in KU and the issues with their bestseller lists with rampant miscategorised books. It’s making a mess of their store. I’d also like to see iBooks up their game, but I don’t think books are a priority for Apple.
Me: And I sincerely hope to see you achieve that! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with me today; that was great!
A. W. Exley: Thanks for having me! Keep in touch via: