Today I’m here with Haley Sulich.
She’s the author of the newly published dystopian novel “Crimson Ash” and a developmental editor at Write Plan.
Check out the teaser to her new book:
And two sisters who must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for.
That sounds delightfully dark to me, Haley, and thanks for joining me for an interview today.
Haley: Thank you so much for this opportunity! I’m happy to be here.
Me: How or rather when did you make the transition from thinking of your writing as a hobby to deciding to go professional?
Haley: It has always been a dream of mine to become a published author. I started out on Wattpad, and once my stories started getting featured, my following grew. Readers gave a lot of encouraging feedback, and because of them, I decided to take the next step and officially publish my work.
Me: Another story of Wattpad encouragement. I love it! Who is your indie author role model? Why?
Haley: I would have to say Loretta Lost, a USA Today bestselling author, has definitely been my role model when it comes to indie authors. I read some of her work—the Clarity series—a few years back. Jump ahead to a few years later, I was on Twitter and got the notification that she followed me. At this point, I was somewhat freaking out because an author I admired followed little old me. We got around to chatting on Twitter, and she ended up sharing some self-publishing tips that helped her succeed.
Me: Amazing! They say never meet your heroes, but I so disagree! Well done. 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?
Haley: Honestly, I was very indecisive about whether I wanted to go through with self-publishing or traditionally publishing. I spent at least four months going back-and-forth before finally settling on self-publishing because I have an entrepreneurial mindset. I never had a specific approach—I kept learning new things along the way, which resulted in me adjusting my strategy quite often. It was definitely a great learning experience.
Me: What were your initial expectations? Would you say you were too optimistic or pessimistic now that you’ve been through the experience?
Haley: In general, I try not to expect too much so I don’t get let down when it doesn’t turn out the way I hoped. I’ve stayed pretty neutral throughout this process, and that has helped make the small milestones much more meaningful.
Me: What would you do differently, if you were just starting the process now?
Haley: Even though there were some rough patches in the process, I wouldn’t want to change a thing because I learned a lot from my mistakes.
Me: I hear that, same for 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?
Haley: I went with KU because Amazon accounts for over 50% of the eBook market. I believe it’s somewhere around 70-80% from the research I did months ago, but don’t quote me on that. Due to Amazon’s KDP select option and free promotion services, I don’t plan to go wide unless something drastically changes with Amazon.
Me: So, when did you first join Wattpad and what were your publishing aspirations at the time?
Haley: I joined Wattpad in 2015 after my friend spent an entire year trying to convince me to join. At first, I despised the idea of having my work up for free, but I eventually saw the benefits of building up my author platform. Once I started liking the idea of Wattpad, my main goal was to just get my work out there in hopes that readers will connect with it.
Me: It’s a good thing to value your work, but as you mentioned, yes, Wattpad has other benefit than income. In what ways has your Wattpad audience helped you grow as a writer?
Haley: Their encouraging messages have ultimately kept me going. Whenever I feel like I should just quit writing, I look back at their comments and am reminded why I write. If it weren’t for my readers, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Me: I’m getting emotional, because that’s exactly my experience, too. What is the biggest lesson Wattpad taught you, which you then went ahead and used in self-publishing? Any transferrable skills?
Haley: The biggest lesson I learned is that I need beta readers and editors. Publishing the first or second drafts isn’t enough. I will admit I haven’t had any beta readers or editors for my works currently published on Wattpad because I didn’t want to pursue those stories anymore. I needed to start on something new—something that would be better. That’s how Crimson Ash came about. I ended up having at least a dozen beta readers and four editors work on Crimson Ash.
Me: Did your Wattpad audience help in other ways during or before the launch?
Haley: Not specifically.
Me: What are your TOP 3 self-publishing resources?
Haley: There are so many articles to choose from that helped me with self-publishing. If I had to choose three resources, they would be Joanna Penn’s blog The Creative Penn (https://www.thecreativepenn.com/), Author Earning’s report on the eBook market (http://authorearnings.com/report/february-2017/), which helped me decide to go exclusive with Amazon, and IngramSpark’s blog (http://www.ingramspark.com/blog).
Me: What would you recommend new self-published authors do first and foremost?
Haley: Research. I spent over a year researching the publishing industry, and when it came time to self-publish, there was still a lot I didn’t know. It’s important to know which marketing strategies work, which style of cover art works best with your genre, what price to set your books at, and much, much more. Never rush into it. Always set reasonable deadlines. If you just hired a developmental (content) editor to critique your manuscript, don’t plan for a release date in two months. That’s not reasonable. Developmental editing can easily take 4+ months, copyediting takes about a month or two, and proofreading takes about a month. Then there’s formatting, cover art, pre-release marketing, etc. Instead of that 2-month deadline, you’ll want to increase it to at least a 12-month deadline.
Me: In what ways do you keep in touch with your audience? Do you prefer Wattpad or other social media or both?
Haley: I haven’t been very active on Wattpad lately. My favorite way to keep in touch with my audience is Twitter. I’m on Twitter way more than I like to admit. My handle is @HaleySulich
Me: What are your self-publishing goals for the next few years? Where would you like to see it all go?
Haley: My future plans for self-publishing have yet to be determined. I’m currently co-authoring a book about how to write fiction, which will be self-published. I’m also co-authoring a fantasy series that we’ll be seeking an agent for. I do have a lot of story ideas that I will eventually like to self-publish, but it’s just a matter of finding time between all my other projects to start on new ones.
Me: And I sincerely hope to see you achieve that! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with me today; that was great!
Haley: Thank you for having me!
You can follow me on Twitter (@HaleySulich) or on my website (https://www.haleysulich.com).