What an honour it is to host Tammy Robinson from New Zealand today. Proactive, daunted by nothing, she just gets on with it. And she lives in a beautiful part of the world.
Tammy – you self-published three books last year. That’s an amazing feat. Tell us a bit about them, how long are they, what genre, and how do you manage your writing time?
Hi Jane, thanks so much for having me here! Yes last year was a bit crazy for me. In January I published Charlie and Pearl, a contemporary romance set in New Zealand with an unusual ending. It’s a relatively short book (around 45,000 words) I actually wrote it in 2011 and for a year tried the traditional publishing route. Then for personal reasons I had a rough year so the book was abandoned. At the start of last year I lost a dear friend to cancer and decided to make my own destiny and take publishing into my own hands. Charlie and Pearl immediately starting receiving great reviews. In April I tragically lost my mother suddenly, and not long after I started writing When Stars Collide. It helped as a distraction from the grief, and a lot of the feelings I had at the time were poured into it.
At 60,000 words long it was published mid last year and I immediately started writing A Roast on Sunday (approx 65,000 words) After the serious subject matter of the first two books I needed some light relief and A Roast on Sunday and its eccentric characters provided that. All three are contemporary fiction with a romantic streak.
I’m currently working on my fourth novel, Lessons from Ducks. I hope to have it published end of April. I have a gorgeous 16 month old baby girl and another baby due in July. I write while my daughter naps (around 1 ½ hours a day). It helps that I go over the book in my head while doing housework/looking after her, so when it comes time to sit in front of the computer the words usually flow pretty easily.
What is the hardest part of producing your books and have you sought any help?
I struggled with formatting the first one for Kindle. It was all new to me and I’m not technically minded at the best of times! Luckily for me, my husband is, and he was a huge help. I’ve got it down pat now where I actually write the books in the format needed for publication; less work at the end! I’m lucky to have some great beta readers who edit for me, and my husband is a graphic designer so I tell him what I want for the covers and he whips them up.
You’ve had some experience with free promos. Can you tell us about the advantages / disadvantages of using this form of marketing, and does it end in sales?
When I first published Charlie and Pearl I ran a few free promos, with varying results, but not really culminating in any extra sales. In December last year I ran a free promo on all three books. 11,000 copies were downloaded, and in the hours directly afterwards I sold another 100 or so. But after that it was business as usual. I did get some new reviews on the books directly afterwards, which supposedly helps with sales. But no, I probably won’t run any more free promos. I’ve just done a Kindle Daily Countdown deal on all three books and sold around 100 books again. I would do this promo again as you are still actually making money as opposed to giving away books for free.
What other marketing methods do you use?
I blog and have a facebook author page but I don’t really utilize them as much as I should. With a 16 month old daughter and another baby on the way I just don’t get the time! As soon as she naps I start writing. I’m hoping that when the new baby comes they somehow nap in tandem otherwise I’ll never get any writing done.
Have you ever tried to find a publisher for your books, and would you consider an offer from one – or not? And why?
I tried the three publishers on offer in New Zealand (!) and received polite rejections from all. I haven’t tried any overseas publishers although I have submitted to a handful of agents in the past (also rejected). I find self publishing easy and have no plans to submit to any publishers/agents at this stage. However, if one came knocking I wouldn’t necessarily say no! It would depend on the publisher. I have friends with publishers (e-book only) who seem to have given up all control (covers etc) and yet still have to do all the marketing themselves for only a teensy cut of the royalties. As far as I can see they’d be better off self publishing and retaining all royalties.
What books have most influenced your life, or your writing?
Hmm, too many to choose! I read across most genres, and all teach me something about the craft. I do prefer the old style storytelling, with rich characters.
You live in a beautiful part of the world. Care to tell us what you especially like about New Zealand?
I grew up here and even though I’ve travelled extensively and lived around the world I still came back here as it’s always home. Where I live is a geothermal area, so we have lakes, bubbling mud pools and geysers around the place. In 45 minutes one direction you can be at some stunning beaches, an hour and a half the other way you can be on snowy slopes. We have gorgeous redwood forests for biking/walking, and lakes for swimming. It’s all on offer and it’s all nearby.
Before you settled there, you worked your way round the world on a cruise ship. (I went round the world, too, Tammy: but I “walked”!) – check my website: Did you keep a diary, and are your books in any way a product of those times?
No, unfortunately I didn’t keep diaries and that’s one thing I regret. I’m sure there are a lot of places/people/experiences I’ve forgotten, so if I could do it over I would keep a written journal. Probably those experiences have influenced my writing in terms of descriptive places and characters, but only in the broadest of ways.
What is the best thing you have done in your life?
Hands down it was having my daughter Holly. I had three miscarriages before I was lucky enough to be blessed with her and she is everything to me. I am thankful every single day to have her in my life. She is 16 months and her personality is emerging more and more every day (cheeky, happy, stroppy, strong willed, determined, ever-so-slightly-bossy) and she makes me laugh with her antics, openly and loudly, which is wonderful. We had another miscarriage after Holly but I am now 21 weeks through this pregnancy and everything is going well. We are keeping the gender of the new baby a secret (as we did with Holly) so check back in July to find out if I have another girl of a boy this time.
Do you have a wish list – what would you love to do / be / have if there were no barriers?
Build my dream home by the sea. Travel the world and take my family with me. Spoil my dad. My mum passed away last year with so many things still on her wish list, so if money were no object I would take my dad to Egypt, where he’s always dreamt of going.
You can contact Tammy on Facebook.