Dee Harrison shares her thoughts and experiences as a self-published author at my place today – come and have a cup of tea while we chat…
Dee – you are a devoted and determined self-publisher. What is the hardest part of producing your books, and have you sought any help?
Hello Jane, thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about my books and my life as a writer. I think the hardest part of producing my books myself is that I don’t have a team of people to fall back on for help and advice but that, in the main, I have to figure out the answers to any difficulties myself. For example, ebooks usually have an interactive contents page that allows the reader to skip straight to any given chapter. It seems simple to do but actually took me a lot of sorting out. I got it in the end but it took several hours of a very busy schedule.
Another area is the cover. Although I designed the covers for my Firelord’s Legacy series myself I did need some assistance to format the cover for Createspace. Luckily I was able to call on the excellent services of fellow Authonomite Rebecca Hamilton, aka Inkmuse. The lesson is that, if you are going to self-publish your work you have to take on board the fact that you are a publisher and not just a writer. It’s a different skill set but one I am quite proud of having achieved.
Tell us, what marketing methods did you use – and what will you use for your next book?
Marketing is a huge problem for Indie writer-publishers. I could spend all day promoting my books on the different platforms but that’s just not possible. Like many writers, I also have a full-time job so everything else – the writing, editing, marketing etc – has to fit in quite a limited time space. I have a Facebook page for my books and an author page for myself so I use the promotional sites available on Facebook to draw attention to my work. I also use Twitter and can be found on Goodreads as well as Authonomy. I have a Pinterest board, Imagination Unlimited, but I consider it more of a personal interest resource than a specifically promotional one. I have looked into using sites like Bookbub but they can be expensive and many require a minimum number of Amazon reviews of 4 and above. Getting reviews is another difficulty altogether. I also enter competitions and fun items just to get my name out there.
Might you please explain the difference in your fantasy tales between the Firelord and your proposed Mirrorsmith series?
The Firelord’s Legacy is what you might consider a classic fantasy series. There are no Elves or Dwarves but there is magic and strange creatures and castles. I have used my study and love of history to form the background and setting. It revolves around a cast of several characters but all the action takes place on a single world, Riom.
Mirrorsmith is quite different. It is a multi-world scenario with settings ranging from almost prehistoric to High Tech, and follows a single protagonist, Junah, (and his cute sidekick Sissik).
Whilst The Firelord’s Legacy unfolds over 5 books, Mirrorsmith is, currently, a single stand-alone story – although there are short story-length tales out. For instance, in the anthology Fusion, the original Mirrorsmith story can be found.
I have already downloaded FUSION, and am enjoying reading this very well edited anthology. You describe your contribution as a “steampunk type” story. Can you please explain the term to this old-fashioned soul?
Steampunk is sub-genre of fantasy. It tends to be based in either Victorian England or the American Wild West. Technology is clockwork or steam-driven. If Jules Verne, for example, were writing today, his work would be classed as steampunk rather than mainstream sci-fi or fantasy.
Think I really am getting on – not sure I understand even after your patient explanation, but I did enjoy your Mirrorsmith story! You have published articles on Medieval History. Have you ever thought of writing historical fiction?
I have thought about it, quite seriously, and have some notes on a possible book already started. It’s still at a very early stage of development though.
What are your most / least favourite things about being an author?
I love being able to explore characters, situations and dilemmas. I like letting my imagination go and saying ‘what if..?’ My least favourite thing about being an author is, perhaps, that I know I have enough material for so many books but not enough years in a lifetime to write them so which do I choose?
I know the feeling, Dee! I also felt so exhausted after writing BREATH OF AFRICA, and again, after completing my new novel, that I just don’t want to summon up the energy to get going again. But, let’s change the subject: I see that you assess and teach people with dyslexia when you’re not writing. Which occupation gives you the most satisfaction?
I get enormous satisfaction from both, it is almost impossible to choose one above the other. However, I suppose that if today I stopped writing the effect of that would not be so great in the grand scheme of things than if I stopped assessing and teaching people with dyslexia. One I do primarily for myself, the other primarily for others.
A brilliant answer, Dee!
You and I both are continuing members of Authonomy. Please tell us how this peer review website has helped / hindered your career as a writer.
I have found Authonomy tremendously useful as well as great fun. It provides a, generally, kind environment for a new or fledgling writer to test their wings. The reviews, especially from the genre groups, can offer so much useful advice and insight to develop your writing skills. There is a wealth of experience to call upon. Although the majority of members maybe unpublished, or ‘amateur’ writers, many are not and they are usually willing to offer the benefit of their experience to the community. There is the possibility to ask questions on all aspects of writing or the publishing process and receive useful and informed answers. It is also a good place to ‘hang out’ with like-minded people who have an interest in books and writing. There is only so much support you can get from your nearest and dearest after all!
What has been the proudest moment of your life so far?
In terms of my writing it has to be seeing my first sale on Amazon.com. I knew it could not possibly be a friend or family member so had to be a complete stranger who had ventured their hard-earned cash on my book. It was both humbling and affirming.
Do you have a wish list – what would you love to do / be / have if there were no barriers?
I have a kind of wish list, in that there are places in the world I would love to visit if it were ever possible eg the Taj Mahal, the pyramids etc. I would also love to be able to write full-time. However, I am a pragmatist and I will take my opportunities as life allows and enjoy what I can do rather than waste time worrying about what I can’t do.
Thank you so much again for the opportunity to talk with you today.
Dee also has a Facebook Page.
And a Website