Happy #NaNoWriMo, everyone! Today’s featured debut author is indie publishing advocate and extraordinaire Emlyn Chand, who is founder of the author PR firm Novel Publicity and purveyor of the famous Facebook Karmic Fridays (try saying THAT three times fast!). Emlyn’s Facebook bio claims that she “emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story).” I don’t know whether it’s because I’m gullible or because I’m a writer, but I tend to believe it.
Name: Emlyn Chand
Name of book: Farsighted
Book genre: Young adult
Date Published: October 24, 2011
Publisher: Blue Crown Press
What is your day job? I am the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity.
What is your book about? Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.
Why did you want to write this book? Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind, but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? Plotting is the hardest for me. I like to build really strong characters, and sometimes I allow them to distract me from my story. These detours can be good, or they can cripple your work. I guess that’s why Faulkner said “kill your darlings.” Fortunately, my Farsighted detours were good. Shapri was never supposed to be a main character, but I let her get under my skin. Now she’s many readers’ favorite!
What motivates you to write? I was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in my left hand, at least that’s what my Twitter bio says. But seriously, I do believe writers are born into the craft—we haven’t got much choice, but it’s a great calling to have. As a child, I always had a story to tell. I also loved illustrating my own books and comics. I first became a writer writer when I began doing a book review column for the local paper. That taught me the importance of deadlines and letting the words flow out even when I had no idea what direction they’d take me in.
Did you experience writer’s block? Not often, but when I do, I take it as a sign that I need to give myself a little space from the story. I’ll take some time off and then approach it again with a fresh outlook. I also find changing my environment helps.
How long did it take you to write this book? Well, that depends what you consider the start of the writing process. I first got the idea for the novel on July 5, 2010. I didn’t start writing it until October, but I thought about it a lot and started building the plot in my head. I wrote about 1/3 of it in late 2010 and then decided to start my own book promotion company, Novel Publicity. That kept me super busy, so I didn’t get back to Farsighted until summer 2011. Then I wrote and wrote in a wild frenzy. I spent about 10 hours per day holding myself “writing hostage” at the local Panera. This lasted about 3 weeks. If I had to pick a definite amount of time, I’d say Farsighted took about one year to write.
Why did you decide to self-publish? I actually wrote a blog post about this. Basically, the publishing industry is not only changing – it’s changed. I’m not really sure there is any benefit to being traditionally published anymore, especially if you’re an author who has the know-how and financial/time resources to A) professionally edit your books, B) get a stellar cover designed, and C) market your work. Another reason I’m all gaga for the self-pub world is because it’s what I preach through Novel Publicity. I spend all day trying to convince writers that the indie path can work for them. By choosing that route for myself, I am showing my belief in that statement; I am practicing what I preach. Yes, I have a literary agent and a condition of our contract was that I’d be allowed to self-publish Farsighted. I want the hands-on experience. I want the control. If this works out for me; I’m pretty sure I’ll stay indie forever!
Was the self-publishing process easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? I knew what to expect in terms of logistics, because I work so closely with authors as a book publicist. I had no idea what to expect in terms of the emotionality and neuroticism that follows actually putting your work out there, so in that way, it’s been tougher.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? That anyone can do it. Non-writers seem to falsely assume that writing a book is simple. Their logic roughly equates to “Writing is talking on paper. I know how to talk; therefore, I know how to write. Easy.” We writers know just how far from the truth that is. I feel that good writing is not appreciated in the same way as good art or good music, because everyone thinks they can do it. Wrong-O!
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? My favorite part of writing this book or any book is getting to know my characters. They start out as vague concepts, but with time and effort, they actually begin to feel real. That process of literally bringing someone else to life is unbelievable. Yeah, it may give us writers a bit of a God-complex, but it’s so much fun!
I often ask writers what tools/methods they’ve employed to promote their book. As far as I’m concerned, you are the go-to source for indie marketing! What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? Aww, thank you for saying that. You’ve asked a really big question. One I think it will take me at least 20 blog posts to answer (and yes, I do plan on writing these posts in the near future). Marketing Farsighted has been a full-time job on top of a full-time job. I’ve definitely devoted a great deal of manpower into my campaign, because I have no limits. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy recruiting bloggers for my launch, and I have more than 200. I’m also hiring six other blog tour companies to tour my book over the next couple of months—getting buzz early on is crucial! I’ve had a good amount of luck with GoodReads pay-per-click advertising too. I’m also taking out advertising on targeted websites like Parajunkee.com and Night Owl, which cater to fans of my genre, and Kindle Nation Daily and The Frugal eReader, which cater to a mass of eBook lovers. I’ve even taken it off the web and created some Farsighted-themed swag. I’m most proud of my postcards. Readers can request an autographed postcard by filling out a simple form on my website. It’s a fun way to connect with readers that is memorable and only costs me about 50 cents.
How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? Life is the same. Still very frantic. Very busy. The biggest difference is that now I care a bit more about my appearance, because wherever I go, I have a stack of bookmarks to hand out to the people I meet. I introduce myself and ask them to pass the bookmark on to any teens they know who like to read. So I guess I’m meeting more people outside of social media as well—that’s definitely a change!
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? Yes, and if I don’t sell a book every 10 minutes (which believe me, I don’t), I find my world crashing down around me. I’ve enabled BookBuzzr Amazon alerts as a cure for this neurotic behavior. Now I only check once an hour, so I’m getting much better.
Do you plan on writing another book? Farsighted is a 5-book series. Each book will be told from a different character’s point-of-view, so in book #2, we’ll actually be able to see what Grandon looks like! Next up is Open Heart. I hope to have that ready by the middle of next year. I’d like to put out some book marketing guides next year too.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? Agreed! Who would disagree with Oprah? I mean, c’mon!