Today’s featured author is Debra Brown, who originally self-published her debut novel, The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, but eventually landed a traditional publishing deal. Congrats!
Name of book: The Companion of Lady Holmeshire
Book Genre: Historical Fiction, Sweet Romance/Mystery
Date Published: July 15, 2011
Publisher: World Castle Publications
What is your day job? Writing and marketing my book is what I do.
What is your book about? A foundling infant, Miss Emma Carrington, becomes servant to Winifred, the Countess of Holmeshire. The lady later makes Emma her companion, intending to drag her along into aristocratic society. Emma has eyes, but without hope, for Wills, the young Earl of Holmeshire, who is engaged to a London lady. The reader travels with the threesome from a stone castle to a Victorian village and on to London mansions. Emma must attend banquets with snobbish nobles and endure their remarks. Romantic developments among the servants downstairs amuse while we watch the difficulties of the arranged engagement of Wills and Genevieve with despair and follow the courtship of Emma by a young barrister. We wonder who the ragged man is that follows Emma while well-dressed men stalk Genevieve. Much of the mystery unravels at the Midsummer Night’s Dream Ball, and a shocking revelation finishes the book.
What was the most challenging part of the writing process? Writing the book was exciting and absorbing; the difficulty was in trying to sleep at night with the story twisting and turning in my mind. I found that I would forget the wonderful ideas that had developed by morning, so I began to write them down in a notebook beside my bed, which finally allowed me to sleep.
What motivates you to write? At first, it was my love of period novels and movies. I wanted to create another story, just for the fun of it. As it began to develop, however, I became absorbed in it and could not get enough writing time; the story had to be put down on “paper” as it churned away in my mind. It was frustrating that I could not finish it all in a sitting!
Did you experience writer’s block? I did not; it was the exact opposite. The story was way ahead of my ability to type it out.
Why did you decide to self-publish this book? I had heard discouraging statistics. I read that three out of ten thousand new authors are published. I assumed that it would not happen, and so I kept intending to self-publish.
How did you then land a traditional publishing deal? A friend recommended their publisher to me, and I decided to give it a try. I was surprised to be accepted! I carefully investigated the contract; it did not require money from me and the royalties I would receive were industry standard, so I signed. This was an unexpected surprise!
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? The biggest misconception, in my mind, is “I can’t write a book.” I want to encourage anyone who would like to write to give it a try… Pick a topic that interests you and learn more about it. Pick your target readership and write directly to them. Whether it is a how-to book, a cookbook or a novel, write it!
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I think it was the development of the story. I started out with the beginning and the ending, but the fun came with developing the twists and turns of the middle of the book. I love the creative process.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? I am thankful that my publisher has a promotions person, but I have also given it my all on social networking. Authors reach out and promote each other, and I am very grateful to the many who have helped me along. The advice I would give authors is to do what I did: start a group of five or six authors and promote each other’s blogs and books. Great friendships develop as well as an exchange of tips and advice.
Oprah has 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? A book will surely not write itself, and, yes, an author has to prepare his work. Most people are busy, and so it can be hard to find the time to write a book. Even when there is opportunity, one must make the time, giving something else up to do it. A person has to set priorities, and writing may not be at the top of the list if one has children and a day job. I think children need a lot of their parent’s time and attention. So yes, there may not always be opportunity, but when life allows—it will still be hard work. After the book is written, promotion is a lot of work. In the current publishing industry, authors do a lot of self-promotion even if they are published by the big houses.