I wanted to interview Amanda Green for Amazing Stories because she is not only an author, but an editor, and she wrote a series of articles, The Road to Digital Publication (you can find all the links midway down this page), which were invaluable to me in putting out my first novel last year. I finally talked her into taking some time out of her very busy schedule and sitting down with some questions.
Cedar Sanderson For Amazing Stories Magazine: Why do you write?
Amanda Green: The short answer is because I have to. I know that might sound strange but it’s the truth. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made up stories. First they were to entertain myself and then others. Once I learned how to print, well, the stories in my head were put down on paper. I wrote stories I know now are fanfic about my favorite TV shows as I grew up. When I tried to quit writing, it drove me crazy. I need a creative outlet and writing happens to be it.
ASM: What is important to you about writing?
AG: This is one of those questions that I need to think about. As a writer, what’s important is writing a story readers find entertaining. If they aren’t entertained, they aren’t going to finish the book. That means not only having a compelling plot but also crafting characters the reader can care about. I want to pull the reader into the story, not make them feel like an observer looking in from outside.
ASM: How are you published, and why did you decide to go that route?
AG: My first publication credit is what’s considered a “pro” sale, at least according to SFWA standards. It’s a short story included in the anthology, Better Off Undead, edited by Martin Greenberg and Dan Hoyt. I got lucky there. I was invited to submit to the antho on spec. When Dan accepted the story, it was the confidence boost I needed to keep trying.
The rest of my work has come out through Naked Reader Press. NRP is a micro-press that brings out both short stories and novel-length work. I chose to go with them for several reasons. The first is I know the owners of the press and trust them completely. Full disclosure also here — I work as an editor for NRP, so I have an “in” there. Not that they wouldn’t kick any of my work to the street if it didn’t meet their publication standards.
But the real reasons why I chose to go with NRP is because it knows how to treat its authors. I have more input into how my books are formatted, on cover art and, let’s face it, I like getting the higher royalties an author receives from a small press like NRP than I would from a legacy publisher. Starting royalties range from 50 – 60% for e-books. That’s much better than what you get from legacy publishers.
ASM: What is involved in getting your books ready for publication?
AG: This is where I’m a bit different from some writers. Because I work for NRP, I know what the formatting requirements and needs are to convert our titles into e-books and into print. So I tend to have those requirements built into my working templates. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same as any other writer. I fight with my characters, mainly because they do tend to take on lives of their own. I have several friends who let me bounce ideas and snippets off of them during the draft process. Once the first draft is done, it goes off to my alpha readers. Once I get it back, I do an editorial pass on my own and then send it off to beta readers. I review it again and then send it to my editor at NRP. Then, like most other authors, I pace the floor waiting to hear if 1) she likes the book and 2) what changes she thinks needs to be made. The cover is created and sent to me for my opinion. I really appreciate the fact that my input is asked for and taken into consideration. Once we agree on the cover and the edits are finalized, the book is converted for digital and print distribution and I’m on to the next project.
ASM: How is it different for print than for ebooks?
AG: The only real difference is that I get to see both the pdf proof for the print version of the book and the print ARC of the book. With e-books, I see the DOC file, the ePUB and MOBI versions.
ASM: How has it worked in terms of sales (I do not need specifics)?
AG: I’ll be honest. I’ve had the first volume of my series in print for awhile now. Unfortunately, it came out when all of us at NRP were still learning the basic ropes of the business and there are problems with tat edition. We recently released a new “edition” of the book in print and have taken advantage of Amazon’s matchbook program. Under the program, we let those who buy the print version of the book download the e-book for free. It is still early days yet, but it does seem to be helping our print sales.
ASM: Would you do it again? Or would you prefer to publish through traditional routes?
AG: Would I go through NRP again? Absolutely. I like the freedom of working with a small press and I appreciate the fact that they take care of cover art, isbns, and all the “business” of publishing so I don’t have to.
Don’t get me wrong though. Like many authors, I’d love to to be traditionally published but mainly because legacy publishers still have a stranglehold on the distribution network to bookstores. That said, there is only one traditional publisher I’d jump at without much thought if they offered me a contract and that’s because I am familiar with their catalog, I appreciate the fact that they don’t push their idea of politics or socially/politically correct themes on you as a writer. I also have had the pleasure of meeting the publisher and dealing with members of the editorial staff. So I know they see their authors as more than interchangeable cogs in a bigger machine.
ASM: I know you are just beginning your blog, Nocturnal Lives, regularly after a hiatus. Do you see this as a valuable marketing tool?
AG: Absolutely. I’m already seeing an increase in my sales and am kicking myself for not sticking with it when I started it a couple of years ago. Blogs and social media are the easiest ways for us, as authors, to connect with potential readers. They want to know what we’re working on and even what our lives are like.
ASM: Can you predict the future for us? Not too far, just a year or so down the road…
AG: Let’s see. Publishing is here to stay but the players will continue to change, either through bankruptcy or merger. As more and more established authors start going the hybrid route (continuing to be traditionally published as well as self-publishing), it is possible we will start to hear rumblings that publishing houses are being served notice that the authors want an accounting of their royalties. We’re going to see the professional organizations like SFWA making noise about embracing the self-published or indie author but whether they actually do or not is anyone’s guess. The result will be indies banding together to form support networks to share information. As Barnes & Noble continues to struggle, I think we’re going to see more indie bookstores popping up. Those stores willing to think outside the box and bring in in titles from smaller presses and indie published titles will thrive as will those stores meeting niche markets.
The only thing I am sure about is that no one knows where this roller coaster called publishing is going to be in a few years. All any of us can do is try to stay on top of the changes in the industry.
Oh yeah, there’s one more thing I’m sure of — I’ll keep on writing.
Amanda Green, author of Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, and the newly-released Nocturnal Interlude, part urban fantasy and part police procedural.
Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?
Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.