So Monday, December 8 I had a launch party for UNVEILED. WOOT! Some local backers of the Kickstarter and I descended upon Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. (You can get signed copies of UNVEILED by contacting the bookstore, even if you don't live in Arizona. They will ship to you. Support this amazing indie store.) I read the first half of the first chapter and took audience questions before signing books and having one-on-one time with readers. Yay!
I was so crazy before the gig. Stressed out to the point my brain began leaking out of my ears.
To give you some understanding of how nervous/frazzled I was...
- I tried to get out of the car without unbuckling first.
- Though I was staring right at it, I was uncertain if I'd closed my gas tank...30 seconds after closing it.
- Someone left a rose on the signing table with a card that just said, "M." 2 hours later when I asked my friend MMMMMichelle if it was from her, she shook her head. Her husband said, "Um...it's probably from MMMMMMarius?" Seriously. I wrote that shit and I didn't think of it at the time.
Anyway, the crowd was lovely, supportive and had lots of good questions. I thought I'd share some of them here (because they're also questions I hear online or from other readers).
Q: Book 1 in this series is traditionally published. Why was UNVEILED self-published?
A: Okay so...The first book WILD CARD was published by Entangled Publishing in November 2013. They are a digital-first publisher of romance stories. When they bought the book, it was based on Book 1. They never asked about future books in the series. They didn't ask for the series arc. I was told they just wanted to do things on a book-by-book basis. I was worried that this might be awkward for the future of the series for various reasons, but...well, we went forward with things anyway. When we sent them the finished manuscript for UNVEILED, Entangled decided that it didn't fit with their list of romance titles, and they declined it.
My agent, Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary, and I shopped the book around to other publishers, but it's difficult to sell a book in this kind of situation where one publisher owns the rights to the first book. After trying this, we came to a decision that self-pubbing would be the best way to get UNVEILED into the hands of the readers who love these characters.
Q: Are there more books in the series after UNVEILED?
A: Yes. UNVEILED is book 2 in a projected 5 book arc in the Etudes in C# series. Book 3, UNINVITED, is finished and ready for an editor. Book 4, has a weak outline and 7 pages written. Book 5 is in the sketchiest of outline phases (except the final scene, of which I've written a very rough draft.) Oh, and I've got a short story compilation set in this 'verse.
Q: Will you self-publish those?
A: Barring a bag of money from a publisher who wants to take these books and do them justice? Yes. I will be self-publishing the C# series. But, if you represent a publisher that would like to acquire the rights for the C# series, please talk with Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary.
Q: Will we see WILD CARD (Book 1 in the C#series) in print?
A: At present, Entangled Publishing still owns the rights to WILD CARD. While there was some talk back in the fall about making WILD CARD available via a print-on-demand service, nothing has happened on that front. I don't believe it will.
Q: Is there a way for you to get your rights back?
A: Yes. My contract does specify when I will get my rights back, but barring certain events, that may not happen until--at the earliest--May of 2015. IF/WHEN that happens, I will be commissioning a new cover from Nathalia Suellen (the amazing artist who did the cover for UNVEILED) and self-publishing WILD CARD with the same print and consignment options available with UNVEILED.
Q: Your setting is Vegas and it's very detailed using real places. What's your process? Do you go to Vegas?
A: With very little exception, most locations mentioned in the books are real places you could visit. I think it's more fun that way for you as readers, and it's more challenging for me as a writer.
I am ridiculously meticulous about research. I used to work for an airline that provided vacation packages to Las Vegas. I sold hotel, flight and car reservations with a serious focus on the Strip. A few times I had the opportunity to go tour these hotels with the company so that I could better sell the products. I learned a lot about the shows, the surrounding area and attractions to better answer questions of potential customers. I've drawn on that knowledge while writing the series.
When I can't go myself, I have a few options. First, minions. When friends have gone to Vegas they often ask if I need anything, so I send them on recon missions. There's a church in UNVEILED that I asked someone to go to and take pictures for me. I said, "Please just stand in the middle of the sanctuary and take a 360 picture or video." Because I NEED to get it as close to reality as possible.
I've used YouTube video of locations to get a better sense of the space and atmosphere. Also? Google. Google images, Google maps. I Google the shit out of everything. There's a car chase in one of the books and I used Google Maps to literally plot it out and block it, making sure to note if there were one-way streets and such.
I'm a little crazy about my research.
Q: How real are your characters to you?
A: Short answer: very. Longer answer: I'm surprised I'm not in a facility being told that the satyrs aren't real. Marius has a tendency to shove me aside and answer questions about himself. He is incredibly real to me to the point I know his voice and smell. Cat just sits back and lets him take the reins a lot of the time...and when he's done being a drama queen, she and I chat quietly over chai. Yeah. They're very real to me.
Q: I read the acknowledgements at the back of UNVEILED. In the list of Kickstarter backers I saw, "Catherine Sharp", "Marius" and "Loki Laufeyson". What's up with that?
A: All of them are real people who backed the Kickstarter. First off, Cat Sharp is the actual Cat Sharp. I found out about her during the UNVEILED Kickstarter when someone posted the link and she responded, "Wait, there's a book about me?" She lives in the UK and has worked in IT. Also? Redhead.
Marius backed the Kickstarter under that name. Later, when going through to send out rewards, I found that that person had used their actual email address to make the donation and thus, their identity was revealed to me.
Loki, however...well, Loki backed the Kickstarter for $1 and sent me a private message reading:
Well done, mortal. You've attracted our attention. Specifically, you've attracted MY attention. We'll be watching. Be a dear and don't disappoint. L. Laufeyson
That person's email address read as LokiLaufeyson@[redacted]...so, infer from that what you will. To this day I don't know who did it, and am left with the simplest explanation: that it was Loki himself. I want to believe it, and therefore have reserved that much magic left in me to do so.
Q: Will there be a Kickstarter for the next book? If so, when can I throw my money at you?
A: *shakes Magic 8 Ball* Signs point to 'yes'. I've started making the preparations for it, noting what we need for UNINVITED that we didn't need for UNVEILED (and the things we don't need this time around)...what sorts of rewards I want to do this time...ways to up the game. Stuff like that. So yeah. It will probably be sometime in the Feb-April range aiming for an October publication date. I also want to get the short story compilation out before then as one of the stories sets up Book 3.
Q: Because you've done both...do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing?
A: I like different things about both of paths. My experience with traditional publishing has been rocky, but I see the benefits of having a backer that will handle the busy-work and publicity aspects...basically the things that take me away from writing. Self-publishing, however, allows some freedoms and control that I haven't found in traditional publishing thus far. It is very rewarding to be art director, editorial director, distributor and publicist as well as being the writer. It is, however, exhausting. I've learned a lot about both processes and think I'd like to continue exploring BOTH avenues in the future for different projects.
Again, thank you to Changing Hands and to all who came out to the launch party with me. (More pictures can be found here.) We're going to have to do that again, but with even more people. And next time I won't ramble on like I felt I did.
If you have any questions, hit me with them.