Author Interview: TK Thompson, The Dark Eve Series
I met TK Thompson several years ago. She is a hard worker and is genuinely interested in people around her. What I didn’t know then was just how much was going on in her head.
In 2014, she contacted me and asked if I would edit a manuscript she had been working on (which later would be the first in her Dark Eve series). She did not consider herself a “writer” by any means. But within a few minutes of reading her writing, it was apparent she had some major talent.
Let me tell you, if you love epic adventure stories, clouded with mystery and run by a majorly intense, strong female main character (did I mention she is a pirate?)… then buy her books! Check out her website at thedarkeve.com or click on her book titles below to buy on Amazon.
I am happy to feature her as the first in my Author Interview series. Basically it’s 20 questions I ask published authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Hopefully, their experiences will help other aspiring authors and inspire them to take a chance and finally do what they have always wanted to do—publish a book!
1. How many books have you published and when?
(Dec 17, 2014)
(Nov. 24, 2015)
Beldagar: A Dark Eve Story
A “mini story” based on a character in book three and is free to those who subscribe to my email list.
The Dark Eve: The Golden Catacombs (coming late 2016)
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from?
I started writing in 2010. I have always written down little stories and ideas, but have never finished any until 2014.
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
The hardest part was finishing it. I never expected to be an author, even though I have always been creative and had ideas. I wasn’t raised to think that being a writer was practical and so it was never an option in my mind besides being a hobby.
Publishing was the hardest step, because of my traditional thinking. I had to come to terms with that fact that nothing would ever be perfect and allowing others into my mind by allowing them to read my book. I guess that could be called insecurity. Finally, I got tired of the struggle and threw all my caution to the wind, as they say, and published my first book. It has been one of my greatest adventures.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
Besides weighing the decision to self publish or go with a more traditional route, my hubs and I decided we were going to endeavor with the design of the cover. My husband has a photography business and with me being the model, we managed to come together creatively and create all the covers for my books (except Beldagar).
It took me awhile to come to terms with being a model. I didn’t expect to do that and realized how hard it can be to get the image you want and what goes into the process. I also didn’t like the idea of the main character looking exactly like me, which is why my hubs was forced to change my nose. While facets of her personality might be based off of mine, I didn’t want to see my face on the cover of the book.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
I was so scared to have my book edited. I consider myself a person with horrible grammar skills. HORRIBLE. I was also nervous about being ripped to shreds about plot holes, characters, it not making sense, and just as horrible as my grammar. It felt like the defining point of whether or not I should continue.
I first sent it to a professional I knew and then to another professional editor that I did not know. I got the exact opposite from what I expected. They said I had a natural voice, a great story, and that my grammar sucked, but that is why I have an editor. All those other things that I worried about weren’t a problem. I did not study writing! I studied business, because it was more practical, but if I could go back. I guess you know what I would do.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
Re-writing is SO much easier!!! I guess my hardest part of writing now is pounding out my first draft. Which isn’t hard as in content, but just getting it out onto the page is more tedious than going back through and making it breathe. I am so excited to actually start from the skeletons beginning and fill it in. I would say it’s the best part.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?
Yes, I have a group of readers that commit to reading the book. Mostly what I am looking for is what is happening inside their minds. The book plays like a movie in my head, so I need to know what readers experience, what they like, what they don’t like, what they project will happen next, and what emotions they felt during the chapter that they read. I try to have at least eight readers, and have both male and female readers. It has been one of the most exciting parts of being an author. Going through the test readers’ thoughts is entertaining for me and my husband. We know what the end is and to read their predictions and feelings is the highlight of the process.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
Like I said earlier my husband is a photographer and I am the model. We actually just went around studying other book covers to get a feel for them and then went from there on how to create our own. It’s amazing how many photo shoots we had to do in order to achieve our desired image, but in the end being united creatively has given us a greater bond. So I had all input! The cover is a pivotal window of the contents of the book. An image can speak a thousand words.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
I decided on self-publishing. I felt that more traditional methods were like selling parts of your soul. I have a BA in business and my husband has a masters. It has been an adventure learning step by step what the publishing world is all about. All endeavors are a learning process, and it has been both frustrating and excited to walk this road. I believe that consistency is the key.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
It was quite a statement to my family and friends. At first it was a Facebook front. We attended the Tucson Book Festival and were pleasantly surprised by the reactions there and now we are building up our email list as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, festivals, and word of mouth.
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
Surprised, especially my family and friends that read my book. They couldn’t believe it was my first book. Their expectations were low, which I could not blame them. I guess it is a general idea that everybody’s first book sucks. It was my fear. This didn’t offend me, but it rooted a deep confidence that I could succeed at this writing thing.
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
They have been good. I can tell you honestly that I don’t follow my sales very closely. My sales preceded my expectations. My main goal was to sell 100 books and I did much more than that.
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
Definitely ebook. It is much more convenient for readers these days. I have sold a lot of prints, but I find most of my sales have been through ebook. That does not include going to a book festival where print is king.
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
One of the rules of business is to aim high. You cannot increase your price once it has been set, but you can always decrease it. So I valued my book similar to one on the market for the same quality and page numbers. From there it simply is examining your cost and knowing that some must go back for the future and marketing. At this point, the game is different from a well know author who has an established following.
15. What made you decide to write more books? How were those experiences (writing/editing) compared with your first book? Did you do anything differently?
It took me four years to write my first book and six months for the next. After discovering my writing style and methods with the first book, it has been very easy for me to continue the process. That is why I simply encourage people to just write. The best experience they can get is to conquer their process. All subsequent books have been easier, except for the letting go part. It seems letting it go and feeling like it is not perfect—that vulnerability is a challenge. I haven’t done anything different except for I have joined a few writing groups and will be attending more conferences.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
Nope, all is the same. The only thing different is that I have reached out to other talented artists for cover work. A friend from high school, who has amazing artistic skills, helped me by digitally drawing my mini book’s cover. It amazes me how all of it comes together to polish off a story.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
I have had to come to terms with introducing myself as an author, probably based on the fact that I just didn’t see myself as one. I also felt that if I did say I was an author, how would others conceive me? I felt a little crazy for running down this path. But as I go back and read my stories, I am always surprised and get sucked into them. I have an amazing story that is interesting and vibrant and I am surprised I wrote it. I am an author. Just recently I have felt the confidence to play this part and not worry about how I am perceived. I have too many books out to hide from it now.
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
I write whenever I have the chance. I am a wife and mother first. My kids and family mean the world to me. It was a lot harder when they were younger and I would find myself writing when they were asleep. Now that my kids are in school, I will throw on some TV in the background or music and write until my mind needs a break. I don’t find that I need motivation. If anything, I have to hold myself back by finishing a project before I move onto another one. If I get too ahead I don’t want to turn back.
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
Mostly we talk ideas. I find that people are so passionate that they want to tell you every detail. Most of the time I feel like they are too consumed with an idea rather than the one thing they need to focus on, the first chapter. I’ve had so many people say, “You should write a book about this….” And I’ve started to say, “No, YOU should.”
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Don’t get overwhelmed. Take things one step at a time and don’t set too high of expectations for yourself or for others. It will only lead to disappointment. Learning is a process and a road we all must travel. Accept support the way people are willing to give it. Even my own mother hasn’t read my book because she is just not a reader. This could be upsetting for a lot of people. Even those closest to you might not even read it, but they might be willing to do something else. Accept that.