Author Interview: Valerie Ipson, Ideal High

Valerie Ipson was so happy her eight-year journey of writing her novel was done, she jumped fully clothed into her swimming pool. Of course, authors know that finishing the first draft of a manuscript is just the beginning. But in Ipson's case, she didn't mind the editing and rewriting phases. It was the initial getting it down on paper that was hard.

Even experienced writers have a hard time finding time or setting aside time to write for themselves. For many published authors, it's that first book that takes the longest; after knowing what it takes, it can be a little easier the second time around. Ipson is in the throws of writing her second book, though this time she is sure it won't take eight years to complete.

Read her author interview below to learn more.

And be sure to check out her Facebook page and author website,

1. How many books have you published and when (month/year)?

Ideal High

February 2015

Just one book so far; I’m working on the second.

2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from?

It took me 8 years of sporadic writing to finish the book. It came from two sources that melded together—one was a short mention in the newspaper of a bus accident involving several students returning from a school event; the other was a memory of a girl from my high school years that seemed to be treated like she was invisible. I felt bad that I had never tried to be kind to her.

3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?

The hardest part was finding time to write and then finding the motivation to write when I did have time!

4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?

When I typed the words THE END I went straight out to my backyard and cannon-balled into my swimming pool. Yes, fully-clothed. Fortunately, it was summer. The truth is it wasn’t really the end, it just meant it was the beginning of a lot of editing.

5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?

I love editing! Editing means you have words on the page to do something with. You can’t edit a blank page.

6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?

Ah! Re-writing! See answer above about editing. J

7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?

I had several readers early on that helped point out a few issues with the story, but most feedback was positive so it gave me incentive to keep going in the process.

8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?

My nephew is a graphic designer so I hired him to design the cover. I told him what I wanted, or at least my vision of it, and let him do his thing.

9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?

I met with an agent who loved my story but ultimately chose not to represent me. Because of her enthusiastic response to my manuscript, I decided it wasn’t “junk” and that I could feel good about publishing it myself. It’s been a huge learning experience. If I can do it, anyone can!

10. How have you marketed your first book?

I’ve done a little bit of everything. I held a successful book launch at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (doughnuts figure into my novel). Ideal High has also been promoted on several book blogs, I’ve done Kindle promotions, and I’ve used social media. I’ve had several bookstore signings and have one coming up at the local library.

11. How was the initial feedback from readers?

I’m fortunate to have received great reviews. People like my story. So far no one has thrown tomatoes at me and said reading your book was five hours of my life I will never get back.

12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?

Most sales seem to be to adult women, so I’m trying to reach out to a teenage audience. That’s been much trickier, so I’m currently experimenting with Wattpad. I wish I knew the secret to selling more books!

13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?

Most sales are ebook. I hope to have the audio book for sale soon.

14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?

I priced the books based on what Amazon recommends.

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?

I’m writing my second YA novel and it’s going much more quickly this time around. I have less children at home now, so that’s a huge factor.

16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?

I assume I’ll self-publish my next book, though I am looking into “Kindle Scout” to see what the possibilities there might be.

17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?

I’ve called myself a writer for a long time, ever since I had something published in a newspaper over twenty years ago. I’ve tried all types of writing, and I currently write for a regional newspaper, but I never called myself an author until my novel was published.

18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?

I wish I wrote everyday. I’m trying to develop that habit. My story won’t let me alone, so that’s the best motivation, plus I have very supportive critique partners who say “Give us more of this story!”

19. What do aspiring authors ask you?

Many people have a story idea in their head, but don’t know how to get it from there down “on paper.” That’s the tricky part. Getting it right is way harder than I expected it to be.

20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?

Self-publishing is so doable! No one has to figure it out on their own because there are so many online helps these days for each step of the process: writing, editing, publishing, and even marketing. Find a good critique group and start networking to find beta readers, editors, and cover designers. Attend writing conferences. The writing community is so great to be a part of! Most people are more than happy to help a newbie.

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