Author Interview: Mindy Hayes, Kaleidoscope
Mindy Hayes doesn't really have a choice. She HAS to write her book or she'll explode (her words). Eight books later, we're glad she still has those little bombs inside of her. Her advice to aspiring writers? Don't let anything stop you from writing. "It's up to you to create a world you believe in."
Read the rest of her Author Interview below:
1.How many books have you published and when?
Faylinn Novels: Kaleidoscope - March 2013 Ember - August 2013 Luminary – September 2014 Willowhaven Series: Me After You - November 2013 Me Without You – March 2015 YA Standalones: The Day That Saved Us – April 2016 Paper Planes and Other Things We Lost – June 2016 (I co-wrote Paper Planes with Michele G. Miller)
And I just finished my 8th book, Glimmer (Faylinn #4). It’ll be out on December 9th, 2016.
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from? I started writing Kaleidoscope in 2012. Calliope sort of appeared in my head one day. I had just finished reading a fae series that I DID NOT enjoy (one that will remain nameless). I wasn’t a fan of how the author depicted the faeries, so I decided I was going to write faeries how I imagine them. And that’s the beauty of writing. It's up to you to create a world you believe in. 3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome? I think the hardest part was the world building since I was writing fantasy for the first time. I’d written a lot of stories set in the real world (stories that haven’t become published novels), but I’d never created a new world before, so that took a lot of brainstorming and plotting. 4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do? Research, research, research. I’d done a lot of researching different forms of publishing before I even wrote Kaleidoscope. In the end, self-publishing felt like the best route to go. So, after I finished Kaleidoscope I researched cover designers, formatters and editors. I wanted to do everything right. Tamara Webber wrote some great advice in her FAQ’s about self-publishing, so I emailed her and she gave me a little bit more in-depth advice. 5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience? I didn’t have Kaleidoscope professionally edited. I didn’t have the money at the time, so I had a few English major friends and a fourth grade teacher “edit” for me. I didn’t know what to expect. I prepped myself for criticism and feedback. I knew I didn’t write something perfect, and I knew I needed to be open to suggestions. It was hard listening to an outsider at first, but with each book it’s gotten easier. I’ve had the same editor since Ember, my second book. We’ve built a great relationship over the years and now I think we work better together. She knows my writing style and we respect and understand where the other is coming from in terms of plot changes and what not. 6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing? It’s definitely not as fun! I go much more in depth. It’s a more grueling process, and it’s hard not to feel like everything I wrote sucked. But, when I’m finished with rewrites, I know it’s a better book and I feel so much more confident to send it out into the world.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that? I had a lot of non-editors read Kaleidoscope, but I didn’t know anyone in the self-publishing world, so a lot of my readers were family and close friends. I changed quite a bit based on their feedback. I wanted them to be honest, and thankfully most of them were. I didn’t want them to come back to me with a bunch of praise because I knew it could be always be better. 8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design? My original covers for The Faylinn Novels were done by Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations. And I loved them, but after about two years it was time for a change, so Regina Wamba, Mae I Design, did a cover revamp for the covers they are today. I chose the Luminary image, but the rest of the covers were designed by Regina. She gave me a bunch of “homework” (questions about the characters, setting, my vision, pinterest boards, inspiration, etc…) for what I had in mind and she ran with it. I like to use several different cover designers for all of my books and every cover input is different. Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations designed my Willowhaven Series. I picked the images and asked her to use her creative license for the rest. Starla Huchton, Designs by Starla helped design The Day That Saved Us. She’s a good friend, so I actually put together a mock-up of what I wanted and she built the exact mock-up in Photoshop. Same goes for Paper Planes and Other Things We Lost. Michele and I designed it (found all the different pieces, images, and fonts and put them together). Starla helped to build our concept since Michele and I are not well-versed in Photoshop! 9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience? I created a Facebook page and had help from friends and family to spread the word that I was self-publishing my first novel. Facebook had a much wider reach back then. It didn’t restrict page views or require payment for a further reach. It was exciting, but not without its bumps. My formatter was behind, so I had to push back my publishing date. I’ve since learned how to set release dates. Sometimes I don’t. It’s easier to have the book finished (formatted, edited, etc…) and then select a date. A few months after Kaleidoscope was released I was contacted by a blogger who set up a blog tour to try to reach more readers. It was really helpful. 10. How have you marketed your first book? Marketing is not my forte. And I think different things work for different authors, depending on genre and such. I was clueless when it came to marketing Kaleidoscope. I didn’t know anyone in the self-publishing world. So, again, I researched, researched, researched. I contacted book bloggers to give them free review copies. I’ve since used Facebook ads, hosted giveaways. Since Facebook was more helpful back then, I relied heavily on friends and family to spread the word.
When I released Luminary, I placed Kaleidoscope for free and was lucky enough to get a Bookbub a few months later, which really helped boost sales on the rest of the series. I’ve also used Robin Reads, Read Cheaply, and Midlist to help advertise for sales and freebies. 11. How was the initial feedback from readers? Most of it was positive. I had a few that wanted more. More action, more romance, a faster paced plot, etc. So, I took to heart that feedback and incorporated it into Ember, the next book. 12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books? I hoped for better sales on Kaleidoscope when it first came out, but I was trying to break into a fading genre. YA fantasy in the self-publishing world gradually started to become oversaturated and not as popular in 2013, so it was hard to get the word out. It wasn’t until Luminary, and putting Kaleidoscope for free (my lost leader) that it got any traction. 13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other? Definitely more ebook sales than print. I think most self-published authors experience that. Most of my print sales come from locals, friends and family. Or at book events when I go to signings.
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them? I based my pricing off of other self-published authors on Amazon in my genres. The base price for an ebook was $2.99, so that’s what I did. I’ve since raised the prices on my longer books. My 100k+ words books are now $3.99, as well as Paper Planes since I co-wrote it with Michele. 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 think most writers write because they have to. It’s not writing just to write and make money. We write because the story is there and it needs to be told or we feel like we’ll explode. For me, every book following Kaleidoscope was a different experience. Some books flowed; others took a year or more to finish. I, also, felt more confident in my writing style with each book, but then the expectation from readers was a new aspect that added a new challenge and feelings of anxiousness. I use an editor now, a handful of beta readers, an alpha reader, and a critique partner. 16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books? Being more experienced, I tried finding ways that I could save money and not rely on others as much. So, I started formatting myself. I’ve formatted five of my own books. As I mentioned above, I’ve also used different cover designers to get different feels for each book/series. 17. When did you consider yourself a “writer”? I’ve considered myself a writer from the beginning. Eight books later and I still have a had time calling myself an “author.” But, I’ve always felt like a writer. 18. When do you write? What motivates you to write? Right now because I still have a day job, I write on my lunch breaks and at night. Mostly, late at night and into the morning. I’m a night owl and my brain comes alive when everyone else is asleep. I use lots of different things for inspiration: music, movies, TV, Pinterest, people watching. I’ve written some books differently; meaning, some books I’ve written chapters out of order, depending on what scenes came to me. Other books, I’ve had to write from the beginning and move forward, chapter by chapter with a rough outline. 19. What do aspiring authors ask you? I get asked a lot how I find time to write. I guess I just make time. It’s hard to find a balance between family, work, and home responsibilities. If you want it badly enough thought, you make time. 20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing? Don’t let your feelings of inadequacy keep you from pursuing your dreams. That feeling never goes away. Only you can keep you from reaching your full potential. Just keep writing what you love. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Also, make friends in the industry. Read their books. Show an interest. Share insight. Those genuine relationships will help you in a world that can feel really lonely when behind a computer screen all the time.