Every author goes through what Tarrah calls their "guinea pig" book. It's the book that they learn how to write, edit, publish, and market on. It's that first book that sets the stage for more books. If you can get through your guinea pig book, you can get through anything.
Read Tarah's full author interview below!
1. How many books have you published and when (month/year)?
The Princess Chronicles Series:
I’m Not Cinderella
Walnut Springs Press
Finding Sleeping Beauty
Walnut Springs Press
Walnut Springs Press
Beauty & the Teenage Beast
Last book in the series
The Princess & the Ridiculous Pea
Author Blog: tarrahmontgomery.blogspot.com
Amazon Author Page Tarrah Montgomery
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from?
I started writing I’m Not Cinderella, my first published book, in the Fall of 2009. However, I began writing books when I was much younger (starting at the young age of 5).
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
Patiently waiting for something has always been hard for me in my life. After I sent my book to some publishers, I had to wait…and that was the hardest part. I guess the next biggest hurdle I had to overcome was fixing the voice and language in the book so it would be more simple for the YA audience.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
I tried waiting patiently, but that didn’t work. I soon started brainstorming ideas for my next book.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
I wasn’t sure what I expected. Maybe I thought someone just did all of the editing themselves and polished your book for you. My experience was that my editor gave great suggestions and awesome insight…and then she had me make the necessary changes to my book myself. This is where my books are deeply analyzed for importance.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
Re-writing is hard because you’re already emotionally invested in the story. I usually have to step away from the story for a few weeks before I’m ready to go back and re-read it. Then, I’m able to read it with fresher eyes and see what needs to be changed. The hardest part is deleting parts in the book that took a long time to write…even though they are unnecessary (it took a long time to write those parts).
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?
I’ve done it a couple of times. They have good ‘over-all’ advice of how the story feels and if they feel something is missing. It’s been very helpful.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
My publisher designed my cover. I gave them the main character’s description and they found a stock photo that word work with the story idea. They made a few changes to the picture to fit what we wanted. They then asked for my opinion and I loved it.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
I wrote a query letter to a handful of publishers who also published YA books similar to my genre and style. It helped to find ones that would be more eager to look at something that was already in their publishing house. Of course I got a few rejections but then I had 2 different publishers want to see my manuscript. It’s hard to get rejections, and it always will be. I think it humbles you, though.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
I have a blog that my readers follow and other readers email me. I’ll post contests and writing tips for my readers. Most of my marketing is done on Facebook and a few school visits to get people to know about my books.
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
My initial feedback was very supportive, since my first readers were mostly my family and friends. However, the reviews on Amazon from other readers were also very positive and supportive.
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
My first 2 books both went through their 2nd printing, which means they’ve each sold almost 2,000. When I signed with a small publisher, those sales were about what I had expected. The thing that helps me sell books the most is to do book signings and also to post coupon codes for books on amazon, etc.
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
My royalty from a print book is about the same as an ebook. That may not be the same for every author, but that’s how my contract spelled it out.
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
No, my publisher sets the price of my books and ebooks.
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?
When writing my next books, my confidence was different because when you’re writing your first book you don’t know if it will see the light of day. So, other than that, the only other thing that was different was having a plan of what was going to happen next in the series. Also, now I was on a deadline and the publisher wanted a synopsis and book cover even before the book was done.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
Getting the first book published is definitely like a guinea pig…publishing the subsequent books seemed to flow a little better since I knew what to expect.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
When I got my first box of published books, that’s when I knew I was a “writer.” Best moment!
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
I’m an owl writer – I write at night (after my kids go to bed). When I have a night to myself and am not worrying about anything else, like stress, bills, kids’ homework, etc…that’s what motivates me to write.
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
Aspiring authors sometimes will ask me how I found which publishers to send my query letters to. I tell them to find books that are similar to your book (style, genre, etc), and write to those publishers.
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Read a lot of books and then read some more. Write a lot of stories and then write some more. When in doubt, get advice (like reading this column :).