His stories are pretty much written in his head before he gets them out and onto a keyboard, but British author A.C. Salter was just born with that kind of brain. "I was always a day dreamer. I was the boy in school getting told off for staring out of the window and having imaginary adventures in my head." Read his full Author Interview below to find out how he wrote, edit, published his YA fantasy trilogy below!
1. List the titles of your published books (include publisher and year published) plus your author website/Facebook page links.
The Daughter of Chaos Trilogy
Released February 2016
Author website: www.acsalter.com
Amazon Author Page
Author Facebook A.C. Salter
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from? Include the synopsis.
I began writing Eversong two years ago. It began life as a journey of self-discovery, the main character, Elora, being based on my daughter, Lily. However, the more I wrote, the more the story unfolded to become the urban fantasy trilogy.
I was always a day dreamer. I was the boy in school getting told off for staring out of the window and having imaginary adventures in my head. It was one of the reasons I joined the army when I left. I became a sniper in the infantry and was attached to the special forces. During my time, I had plenty of real life adventures but it never stopped me from daydreaming. That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Elora's past lay hidden in a web of lies nd half-truths; the secrecy weaved by her uncle to keep her from harm, or to keep her from harming the world. But she put her voice to a song, the wrong song and now the web is unravelling and she begins to understand why she is different, why she has violet eyes and why she has a ferocious temper that erupts on the slightest of whims.
A darkness is rising, the tide growing stronger as legions of an evil army, loyal to a dead God, prepare to cross the weakening barrier to deliver chaos and death to Earth.
Elora maybe the only weapon Earth has to stand against the evil, if she doesn't destroy the world first.
...when the darkness whispers her name – run!
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
One of my main hurdles was the actual writing process itself. I was a truck driver at the time and so did all my writing on an A4 pad. Then when my wife bought me a Blackeberry cell phone, I painstakingly copied what I had written into emails and sent them to myself. The following Christmas I got a Kindle fire which was a lot easier to write on and finished Eversong. Then for my birthday my wife bought me a laptop and I was able to edit, polish and finally publish.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
My wife had been reading my work as I went along and sent the first few chapters to an editor who worked for Harper Collins. Paul (the editor) was impressed and so leant his services as he believed in the story and has subsequently become a great friend. Once the manuscript was complete I cracked straight onto book 2, Shadojak.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
I found editing to be fun, although not as much fun as actually creating the work. It was where I learnt and felt my style and got my teeth stuck into smoothing out the creases.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
I do any re-writes with the initial editing. Although the way I write, a chapter at a time and doing a re-read followed by a small edit, means that when the manuscript is complete, any re-writing will already have been done.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?
My wife, a friend and of course Paul when he came onboard. They loved the story and read each chapter after I finished them. They always gave me good feedback and were eagerly anticipating the next. My wife would sometimes pick up on the over use of certain words, or her opinion of a phrase or name – but other than that, they loved it.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
Paul Manning (the Harper Collins editor). I asked for something dark and eye catching and that is exactly what I got. I love the cover and it has a lot of feedback from readers. Some of which had bought the book based only on the cover.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
I attempted to go the traditional route to begin with. I submitted my work to several agencies and publishers. Paul did warn me that succeeding in this was extremely hard. Some agencies alone can receive thousands of cover letters each week. But while I was waiting for the expected refusals, I decided to opt for the indie route. I went through the motions of putting Eversong on Kindle and before I knew it, it was published. It was a lot easier than I thought and in an instant, I became a published author.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
I use Twitter a lot. It;s free and you get to speak with like-minded people. To date I have over 11.5k followers and the number is growing. I also use Facebook but not as heavily. I’ve recently taken to use amazon’s AMS services where you place an add and pay per click. It’s still early days so won’t know how effective it is until later.
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
Great. The majority of reviews were 5 stars. The main points of which saying that they could imagine the story played out vividly and would love to see the books made into films.
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
The sales have been as expected for a new author. They’re not huge but are steady. I think word of mouth has helped the most. People who have read Eversong have loved it and so told friends and family.
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
Over all I’ve sold more ebooks, but make more money from the printed books. Last year we had 1.5k printed of each book and shipped over to the UK from Poland. I’ve done a few book signings at local events and book shops, including Waterstones (the leading branch of book sellers in the UK).
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
I set my ebook price to $2.99. It’s low compared to some of the well-known and established authors, but as I am a new author, readers who haven’t heard of me might not be willing to invest the same as they would for their favorites. But the price of the other books in the series make up the fall, as the vast majority of people who have read Eversong, will buy Shadojak and Ethea.
The price of my printed book is £7.99, which is the average price for a paperback in book shops in the UK. I also have an online shop on my website where readers can buy the books at the same price but with free delivery inside the UK and second class postal price for overseas.
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 carried on writing more books because of the enjoyment I got out of the first. Plus, I wanted to finish the trilogy. Now that is done, I’m working on my next adventure – Dylap. I always finish the first draft in my head before commencing any writing. There will be another book following Dylap before I continue with another journey involving a character called Grimwolf. To date, I’ve 6 first drafts swimming around in my head, all waiting for me to find the time to write them. Time is my biggest enemy. If I had the luxury of sitting at a desk and write novels for a living, I could probably finish those six within a year. Including the editing, which has become easier the more books I do.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
Not as yet. In the future, I may pull away from having my ebooks only on Amazon.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
My wife called me a writer while I was ploughing through Eversong, but I couldn’t call myself a writer until I had published. Which doesn’t make sense, because if you’re writing, you’re a writer. It just didn’t feel right until I had work out there to back me up.
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
I write when I can. Usually in my truck after pulling into a layby or service station on my breaks. Sometimes if I wake early I will slide my laptop out of my bag, it’s always close and I’m more creative in the dark hours.
My motivation comes from the stories themselves. They’re in my head, I flick through them all the time and want other people to experience them. But mostly when I write, I do it for my wife. She’s the one I imagine reading them.
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
I’ve been asked more than once at book signings, where do you get your ideas from? It’s a hard question to answer because I sometimes start with a character, a name that simply drops into my head, or a scene that plays out and I have no idea where it came from. I’m yet to have a dream that has sparked a story. Mostly the ideas come when simply daydreaming, although I couldn’t say where they originate – I think my mind works differently to most people's.
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Don’t give up. Try to write every day, even if it’s just a sentence or a word. If you find yourself rereading and editing in the early stages, stop. Use your energies to reach the end, no matter how bad you believe your work to be. The big edit always comes at the end, but you must make it there first. Writing those two words – THE END – is one of the best feelings you can have as a writer. It will happen if you keep going. And when you reread your work you will see that it’s not as bad as you first thought and you would have gained a wealth of knowledge in the process.
After you’ve edited get a fresh pair of eyes to go through it. And then another, and another. There will always be a typo that slips through the net, it even happens to the big names. Publishing is a mine field, but there’s a lot of information online or on forums and other authors that will give advice.
Marketing is the hardest and by far the biggest hurdle. Again, there is a lot of information out there, but the market is constantly shifting and unless you have a great wad of cash to throw at it, it’s a case of learning what works for you. Use social networking, it's free and will get you the most coverage, but don’t get bogged down – it is time consuming.
But most of all, keep your idea alive and keep daydreaming.