After talking about "being a writer someday" Christine Bernard joined a Facebook group for writers, and then got motivated to start writing her book. Now that it's published, her goal is to become a full-time author, and she has two more books in the works. Check out her full interview!
1. List the titles of your published books (include publisher and year published) plus your author website/Facebook page links.
Releases this fall
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from? Include the synopsis.
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of madness, and how easy it is to fall apart. My first book is published, my second is in the editing process, and I’m about three quarters of the way through writing my third. While each book is very different in genres and style, there is a psychological element to all of them. I thought it would be interesting to write about the process of falling into madness, and after brainstorming with my husband the idea slowly began to unfurl. I first started writing Unravel earlier this year and launched it on the 12th July.
Rose Madison is of sound mind, with a sharp focus and a willingness to succeed. At only twenty-three, she’s already won an award for her short story, and has been hailed as the next big thing in the literary world. She’s beautiful, funny, intelligent, and comes from a wealthy and successful family. It’s clear to all, including herself, that her future looks bright and promising.
Why then, does the perfect Rose Madison start to slowly lose her mind? This is a story of a young woman in her prime, clutching at the remains of sanity.
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
I’ve been talking about writing for a long time. When people asked me what I wanted to do with my life I always responded with, ‘I’d love to be a writer’. But other than just talking about it, I actually did very little about turning that dream into a reality. It was only once I joined an incredible group on Facebook called, ‘The Dragon Writers’ that I took action. That’s honestly the hardest part. Once you start writing, and researching, and connecting with others, it gets easier. It’s all about taking that first leap of faith.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
Once the manuscript was finished, I re-read it a few times, and sent it off to an editor. She used her magic wand and polished the story into what it is today.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
I enjoyed the editing process, mostly because of how much I learnt about my own writing style through it. Editors deserve medals for what we put them through.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
I tend to edit as I go along, so I don’t often have huge chunks to re-write at the end of the process. Still, there’s always something that needs to be changed, removed or added. There’s a lot of cringing (moments of, ‘what was I thinking?’), as well as a few pats on the back. I enjoy seeing the whole story come together from the re-writes and edits. A strong cup of coffee goes a long way at this time.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha/Beta Readers)? What did you get out of that?
Yes! They’re invaluable and I did not use enough for my first book. I’m gathering a small group together for the second book, just to smooth out any edges. No matter how many times you read through your story, there will always be a mistake that you’ve overlooked. Having a few more eyes on the project helps you with problems you might not have noticed yourself.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
Cover design is almost as important as the story itself. If you don’t have a good cover, nobody is going to pick up your book. We all judge a book by its cover, even if we shouldn’t. I am a graphic and layout designer on the side, so it was important to me to be a part of the process. Thankfully, my husband is a keen photographer and designer himself, who created a beautiful cover for me. I also asked my writers group on Facebook for their input and I got a lot of great ideas to get my cover to where it is today. My husband, Warren, can be found on www.flatwhiteimages.com
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
It took a long time for me to finally make the decision to go the indie publishing route, but now that I have I am happy with my decision. It has a lot of pros and cons, and it’s definitely not the right path for everyone, but I have loved the journey so far. I like the freedom that indie publishing gives me, and I’m more than willing to put in the hard work to make it work. With this route, it’s all about what you give is what you get.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
My book is currently exclusively with Amazon, through their KDP selection option, however after three months I will be going wide with my publishing. I have been marketing through various social media channels, and simply trying to connect organically with as many people as possible. It’s always more difficult when you only have one book out, so my goal at the moment is to simply keep working on producing more books.
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response I received from readers. As a first time author, the feedback has been fantastic.
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
Sales have been better than anticipated. Writing your first book is not easy, and I expected only a handful of family members and friends to buy it. Unravel has been out for just over two months now and the sales have been consistent throughout. I’m expecting plenty spikes and dips as time goes on, but that’s all part of the game.
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
As an indie author, I was advised not to bother with print books. Of course, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a book in your hand, and I wanted to see my books in print – so I ignored them and did a small print run regardless. I’ve sold all of them, but mostly through friends and family, and through word of mouth. I’m looking for distributors to perhaps get them into some local stores, and will also look at using CreateSpace in order to get some books printed for the overseas market. My printed books are currently only available to South Africans, purely because the price of shipping is too high. I would like to continue to focus on sales on the online market, but I’m interested in seeing how far I can push the printed sales too.
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
My ebooks are priced at $3.99 on Amazon. I came to this figure after a lot of research and asking around. A lot of first timers set their books too high and wonder why they don’t get sales. I’m new to the industry and I don’t expect people to pay a lot for a book from someone they have never heard of. I think this is a great starting price. My printed books are going for R180, and I am yet to decide what price they will be for the overseas market.
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 am actively pursuing a career as a full-time author, so writing more books has never been a question for me. I’m a lot more confident now that my first book is out on the market. I now have a better understanding of what to do and what not to do.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
I decided to go exclusive with Amazon for my first book, so for my second I’d like to open my publication to a wider audience. I’ve heard pros and cons with both marketing strategies so I’d like to play around with this myself. That’s the joy with indie publishing – you can try different methods for each book and learn from your own experiences going forward.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
I battled with this one. I’ve been a freelance writer and graphic / layout designer for a long time, but the majority of my work over the past few years has been in the writing field. Despite this I continued to call myself a designer whenever someone asked. I began calling myself a writer only when I started my first book, and I now say it with great pride!
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
I like writing first thing in the morning and late at night. I work for myself, and during the day I have a hundred different distractions. Finishing the novel and seeing it out in the world is the biggest motivation factor for me.
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
At the moment people seem most interested in self-publishing versus traditional publishing. For this I always say that they must research both sides, and decide what works better for them.
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Just write! Then while you’re writing, read about writing, join groups, speak to other authors, learn the craft, and be kind to yourself.