Here it is December 11, 2012 and we are ten days away from the end of the world – at least that’s what some would say. Many, of course, debate the wisdom of the Mayans. Interestingly enough, the topic has spurned the creation of many books one of which is featured here. This is an interview of a friend of mine related to her book – The 13th Cycle – found here.
- In a world that has become obsessed with the Mayan Calendar and it’s predictions, what motivated you to write this book?
Partly my own obsessions and fears about the Maya calendar. Earlier this year, my mom visited me and stressed that she wanted me home for December 21, just in case the world ended. This got me thinking about the Maya, and I decided the best way to battle this fear was to learn as much as possible about the calendar and understand what it meant to the ancient Maya. I also wanted to write an entertaining story that would make me (and hopefully other people) feel more optimistic about the topic. Of course, my story is fiction so there are a lot of added elements, but I did incorporate a lot of my research.
- You talk about a conspiracy in your work – explain?
That would give away the whole story! But I will say that there is a covert group who want to use the Maya calendar for their own purposes. And the conspiracy involves keeping the origins of a particular ancient Maya calendar secret.
- Did your book accomplish what you originally intended?
I think so. The book evolved a lot, especially since I wrote it the agile way. By doing that, I used reader feedback to shape the story, and I think it became a lot more interesting. It’s fast-paced, it is overall optimistic, and I did include within the story links to sources, so readers can easily learn more about the ancient Maya.
- Share a bit of your background and help my readers know at a deeper level who you are…
I have a M.S. in publishing from NYU, a deep interest in digital publishing, and I’ve worked for Simon & Schuster, NBC Publishing, and The Experiment Publishing as an ebook developer.
On a more personal note, I’m originally from California and hope to get back there someday soon. I miss the weather terribly. I’m also like a lot of other writers, and have been writing stories since elementary school. It’s just taken me until now to finish something worthy of publishing.
- You have an interest in helping indie writers with their ebooks – tell me more about that work?
Yes! As I said, I have a deep interest in digital publishing, and my thesis at NYU was a business plan for a subscription site that could help out indie authors. This past weekend, my partner and I launched the alpha site, Write or Read (http://writeorread.com). Write or Read will show authors of self-published ebooks metrics about their books, such as basic demographics about their readers, how long it takes people to read their books, and what percentage of the book they finish reading. I believe having these insights will ultimate help indie writers be more successful.
- Tell my readers about your process – crowd-funding – “Pubslush”?
In order to create the best book possible, I believe it’s incredibly important to hire a proper editor and copy-editor. One of the obstacles for indie writers is not having the funds to hire editors, so I used crowd-funding to raise money to help cover the costs. It’s a lot of hard work, but I used Pubslush because that platform is specifically for people raising money for book projects. I did not do as well as I had hoped, but I did get some backing to help pay my editors.
- What have you learned from your foray into ebooks – share three things that aspiring writers need to know?
- Revise. It helps to get feedback, especially from readers you trust. And it’s important to hire an editor. Even if you have a great idea for a book, if it’s not written well, people will give you negative reviews, you will lose sales, and it will start a vicious cycle.
- Distribute through as many channels as possible. I’ll admit, there are certain exceptions where Kindle Select may help an author more, but I think that largely depends on whether or not the author already as a following. For new authors, I recommend getting your ebook out everywhere—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, etc. I wrote a blog post a while back that explains why it’s important (http://www.digitalpubbing.com/self-publishing-ebooks-why-maximizing-distribution-matters/).
- Write a lot. I’m working on this one myself. A lot of authors I’ve interviewed have told me that having a lot of books for sale is helping to boost their success. Readers find one of their books, decide they like the author, and end up buying more of that author’s books.
- Assume this last question is directed to media – what one thing would you want media to know about you and your services that you feel would make a difference?
I’m trying to level the digital publishing playing field. Right now only retailers have access to helpful information and metrics, and indie authors are in the dark about what’s working and how they can sell more books. With Write or Read, authors will know what exactly about their writing and their books readers like, and will be able to tweak existing books or write new stories tailored to their audience. They’ll be able to find their “1,000 true fans.”