From Imagination To Publication

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Have you ever wondered how authors get their start?
How do they get agents?
How do they get published?
Is it luck? Talent? Drive?

This segment is an attempt to satisfy my immense answer the one question I'm dying to ask every author out there: 

How did your book become a book?


Carol Oates
Author of 
The EMBER Series
The SHADE Series

Hi, Jessica. Thanks for having me on here today to discuss my publishing journey. Since 2010, I have published eight times in novel and short story format. It might surprise you to know I had to look up to my wall and count my framed covers. It can be easy to forget how far I’ve come when I don’t feel I’ve come very far at all. I’m not sure I would say I chose this path. It’s more like I’m walking along a winding path with lots of turn offs. Some are blocked, some have gate-keepers who won’t let me through, and some I took a look at and decided to keep walking. So, let’s get started.


Do you have an agent?
No, I don’t have an agent at this time.

How many queries did you send?
I’ll be honest and say not enough. I probably gave up too easy. I guess the figure is a couple of dozen at most. That’s hardly a blip compared to most authors.  

If represented, how long did it take to get your agent?
Like I said, I gave up easy. Agents and authors are like puzzle pieces in the industry of publishing. Each has to fit perfectly into the others puzzle to work efficiently. It’s time consuming to find the right fit. I have a disabled son and my time is limited. Finding time to write is difficult and finding time to search for an agent is impossible right now. I would love an agent someday.  


Are you traditionally published or self-published?
Traditionally published.

How did you (or your agent) find your publisher?
My five novels are published through Omnific Publishing and distributed through Simon and Schuster. Omnific was started by the same people who ran Twilighted in the fandom universe. I was a part of the fandom at the time. I believed in what they were trying to do and their goals as a publisher so I submitted to them. 

How long did it take to find a publisher?
How long is a piece of string? I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I decided to publish and chased up a few agents and then went through some personal upheaval. I backed away from publishing for a few years. When I was ready to get back in the game, Omnific was my first stop. 

What do you like about your publisher?
My publisher has always allowed me lots of artistic input on my books. I picked the cover for four of my five releases. I’ve been lucky with wonderful editors. I have always gotten an almost immediate response to any questions.  Royalty reports and royalties are always delivered promptly.

What do you dislike about your publisher?
I would love to see more of a marketing push for the books. My publisher has some amazing books flying under the radar because readers don’t know they are there. 

Did you or your agent hit any snags along the way, and if so how did you overcome them?
A big snag for me was the changeover to Simon and Schuster. As an unavoidable side effect, all my existing books lost their rankings and never regained them. Links changed so past publicity led to dead pages. Books from other authors didn’t release on time so I was reluctant to do a big push for my last release, Something Wicked. As expected, it wasn’t readily available on the release date. It bombed. I don’t want to blame anyone. It’s very possible it would have bombed anyway. It was just unfortunate timing and not anyone in particulars fault. 

Did traditional publishing get your book(s) in Barnes & Noble or other bookstores?

Did your publisher produce a hardcover of your book or just paperback?

Did your publisher create an audiobook for you?
No, although they have released an audiobook of another of their releases. It’s not out of the question for the future. 

Looking back would you do anything differently?
At the time, the decisions I made were right for me. They were good choices at the time. I don’t believe I would do anything differently.


What made you decide to self pub some of your work?
I’ve always been the sort of person who can’t do a little of something. If I do it, I have to invest fully. I decided it was important to explore self-publishing to get a better idea of exactly what it takes to bring a manuscript from conception to the finished book.

Did you do everything yourself (such as cover design, formatting, etc.) or did you hire out?
Apart from editing, I did it all myself. 

Which platform (such as Createspace) do you self-publish through?
My self-published work is through Kindle and Smashwords for other outlets. I have yet to self-pub in print.

Have you researched or considered getting a hardcover printed of your book? What about audio?
I considered print copies of my novella and went as far as formatting for print. I haven’t considered audio.

What do you like about self-publishing?
I liked the speed of the process. Self-publishing wouldn’t be my first choice, but never say never. 

What do you dislike about self-publishing?
I love to write, but I’m not a huge fan of being a publisher. I found it stressful being responsible for bringing all the aspects of publishing together.  I couldn’t afford a team and I like working within a team. 

Looking back would you do anything differently?
I’m glad I tried self-publishing. It gave me a renewed respect for all the work that goes into a book, regardless of if it’s Self or Trade published.


What marketing tactics worked for you?
Early blog tours and blog events with other authors worked to get my name out there to a degree. However, if we are talking effort verses return, I think the only thing that really works is word of mouth.

If you are traditionally published, what did your publisher do to market your book?
My publisher arranged blog tours for my novels and assigned a marketing assistant to act as an intermediate with reviewers. They advertised at book conventions and provided gift baskets, and other prizes for giveaways. They also used social media to promote. I was offered help with early promotional graphics but declined since it was something I could do myself.


What lessons have you learned? Any advice for those about to go down your path?
Publishing is hard and I think that surprises some people. It’s really hard. Grow a thick skin because no matter how wonderful your work is, you can’t please everyone. Write for yourself first. Don’t try to follow trends because they move too fast. Read a lot. A good reader makes a better writer.


When Candra Ember wakes up in hospital after a dangerous encounter with a red-haired woman, she is shocked to discover that seeing a winged boy wasn’t her imagination. Candra is exposed to a world of rivalry and sacrifice she never knew existed, and the aftermath of a war to save humanity thousands of years ago. Soon she finds herself relentlessly stalked by Sebastian, a beautiful and arrogant Watcher Angel and romantically pursued by his darkly seductive rival, Draven. Ultimately, dubious about her own goodness, Candra’s very existence compromises a tentative peace in the city of Acheron.

About the Author

Carol Oates came into the world on Christmas morning, in an elevator. Raised just across the street from the childhood home of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, it was only a matter of time before Carol’s love of all things supernatural would emerge.

She began experimenting with fiction at school and keeps the notebook containing her first unpublished novel in her desk drawer. Over three decades later, all her stories still begin life scrawled on paper.

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