With the explosion of chatter online about authors who make their careers by self-publishing e-books, I was eager to talk with former Spectacle contributor P. J. Hoover about her new YA novel SOLSTICE, which has just been e-published with the help of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. This is a new model for literary agencies who are interested in finding a place in the e-publishing process, and P. J. explains here how that partnership worked in her case.
SOLSTICE is set in a future plauged by a Global Heating Crisis and is about a young woman who becomes entangled in a love triangle of Greek mythic proportions. It’s available now on Amazon and Smashwords, and will be available soon on Barnes&Noble.com.
Parker Peevyhouse: It’s been a while since we’ve seen you here! Looks like a lot has been happening since then. Let’s hear about why you chose to self-publish. Why this book?
P. J. Hoover: This book is really timely for right now. It’s a mythology-based dystopian novel, and right now both of those elements are hot. I think the tipping point was really looking at the market and seeing the books that were coming out and knowing that even if we did sell to a traditional press it could take over a year to come out. Like even into 2013.
Parker: Which means you might miss the trend for dystopian or mythology-based novels.
PJ: And also, given how exciting all the e-book news is these days, it seemed like a really fun thing to do.
Parker: Had you previously submitted the manuscript to publishers?
PJ: My agent [Laura Rennert] and I had subbed a very different version earlier (about a year ago) with minimal dystopian elements. We got close to selling but never found the right fit.
Parker: How did you talk to your agent about self-pubbing?
PJ: I didn’t. I had a phone call scheduled with her to talk about what our submission strategy would be. We talked about that a bit and then she said, “Well, there is another option.” And she suggested the self-publishing route.
Parker: Was this before or after Amanda Hocking’s success with self-publishing?
PJ: This was two months ago–so after her news went viral.
Parker: Had the agency ever suggested self-publishing to their other authors or was this a new view they were taking?
PJ: I’m not sure if they had suggested this to any of their other clients or not. But once I decided I wanted to go the indie pub route, they took the ball and ran with it. We did another round of edits. And then a copy edit, and two proofreading edits.
Parker: Is that more editing than an e-book usually gets? I guess it probably varies.
PJ: We did many rounds back and forth. My agent and her reader are some of the most gifted people I can imagine when it comes to editing.
Parker: Were you always cool with the suggestions?
PJ: There are definitely some things I stood against changing. For example, the character of Piper’s mom–I really had an idea of how I wanted her to be, and though it was mentioned a few times, I didn’t change her (too much). I think in some ways, they imagined a happier world in the world of gods, and I viewed the world of gods as a bit of a cruel and deceitful one.
Parker: The agency did a lot more than editing, though, right?
PJ: They chose the cover picture and found a cover designer. (The POD book should come out a while after the e-book.) So, the agency arranged for cover design and layout and editing, and they are getting their regular 15% of royalties.
Parker: Did you get to approve the cover? How much say did you have? You like to think e-pubbing gives you more control…
PJ: They sent me the cover photo, which I loved, and then they sent me the actual cover and really, it was so gorgeous, I never would have even thought to say anything should change. I was in love with it the second I saw it.
Parker: That worked out well!
PJ: It really did.
Parker: It is a really great cover!
On Tuesday, I’ll talk with P. J. about marketing and more…