Interview: P. J. Hoover Talks About E-Publishing SOLSTICE

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!

PJ: Thanks!

On Tuesday, I’ll talk with P. J. about marketing and more…

Parker Peevyhouse

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “Interview: P. J. Hoover Talks About E-Publishing SOLSTICE

  1. I’m so glad to hear more of the details behind this book. I LOVE the cover and I think it’s so interesting that Laura was the one to suggest this route, not PJ. Can’t wait to hear more. Thanks for sharing!

  2. t

    I have been lurking in this whole e-pub/self-pub conversation, and I’m excited to see this — gobsmacked, that a literary agency would suggest e-publishing. So many of the people who contact me whether personally or via the blog to which I contribute, seem content to simply bypass traditional publishing entirely in an effort to get their words out there, and sometimes they haven’t worked as hard on those words as they should. I totally support indie publishing, but I want it to be GOOD. I look forward to hearing more about P.J.’s adventures…

    • Parker Peevyhouse

      That’s what I find so fascinating about PJ’s story–that she worked with her agent to bring this book out. Other agencies are doing this with backlist titles, but it looks like agents are also eying front-list titles for self-publishing now.

      • Joni Sensel

        Yeah, I know of at least two other agents who have been completely supportive of their authors doing this… even if not actually getting involved the way PJ’s has. Interesting.

    • Thanks for reading! I’m really excited about the whole process and opportunity, too!

  3. Plan to download the book today. E-books are a natural evolution of the book industry and it should be something every writer explores. I’ve been selling mini art lesson e-books for 2 years now and I can only say that it was a great decision. Had I explored the option to produce a non-fiction resource book, I know I wouldn’t have done as well.
    Kudos to both you and Laura!

  4. The cover is beautiful and I love mythology based books! Congrats, Tricia!

  5. Jan

    I agree, the book looks wonderful and attractive! However, what about our school libraries? How will kids get access to this great title and others? Very very few of my kids have a Kindle or a book reader. It’s a real case of the haves and the have-nots.

    Publishers don’t seem keen on making e-books easy for schools to buy and circulate. Right now my only choice is Follett e-books which open in a web-based book reader online. That’s not what kids and the public want. Amazon will only let me link 6 kindles together to share any titles I buy. I have 1000 kids here. I can’t begin to afford the expensive subscription e-book services – that would take a big chunk out of my yearly book budget.

    I don’t see a clear path here right now, at all. I hope you wonderful authors keep poking your e-publishers to think about schools and how much we buy and promote the books that kids read.

    • Parker Peevyhouse

      I was just talking to someone about this issue yesterday. I did notice that Amazon announced it will soon allow Kindles to download e-books from libraries that use OverDrive. Does your library use that service?

      I also know that SOLSTICE will soon be available as a POD book, so I think a paper copy could be ordered for a library that way.

      I do hope that libraries will soon be able to acquire lots of e-books and find easy ways to get those e-books to young readers!

      • Jan

        Overdrive for a school library of my size is $4000 per year. School libraries don’t have that kind of extra money available these days.

      • Parker Peevyhouse

        Wow. That’s quite a big number.

        I hope the POD option will make things easier for you.

    • Jan, I hear you, and I do think publishers need to address this even more in the approaching days/months/years. I’m not sure how the future will look, but my thoughts are that it will be heavy in digital.
      That said, my book, SOLSTICE, will be coming out in print, too, in the future. I’m not sure how soon, but it is coming!
      And thank you!

  6. Awesome interview! I was really curious about Solstice (I think I read an early version of this?), and I think this whole thing is so cool. I just downloaded my very own copy and am looking forward to reading. I’m also looking forward to the next post. :) Congrats PJ!!

  7. Natalie Aguirre

    Great interview. It’s so interesting to hear how the decision to self publish was made. That’s awesome, P.J., that your agent suggested it. I love the cover and the story sounds really interesting. Can’t wait to read it. Hope you’ll update us once your book has been out for awhile.

  8. Gale Albright

    Great interview. The cover of the book is wonderful. It really captures the idea of a solstice, with the sun striking through at a pre-ordained spot in Stonehenge on June 21 (I’m a Druid baby, born on that day!)
    Best of luck with Solstice. The publishing industry seems to change every day. I need to learn a lot about it. Thanks for all the information.

    • Parker Peevyhouse

      Glad you stopped by! There seems to be a lot of changes to keep track of right now.

    • Yay for Druid babies, Gale! And I love your whole view on the cover. It makes me love it even more. SOLSTICE wasn’t the first title, but once we came up with it, we both realized it was perfect!
      Thanks for reading!

  9. Congratulations, PJ! I didn’t realize you self-pubbed this – you go girl! I think you’re right on the money (hopefully, right? :-) about having your story hit the market while the dystopian trend is hot. And I think it’s fantastic that your agent partnered with you and helped edit, as well as being involved in cover selection and layout. it looks GREAT! I’d love to hear more about your POD plan. Best of luck!!

    • Thanks, Kiki! It’s all new ground to me, so I was thrilled to have the agency working with me. Not sure about when POD will be available, but I’ll keep it updated on my blog and website, etc.
      Hope all is great!

  10. I downloaded Solstice to my kindle a few days ago :) I can’t wait to read it!! And this was a really fabulous interview, I’d been curious about how this process worked.

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