Today we have Sasha Leigh sharing her experience as an author. To find more about Sasha, visit her website, blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, or Twitter.
What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?
The biggest benefit of going indie and self-publishing your own work is that you can retain all of your rights to the stories you've spent your time perfecting. Nobody tells you to change things or that something "just won't work." Your successes and failures are yours alone to own.
What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
In my opinion, and excluding the writing and editing process, the biggest challenge an indie author has is exposure, especially when they are just starting out. Building a readership is hard for indies. Many promotional sites charge for services, which makes sense from their standpoint, but a lot of indie authors are people who work full-time jobs and write because they have a passion for it. They have bills and other financial obligations that make utilizing paid services a challenge, limiting their spectrum for exposure. Consequently, this causes them to spend more time searching for services they CAN use, and less time writing.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing two series simultaneously: Twisted Fate and Cast From Power, though the latter has yet to be published. Book two in Twisted Fate, Fate's Return, was released on October 27, 2014, and the third installment, Fate's Demand, will be released in December (just in time for Christmas!). Fate's Exchange, the first novel in the series, is currently available for free on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, IBook, etc., and I am halfway through writing the fifth novel, Fate's Disguise. It is a six-book series about a girl who dies and is given a second chance to change her circumstances. The Sisters of Fate pull the strings behind the scenes, tasking angels to protect Alyssa, and as the series progresses, Alyssa is revealed to be the only one who can help them all. It is a YA Fantasy Romance, and reads like a mix of The Lovely Bones and Lauren Kate's Fallen series.
What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Never stop writing and use every critique, no matter how negative it may seem, as a tool to help you improve your skills.
Which authors inspire you?
Traditionally, I've read and enjoyed books by Lauren Kate, Jennifer Estep, Cassandra Claire, Richelle Mead, and Alyson Noel. My favourite indie author, Amanda Hocking, turned traditional, but her books are amazing.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I've always written poems, and I love art, but writing novels (excluding those I wrote and then deleted when I was younger) did not begin until just over a year ago. However, I spent the year prior to that reading and researching everything I could find about writing fiction. In the end, there was a story I couldn't shake, and decided that the only way I could move past it was to write it all down. After all that research, I realized that the only thing I really needed was a love of writing and the ability to take what I knew from the hundreds of books I read throughout the years, and use it as an example. So I wrote a book, and then another, and posted those on critique sites because I was too shy to share with anyone I actually knew. A lady found and read what I had posted, and asked a simple question: do you have an agent for publication? The rest... well, obviously my novels are published now :)
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I write a minimum of 2000 words per day, every day, even when I am on vacation. Because I work full-time in insurance Monday-Friday, this happens whenever and wherever I am able to complete it. Most of the time, however, I will fit it in after my daughter is in bed and on the weekends, and I always make sure I've met my quota before beginning any editing on books that have already been completed.
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
For my first novel, Casting Power (Cast From Power, #1), I wrote an outline for plots, timeline, schedules, characters, locations, and every little meaning behind descriptions and objects. However, once the writing began, revisions changed the story as it had been plotted. I started Twisted Fate as a distraction from Cast From Power, and didn't outline a thing. It started as a stand-alone novel, but quickly grew beyond what I had imagined, and now that I am in the middle of writing book five, I find myself going back to previous novels to make sure that everything is consistent.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
It takes a month or two to write a novel, depending on my schedule i.e. exams to study for in order to obtain a designation for work, my daughter, the hours I have to put in at work, and editing. I write everything longhand, and then type it out on the computer. While this saves the story from the dreaded delete button, and allows for a first edit during transcription, it is time-consuming. The fastest I have completed a novel is during the 2013 Christmas holiday when I spent a week house-sitting for my sister and took vacation from work. Both Fate's Return and Pulled Away were written during this time, becoming what I aptly refer to as "My Christmas Vacation."
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I am a very visual person, and before I ever thought of putting pen to paper, I was always painting, drawing, and browsing other artists' work. A single picture, for me, has the ability to inspire an entire story - and has. While I am writing, I try to think of the biggest theme of a novel or series, or even a pivotal scene, and then sketch an outline of what I want to have depicted on the cover. At that point, I find the pictures that fit, and create the cover myself.
How do you market your books?
My life doesn't have a lot of free time, and when I don't write, I get cranky. My marketing strategy hasn't followed any kind of plan other than post what I can where I can when time allows. I've utilized critique sites such as Wattpad, and posted promotional images and excerpts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Once in a while, when I have time, I submit my novel to be featured on book sites and request reviews. For now I am happy knowing the books are out there and readers seem to be enjoying them. When Cast From Power is launched, I will be following a more strategic plan by using what I've learned from Twisted Fate's release as a guide of what works and what doesn't.