Jul 272011

Today I have Laura Sullivan here to answer a few questions. She has several published YA books under her own name, and has a new adult book, Brightwing, that she self-published under the name Sullivan Lee.

As both a traditionally published and self-published author, how do the two publishing worlds differ?

I’ll never turn my back on traditional publishing – I adore my editors and agent, and I think traditional publishing will always be the backbone of literary life. Still, though a backbone might be vital, an organism needs more than that. Wow, what a thrill this is, to be self-publishing! The freedom! The adventure! I know I’m by no means the first to do this, but I feel like a pioneer exploring glorious new territory.

In traditional publishing, to reach a large audience you first have to please a very small one. First your agent, then an editor, and an acquisitions board. Literary taste is so subjective in any case, and when you add to it unfathomable calculations about a book’s predicted performance, it’s a wonder anything gets published. My editor and I have similar tastes most of the time, so I hope I’ll always be able to write a book for her list, but there are a lot of things I’m dying to write that I know she’d never take.

One of the many beautiful (and yes, intimidating) things about self publishing is that you leap right into the giant audience, arms wide open, waiting for them to embrace you. (Great if they catch you, splat if they don’t!) A self-published book is initially judged by the real public taste, rather than what an acquisitions board imagines the real public taste of the moment to be. (They’re often right – but by no means always.)

Both traditional and self-publishing are businesses, but traditional publishing usually can’t afford to take a risk on a book that can’t be neatly placed on a particular shelf. In the e-world, there are no shelves, and labels and categories can easily shift over time. With Brightwing, I wanted to write a men’s book that women would love, and a women’s book for men. (There shouldn’t be gender-specific books, but I’m using traditional publishing terminology.) Is Brightwing an action/adventure or a romance? Who should it be marketed to? Traditional publishers need to know this – and right away, too, because hardcover adult books only have a few weeks to prove themselves. With indie publishing, if men avoid the book, because of the love story element – but I really think they’d enjoy it – I can tweak the description accordingly. The e-world is flexible, and as far as we know (because the models we know today might change again) we have all the time in the world to find an audience.

I love the cover of Brightwing. Did you design it yourself?

Thank you so much, Sarah! I love it too! I picked out the images myself, but I don’t know how to use Photoshop so I hired a designer – Robin Ludwig Designs Inc. (http://www.rldprint.com/) – to put it all together for me. Isn’t the model gorgeous? So strong and confident, and she knows how to hold a gun! You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a photo of a beautiful woman with a weapon who isn’t licking it. Seriously? Is that what people think women do with weapons?

Lucy is a member of the Tequesta, an extinct Florida paleoindian tribe. Why the Tequesta?

I’ve always been fascinated with paleontology and archaeology, and Florida – my home state – is a perfect place to indulge in both, because for a lot of Florida’s history, humans coexisted with creatures right out of Clan of the Cave Bear. I’ve found pot sherds, arrowheads and beads, as well as bones from mammoths, giant sloths, and sabre-toothed cats. So when I decided to write about someone who was at home in the Everglades, it was only natural that I looked to prehistory and picked one of the extinct tribes. I also wanted the freedom to create legends and customs that, while fictitious, are plausible. I’ve done a ton of research on the paleoindians of Florida, and if pressed I could probably survive for quite a while in the Everglades. I wouldn’t want to, though! I love exploring the swamps for a day or so, but I love my air conditioning even more!

The Tequesta originally lived around Miami and the Keys, but it seemed reasonable that they’d know about the interior, too. They had little contact with Europeans, and vanished by the 18th century. But it struck me as quite possible that some of them retreated into the Everglades. The swamps certainly provided a sanctuary for the Creek tribes (which became the Seminole and Miccosukee) that moved into Florida just as the Tequesta died out. The immigrant tribes were very inclusive, welcoming escaped slaves, and if any Tequesta survived, their descendents might be living with the remaining Florida tribes today. I just tweaked history a bit.

What’s the hardest part of writing a book?

It used to be that the hardest part was passionately throwing myself into a book, believing in it with all my heart, really thinking, based on what I know of the market, that it would sell… and then having it rejected. I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of books accepted by editors, but rejection always stings. Now that I’ve decided to marry self-publishing to my traditional publishing career, though, I don’t have to worry about that. Now, I think the hardest part of my job is narrowing down what to write next. There are so many books begging to be written!

What’s your favourite part of writing a book?

I will NEVER cease to be amazed, awed, flattered and humbled that people actually read what I write. Writers spend so long in isolation, so many years of living in solitary hope, that suddenly having an audience is incredible. Whenever I hear that someone has read my book, I just start wiggling like a happy puppy who has just been patted. That is undoubtedly the best part!

What are your thoughts on ebooks? (i.e. love them, hate them, wave of the future)

I must admit I have a very visceral attachment to physical books. Still, I think the idea of e-books is wonderful too. There are still a couple of things holding me back from being a full-fledged convert, though – primarily the fact that I have yet to buy an e-reader! It is being budgeted for, but until then, it is too hard for me to do much reading on the computer. I write and edit all day, so by night time my eyes are a little bleary and blurry from looking at the screen. I do have Kindle for PC and Adobe Digital Editions on my computer, though, so I can keep up with books that are only in e-format. I think as soon as I get an e-reader I’ll be doing a lot of my reading on it. But I have a feeling I’ll be mostly reading self-published books on it – self published authors have a much saner concept of e-book pricing, and often no DRM.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you so much for having me on Workaday Reads, Sarah! As both a reader and a writer, I am deeply indebted to book review blogs like yours!

Thank you so much for answering my questions.

Want to win a copy of Brightwing?

Laura has offered to give away an amzing five ebook copies to lucky readers! They are available in PDF, ePub or Kindle versions. To enter, simply fill out the form below. To show your support for her, extra entries are available for following her blog through GFC or liking her Facebook page.

Giveaway is open worldwide until midnight August 2, 2011 EST. Winners will be selected using Random.org and will contacted by email.

Comments for Laura would be greatly appreciated, however they will not affect your entry into the giveaway. Or will they?

  5 Responses to “Interview: Laura Sullivan + Giveaway”

  1. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful interview with us today and for the lovely giveaway opportunity.

  3. Enjoyed the interview, and thanks so much for the giveaway! It sounds like a good book 🙂

  4. Loving your blog, will definitely follow it!

  5. Thanks for the giveaway.

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