By NKKingston (SolelyFictional)
Welcome to the second interview in this series. My guest today is Myne Whitman, who published her novel A Heart to Mend through Authorhouse.
Sheltered Gladys Eborah has spent most of her life in a suburb of Enugu brought up in a deprived single parent household after losing her father as a young girl. After finishing her education, she moves to Lagos to seek a job and moves in with an estranged aunt who now wants to be forgiven for all perceived wrongs. Gladys suspects Aunt Isioma abandoned them out of disdain for their poverty, and has the uneasy role of the bridge between both families. Her new friendships and career achievements gradually transition Gladys into an independent young woman. Soon, she begins to fall for wealthy Edward Bestman who, though physically attracted to her, is emotionally unavailable. Edward is very wealthy, but he is haunted by the past of his illegitimate birth and other secrets he will not share. The themes of premarital sex, social class mobility, and romantic ups and downs that mark a budding love are fully explored. Some unnamed people are about to take over Edward’s business empire and Gladys is implicated. Who are these people who want to betray him and destroy their happiness?
First off, Myne, could you tell me a bit about your novel?
A Heart to Mend is a romantic suspense novel set in Nigeria. It is about Gladys, a young woman, newly arrived in Lagos and from a deprived background. She had been estranged from her aunt and is a bit cynical of rich people. While still working on her new relationship with her Aunt Isioma, she meets Edward, a wealthy egoist who is surprising kindhearted. She is smitten by his physical looks and his interest in her though she continues to feel he’s out of her reach.
Edward is highly attracted to her physically but as time goes on, he realizes he may have set up his heart for a fall. He is from a shadowed past and has been deeply scarred by events that happened when he was younger. They are able to surmount this and all other obstacles before them including differing views on premarital sex, social class and contrary advice from friends. Gladys and Edward decide to trust their hearts with each other and begin to prepare for their wedding. This main story line runs through the subplot of growing friendships, family reunions, the Nigerian stock market, business intrigues and a vendetta.
The novel details how we can be affected by events from our past and how it may limit our opportunities in the present especially in the area of love and relationships. Gladys obsesses over the divide between her and Edward, while he had barricaded his heart and was not letting anyone in, man or woman. The message is that none of us is perfect but we should be able to keep our heart open for that (sometimes one) person who has enough masking tape to cover our imperfections.
Why did you decide to self publish, and what drew you to Authorhouse?
I decided to self publish because I really wanted to tell a contemporary Nigerian story. I had shopped around for a few months for a traditional publisher in the United States but most replies stated that they would prefer a romance set in this country. There are not many publishers in Nigeria and the few there, are a bit resource constrained. So I began to research self-publishing. I read some good testimonies about the process and how it can be successful if one is willing to dedicate some time to it. I felt I could follow the route since I was a full time writer and I already had an audience through my blog. Also I read about other authors who had done the same and what their experiences had been like with different companies.
I chose Author House because I read several good things about them. They assign you a design team, a book consultant and a sales person. I liked that they had access to a large number of the major retailers in America, Europe and the UK. They also have various packages including editing and promotions and you choose the one that suits you best and which you can afford. I couldn’t afford that so I first improved on my writing by attending workshops and interacting with other writer-bloggers which helped to polish my manuscript to very good standard. There were also a lot of author resources on the Authorhouse website to guide one through all the stages including marketing and publicity and that convinced me.
What kind of services did you get from the package you did go for? Did you feel they were worth the money?
Yes. I paid for the basic package and then added copyright and Library of Congress. With the discount they had then, it came to just under $600 and that worked for me. The Royalties may not be that great but I’m fine with the book being acessible from virtually everywhere including physical bookstores.
How long did it take from deciding to purchase the package and actual publication? What were the major milestones for you?
It took about 2 months. There was the interior Galley and edits, the cover galley and corrections and then the final going to press. The final high point of course was getting the first complimentary copy.
What were the pros and cons of using Authorhouse for you?
So far, it has been more of pros, all the cons like some typos and grammar misses are all mine. For the package I bought, I didn’t really expect too much from them.
Who would you recommend it to? Who would you recommend try and different path?
I would recommend Authorhouse to someone who has a niche audience and does not have too high hopes of the outcome. They must also be willing to do a lot of publicity. Anyone who writes mainstream or literary fiction I would recommend continuing with queries to agents and traditional publishers.
What kind of publicity have you done so far? What has had the most impact on sales, in your opinion?
My PR has mostly been through my blog, Facebook and Twitter. There was also this site I found, Freado.com through which I was able to share the first chapter of my book with in-built publicity platforms like auto-twitter, email campaign, etc.
And maybe this is a con of Authorhouse or just something I’d prefer added. Reports come quarterly and in that sense, it’s hard to see exactly what the sales trends are and what dots to join. So I just keep doing the best I can.
I think most places give quarterly royalty reports. My Ravenous Romance royalties did show where the payments were coming from, since third-party retailers run a quarter behind and take a large chunk of the sales, alas.
On that note, do you know who you make the most sales through?
My book was just published in December 2009 and I have gotten just two reports, with most of the sales through Authorhouse. Amazon sales started in Feb and like you just confirmed run a quarter behind. I think from the book tracking there that I have done quite well but I can’t say for sure till I get the next report.
Would you go straight to Authorhouse with any future novels, or would you shop them around first?
I will shop around although I already have a publishing offer from Authorhouse for my next novel. It is a package for next books from authors who have shown they can publicize their books and whose previous books have performed fairly in sales. It never hurts for one to spread their options. One thing I do like about Authorhouse is that I keep all the rights so I can still re-publish at any time.
A Heart to Mend is available to buy now from Myne’s website, or from Amazon. Check it out!