Thursday, September 29, 2016

Interviewing Bestselling Author Elle Casey - Part Two

Last week I had the pleasure of introducing you to bestselling author Elle Casey in part one of her interview (read HERE). This week we continue our discussion about life and writing within the world of self-publishing.

DAB:  Have you written stories your whole life or only recently when deciding to pursue a novel writing career?

EC:    I have written stores my whole life, unofficially. I remember writing a romance for a girlfriend of mine in seventh grade who had an unrequited crush on a boy. It featured her as the main character and him as the boy pursuing her. She begged me for new chapters everyday. That was fun to do, but we were always panicked someone would get their hands on it. I also did a lot of letter writing when I was very young, as a teenager, and in my 20s, before computers and printers were in every house. In those letters I told stories and many people have saved them because they liked them so much. I’m an attorney (one of those many work lives I mentioned) and there's an awful lot of writing included in that career field, although it’s mostly non-fiction. I decided to try writing novels in November 2011. I had read an article about Amanda Hocking and that inspired me to try.

DAB:  Inspiration well channeled, I must say.  Going from being an attorney to a teacher and now an author, did those around you support your career decision or did you struggle with detractors?

EC:    Anyone who knew how well I was doing was absolutely supportive. Other people who were kind of clueless about self-publishing probably thought I was a weirdo, but I didn't pay any attention to them.

DAB:  Not so easy to do sometimes, but good thing your husband and family were firmly in your corner.  That had to make you breathe a little easier, but what were some things you researched before diving into this crazy new self-publishing world?

EC:    When I read about Darcie Chan and Amanda Hocking and how they were publishing directly to readers without the middlemen, and how they did it almost immediately after they were done writing and editing their books, I decided this was something I'd like to try.  My goal was to sell my first book to a single stranger who liked it, and I figured if I was able to accomplish that goal, it would mean that I had a possible future as a writer. I achieved that goal in my first month of publishing.

DAB:  Ha!  What would you say to those detractors now?

EC:    I don't feel the need to say anything. My success speaks for itself. Some people are just negative by nature, and I don't waste my time on them.

DAB:  And what a success it is too, with so many books published in such a short time.  So what steps do you take to get the word out about an upcoming release?

EC:    My assistant gets in touch with my ARC team, we run ads, use social media and my newsletter to let as many readers know about the new book as possible. I sometimes will run contests for free or reduced price books. I will also do cross-promotions with other authors where we share each other's work with our readers to help spread the word. When I have a release with Montlake, they do price promotions, use NetGalley to get reviewers on board, Goodreads giveaways, and other promotional levers that only Amazon has access to.

DAB:  Ah, I've seen some of this implemented in your newsletter (sign up for Elle's newsletter HERE).  How far ahead of release do you begin your marketing campaign, and how does publishing a book every six weeks or so affect planning?

EC:    Not far, since I publish so frequently. I finish a book, get started on a new one, and my team starts the marketing machine going as we release the new book. That goes for my indie books. My trad books with Montlake follow their plan, which is marketing months out.

DAB:  After a new release, is there a process you go through when deciding what novel to work on next?

EC:    Usually I will work on the books fans most want me to work on, and I try to spread myself out among genres. For example, my fantasy readers have been waiting for the next War of the Fae books for a loooong time. They’re next. But sometimes I have contractual obligations that decide which book I’m working on.

DAB:  Waiting for more DRIFERS' ALLIANCE here.  I just love Captain Cass and the Ginger Twins (hey, sounds like a music group). So who is your favorite created character thus far, and why?

EC:    Probably Tim the pixie in the War of the Fae series. He’s a blast. Whenever I’m writing his dialogue or have him in a scene, my spirits are soaring. It’s impossible not to love that little guy.

DAB:  Okay, you've convinced me.  Now I'm gonna have to try your WOTF fantasy series.  Speaking of fantasy, have your travels and life experiences bled into any stories you've written?

EC:    I took a trip to Scotland and the Isle of Skye a couple of years ago, and I stumbled upon some information about the McKenzie clan. That’s what sparked my novel Shine Not Burn which made the New York Times bestseller list. I also used the setting in my War of the Fae books. Scotland and the Isle of Skye are magical places. I think it's impossible not to be inspired there.

DAB:  Sounds heavenly!  I'll have to depend upon your imagination/inspiration there.  Settings aside, how do your characters/plots come to you?  Dreams?  Situations?  An amalgamation of people you know?

EC:    Life. My past. My future. Things I see on the street or daydream or nightdream about. Sometimes weird stories on are fodder for good books too.

DAB:  Isn't that the truth?  Life oftentimes is literally stranger than fiction, but that doesn't stop us from reading about it, eh?  What is your preferred reading medium (paper, electronic, audio), and what are you reading right now?

EC:    I read in both paper and e-book form. I don't like audiobooks very much. The narrators usually sound very different than the narrator in my head and I find it distracting. I also read really fast and audiobooks take too long. I have very little free time right now, what with my writing, family, and animals, so I have to cram the books in as fast as I can. Right now I’m reading a book for book club called Extraordinary People by Peter May. I didn’t choose it, but he’s a great writer, so it’s a pleasure to read.

DAB:  I don't know how you find the time to read, what with your prolific output of writing.  What would you say then is the most satisfying thing about being a bestselling author?  The most difficult?

EC:    The most satisfying thing is getting messages from my fans telling me how much they like my work. Especially when people tell me how one of my books helped them through a hard time or made them laugh so hard they peed their pants or woke their spouse up in the middle of the night when they were reading in bed. I know about that experience from a reader's perspective, so it's really flattering to hear somebody saying it about my work. The most difficult part of becoming a more popular writer is that it tends to bring the online trolls out to play. They can be very unkind which is demotivating for a writer. Writing is a creative endeavor, and if your heart isn’t in it, it's almost impossible to do. Trolls kill creativity_; at least, that’s how it is for me.

DAB:  Unrelentingly true.  When life becomes difficult, writing becomes impossible.  How does your mood/emotional state affect your writing (life situations, bad reviews, etc.), and how do you deal with the down times

EC:    Well, the most critical thing someone’s ever said is that I’m dead stupid and should never even think of writing another book for the rest of my life, but that kind of garbage isn’t helpful and really isn’t about me so much as it’s about an angry, mentally unbalanced person with free access to the Internet. As silly as those kinds of reviews are, and even though I can rationally tell myself that it’s just a person blowing off steam, it still makes it difficult for me to work after reading one. What I’ll do nowadays is read all the negative reviews on a certain day, prepare myself as best I can for the anger and vitriol, and then take a couple days off to cry and hate myself before I get over it and go back to work. lol. (not kidding, but lol anyway) I do, however, get helpful writing tips from reader reviews, those that are actually discussing the book and not me as an author: things like a romance happening too fast, not enough description of a character to get a good picture, cliffhangers (I ignore any complaints about those, haha), etc. If enough people tell me something they didn’t like about a book, character, or series, I am definitely thinking about it as I write the next book, assuming I agree with it. Sometimes I think a reader just didn’t get what I was trying to do with a certain character or scene, so I just let it go. But if I think their gripe is legit, I work to be better next time.

DAB:  Oh yeah.  I've had my fair share of reviewers angry about cliffhangers too.  However, it's good to hear you've learned to take those in stride and kept on plugging away.  Now that we're here at the end of our interview, do you have any further advice you’d like to offer the authors in our audience?

EC:    Ignore the haters. Even the most amazing authors in the history of writing have them, and none of us should expect to be different or allow those jerks to define who we are as authors. It was my readers who gave me that advice.

I’m often asked to give advice to to aspiring authors. Here’re my 2 cents: Write. Don’t just dream about writing, or talk about wanting to write, or read about writing, or do practice exercises designed to help you learn how to write. Just write. And then keep doing that. You can’t have a career as a writer if you can’t finish writing a book. Then, once you’ve done that, edit over and over until it’s the best you can do. Then ask for feedback from trusted, gentle sources. If you have problems with your writing, read a book or two on writing and edit again. You’ll never be a good writer if you don’t WRITE. Also, if you don’t read a lot, you should probably read at least 50 books in your preferred genre before you even start to write in it, because you have to know what readers of that genre will be looking for. Reader expectations must be met always and exceeded whenever possible. If you’re not a big reader, I don’t think it’s possible to be a big writer.

Sage advice, Elle, though I still wonder where you find the time to read what with all the writing you do.  Keep at it, though, and we'll keep reading.

If you haven't had a chance to read any of Elle Casey's work, dear readers, she's got plenty of material to choose from in a wide variety of genres to satisfy your tastes.  I can personally recommend her sci-fi space opera series DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE.  Now I'm off to sample the first in her ten book series WAR OF THE FAE so I can see why Tim the pixie is such a favorite character of hers.

Happy reading!

Elle Casey's Bio:
ELLE CASEY, a former attorney and teacher, is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling American author who lives in France with her husband, three kids, and a number of furry friends. She has written books in several genres and publishes an average of one full-length novel per month.


By Degrees
Rebel Wheels (3-book series)
Just One Night (romantic serial)
Just One Week
Love in New York (3-book series)
Shine Not Burn (2-book series), also available as an Audiobook
Bourbon Street Boys (3-book series), also available as an Audiobook
Desperate Measures

All the Glory: How Jason Bradley Went from Hero to Zero in Ten Seconds Flat
Don’t Make Me Beautiful
Wrecked (2-book series), Book 1 also available as an Audiobook

War of the Fae (10-book series) *Book 1, The Changelings, is a free ebook at most retailers*
Ten Things You Should Know About Dragons (short story, The Dragon Chronicles)
My Vampire Summer
Aces High

Drifters’ Alliance (ongoing series)
Winner Takes All (short story prequel to Drifters’ Alliance, Dark Beyond the Stars Anthology)
The Ivory Tower (short story standalone, Beyond the Stars: A Planet Too Far Anthology)

Apocalypsis (4-book series)*Book 1, Kahayatle, is a free ebook at most retailers*

Duality (2-book series)
Monkey Business (short story)
Dreampath (short story, The Telepath Chronicles)
Pocket Full of Sunshine (short story & screenplay)

A personal note from Elle ...
If you've enjoyed any of my books, please take a moment to leave a review on the site where you bought this book, Goodreads, or any book blogs you participate in, and tell your friends! I love interacting with my readers, so if you feel like shooting the breeze or talking about books or your family or pets, please visit me. You can find me at ...

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  1. Thank you for this awesome interview! We hope your readers enjoy it :)

    1. Heck, I enjoyed it too! Here's hoping the last few days haven't stolen all your hair either. :-) Thanks ever so much for coordinating all of this, and I'm looking forward to Elle's next DA release.