Sandy Lender, author of the fantasy novel, Choices Meant for Gods, is a guest on my blog today.
Sandy, I’m so excited that you could join us today. My blog reflects my feelings and observations regarding the publication and marketing aspects of writing. I understand ArcheBooks Publishing released your fantasy novel, Choices Meant for Gods, in March of this year. I hope to follow in your footsteps soon so I have a few questions for you, based on some of my past blogs.
Jane: How long did Choices Meant for Gods take to write?
Sandy Lender: It took about 17 or 18 years to germinate; three years to write.
Jane: I have edited and reedited my contemporary women’s fiction novel, The Ride, so often that I have parts memorized. Were you ever able to read your manuscript without making changes?
Sandy Lender: This is kind of funny because, you see, with ArcheBooks Publishing, we get to make a final round of corrections before the “reprint” or replating. So, essentially, ummm, I’m still reading it and making changes. For instance, there’s a huge typo on page 13 and one on the very last page that will get fixed before that “reprint” happens. Oh, and I have a mistake concerning Henry’s ships that got left in due to an edit that can be a trivia question for crazed fans after my death.
Jane: How long after completing Choices Meant for Gods did it take you to find a publisher?
Sandy Lender: About three years. So, yeah, it took as long to get a publisher as it did to write the novel.
Jane: Did you ever become discouraged or think about giving up?
Sandy Lender: I certainly got discouraged by the find-an-agent process, and I gave that up. But I never thought about giving up on my dream to introduce Nigel and Chariss to the world. Chariss deserves to have her story told after all she went through…
Jane: Once you signed with ArcheBooks, how long before your book was released?
Sandy Lender: Thirteen months. There are authors who sign with other publishers who endure a longer “interminable wait,” so I consider myself quite fortunate that I had merely 13 months to prepare for marketing and promotion.
Jane: What was the editing process like once your book went into production?
Sandy Lender: Insane. Oh…wait…which part of production? J Seriously, once I saw that the book was in editing and things were moving along, I waited for some bizarre phone call saying, “Oh, Sandy, you need to rewrite it all and, by the way, you suck.” But no such thing happened. No call came. One day, the galleys arrived by e-mail. So I thought, “wow, there must be nothing wrong!” Not so much. Bob Gelinas, my publisher, is also my editor, and he did have a couple suggestions for editing. I thought, “at this stage?” So I made a very substantial change to the scenes in Bellan and Tiurlang (cutting them considerably to enhance pacing – Bob is a genius – it helped immensely) and I added two scenes to the final chapter to show where a couple characters are when all Hell breaks loose. Fabulous! But it surprised me that such things can be done at that stage. You live and you learn, right?
Jane: Choices Meant for Gods has an intriguing cover, did you have any input towards the design?
Sandy Lender: I actually did! And to any other new authors reading this, that is unheard of in this industry. I got lucky. ArcheBooks sort of breaks the mold there, I believe. Bob started out with a concept that was good, including that fabulous dragon flying in the background above the ghosted image of Arcana, and we e-mailed back and forth some thoughts until the finished product is what you see. That’s Amanda Chariss reflected out of the sword, by the way. That’s her amethyst on her cheekbone…Bob and I were at the Lee County Reading Festival talking about the cover and he said, “I’ve got to get her on the cover somehow.” Okay by me. And he sent that like the next day.
Jane: How did you feel when held the first copy of Choices Meant for Gods in your own hands?
Sandy Lender: Ecstatic. And bi-polar. I knew the books would be on my front porch as I was headed home from work that day so I was exceeding the speed limit and a little bit crazed. So it felt like a dream and reality rolled up in the same moment.
Jane: The term ‘marketing’ sends chills up my spine, how have you handled this aspect of being a writer?
Sandy Lender: I’ve been in public relations and marketing as part of my editing and publishing roles for many years now, so it’s just part of the job. If you don’t brand yourself and your product, no one’s going to know who you are or what you’re selling…so…gotta hop out there and make yourself known! It’s kind of strange, though, that I’m hopping out there not really caring to make myself known (although I have to get people to recognize the name Sandy Lender), but dying to have people recognize the name Chariss. I want folks to know who Nigel and Chariss are. One of these days, I want to be watching some talk show and hear the host say, “Like Romeo and Juliet or Anthony and Cleopatra or Nigel and Chariss.” And at that moment, I will choke on whatever wine I’m drinking and go into cardiac arrest. If I die fast enough at that moment, I won’t have to live through the crushing defeat of the audience or the guest on the show saying “Who?”
Jane: Between marketing Choices Meant for Gods and a full time job, how do you find the time to work on the sequel?
Sandy Lender: Bwuahahaha. When I had the carpet of my life and future ripped out from under me last summer, I was unemployed. While sending my resume to a dozen potential employers a day, but only landing a handful of job interviews in a seven-month period, I had plenty of time to write. I completed Choices Made by Gods (working title), which I’m now editing; I wrote quite a bit of Book III; I wrote a paranormal romance novel; I started a vampire novel; and I put together a ton of marketing ideas…
Jane: How did you come up with the idea of a virtual blog book tour and has it been successful for you?
Sandy Lender: A friend of mine named Jamieson Wolf did a blog tour back in the winter and I hosted him for a day at my blog, http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com/. That intrigued me. He was very organized about it; basically made it look very calm. Faker. (He knows I’m teasing him.) But it was a very nice experience for both of us. So I sat down and made a list of all the things I’d have available for my hosts, from pictures on a group page to guest blogs to already-prepared announcements they could post to FAQs they could pad their interviews with, etc. When I had the group page created, I went around to sites that I knew hosted authors and started asking them, “will you host me?” I got a spate of “no, you’re not big enough” responses. But I also got a bunch of “sure, come on over” responses. I gave those folks access to the tour page and gave them links on the page and plugged them into the calendar on the page so they could get some promotion among each other. And each day of the tour, I’m promoting them in all the online groups that I’m a member of. Setting up a virtual tour is easy breezy if you’re just organized and methodical about it. I know. I’ve done it…for two months. And not all of my hosts were from the same group of writers. They’re from all over the blogosphere, allowing me to tap into a variety of groups and niches. It’s been a fantastic tour. From chats to interviews to e-newsletter features to guest blogs to a special author day in a Yahoo group to a feature on a website that landed in USA Today through a feed to a spot on Author Island to the Leicester Review’s network to just a host of fun, wonderful conversations with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, this has been an amazing two months. Almost each and every day has held a different event on the Choices Meant for Gods Online Book Tour. Yes, this was an incredible success, and tomorrow, I’ll announce the winner of the flash drive that I’m giving away on http://choicesmeantforgods.wordpress.com/ and we’ll start up something new.
Jane: Do you have any advice for newly published authors or soon to be published authors?
Sandy Lender: Oh my gosh. Ummm…practice not sleeping?
This was a great interview, Jane. I hope I didn’t frighten anyone off. Just because I’m a Type A Personality doesn’t mean every writer has to jump through the insane hoops I’m jumping through. A two-month virtual tour is unheard of. One month is kinda long, but more reasonable. I’m just insane (already). I hope your visitors enjoy the info!
Please feel free to leave your own comments or questions for Sandy. Choices Meant for Gods, is available at http://www.archebooks.com/BookIDX/Indexes/Fantasy/CMG/CMGDesc.htm or your favorite bookstore.
Thanks for stopping by Sandy. I hope we can do this again some time.
No movement on the production of The Ride to report so I’ll see you all next week.
Jane Kennedy Sutton
Author of The Ride (to be released by ArcheBooks Publishing)
Tags: The Ride, Archebooks, Sandy Lender, Choices Meant for Gods , fantasy author, sorcery, dragons, epic fantasy, book tour,