For this installment of interviews on publishing, I’ve reached out to Deby Fredricks. I first met Deby through WordPress and she has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration. Without further ado, here’s our interview:
DK: Hi Deby, thanks for doing this, I really appreciate it. Before I get into my questions, I wonder if you could take a minute to tell us about yourself and your writing?
DF: Thanks for having me, Dave. This will be fun!
It all started in my senior year of high school. The bus got me there an hour before my first class. So where would I go but the library, and what would I do besides write? It taught me to make writing part of my routine. I was able to stick with it through college and into my “Real Life,” flitting from project to project without really finishing anything.
During this same time, I was intensely role-playing Champions, the superhero RPG. I also got involved with a Dragonriders of Pern fan club that involved a ton of writing. Between those two influences, I built my skills and eventually finished my first novel since college. The Magister’s Mask was published in 2004.
DK: How would you describe your target audience?
DF: My stories are like fudge brownies — thick and rich and chewy. My audience will be readers who enjoy chewing on issues and aren’t thrown off by non-standard resolutions. I always try to leave space for the readers to make up their own minds about some of the story problems. Although I write High Fantasy, my emphasis is on ordinary people rather than the great and powerful. Questions around the nature and purpose of magic often turn up, and so do situations between family members. After all, who knows you better than family? Who else knows how to hurt you as badly, or have your back in dire situations?
DK: Are you exclusively self-published, or have you gone through a publishing house before?
DF: My first publication was by the fine people at Dragon Moon Press, and later I worked with Sky Warrior Books. These are both small presses.
DK: Why did you decide to self-publish?
DF: The plan was to keep climbing the ladder and eventually be published in New York. However, I am not a fast writer, and my work is too complex for those snappy one-line pitches the editors like so much. In addition, I’ve realized I wouldn’t enjoy being under deadlines and such. So I’ve shifted to self-publishing more and more.
DK: Do you make your books available in print or are you just focused on e-books?
DF: I try to do both, though the material has to be long enough to work as a book. There have to be enough pages for the spine to hold a printed title. With a standard novel, that isn’t a problem, so I do them in print, Kindle, E-pub and PDF.
DK: Your book The Gellboar: A Dark Fantasy is only available as an e-book. Why did you decide to stick to an e-book format for this work?
DF: As explained above, The Weight of Their Souls and The Gellboar both are novelettes and would be too small for a print edition. If there was enough interest, I could look at publishing them together in print. My next two e-books will be novellas, which are slightly longer, and I definitely plan to publish them together in print.
DK: Thinking about publishing, what would you describe as your biggest challenge?
DF: Publicity, marketing, and getting attention in a crowded marketplace. It’s a constant effort, which I haven’t always kept after as much as I should. I’ve been blogging for years — and thanks for mentioning Wyrmflight — but didn’t pay much attention to my author newsletter. Revitalizing that is my main foal for 2019. Anybody can subscribe, by the way!
DK: What is your process for editing?
DF: After I finish the first draft, I ask my husband and my good friend to read it. They aren’t writers themselves, but they’ve read a lot, and their comments are always on-point. I read and consider those remarks before starting the second draft. When it’s time for revision, I print the thing out (even if it’s huge) and read it. I don’t know why, but the text looks different on paper than on a screen. So I try to read it without marking anything and get a sense of where there is a loss of tension or how to account for the things my critiquers brought up. Then I will re-read and make corrections, enter them in the computer, and print it again. I keep reading and revising, then correcting and printing, until I don’t find anything else that needs fixing.
DK: How do you produce your covers?
DF: I have a membership on Shutterstock that allows me to search for images. There’s a particular artist I like, and I always search for their stuff first. It takes a while (and a lot of eye strain) to search through the catalog and winnow it down until I find the one I want to use. With that downloaded, I go to a program called Canva and lay out the cover. I make my title on a different web site and import it to Canva. I do some online browsing to check out what other fantasy book covers are looking like currently. I’ll then make between three and five different layouts to see what I like. Eventually (after more eye strain) I choose the one I want and download it to my system.
DK: How do you advertise/market your books?
DF: I mention them frequently on my blog, in my author newsletter, in my e-mail signature, and so forth. I try to keep bookmarks with me so I can hand them out to people I’m chatting with. I also make several appearances a year, at bookstores and conventions, and I always bring copies with me to those.
DK: Your books are available on Amazon, are they available anywhere else?
DF: They sure are. I actually do only the Kindle publication through Amazon. For other formats, I use Draft2Digital. There’s an author hub there with my books in every format except Kindle. You can also reach a number of online booksellers, such as I-tunes and Barnes & Noble, through that hub. The one thing that’s up in the air is where I’ll get printed copies of my books. I did have them through CreateSpace, but Amazon has now taken that over. The transition was fairly smooth, so no grudge there, but Draft2Digital has also begun offering print services. I’ll be comparing the two before I decide about my next printed editions.
DK: That’s all of my questions, do you have anything you’d like to add or advice you’d like to offer to authors?
DF: Realize that in publishing, everything takes a long time. When you’re traditionally published, it takes even longer. You have to be prepared for that. My advice is to have another project to work on while you’re waiting to hear back. This is a career. You should learn about it, and have a business plan. Even when you self-publish, there are expenses. However, try not to become fixated on money or sales. Instead, focus on the writing itself and have fun with that. Writing will give you more satisfaction than watching your sales figures. And don’t forget — if you subscribe to my newsletter, I’ll give you a free e-book!
Thank you, Deby for taking the time to respond to my questions. Deby Fredericks is the author of The Gellboar and several others. Check out her author pages at Amazon or Books2Read. You can also check out her website at www.debyfredricks.com.