Friday, September 12, 2008

Taking Aim at the World of Epublishing

Ten years ago, when I was wrapping up my Bachelor of Nerd degree, I thought everyone in the world was as in love with technology as I was. After all, look at how pervasive the internet had become, especially after that crazy DNS bit changed the face of the web. So clearly everyone was going to be all up in the ebooks, right?

Viva la revolucion! Or something.

Clearly that didn't quite happen. Blame the bulky readers, the fact that uber-nerds like my husband wanted an all-in-one gadget that combined every tool he needed in a day, and the reticence of New York to see the value of ditching paper for bytes.

Ten years later, the tide seems to be turning. Even the monolithic RWA has tipped its hat at a handful of epubs who have exhibited great promise and/or great success.

And also, ten years later, I look at friends who joined in the revolucion back in the day and have found lots of success as a result.

Meet Denise Agnew, one of those dear friends. In the last ten years, she's kicked it in high gear, publishing over 30 stories with a variety of epublishers. I've asked for her view on epublishing and for a glimpse into her life as an author of ebooks.

You began your career in epublishing back when it was still a new market and many authors had confidence only in Hardshell Word Factory to stay around for the long haul. Besides the rise and collapse (sometimes within weeks) of epublishers, how do you think the market compares today?

Although I believe epublishing has a long way to go, and authors must be cautious about which companies they submit their work to, epublishing is something that is here to stay. Even the major print publishers in NY are firmly into ebooks. So epublishing isn't going away. :) Authors need to pay attention to the contracts they are signing both with NY publishers and with small press/epublishing.

What would you like to see the e-industry become in five years? What about fifty years?

Honestly I haven't thought about this as much as I probably should have. I think in an ideal world epublishers/small press would grow and become a bigger piece of the overall publishing pie in five years. I think until formats/ereaders become more uniform, a lot of readers won't read ebooks. I read ebooks and print, so I'm happy with both. In fifty years I think ebooks may be the majority of books read. Then again, I could be totally wrong. :)

To your knowledge, are many epublished authors still interested in selling to a New York publisher?


LOL. Okay, so any chance we're going to see you follow in the footsteps of such talented gals as MaryJanice Davidson, Anya Bast, and Sarah McCarty...all the way to New York?

Well, ideally, if my agent is able to sell some of the work that she's
trying to sell...yes. I would hope to follow my buddies MaryJanice, Anya
and Sarah into that arena. :) WINK.

What genres within the epublishing world seem to be the strongest from your perspective?

Probably paranormal and erotic romance paranormals. That being said, I think a lot of authors do themselves a disservice writing "to market."

What has epublishing done for you?

Given me an opportunity to publish in a wide variety of romance subgenres. I haven't pigeon holed myself as a result.

Is there anything you’d have different in your career?

Oh, that's a loaded question. :) I have been extremely fortunate in my writing career in so many ways. Naturally there are things I wish I'd done and hadn't done, which I think happens with everyone at one time or another.

One of the most fascinating things about you is the research that you do and the hobbies you use to seed your novels. Tell us a little about your research subjects.

Why thank you, Miss K.L. :) I've researched 1906 San Francisco for LOVE FROM THE ASHES, 1888 London, England for MIDNIGHT ROSE, Jack the Ripper for MIDNIGHT ROSE, 180 AD Roman Britain for a new manuscript I finished last year, 1850's Pennsylvania and the railroad industry for another book I wrote earlier this year, 1318 Scotland for BRIDGE THROUGH THE MIST, 1816 England for a story I'm tinkering with now, SWAT teams for my Heart of Justice series coming up at Liquid Silver Books, 1916 New Jersey for another book I'm thinking about writing, and 1747 France for another book I'll be writing. And there's more, but I could go on all day. Plus, I've managed to slip in two of my hobbies, archery and archaeology.

Have you ever put a rejection letter on a target during archery practice?

No, but that is an EXCELLENT idea. :)

How many of your experiences with the Army life inspired scenes in your military romances? Do you often find inspiration in personal experience, or does your Muse like to go maverick on you?

Ahem. Quite a few. I'd tell ya, but then I'd have to kill ya. :) I think most authors are like me in that our personal lives, interests, and the core of us as human beings always ends up influencing our writing one way or the other at some point in our lives. Any author that says they don't put some of themselves in the characters or in their stories is either not being straight with themselves or with the reading public. :)

What are your favorite themes to play with in your romances?

This is a great question, and my answer might sound really pompous. :) I was in a workshop earlier this year where the presenter helped us define some of the core themes that run deep in our stories. She wanted us to know what these themes are because it is what we are best at writing and what underlines our stories. I came up with this statement of meaning for my writing: "I write romance to illustrate that each person must find their truth rather than comply with prejudice and social expectation. My themes include personal growth, understanding, overcoming rejection and prejudice, and discovering personal strengths even when the stakes are or appear to be overwhelmingly high." I tend to write a lot of paranormal romance mixed with suspense, but have written every genre of romance there is except for urban fantasy, inspirational, and werewolves. The werewolves thing I maybe writing soon, but it's not clear in my mind if it's honestly a werewolf in the book or not. (WINK.)

What are your favorite and least favorite comments from friends and family about the books you write?

Most of my friends and family have been extremely supportive, so I haven't gotten a lot of flack from that direction. Still, I think some people, family or friends or not, tend to think of the heat level in my romance as "surprising." The comment I get most often from friends is that they just can't associate erotic romance with me. It's an aspect of my imagination they can't believe exists within me. Not sure how to take that sometimes. Most of the time I'm amused. They think they know what erotic romance authors are like in personality and looks, which when you think about it, is silly. There isn't a certain look for any type of romance author, inspirational, erotic, or middle-of-the-road on the sensuality scale.

Confession time: What [embarrassing/semi-embarrassing/mildly odd/really strange] thing do you do when you hold your own paperback in your hands?

Thinking REALLY hard about this one. Can't think of a darn thing.

If you could write anything – experiment with any genre/subject/character/setting/whatever – with no pressure around that story, what kind of story would you want to write?

Probably what I'm writing now. As I mentioned before, I continue to write all across the map. I think at one point I would like to write a horror novel/romance. I've edged in that direction before, especially with my vampire trilogy. Those stories came as close to horror as I've ever gotten.

You’re stranded with a hot guy straight off one of your covers. What five desert-island books would keep you from totally ravishing him (for at least the first five minutes, anyway)? Bonus points if you’ve got at least one horror novel in there. ;)

Hmm, well that takes a lot of imagination since I'm a happily married woman. Okay, if the hot guy was my husband I can imagine it. The five books would be:
  1. One Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel
  2. One Dean Koontz novel
  3. One Sarah McCarty novel
  4. One Lisa Kleypas novel
  5. One Barbara Samuels novel

Thanks, Denise, for answering so many questions for me. And if you do take aim at some rejection letters, get a pic and share! It might become my next blogging icon.

You can read more about Denise at her website, the Danger Zone Authors, and The Bradford Bunch.


Donnell said...

What a great interview! Denise, thanks for blogging with KL! Great, funny and insightful Q&A. I think you're absolutely right. As a professed nerd/dinosaur -- even worse than your DH, KL -- I think the market will see (is seeing) so much technological change and a growing respect of the e-publishing industry and a mass market evolution. NY has only so many slots and there are fabulous e-pubbed authors that NY is sitting up and paying attention to because these people are making sales and acquiring a huge following. I believe Ms. Agnew is one of them :)

Love the rejection letter on a target. I think that would make an awesome blog. Thanks again!

Denise A. Agnew said...

Thanks much Donnell! :) I keep on pluggin' on and figure as long as I'm happy writing, I'm in paradise. :) I really think I should take the rejection and shoot it. Bulls eye!!! LOL.

Denise A. Agnew

Misty Evans said...

Loved the interview, Denise! I'm curious, how DO you handle rejections? Maybe that's a thing of the I should rephrase. How DID you handle rejection when you were starting out?

As a fellow epubbed author, I admire your trailblazing in this arena. I'm a dork with technology, but I love it anyway. Lucky for me, hubby is a whiz with the gadgets and software. While it may be wishful thinking, I do believe the future of epublishing has huge potential for growth.

Best wishes for your continued success.


Denise A. Agnew said...

Hi Misty! Handling rejections is tough no matter when you get them. I think it depends on the type of rejection. And yes, I still get rejections. If they say, your novel is great but we don't have a spot for it, well that is a great rejection. :) I got one of those recently. I don't think I handle rejections much better than when I was starting out. Before I was published I figured I didn't know what the heck I was doing. Now I sometimes think I don't know what the heck I'm doing...then ten minutes later I think, "Yeah, I know what I'm doing." It's a roller coaster thing. Thanks for the best wishes, and rock on! :) Happy writing Misty!

Denise A. Agnew