Diane: Thank you so much for doing this interview for PaperBackSwap!!
I understand you are a member of PaperBackSwap, what are your thoughts on book swapping sites? Do you think they are helping, or hindering the book sale business?
Robin: I had not heard about book swapping until I began to search for ways to promote my paranormal mystery, Sullivan’s Secret. Once I joined PaperBackSwap, I loved the whole concept of being able to virtually go to a site and swap out a book. I thought it was a great idea as an author and a reader.
I don’t belong to any other book swapping sites, so I can’t speak for those. But PaperBackSwap offers so much more than just swapping books. It would take me too many paragraphs to explain them all. I loved being able to share my views about books, chat with other readers and authors. I learned about new books that I normally may not have chosen to read because of other reader reviews. It is literally its own little community.
To me, I think book swapping sites are helping book sales. I’ll give you an example. The first day I submitted my book list to be offered to swap, someone requested Sullivan’s Secret. I was so thrilled. In my mind, it was getting my story out there, which is huge for a new author.
Diane: Your book really intrigued me as I love mysteries, and I am very in tune with psychic experiences and paranormal investigations. How did you get interested in this genre?
Robin: I too, have always been intrigued with mysteries, psychic mediums, and the paranormal. I think my interest grew when I moved to our historical town of Sharpsburg. I learned about neighbors who had paranormal experiences in their homes, which was about the time ghost investigating shows began on television. I would sit glued to the TV watching them. I did the same thing with mystery shows and movies. When I began writing, it was a natural fit to put them all together in my story.
Diane: This book was assisted-published, how is this different from self-publishing, and what advice can you give to someone who would like to write a book and have it published?
Robin: This is a very interesting story. When I decided I wanted to write (later in life), I literally sat down and began spinning a romance story. Not really sure where it all came from and why I decided to write, but it felt great when I did.
When it was finished I decided to self-publish it on Lulu. I had no clue what I was doing…I sold four books, including one to myself. During that time I came across a writing company, and for a lark I thought I’d submit some answers to their on-line quiz. I did it just to practice and see if I could “write on the fly”.
Well, about two or three weeks later I received a letter accepting me into their writing program. At first I chuckled and almost tossed the letter in the garbage. But as I thought more about it, I said why not? It was the best decision I ever made. I immediately pulled the romance story off of Lulu and realized I had the natural talent as a writer, but I really needed to polish my craft. I learned a great deal and I was able to publish my first paid travel article after I completed the course. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but it really helped me learn to put a story together professionally.
So, getting back to the original question, sorry I tend to do that. Even though I polished my craft, I still didn’t have a clue about publishing. I sent query letter after query letter to the traditional publishers. I never got a response…very common. I also learned through my writing courses that you have to be very careful about the writing scams that are out there. You should never pay to get your book published.
Well, I searched and researched, and stumbled upon P&S Books Publishing…assisted publishing. They require you submit a professionally edited manuscript, and they will turn you down if it doesn’t meet their standards. Mine was accepted, and the greatest education I received from them was the marketing end of being an author.
Publishing is changing even as I answer these questions. Today, if you do get published with the traditional publishing companies, they still want to know what your marketing plan is. I had no idea what that involved, but publishing with P&S Books Publishing taught me all of the little details I never would have known if I had self-published. I gained a great relationship with my publisher and she helped me through my fears with a lot of encouragement and motivation. She really took the time to answer every little nagging question I presented to her. I like to explain it as the “in between” type of publishing. It’s not the big traditional publishing companies, and it’s not technically self-publishing.
Diane: How hard is it to market a book once it is published? Are you doing it on social networking sites, or by other means?
Robin: I’m going to be very honest and reflecting a little on my previous answer, its very time consuming. If you have not yet published your story and are new to the writing world, it’s a rude awakening. I had no idea what all was involved or needed to get my book out there.
You see, the key is this…there are a gazillion writers out there. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to put the time into marketing your story. Some writers are and some are not. It’s very difficult for me to work at a full-time job (still dreaming of being able to write full time), find time to write (which is what I love to do), and promote my story.
Here is the process I took for marketing Sullivan’s Secret. First, I designed my own website (learned this through previous employment). Not everyone can do this, but there are ways of doing that for free.
Next, I created author Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. I joined Goodreads and created an author page. I created my own blog, as well as joined other blogs. I began doing virtual book tours and interviews, such as this.
I contacted all of the local libraries, newspapers, and anyone who was willing to listen to me or receive an email. You can’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and you would be surprised how very willing people are to help you out…case in point, my interview with you today.
Diane: What inspired you to write this book?
Robin: I’m not really sure if I had any inspiration. I developed the idea through my writing course. They taught me to write about what I know or love, and this genre seemed to fit. In my mind, that’s what writing has done for me. As I write, it inspires me to continue to write. I think as a whole, writers have something to say, it’s an innate fire in our bellies to share it on paper.
Diane: How long did it take you to write this book?
Robin: It took me about a year and a half. That’s a long time for a short novel, but so much fun.
Diane: Are some of the characters of this story based on someone in your life? Is there a reason you picked Marie to be a veterinarian?
Robin: The name Marie Bartek is part of my mother’s middle and maiden name, but her character is a little like me. There wasn’t a real reason to have Marie as a veterinarian. Although, when I was young I thought about being one…so maybe that was a subliminal thought when I created her.
Diane: I enjoyed the character development and friendship between the members of the Sullivan’s Island Paranormal Society and the Police department. I felt like I was right there with them trying to capture the murderer. Did you draw on personal experiences and friendships you have in developing this, or did it just happen?
Robin: First, thank you, I have had other reader’s tell me the same thing. That’s a nice compliment to receive as an author. I worked very hard at showing the story through my writing. I had a hard time putting the characters away at the end of the day.
Second, I would have to say it was a little of both. I pulled from some of my personal relationships and there were times the characters developed on the fly. I consider myself a bit of a panster. I enjoy writing from the seat of my pants…I get more of a rush that way.
Diane: What’s next? Are you working on another book?
Robin: Yes, this is going to be a series and I am working on the second book. I have the SIPS team traveling and helping solve crimes and cold cases.
Diane: Did you have a favorite author growing up?
Robin: I don’t remember any particular author when I was young. But as I got older I read a lot of Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele.
Where is your book available for purchase? Is there an eBook version as well?
Robin: Sullivan’s Secret can be purchased as paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and also available through Kindle and Nook Book. You can locate these off of my website at: www.robinmurphyauthor.com.
Diane: Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview!! I really enjoyed reading the book!
Robin: Thank you Diane, I enjoyed it also, and I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I just want to say its people such as yourself, and PaperBackSwap, who create such a great connection between readers and authors!!