Monday, August 8, 2011

Featuring an interview with (drumroll please) Talli Roland

If you write and you've been around the blogosphere for the last year and a half or so you've probably heard of (and most likely follow) Talli Roland. If you don't, well, get on over to her blog and sign up.

This week I have the immense pleasure of featuring an interview with Talli. For those of you who don't know (and those of you who do) Talli's first work of fiction The Hating Game was released on Kindle by Prospera Publishing last November and in paperback March of this year. Here's a handy dandy link if you want to buy it in paperback and another one if you want it on Kindle. Her second work of fiction Watching Willow Watts will be released on Kindle next month!

I was a wee bit curious about life post publication and thought some (or all) of you might be as well, so I rustled up some questions and Talli graciously agreed to answer them. With no further ado I give you the interview.

Q: Prior to The Hating Game you had two travel guides published under the name Marsha Moore? How was the publishing experience for The Hating Game different?

It wasn’t dramatically different, really, although I was much more nervous for The Hating Game to be published. Writing fiction felt more personal, even if it was under a pen name. I was terrified yet super excited to put it out there.

Q: Did the contacts you made in publishing the travel guides play any part in getting The Hating Game published?

They definitely did, because I didn’t have to query. In fact, I didn’t even have the book written! I just pitched the synopsis and blurb to my editor, and I signed the contract on the strength of that information.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you found out The Hating Game was going to be published? What was Mr. TR’s reaction?

I was thrilled, because even though I enjoy writing non-fiction, fiction was really my dream. You can probably guess what Mr TR and I indulged in… it begins with W and ends with E!

Q:You pitched The Hating Game directly to Prospera Publishing who chose to publish it. Did you get an agent at some point in the process? If so, how did you go about that? If not, are you planning on getting an agent at any time in the future?

I don’t have an agent and I’m not looking for one at the moment. Publishing is changing so quickly at the moment, and I’m very happy where I’m at right now. A lot of opportunities are opening up for authors and I’m in a great position to move quickly to maximize them.

Q: On your blog you mentioned working with an editor at Prospera. How closely did you work with the editor? Did he or she have a lot of suggestions? Was it difficult making changes to your manuscript based on someone else’s suggestions?

Any novel that’s published is a collaborative process, and you quickly learn not to be precious about your work. I always appreciate any input, but whether or not I agree to changes depends on how strongly I feel about what’s recommended. Ultimately, it’s my name that’s going to be on the novel, so I need to be happy with it. So far, working with an editor has been a fantastic learning experience and once that’s resulted in a much stronger finished product.

Q:What is the process from manuscript to a book the public can purchase? What decisions did you have to make in regards to layout, design, cover art, those sorts of things? Did you like that aspect of the process?

The process differs depending on the publisher, but generally a manuscript goes through several rounds of edits before it’s laid out. Once it’s laid out, the opportunities for changing text diminish greatly, because one change can throw the whole document out of whack! I love looking at covers! That’s one of my favourite parts of the process, actually, because it’s when you realize your book is going to be out there in the world! Luckily, my publisher and I worked together on lay-out and design, so I had quite a bit of input into what I wanted and what I thought worked. Most authors aren’t that fortunate.

Q:Was there any part of the publishing process that you disliked? What part did you enjoy most?

I can’t say I find the seemingly endless line edits that enjoyable! It’s so frustrating when you read something over and over and over, yet still find mistakes. The part I enjoy the most is when the manuscript is laid out because then it’s almost finished and actually looks like a book. Oh, and when you hold the book in your hands, of course. There’s nothing better.

Q:I know the publishing industry has undergone a major shift in recent years and authors are required to do quite a bit more to promote their work. You’ve done an amazing job! I had a baby and pretty much disappeared from the blogosphere for about six months. I just happened to pop in on the day of your web splash and I was in awe. How did you come up with the plan for that? Do you have any advice for people who are trying to get the word out about their book?

Thank you, Angie! The plan came to mind because I’d seen another author do something similar, without tying it to Amazon. I thought it would be great to have a tangible outcome to give me something to drive towards. I didn’t want to ask people outright to buy my novel. Instead, I asked them to help spread the word. My advice to other authors is to spend time building relationships first, before you approach a large number of people for help. So many authors now send out messages asking for people to buy their book (on Twitter, in particular!) without even knowing who they’re asking. People are much keener to help if you’ve invested time in getting to know them.

Q: Tell me a little bit about what you went through on the release date of your book both emotionally and what you actually did on that day.

I was terrified, because I’d made such a big fuss about my quest to take on Amazon and I wasn’t sure if anything would actually happen! It would be terribly embarrassing if my rank stayed the same. But people started tweeting about my novel, buying, and my rank kept rising… right up to number 24 on Amazon.co.uk and into the top 500 on Amazon.com! Words can’t explain how thankful I was for all the support! By the end of the day, I was exhausted and elated.

Q: How does it feel to see your book in stores? Have you been out and about and seen anyone reading it? If so what was that experience like?

I haven’t seen anyone reading my novel but ninety per cent of my sales are on Kindle, which makes spying a little difficult! I’d love to spot a reader in the wild with my book.

Q: What’s been the most difficult part of having your work out there?

Definitely being judged – and sometimes not so favourably. Every consumer has a right to their opinion and of course I’m extremely grateful people are buying my novel and reading it, but sometimes reading a not-so-great review can be disheartening. I’ve toughened up quite a bit in the past few months, but I can’t say it doesn’t hurt! Still, one of the best things I’ve heard was that if everyone loves your writing, you’re probably doing something wrong.

Q: Has your life changed significantly since The Hating Game was published? If so, how?

Not really, except for the first time in four years (since I started writing full-time), I’m actually making a bit of money! I can buy shoes without feeling guilty, which is a rather nice feeling. But apart from that, nothing’s changed.

Q: I know you’re currently at work on Watching Willow Watts which will be released on Kindle November of this year. Has it been a different experience writing a book you know will be published versus one you really hoped would be? If so, could you give me a few examples of how it’s different?

Since neither book was written before I’d got the book deal, it wasn’t that different. The biggest difference with writing Willow was that now I had something to live up to. With a debut novel, there aren’t any expectations. For your second book, you don’t want people to be disappointed. You want people to love it more – or, at the very least – just as much!

Q: Did you learn anything in publishing The Hating Game that is making your experience with Watching Willow Watts easier? If so, what?

Er… no. I wish I could say yes, but every novel is different with its own unique challenges.

Q: What do you wish you would have known previous to getting published that you now know? And what nuggets of wisdom can you pass on to those of us in the as yet unpublished masses?

It doesn’t get easier. I don’t mean that in a negative way but somehow, I had the idea that once I got published, everything would just flow from that and there wouldn’t be any bumps on the way. Being published doesn’t necessarily open doors. Having a great story with a great concept does!

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add that wasn’t covered in my questions?

Before I met other published writers, I wasn’t aware other people had struggled as much – and more – than I had. Some had written for years and years before getting published (and are now bestsellers!). I know it sounds horribly clich├ęd, but really: don’t give up. If you love to write and you want to get published, persistence is everything

Talli Roland has three loves in her life: romantic comedies, coffee and wine. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories – complete with happy endings. The Hating Game is her first novel and her second, Watching Willow Watts, will be out on Kindle in September. Talli blogs here and can be found on Twitter here.

24 comments:

Talli Roland said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Angie! :)

Tony Benson said...

Hello Angie and Talli,
Thanks for a fascinating interview. It's always interesting to hear of a published author's experiences, and even though it's always going to be hard work it's encouraging to get the 'keep trying' message.

Good luck with the release of your new book.

Talli Roland said...

Thank you, Tony! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for dropping by.

Old Kitty said...

Talli ROCKS!! Thanks Angie for a lovely interview of the ever so fabulous Talli!!! She's brilliant at networking and building momentum for her books!! And yes, I am in AWE at how hard she works and at her awesome persistence!! Good for her!! Take care
x

Clair Humphries said...

Thanks Talli and Angie - great interview. So pleased Talli can buy shoes without guilt now!

Talli Roland said...

Oh thank you, Old Kitty! *blush*

Thanks, Clair! I'm pleased, too. :)

Marisa Birns said...

Enjoyed reading about your publication journey, Talli.

Ashley Prince said...

What a great interview! I loved it and learned a lot from you, Talli.

JO said...

Great interview - thanks for this.

Angie Paxton said...

Clair, Ashley and JO, I usually respond to my commenters via email, but since you ladies don't have an email account attached to your comments I'll go ahead and do it here. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading the interview. I'm glad you enjoyed it. And Talli, thanks again for such a great interview.

Laura Marcella said...

This is such a great interview, Talli and Angie! I love how honest Talli is about everything. She's an inspiration!

Choices said...

Loved this interview Talli and Angie. You gave some really good advice, Talli. I expecially like,"Persistance is everything. So very true. Good advice.
Smiles,
Anne

Nikki Goodman said...

Great interview guys - really enjoyed reading it. Thanks Nikki G.

India Drummond said...

Wonderful interview, and so full of truths I wish I'd realised before I was published.

Angie Paxton said...

India and Nikki thanks so much for stopping by and reading the interview. I'm glad you both enjoyed it.

Rebecca Emin said...

I enjoyed this interview a lot. Angie, you asked some great questions, covering pretty much what any other new writer would like to ask! Talli, thanks for being so honest and sharing in your answers. It was lovely to read.

Liz Fichera said...

Lovely interview! It's always nice to learn more about Talli! :-)

Arlee Bird said...

It's been great watching Talli's rise in the world of fiction. I always like hearing stories like hers. It's like a cozy happily ever after story before bedtime.

Congratulations, Talli, on the new book and Angie, thanks for hosting Talli today.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Talli Roland said...

A big thanks to everyone for stopping by! Sorry not to reply more promptly to your comments - I was out stuffing my face last night! :)

Massive thanks to Angie again for having me here.

notesfromnadir said...

Talli really is a fine storyteller as well as a nonfiction writer. It's wonderful to see what Talli has accomplished w/ the release of The Hating Game. I'm happy to see that her sales are consistently high.

I'm looking forward to the release of WWW.

Angie Paxton said...

Thanks, Rebecca. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Liz, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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Shannon said...

Wow, Angie! Welcome back. You were one of the first few people I met in the blog world. :)

Love this interview. Talli is such an authentic person and gifted writer who deserves all of her success...and a whole lot more.

It was cool learning more about your journey, Talli. Nice interview, you two.

Madeleine said...

Great interview. It sounds like you have to be quite confident and determined to get what you want out the publication of your own writing!