Shannon Mayer is the USA Today bestselling author of the Rylee Adamson novels, the Elemental series, the Nevermore Trilogy, A Celtic Legacy series, and the Venom Trilogy. Mayer lives in the southwestern tip of Canada on a farm with her husband, son, and numerous animals.
Her new book, Venom and Vanilla,out this month, is part of a new trilogy and is a blend of magic, Greek mythology, monsters, and cupcakes.
Can you describe your start as an author? What was your first book, and how did you go about publishing it?
My first book that I self-published (or really published period) was called Sundered. It was a novella-length post-apocalyptic romance (I know, quite the combo), the first in a trilogy. I published it five years ago, via the Amazon KDP program and Smashwords.
What are the advantages to Indie publishing that traditional publishing doesn't get the author? And vice versa?
As an indie author, I have complete control over the process. From editing to cover art to formatting and promotions, I am the one who makes the call on how to do things. That has allowed me to learn the business, to gain understanding of what sells and what doesn't and why. What I lose out on by being an indie writer is the visibility that comes from being in bookstores and the huge potential and experience of a large publishing house behind me.
What advice would you give to a new author who is trying to figure out how to publish his or her book?
Study the industry from the agent and publishing house blogs to the indie powerhouse author blogs. Both sides can teach you a lot if you take the time to learn the ropes.
How different are the rules of the game today than from when you first started?
In that first couple of years, the ability to reach new readers, to get your books in front of new eyes, was significantly easier (though it didn't feel like it at the time) than it is today.
Why is that the case, do you think?
There are more books flooding the market, and not all of them are of a high quality, which can make readers leery about trying a new indie author. The tools—various advertising sites, promotions, etc.—that were so effective a few years ago are not as effective today. I feel that the way vendors rank books, how they calculate what is popular, and what book climbs a bestseller list has changed. There is no clear understanding of how this ranking is done, so it can be rather frustrating.
Why did you decide on paranormal romance as the genre to work in?
Well to be fair, I write primarily urban fantasy, and there is always an aspect of a love story to varying degrees. I think sometimes the two genres get crossed, as they are so similar. That being said, I like a lot of fighting and magic action in my books, and that is what drew me to the urban fantasy and paranormal genres.
How do you market your books and your work?
Because I write in the urban fantasy market, I've been able to find a good niche. I have a brand, a style that is all my own, and that has been important. Be sure to be yourself in your writing; that is the advice I would give. Don't try and write to market if it isn't who you are.
What kind of feedback do you receive from your readers, and how does that shape the work you do?
I have a great ARC team who are both encouraging and honest as well as fantastic beta readers. Other than that, I keep my head down. I know that no matter what I write, not everyone can be pleased. That is the nature of books and writing—you do your best, hire good editors, and just keep writing.
Looking back, if there is one thing that you would have done differently, what would that be?
I wish I would have started sooner!
Do you self-publish these days or use traditional publishers, or are you a hybrid of both?
I still primarily self-publish, but I have been lucky enough to work with 47North at Amazon publishing for my new Venom Trilogy, and I have been working with Talos, a division of Skyhorse, to get my Rylee Adamson series into bookstores, available Nov. 1.
Do you feel there's still a stigma associated with self-publishing these days, or do you see that as largely having been erased?
For sure the stigma is still there. Even though many authors have been successful with their indie publishing forays, I think it will take a long time for it to truly be erased.
What is your most profitable platform for selling books?
Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor with a passion for books.