PJ Webb is an award winning indie author of fantasy and mystery. Originally from New York, she now lives in North Carolina with her husband and their two cats. Her first book, Transformation, is also the first in her Prince of the Blood Vampire Chronicles. She has recently released the second book, Evolution, and is currently editing the third and fourth books in the series. She hasn’t limited herself to the subject of vampires, however. Her newest book, Lora Lee, the first in her paranormal Cliff House series, has just been released.
Time to chat with PJ!
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
So far, I haven’t had any problem, but I would imagine the only challenge really is having enough to write about. Other than that, in my opinion, series are the absolute most fun to write and financially make the most sense. You don’t have to say good-bye to characters you’ve written into being and come to love as quickly, and it gives you a better opportunity to hold on to new readers until they’re steadfast fans.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
My first book was born out of a desire not to stay up all night worrying about events that were unfolding in my life that were beyond my control. I decided the time could be better spent doing something creative, and so I began to write a story about a character who lost everything and managed to cope with that loss and reinvent himself in the process. You see, my husband and I were about to lose everything we owned including our livelihood in 2011 due to the recession. To be honest, I guess I chose fantasy because I was looking for an escape from reality, and through my experience with writing, I now have an understanding that nothing ever stays the same. There are only different degrees of change, and it’s not those changes that define us but what we do with them that matters.
I do. I have a new book coming out soon entitled Colette’s Diary. It’s about one of the characters that is prevalent in books one and two in my Prince of the Blood Vampire Chronicles. She’s a French courtesan in the court of Louis XV who goes on to live many lifetimes. I had hoped for its release in time for Valentine’s Day, but that appears to have been wishful thinking on my part. Realistically, it should be launched by mid-March.
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
I think there is really only one. That our books lack proper editing. Unfortunately, in the beginning of the independent author rush many inferior self-published books, those introduced by one book writers who had jumped on the bandwagon with inferior editing, were submitted to Amazon, and they have left a daunting reputation for the good indie author to overcome.
Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very well while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?
I don’t think there’s any easy answers. The problem is getting our books seen, and there are at least three ideas that I know of to that end. Some say social media is a waste of time. Some say you should follow the guidelines publishing houses use to create attention, while others say to draw up a budget and pay for advertising. All I know is that at the moment there are millions of Indie authors, and add to that all of the traditionally published authors and what you have is a big mountain to climb. All of us want the same thing, potential readers to be able to see our books and love them. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your story is, how beautiful and eye catching your cover, or how grabbing your description. It doesn’t even matter how many excellent reviews you have, or your awards, for that matter. If you’re not in the top 100 in your particular genre, you’re not going to be seen. Of course, all of those good qualities are very important once you are noticed. You have to try every possibility, and if one thing isn’t working, move on. Even better, if you have the time and money, try all of them at once.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
The road to success is a hard one, even for published authors because they now have to promote themselves unless, of course, they happen to be a star and seventy-five percent aren’t. The art of self-promotion doesn’t come easy for everyone either, and those that are talented in that regard definitely have the edge, but don’t give up on your dreams. If you just keep believing in yourself, you’ll eventually find your way. You may not be a NY Times Best Selling Author, but you will find a following of loyal readers who appreciate your work. Most importantly, get an editor that you can trust to edit your books properly. There are so many horror stories about indie authors hiring editors that have not done the proper job, and they’ve suffered unnecessarily because of it. Make sure you hire someone who’s recommended highly by other authors that you know, or check them out carefully. It doesn’t matter how amazing your story is if it isn’t properly edited, critics are sure to have a field day with it, and it’s not something that you’ll live down easily.
There are so many conflicting opinions out there about everything related to publishing: e-book pricing, book promotion, social media usage etc. How do you sort through it all to figure out what works best for you?
The only way to find out what works best for you is to get in there and start, and if you find one things isn’t working, try something else until you hit on the best solutions for yourself.
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I’m just beginning to realize, that for me, social media is probably not the best way for my books to be seen, and it’s also begun eating up way to much precious time that I need for writing, but I would never give it up entirely. I’ve met too many wonderful and talented authors who have become great friends, and I’ve learned a lot from them, so I intend to continue, but not as strongly as I used to. I need time to explore different avenues now. As I mentioned earlier, you need to realize when it’s time to move on.
Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?
Yes, only because it so very important. After the cover, that’s the next thing that determines a reader’s possible interest, or lack thereof, and furthermore, how can you possibly sum up in so few words that which took so many to write?
Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?
My first book, Transformation, from my Prince of the Blood Vampire Chronicles will always be my favorite because of how it healed the heartache I was feeling and gave me the strength to reinvent myself and go on.
Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?
All of us pour our heart and our souls into our work, and getting a bad review is devastating. I don’t think any of us have gotten so tough skinned that it no longer hurts. In fact, I think I could liken it to a state of grieving and most would agree with me. Eventually, you have to come to terms though, and realize that not everyone is going to appreciate your work, no matter how perfect it is, and not only that, but they aren’t going to care how hard and long you worked, or how devastating they’re words are going to be. If it’s the only bad review mixed in with a number of great reviews though, you’ve got to just get over it and move on. It’s only when all, or many of the reviews you’ve gotten are similarly critical that you need to take a serious look at whether they’re right or not, and if you find that what’s said is true, then do something about it. Otherwise, don’t fret over it. There will be plenty more good reviews to come, and they’ll water down that bad one until it hardly matters at all.
Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?
Yes, but not because of immediate sales. If you have a blog site and put out a newsletter, it’s a great way to start compiling your readers list.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
If you could duplicate the knowledge from any single person’s head and have it magically put into your own brain, whose knowledge would you like to have? And why.
Anne Rice. She’s my favorite writer, and while I wouldn’t want to copy her style, I would love to write as well and would relish being as adored for my books as she is.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Loyalty, kindness, and honesty.
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
Somewhere in Time and Interview with the Vampire.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
My husband and I lived on our 36’ Christ Craft boat, Somewhere in Time, for fifteen months.
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