Welcome to my Authors 40+ Series – sharing the stories of amazing authors who published their first book over the age of 40. The series features talented, experienced and inspirational writers who share their (often non-conventional!) writing and publishing journeys honestly and articulately. Next to feature, is Reyna Favis!
1. What is the title and synopsis/premise of your first book and how old were you when you published it?
“Soul Search” and “Soul Scent” are the first two books in the Zackie Story series. These supernatural suspense novels take place in the search and rescue world and include a modern take on the psychopomp, a mythic creature responsible for escorting the dead to the afterlife. The story is told through the eyes of Fia, a battered psychic who has unwittingly spent her entire life offending the Guardian of the Dead and must now make things right.
The series has been described as Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas meets Piers Anthony’s On a Pale Horse. “Soul Search” was well reviewed by Publishers Weekly and readers say the series “…has wit, drama, humor and adventure with relatable characters and locations riding along a supernatural storyline.”
The first book was published after I embraced the role of corporate refugee and committed to creating a new life for myself. I had been caught up in a company reorganisation and the choices were to make a lateral move where I was and settle in for more of the same, find another job in the industry, or do something completely different. The first two choices made me dread getting up every morning. I knew what those futures held and it was not inspiring. I chose the road less travelled and I felt like I was in my twenties again – the world opened up and life was full of possibilities. I published the first book in the series when I was 51, the second book a year later and I’m now close to releasing the third.
2. Tell me about writing the book e.g. where did the idea come from / how long did it take / what did you learn along the way?
It was a ‘what if?’ moment that inspired me to write the series. I am a K9 handler for search and rescue and we are frequently called out to find despondents. The story sometimes does not end happily for these people and rescues can turn into recoveries. Search dogs play a huge role in finding both the living and the dead and I wondered, what if a search dog could also be a therapy dog for the dead? What if a search dog was also a psychopomp, leading tormented souls who are trapped in this world to the afterlife? The ‘what if?’ moment wouldn’t let go until I wrote the story.
It took almost a year to write and edit the first book. The main takeaway in writing a book is that, while you can constantly improve technique, writing is one of those things you can never perfect.
3. Tell me about your publishing journey step by step – what happened once the book was finished?
Once an author has written ‘The End’ the hard work starts. I endured multiple rounds of editing to purge every single typo and simultaneously worked to establish an author platform. I decided to forego the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing world and let the market decide if my books were worthy. I also wanted 50% of author profits from “Soul Search” to go to two 501(c)3 charities (Search and Rescue Teams of Warren County and Wayward Plotts). If these charities were to receive donations any time soon, I needed to minimize expenses. This meant learning how to create book covers, file copyright, create an LLC and a financial structure for the business, and discovering everything I could about marketing and promotion (spoiler alert: still learning).
4. Who or what has helped you the most in becoming a published author?
There is no one specific thing – it’s more like the confluence of many things coming together that created an environment conducive to writing stories that people enjoy. Family and friends have been incredibly supportive and helpful. Introversion, an accident of genetics, also turned out to be a fortuitous characteristic. I can spend countless hours alone in my head, forging the synaptic connections needed to invent the alternate reality in my books. Another thing in my favour was that I had already spent a lifetime reading different genres and engaging in interesting experiences before starting to write.
5. What are the main obstacles you faced / overcame when writing and publishing your book(s)?
The main obstacle in authoring a book is to change your mindset from reader to writer. It’s a seismic change to go from consumer to producer – you no longer read books the same way, you mine experiences for potential entertainment value (especially if they’re embarrassing!), and you step out of your comfort zone to let people know that you have a book someone might enjoy reading.
6. How do you promote/advertise your book(s)?
Online, I promote the Zackie Stories using my blog (Introvert Broadcasting Network), website www.reynafavis.com, and various social media. I also attend book signing events where I pimp out my search dog (everyone wants to meet the dog) and meet readers face to face. I have also used book promotion sites and Goodreads giveaways.
7. How did you celebrate the incredible achievement of your first book being published?
I started writing the second book as soon as the editing was completed for the first. Life is short and there’s no time to rest on your laurels.
8. What advice would you give to other authors about to begin their publishing journey?
Join a writers’ group, actively seek feedback, and be relentlessly helpful to fellow writers. Camaraderie is key to productivity.
9. Where is/are your book(s) currently available to read and where can people find you online?
My books are available on Amazon and are most easily accessed through my Author Page. Readers can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I really enjoy connecting with readers, so please look me up.
10. Are you working on anything new we can look forward to in 2019?
“Soul Sign”, the third book in the Zackie Stories, will be published in 2019. In the meantime, readers who enjoy humor can find a new blog post at the end of every month on the Introvert Broadcasting Network.
Thank you for taking part in my Authors 40+ Series Reyna! If you are an author who published their first fiction or nonfiction book over the age of 40 and would like to be featured in this blog series just like Michael and Christina, please get in touch!