This author 2020 blog series is for fiction and nonfiction indie authors who have either already published, or are due to publish, a book in 2020!
As well as showcasing their amazing writing achievement, every featured author answered ten questions to give aspiring fiction and nonfiction indie authors a behind-the-scenes insight into the self publishing process.
This blog post features American writer, storyteller, and history advocate Emily VanderBent, who shares her experience of writing and publishing her first novel ‘Crimson Time‘ – the first book in an exciting YA fiction series that combines elements of history and time travel to tell the stories of women in the past.
1. Tell me about your book in 25 words or less!
When a mysterious letter arrives at her door, Adelaide finds herself thrust into a world of secrets and lies that blurs the lines of history.
2. How long did your book take to write?
The writing itself probably took about six to nine months, on and off, until I could to get a completed first draft to work off of. I obviously still did some writing during each round of revisions, but it was more adding details, descriptors etc. to what was already there than it was creating new content, with the exception of the final chapter. I completely rewrote it about half way through revisions.
3. How long did the whole process take – from initial idea to publication?
The initial idea for ‘Crimson Time’ actually came from a chapter I wrote for a creative writing class in my senior year of high school, so that was about five years ago. It was a pretty rough chapter, but I took the concept and wrote a few scenes and chapters for another creative writing class in my my junior year of undergrad. I went into the class junior year knowing I wanted to turn what I produced there into a novel, so the following semester I took an independent study with the same professor where I wrote some more chapters and she helped me to flesh out the story a bit more. That probably got me a third of the way through the book. I then took another class outside of undergrad where I was able to write the rest of it.
As I wrote more chapters and rewrote some of the others, I had a developmental editor I would send chapters to, to help me with story structure, plot, character development etc. After that, I had several other editors, including an acquiring editor and marketing and revisions editor, look at it and then I completed several rounds of revisions based on their feedback. I also had several beta readers read the manuscript and implemented their feedback where it fit, to make things clearer or answer questions they had better in the writing. Following that, I had both a copy editor and proofreader check for spelling and writing technicalities I missed. I wrote a note from the author, notes on the text, dedication and epigraph. I also worked with a designer for my cover. All of this pretty much took me up to a few weeks prior to publication on July 27th 2020 to complete.
4. What have you learnt about the process of writing a book that could help other indie authors reading this author 2020 blog series?
There’s a lot more to it than just getting the words out of your head and on paper. It takes a lot of time, a lot of love, and a lot of people to get a manuscript written, and then turn that manuscript into a book you would see on a shelf. It’s as hard and frustrating at times as it is exciting and rewarding, but it’s so worth it. Since this is my first novel, it’s definitely been a learning process, but I honestly loved going through each step and seeing the progress the manuscript makes from one to the next.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently, or would do differently with your next book?
I think I would definitely approach my first draft differently the next time around. I’m a planster (planner + panster), so I like to have a general outline before I write so I know the direction I need to head in, but also let the characters and plot go where they need to. When I did my first draft, I stuck too much to my outline, not allowing things to go where they needed to and instead forcing what I wanted to happen. When I did my revisions, I let the characters lead more and make their own decisions rather than stick to what I had planned for them, and the whole story took on a different, much better shape. I had several moments where I was like, “What are you doing?” to a character, but just kept writing and let them lead. Those spontaneous moments actually ended up being some of the strongest parts. For book two, I will definitely listen to my characters sooner and let them lead the story right off the bat. I’ll still make an outline, but be more willing to just let the story go where it needs to.
6. How much did it cost to get your book to market?
Between £501 – £1,000.
7. Do you have any plans to write another/any more books in the future? If so, would you like to share any details about it/them?
I do! ‘Crimson Time’ is actually the first book in what I have planned to be a series by the same name. I’m not sure how many there will be in the series yet, but definitely at least three. Book one is just the start of Adelaide’s story. There is more to discover about her, the Red Rose Society, her parents’ deaths, and the other initiates. All of that, and more, is what the other books will dive deeper into. That’s about as much as I can say without spoiling any of book one or the ones to come!
8. Do you want to give a public shout out to anyone who helped you produce your book?
There are so many people I wish I could shout out because it really does take a village to create a book. But I definitely want to shout out New Degree Press who is publishing my book, everyone who has helped edit and/or provided feedback, and Haley Newlin for introducing me to NDP and helping me walk through the process. I also want to shout out Molly Rose, who helped me develop the early chapters, characters and stories, as well as my friends and family for their constant love, support and encouragement.
9. Please share an excerpt of your book below.
‘A stringed quartet played in the corner. The hands of the cellist slid skillfully along the bow, filling the room with a haunting baroque melody. Couples twirled around her in a flurry of color and silk. Adelaide realized a little too late she had found herself in the middle of the dance floor, partnerless. A hand suddenly grabbed hers and spun her around. Adelaide came face to face with a man, her hands, pale against his olive skin, gripped gently in each of his. He wore a black pinstriped suit, with the gold chain of a necklace just visible above the collar. Under the wide brim of his 20’s-style fedora, Adelaide could make out a pair of deep-set, dark chocolate eyes.’
10. Where can readers buy your book (and any other books you have written)?
Readers will be able to buy ‘Crimson Time’ on Amazon from July 27th 2020, and directly from me at https://www.emilyvanderbent.org/.
Thank you for participating in this indie author 2020 blog series Emily!
Check out the previous posts in the Author 2020 blog series:
A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors is available to buy or borrow now! Get it here.