This week’s #SPFBO Author Interview is with Amy McNulty. Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently writes professionally about everything from business marketing to anime. In her downtime, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.
What drew you to self-publishing?
Initially, I went the agent/traditional publishing route. I had an agent for a couple of years, and he got my book in front of traditional publishing houses. Eventually, I was published by a smaller publishing company, but we eventually went our separate ways, and I decided to jump headlong into self-publishing. The other process took years and involved excruciating wait times (because everyone in the industry is really, really busy), conflicting opinions and advice, prolonged payment schedules, significantly smaller royalties… In the end, I loved the freedom and control involved with self-publishing. I publish with co-op publishers, so I even still have marketing support from the other authors in the co-ops. I also don’t mind marketing, which I know a lot of writers hate.
Why did you enter #spfbo?
An author friend showed me the contest, and it looked like a lot of fun. There are so many quality-looking titles in one place, and it’s a great promotional boost for all of us involved, even if we don’t make it past the first round.
What advice do you have for anyone new to self-publishing?
Don’t underestimate the importance of a quality cover suitable for your genre and a powerful blurb. You could have one of the best books in the world beneath that cover, but your marketing efforts are going to fail if your genre’s readers aren’t attracted to the book at a glance. Also, be prepared to try a lot of different types of marketing campaigns and to invest money in everything (cover design, editing, formatting, marketing, etc.) before you can even hope to make money. Self-publishing for profit is a long-term project, and you need to build a backlog of books. Don’t get discouraged if your first few books aren’t instant bestsellers.
What is your favorite thing about self-publishing?
The control! I decide my publishing schedule, and I can make sure all of the works I’m most proud of get to see the light of day.
What is your least favorite thing about self-publishing?
Spending money to make money. If I had a huge marketing budget, I could do so much more and probably sell a lot more, but I don’t have the money to risk in a big marketing campaign not paying off.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Getting stressed about meeting my daily goals. On my best days, I can write about 2200 words in an hour, so in theory, I should be able to write books very fast. However, other days, I get too busy to devote even a full hour to drafting, or I’m just not feeling it, and I don’t get as much written in an hour. I get disappointed in myself, and that’s counterproductive.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Up until now, I’ve written what I wanted to. I’ve been inspired by my favorite books in the genres I write and my favorite films and have put out some pretty unique books for better and for worse. (Some readers love that and some hate it!) I am interested in seeing how more trope-heavy books do, especially in the YA and fantasy genres, so I may start writing more books that deliver what readers want.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I don’t have any books I’ve finished that I haven’t published, but I have quite a few I’ve started and put aside. My first manuscript was 120,000 words and only “half finished,” and it took me years to write. I took some parts of it and instead wrote the much shorter Nobody’s Goddess. Then I have a book idea I’ve tried twice and gotten to about 50,000 words each time before the manuscript fell apart. I also have three more manuscripts I wrote a little of before I put them aside.
How do you select the names of your characters?
For contemporary books, I simply use baby name websites. For my fantasy books, I look up names popular in medieval times in different parts of the world. I’ve found quite a few names that look beautiful on the page but are difficult to pronounce, which I’ve realized is hard for audiobook narrators and YouTube reviewers to deal with. Oops.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Writing the first draft! That seems to be the favorite part of the process for many writers, but I find it difficult and time-consuming. Sometimes I really get into it and have fun writing a scene, but most of the time, I’m trying to get through my daily quota to get closer to the end of the draft. Revising and polishing are when the book really comes together for me, and there’s nothing like the feeling of publishing the book and moving on to the next project.
To learn more about Amy and find out what’s she’s working on, check out these links: