What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
I do not have a set writing process. However, I am always thinking about my writing, and I write a lot in my head. I call it my brain work. When I have my brain work done, then I sit down and write out a rough outline of the story and brief descriptions of my characters. I like to map out my story which also takes some time. I use real places even though my stories take place in Medieval England and throughout the Ancient World. Including a map with my story helps me and my readers as the story progresses. A lot of my actual writing happens as I listen to DVDs of Mumford & Sons, Yanni, and others. Also, it is not uncommon to find me writing—especially early on—with a movie on. I pick shows that I’ve enjoy and have watched so many times that I don’t have to watch. Crazy, I know. An unusual habit I have is left over from my teaching days. All my first drafts, outlines, notes are handwritten. I don’t turn to the computer until that much is done.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes, I do. When that happens, I put down what I’m working on and transfer my story into my head. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes to get past that block; other times it may take a few days.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Keep reading, writing, and studying your craft.
What are your current/future projects?
I have two projects. The first one is the final book in my Guinevere trilogy for Middle Graders. It is still in the planning. Further along is my new series The Feathers of the Phoenix. I’m working on the first book—The Atlantean Horse—now. It is a time travel adventure/thriller through the Ancient Worlds.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
In my teaching, I found that students I had who wouldn’t read anything would read the Arthurian Legend stories and the stories from Ancient Greece, Rome,, and others. I decided to try and reach those reluctant readers early in their school years to get them excited about reading.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
I don’t see the plain changing for independent authors and those upcoming writers who want to publish their own works. However, readers are becoming more savvy and there is a trend away from writers who don’t do their homework. What I mean by that is, writers who choose to publish without spending the money on cover designs, editing, and layout are finding out that readers are not buying their books or are returning the books for a refund. For the serious writer, I believe that the future is a promising one, but it takes a long time to prove yourself and find true followers.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I was a hybrid author, but now I publish my own books. It didn’t make sense to share the royalties when I did all my advertising and promotion. I publish through Kindle, Nook, B&N, and CreateSpace. I have a distributor for my Arthurian Legend stories, but my others are all mine.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
Oh yes, except for titles. I know the title of my book before I even start writing. Those don’t change for me. Most of my books have had 2 covers, and some 3. It is a live, write, and learn process. New covers cost, but the look is worth it. In 2016-17, all 5 of my books received new covers. The cost was around $550 per book. You just have to decide that is what you need. As for content, when I got my new covers, I went in and changed content in a couple of my books. I still have one that I need to change. It’s not a hard process, but it is time consuming.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I belong to several author groups like Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Historical Novel Society, SCBWI, as well at local author organizations. I’ve met and talked with many seasoned authors as well as beginners. Networking is really important. Because of this and my teaching background, I’ve done several school visits, parent literacy nights, and presented workshops on Working with Schools and Making Your Book more Friendly for Educators and Home Schooling Co-ops. In 2018, I was invited to speak on a panel at Comic Con! The came about through my network.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
I wish I could tell you. My biggest struggle is with marketing. With 5 books out there, it has become very time-consuming not to mention all the changes in technology. I do fair with Amazon Ads. Facebook ads were not good for me. I advertise on a couple of websites that works well for my books. My biggest tip would be to take some marketing classes, but be sure you know what you’re taking. There are a lot of scammers out there.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
My books generally run between 27000 to 35000 words, but I don’t keep an active word count as I write. Fortunately for me, that range is where I end up which is perfect for my reluctant readers
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
I believe reviews are a valuable tool. I use snippets in promos, in new books, and in my social networks. I do not however pay for reviews. I can’t see paying $450 & up for a review. I’m a skeptic and consider those paid services as just lining someone else’s pocket.
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
I always like my latest book the best. That’s probably because I’ve just spent over a year with it!
What is the intended audience for you book?
My books are aimed at readers ages 9-12/13. My Arthurian books really appeal to these ages. My Egyptian books are aimed at readers 13 and up, but I find a lot of adults buy those.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
Please become readers and learners for life. There is a reason that history repeats itself.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
I find it easier to reach readers, but a lot harder for me to do so. Social media posting takes so much time!! I subscribe to posting services which help, but it is still an uphill battle with each site. The ones I use—or try to use—are Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, and Instagram.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
Personally, I prefer print. I have a tough time knowing where I’m at in an eBook. For my young readers, I would prefer that they have a print book, but many reluctant readers want to read off a device rather than a book.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
I proof and edit my own books constantly through the process. I also have a line editor who edits around 6 or 7 times. Then finally, I have a content editor and go through at least 3 complete edits with her.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
I did this once, but never again!! Now my novel covers are done by Berg Design out of South Carolina and my picture book covers are done by LLPix Designs.
Books by Cheryl Carpinello
Connect with more from Cheryl Carpinello