Sunday, 30 January 2011
Interview with Lexi Revellian
One red hot topic on writers’ boards at the moment is e-publishing, and there’s no doubt with the growth in sales of the Amazon Kindle that e-books are here to stay.
One person who decided to ride the wave and publish her book on Amazon Kindle is debut author Lexi Revellian. Since the launch of Remix in August 2010 it has gone on to have huge success, with over 12 thousand sales to date and is currently at number 15 in the Kindle Bestseller Chart.
Lexi, welcome to my blog and congratulations on the success of Remix. When did you start writing? I mean, has it been a life-long hobby, or relatively recent?
I was always an avid reader – throughout my childhood adults were telling me to stop reading – but I started writing late, doubting I’d be as good as my favourite authors. I kept a journal on and off for years. In 2006 my daughter suggested we write a book together; once I started I couldn’t stop.
How many novels have you written to date? (I'm wondering how many books it has taken for you to reach this stage.)
Remix is my third. I wrote two untypical fantasy novels, the kind that appealed to readers who don’t like fantasy. My characters talk and joke like real people, and the fantasy element was limited to the presence of dragons. These books are entertaining, but too non-genre specific to be mainstream publishable, I think. At the moment, I send the PDFs free to anyone who emails me for them. Quite a lot do.
Can you tell me what inspired you to write Remix? Was it based on your own experiences or a real life story you heard?
I started with a ‘what if?’ What if a young woman found a stranger asleep on her rooftop terrace? Who was he, what would happen next? And I used London as a background, because I like novels with identifiable settings. You can trace most of the places in the book on Google Street View.
I wanted to write something publishable; a feel-good novel as much of a page turner as an early Dick Francis, with a first person narrator so the reader made discoveries only as she did. Ironically, turned out I’d written another non-genre specific book. Amazon has it under Romance, Waterstones under Crime. It’s not really either.
Which authors would you say have had the most influence on you?
Mary Renault – every time I reread one of her novels, she rises in my estimation. I’ve picked up her semi colons. And Jane Austen is a genius; you’d recognize one of her characters instantly if he or she walked in the room. Dick Francis for un-put-downableness.
Can you outline the process of publishing on Kindle? And how have you found it dealing with Amazon?
Publishing to Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is straightforward if you can follow instructions and are painstaking. There’s a lot of help on the internet. I blogged about how I did it here: How to publish for Kindle on Amazon. Amazon’s Author Central is very helpful. I’m hugely grateful to Amazon for giving me this unique opportunity to sell my writing – not a level playing field, but the best we’re going to get.
What marketing have you done to promote Remix? How can you account for the phenomenal sales it has achieved?
I launched Remix in August 2010, and didn’t sell many books for two or three months. As I write the total is more than 12,200 for ebook sales, including over 5,500 in January. The paperback sales are modest, probably under a hundred, but I haven’t totted them up.
In all forms of publishing you need luck, and I’ve been lucky self-publishing. (Maybe I was owed it – I was unlucky no agent picked Remix up. Possibly so were they…) I was the first author to join KUF, the Kindle Users Forum, and Remix was selected as October’s book of the month. I pop into the Kindle forums sometimes, with a link to my book under my signature. I’ve appeared on several review blogs. No doubt I should do more. I had excellent advice from Eric Christopherson, author of Crack-Up. He told me about the importance of getting the price right.
Amazon rewards success; your book pops up all over the site once it’s selling well. And I know from Google Alerts that strangers are talking about Remix and recommending it. In a small way, it’s gone viral.
And Remix is also available as a paperback. Can you tell me who you publish with and summarise how you went about that?
I published with Lightning Source, because I wanted full control and my own micro press, Hoxton Press. It’s not for everyone, because there’s a lot you have to learn, and LS don’t want to spoon feed you. Luckily, I love formatting, and I’m obsessive about detail. Comes of being a jeweller.
What has been the best aspect of being published? Have there been any unexpected benefits or pitfalls?
The best aspect is the readers. I love the fact that people are reading my book and enjoying it, and even bothering to write reviews or email me about it. A book isn’t complete until it is read. I can’t express how great it is when a reader really gets the book the way it was written.
I am also making a surprising amount of money. I haven’t come across a downside yet.
Do you have any tips for other debut authors thinking of publishing this way?
Make sure your book is the best it can possibly be. Use beta readers, and pay attention to what they say. If your spelling, punctuation and grammar is unreliable, pay a proof reader. I don’t use an editor or proof reader, but I use Autocrit to deal with my word echo problem. Make sure your formatting is perfect; check every single page when you load to KDP.
How important do you think the internet is for authors these days? Do you think having a blog and website and networking on Twitter/Facebook etc are necessary?
I have a website and a blog and I’ve noticed recently I’ve had many more visits from people looking up Lexi Revellian or Remix. I also tweet, but don’t think that has helped my sales. It’s more for keeping in touch with what’s going on in publishing. Facebook I just can’t face – I’ve had two tries, and turned shuddering away each time.
Do you plan to publish again on Kindle? If so, can you tell me something about your next project?
I’m three-quarters through the next book, currently called Unofficial Girl. Beth Chandler works in a government research institute, and is duplicated in a flawed experiment. The replica goes on the run with just what she stands up in, while the original Beth, unaware, continues with her life. Alternating chapters tell their stories. There’s a morally ambivalent spec op, Nick Cavanagh, who becomes involved with Beth One, while pursuing Beth Two.
When it’s finished, I hope this spring, I’ll put it on Amazon. I’ll also try a few agents, to see if they make me an offer I can’t refuse…
You can find out more about Lexi's journey to self-publish on Amazon Kindle at her blog here.