I have an ironic T-shirt that says WILL WRITE FOR FOOD. I laugh whenever I put it on because it’s not far from the truth. There were some lean years in the beginning when a check meant the difference between grocery money and going hungry. 15 published novels later, I no longer worry about putting food on the table (just about where it’ll end up on my middle-aged body!). But here I am reliving those days of uncertainty by leaping into the vast unknown of indie publishing after 30 years of being traditionally published.
Suddenly my T-shirt is seeming a lot less ironic.
It all started a little over a year ago with lunch with friend and fellow author Josie Brown, who took the leap a few years ago and has been very successful at it. As I was launching into the usual litany of author complaints, she stopped me mid-rant and asked, “Why not self-publish?” I replied, “Who me?” I couldn’t envision a different path even though the one I was travelling wasn’t the same one I’d set out on all those years ago, given how radically different the publishing landscape of today is from yesteryear’s. Still, I was resistant. Until Josie said, “Then why don’t I give you a tin cup and you can beg for quarters?” Her point: If something isn’t working, try something different—what do you have to lose? It was the kick in the butt I needed.
Thus began my odyssey into self-publishing. Terrified by my own audacity, I felt like I was walking a tightrope—butterflies in my tummy, breaking out in a cold sweat whenever the doubts crept in. Was I doing the right thing? Could I get up to speed on all the stuff I needed to know and do? Starting with all those mysterious acronyms. (What the heck did BISAC stand for, anyway?) But I also realized something wonderful: I had the freedom to write whatever I damn well pleased. I’d always wanted to try my hand at mystery, having strayed in that direction with some of my women’s fiction novels (most notably WOMAN IN RED). My very first short story, in fourth grade, was titled “The Secret of the Mossy Cave,” so I guess you could call it destiny overdue.
Good-bye Beaten Path, hello Cypress Bay! My series is set in a fictional northern California seaside town inspired by the one I lived in before moving to New York City in the 1980’s. The title came to me, fittingly enough, while I was taking a stroll on the beach. The first book, BONES AND ROSES debuts August 4th 2014. It introduces Tish Ballard, property manager extraordinaire and recovering alcoholic with a mouth the size of the flambéed blowout that ended her career as a realtor and persistence to burn. The discovery of human remains in a storage locker sends her on a quest to find answers that takes her to some dark places, not the least of which is the ghost of her high school indiscretion with lead detective Spence Breedlove.
Because I’m smart enough to know I can’t do it all, I signed with a distributor, INscribe Digital—good move, as it turns out. I also hired a marketing person, someone with whom I’ve worked in the past, and have my social media guru buddy Susie Stangland, to help with all things social media related. Fab book designer, Mumtaz Mustafa, designed the covers for both BONES AND ROSES and Book #2 in the series, SWIMSUIT BODY. So far, so good.
The rest is in the hands of Fate and those of Dear Reader. I’m trusting that my existing audience will follow and I’ll gain new readers. And, hey, I’m not too old to do handsprings if I have cause to celebrate. Come visit me on my website. I love to hang out with my fellow authors online. Sharing about our growing pains makes them seem less awful and more laugh-worthy—like my ironic T-shirt.
Eileen was born on the Fourth of July, and her career came into being in much the same way: with fireworks. Which is to say bursts of inspiration accompanied by dazzling displays of verbal pyrotechnics (or so she believed at the time) and culminating in self-immolation in the form of rejection letters. She persisted and went on to publish numerous YA novels and 15 women’s fiction novels, starting with the New York Times bestselling Garden of Lies.
With the first title in her Cypress Bay mystery series, she boldly ventures into territory she has long wished to explore, ever since her love affair with Nancy Drew as a young girl. You can find Eileen on Facebook and Twitter.