Life is hard for a self-published writer. That’s why we need to take time out of our busy schedules to support our peers. This week, I am interviewing writer Ari Sims. She is the author of two self-published books: The Gulick House (2009) and Second Period (2011).
You can visit her at http://www.arisims.com/
When did you start writing? Was there a story you read that inspired you? Or were you telling stories from a young age?
I started writing at a very early age. My grandfather read books to me every night and I was reading by age 4. I started writing in the 2nd grade. I just took out a piece of paper and started writing. My first story had only one period at the end.
Do you remember what your first story was about?
To be honest, I don’t. I started writing mini-series in composition books when I was in 4th grade. They were fantasy stories based off the friends that sat at my lunch table.
And is fantasy your favorite genre, or do you have other ones?
It was when I was a kid. I had an overactive imagination. My first 2 published books were fiction/thriller…but as I got into professional writing and as my mind got weighed down by the “real world,” I started to get into non-fiction writing.
What were the names of those first two books and what were they about?
The first one is called The Gulick House. Inspired by my first heartbreak, it’s about a guy who gets his heart broken by his first love and then endlessly tries to pick up the pieces of his life, but he ultimately ends up getting hung up on revenge.
The second one is called Second Period and based off the experience I had in high school. This one is about a girl who is questioning her sexuality and ends up crushing on the prom queen, who she gets to convince her sexuality too, to the dismay of the girl’s group of friends.
Wow, so those are two very different stories. They were self-published right?
Yes. I published the first one at 18 and the second one when I was 20. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get a book printed with my name on it.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I was a shy person at the time and I looked into getting an agent but it was so overwhelming and I was still in school, so I really didn’t have the time to sit down and write query letters. I’m one of those people who tends to try and find the easy way out.
Trust me, I understand. I studied the process of traditional publishing and it can be quite daunting at times.
One of my flaws as a college student was that I liked to rush through things. I rushed through my papers, I rushed through studying, I rushed through everything. If I actually sat down and focused I probably could have graduated with a 4.0. I hurried and picked Lulu.com because it was quick and easy. Then I reprinted it about a year later using Createspace because it had a better interface.
Do you want to self-publish more books in the future, or are you ready to try traditional publishing?
I thought about it. After I self published The Gulick House, I sent out a couple of query letters but they all got rejected. I think when it comes to traditional publishing, you’ve either got to know somebody or win a contest or just be really lucky. I like self-publishing. The company sends me a check for the royalties right to my address and it’s all easy to figure out at tax time. I like being in control of that stuff. Also, I’ve gotten a lot better at networking and marketing, so if I ever do get around to publishing another book, I’ll most likely self publish again.
I like to design my own covers too. With self publishing, you can upload it right to the platform.
Did you design the covers for both your books?
Yes. Funnily enough, I took both of the pictures years before I even wrote the books. I experimented with photography before I got into writing and both pictures just suited each book.
Are you working on anything right now?
I have about 75% of The Leader’s Path finished, my memoir about being a restaurant manager, but for some reason it’s just not right yet. I’ve been making a mini-series post in my blog about it as a test drive, to see how people like the content before I go ahead and finish. I might even use it as a marketing tactic–read the first x amount of chapters in my blog and then buy the book for more.
That’s definitely a good start. How have you found the whole marketing process? Is there anything you know now that you didn’t when you published your first book?
Heck yeah. As part of running a business, you’ve got to learn how to market. When I published The Gulick House, I didn’t have a target audience, I didn’t do research, I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t do much of anything. I had one radio interview because I knew a radio show host. I also learned a lot on how to market ebooks. I learned everything from how to include hyperlinks in it back to your website to how to format it for optimization.
Are your books available only as Print on Demand, or are they ebooks as well?
I actually took both of them off Amazon and all the sites because my editor wanted me to drop her name from them because she was getting a job as a teacher–understandable. They used to come in print form because I didn’t believe in the ebook–but now I think it’s the greatest asset in the world. Right now, people can download The Gulick House for free on my website. I took Second Period down completely because I have to go back and make changes.
I know. The ebook phenomenon has taken off. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Program has completely changed the publishing industry. Do you think this is a passing fad, or is self-publishing here to stay?
It’s definitely here to stay. There’s no doubt in my mind. ANYONE can be a published author today. I know a lot of people hire ghostwriters for it, I’ve done several of them. People use ebooks to promote their business, people are achieving their dreams because of it.
It’s opening doors for so many people.
CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR PART 2