We're talking today to Holly Bush, author of the historical fiction, Reconstructing Jackson. Reconstructing Jackson is published by BookBaby.
Congratulations on your new book! Before we ask how you did it, can you tell us a little about your book?
I’d love to and thanks so much for having me. In 1867,Southerner, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation after the Civil War in a wheelchair. Schooled as a lawyer, he moves west to start again after his father deeds the Jackson holdings to a younger brother. Circumstances bring Reed and Belle Richards together, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read.
Can you tell us who your publisher is and why you went with them?
My publisher is BookBaby and I chose them because they do not keep a cut of my sales and upload my books to seven major sites. They do the formatting well, and quickly.
Were they your original choice?
Did you go through an agent?
I did not. I do not have an agent.
What are the perks of going with a traditional publisher?
I think having the marketing, the experience and the organization behind you as a writer would be a great asset. When I have questions about career direction or length of time between books or even titles, I have no one to ask and so far there is no hard data about industry trends and forecasting for me to read. I’m, of course, speculating that you do actually get all this from a traditional publisher because I have no experience working with a publisher. But I would imagine publishing folks have access to data that would help answer those questions.
Did you ever consider self-publishing and why or why not?
I spent a little over a decade trying to get an agent or publisher to take a look at my work but was not successful. I attended writer’s conferences, queried agents and editors, chatted on-line at writing sites and was active in a local writer’s group. I changed my query, and edited my books and wrote other books. A little over a year ago, I had a premonition that my books would never make it into readers’ hands. It was very discouraging. Worse yet, self-publishing had a dreadful reputation. Agents’ web sites would often warn that they would never, ever consider self-published works so I felt that once I did it, there was no going back.
I am happy to say that self-publishing has been rewarding and very successful for me. It has also been a lot of hard work but that would have been true regardless of which path I chose.
What do you believe is the biggest obstacle authors face when searching for a traditional publisher?
The odds against a writer getting a publisher without an agent are astronomical. The few editors I met at conferences were often open to taking a look at a sample chapter or two but the odds of being the right book at the right time for their list is infinitesimal. I’ve always felt the only way to break into traditional publishing is through an agent that knows the market and the players and what houses are looking for what books at that time.
What does your publisher do in terms of publicizing your book?
BookBaby strictly uploads my books to the major sellers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. They do no marketing or publicity work.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge authors face in promoting their books?
Well, you’re a very tiny voice in a vast internet world. There are lots of reading sites and ways to promote, but which ones? I’m fortunate because the romance reading world has been reading on-line or on e-readers long before the general public went Kindle crazy so there are many well-established romance/women’s fiction web sites with opportunities for reviews, display ads and chat rooms to meet readers.
Are you active in the social networks and which is your favorite?
I’m very active on social networks. I have a Good Reads, FaceBook, Google+ and Tumbler page, I post on Pinterest and have a Twitter account. They all have their uses. I’m partial to GoodReads, though. I’ve found new authors and made some great friends there. There’s a chat group for about every conceivable genre you can imagine and some you can’t imagine! I believe my books have gotten a foothold because of Good Reads.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors?
One of the most helpful things for me was joining a local writer’s group. Listening to others read their stories and reading mine aloud really helped me refine my writing. And writing is a very lonely endeavor. Knowing that I would be meeting some other writers twice a month for encouragement or just chit chat helped me stay focused on the long game.
Thank you so much for having me here. It’s been a pleasure.
Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.
Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.
Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, and was the vice-president of her local library board for years. She loves to spend time near the ocean and is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.
Her latest book is the historical fiction, Reconstructing Jackson.