Today’s interview is with Jenelle Schmidt, a YA fantasy writer who has been in the business for several years but recently got into indie publishing. You can find out more about Jenelle on Goodreads here:
1. I see that you developed a love of writing from having stories read to you. How
do you think your love of books has influenced you as a person?
This is an excellent question. I believe my love of books has made me far more
introspective and thoughtful. I know it has inspired my imagination and sparked
a lot of creativity in me that otherwise might have remained dormant. And, of
course, it inspired me to write, to create my own worlds and characters. Books
are so much a part of who I am, it’s hard to figure out where their influence
ends and I begin sometimes.
2. You’ve been epublishing longer than many others! How did you first decide to
indie publish, and what was it like?
Actually, I only just recently got into e-publishing. But I did publish my
first book under a different title a good 9 years ago. When I first really got
serious about publishing about 6 years ago, I spent a long time re-writing and
editing (and having other editors besides myself look at my ms) my first book.
I armed myself with the 2007 Guide to Literary Agents and started sending out
queries. Over the course of time I sent out maybe twenty or thirty query
letters to agents.
I received all of 3 or 4 responses. One was actually a request for the first
five pages of my book, which the agent then declared (kindly and gently) was,
“Sadly not what she was hoping for.”
After much time waiting and never receiving any sort of response, I finally
decided that I could spend the rest of my life writing query letters (which I
hated) or I could spend the rest of my life writing books (which I loved). In
the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision. I am blessed with the ability to not
have to depend on my writing for a living, as my husband has a wonderful job
and my other “title” is “stay-at-home-mom.”
So far, self-publishing has been a lot of fun. It’s scary, and a lot of really
hard work, but it’s all work I enjoy, and I have much more control over my
finished product than I would if I had an agent or a traditional publisher. It
has also given me the opportunity to create a publishing/marketing company with
my siblings – and I wouldn’t trade that experience for any amount of advance a
traditional company might offer.
3. What about YA fantasy appeals to you?
I have always loved fantasy, but it’s hard to find adult fantasy that is really
“clean” (no sleeping around, swearing, etc). So, I like to hang out
in the YA fantasy section, where I can get all the extraordinary worlds, heroic
characters, mythical creatures, quests, magic, and spell-binding plotlines
without having to slog through anything objectionable.
I also grew up with my dad reading out loud to myself and my brothers, and the
idea of fantasy that can be read together by the entire family has always
appealed to me. There’s just something so cozy and fun and wholesome about a
family reading together, and I when my dad challenged me to write something he
could read aloud to my younger siblings, the idea caught my imagination and
away we went! I would love to be able to share that experience with other
4. Tell me about your latest book.
My latest book is also the only book I have released so far, though the prequel
will be released in the next couple of months – we’re just waiting on the cover
art to be finalized.
King’s Warrior: book one of the Minstrel’s Song – is about a princess whose
country is about to be invaded by an unknown enemy. Her father sends her off on
a quest to find a man who can help them, one who defended their land in the
past. Finding him, however, proves to be the easiest part of her quest.
If I had to sum it up in just a few words, I would say this book has it all: a
quest, a mysterious warrior, dragons, kings, wizards, magic, adventure,
sword-fights, and a teeny tiny bit of romance.
5. Who is your favorite writer and why?
My favorite writer was my Grandma Gwen Walker. She wrote a book called “He
Whistles for the Cricket” and I grew up reading it over and over again. It
is a charming, beautiful little book about a girl and her dog living in the
Midwestern United States in the 1940s. It makes me laugh and cry every time I
Two Christmases ago, I got it typed up and published for her – as a present to
my family, though she is not alive to see it. It is my favorite book of all
time, and probably much of the reason I became an author myself. I think just
knowing that someone I knew had written an entire book was an inspiration to
me. I started writing my own stories as soon as I could hold a pencil and write
real words. I don’t know if I would have even dreamed of writing books if she
hadn’t written one first.
6. What are you working on next?
There are so many things that I am working on right now it’s amazing I’m still
sane! Second Son is ready to go, and then I need to start work editing book
three of The Minstrel’s Song (a series of 4 books). All the books in this
series are complete and in various stages of the editing process.
This summer I finished writing my fifth book, a completely new
story/world/character-set, and just started work on the sequel to that book.
I also have a sci-fi series that is in the beginning stages of development, and
a few other ideas percolating. Really, the biggest difficulty right now is
time, as I am also stay-at-home mom of two beautiful little girls ages 5 years
and 18 months. I’m not lacking for projects or ideas! It’s a wonderful problem
7. Do you promote? If so, what has been the most successful for you?
I do, though I need to get better about this. So far, what we’ve done has
included: goodreads giveaways, kindle select free-promotions, author
interviews, read-to-review giveaways, trying to get my book into libraries, and
a book signing at Barnes and Noble.
I’m not sure which has been the most successful. They’ve all been very good
experiences and have taught me a lot about the process of marketing and
promoting. I think having a variety of avenues to promote in is valuable. We
are looking into new avenues to pursue and trying to figure out which ones will
be the most useful – but we aren’t really “experts” yet… though we
do hope to become experts in this field eventually.
8. Any other advice for writers?
The advice I tend to give is pretty basic. The best advice I ever got about
writing was from my dad, who told me, “If you want to be a writer, you
need to be writing.”
It seems so simple, but it’s true. Write! Something, anything, even just a
little bit, every day.
The other bit of advice is to read. Never stop reading. Become an expert in
your genre. Read outside your genre. Learn what works by reading other authors.
Thanks so much for having me over for an interview!