With our new column Adventures in Self-Publishing, we bring you at look at this ever-expanding market. Today, author Alexis Harrington answers our questions about her self-published tale Home by Morning — and what happened when the story was picked up by Amazon's new romance imprint, Montelake.
If you had to describe the story of your historical tale Home by Morning in one (very modern) tweet, what would it be?
A pandemic, treachery, heartbreak, the fire of a lost love rekindled—all this and more is yours in Home by Morning by Alexis Harrington.
Why did you decide to focus on a story that is so much about medicine at the turn of the century?
I’ve always had an academic interest in medicine. At one time I thought I wanted to be a nurse, but then I realized I don’t like being around sick people. But more than anything, it occurred to me that in the early 1900s, the world was struck by a pandemic that killed an estimated 50 million people, and I didn’t even learn about it in school. All I knew was what I’d learned from my grandmother, who was still living in Europe when she came down with it. I wanted to investigate that and build a story around it.
Can you share something you know about the heroine that didn't make it into the story?
Dr. Jessica Layton, who went east to school, found herself practicing in one of the few areas open to female physicians at the time, public health. A lot of that involved treating the hopelessly poor and destitute. She began to feel that nothing she did made a difference, and the stress of it all made her abandon the position. In the early stages of the book, she was so burned out she started having panic attacks, and while I left in one scene that implies it, I took the rest out.
You've published ten books in the traditional manner, why did you decide to self publish?
Like many authors who got lost in shifting trends, I was spending an enormous amount of just trying to catch the attention of an agent or editor. I wrote book proposals that I might not hear back on for a year, if at all. Years of my life were passing and I knew I had to try something else. I was a little wary of self-publishing; in the past it didn’t have a very good reputation. But all that has changed, and it moves so much more quickly than traditional publishing! I get paid every month, I get better information on royalty statements. And best of all, I’m getting the chance to reach a whole new group of happy, enthusiastic readers with books that were long out of print. It’s worked out so well for me.
Was it a surprise when Amazon’s Montlake Romance editors contacted you?
Absolutely! I’d heard about Amazon’s new venture but I never once expected to hear from them. I thought I was flying under their radar. I was pleasantly surprised to know that they were following my success, and they were eager to work with me.
What was the process of selling a book that was already completed (were there edits, a cover change)?
I got extensive copyedits, some of which I kept and some I didn’t, but that’s par for the course in traditional print publishing too. One of things I requested in my contract was input on the new cover and Amazon’s team was extremely accommodating and worked hard to produce something we are all happy with.
Montlake has already contracted to publish the series second, Home by Nightfall, how do you think the process of creating this book will be different?
This time around, I don’t know if the book will be read and edited, or just copy edited again. I know the cover is already in the works because, of course, they want a cohesive appearance for them both.
And of course, can you share something from Home by Nightfall that our readers can keep their eyes open for?
A character who had only a walk-on role in Home By Morning will have a much bigger and surprising part in Home by Nightfall. I also have one more backlist book to make available to readers once I’ve finished Home By Morning.