Highlights

  • Strategies for promoting our own books as self-published writers.
  • Learning through life experiences and expressing ourselves through our writing.
  • Editing and editing resources for self-publishing writers.

My writing is character-driven, so the time, experience, and multiple revisions help me develop the characters. 

Welcome to the seventeenth episode of Interviews from the Void, where I interview writers about their writing process, discussing the mechanics and physicality of the craft.

In this episode, I chat with Colette Tozer, author of FAMILY TITHES, about editing her first book and what she learned during the self-publishing process.

Arthur: Did you outline your first book, FAMILY TITHES? What are the most important lessons you learned while writing your first book? Was it self-published?

Colette: FAMILY TITHES is part of a series that I started when I was ten years old. It kind of grew up with me.  So, while I didn’t intentionally write an outline, the books I wrote previous to the published book served as an outline. My writing is character driven, so the time, experience, and multiple revisions helped me to develop the characters.

The main lesson I learned while writing my first book is that nothing is perfect. Everything is open to interpretation and with experience, everything changes.

Yes, my book was self-published. I am an indie author, working on publishing many more books.

Arthur: Since you’re self published, can you give me insight on your editing process? Do you hire an editor? How can writers seeking to self publish – who can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for editing – edit their books? Do you have any resources you could recommend?

Colette: My editing process: After I write my book, I wait a few days. Then, I go over the book with fresh eyes. I run the book through Grammarly (the free version) and then, I send it to my editor. Adele Brinkley is extremely thorough and helpful. Plus, she is extremely affordable, in my opinion. After I go through Adele’s edits, my husband reads the book. (My husband also creates my cover art.) After my husband and I go through the book, it is ready for publication.
How can other writers edit their books: My advice is to read your book over with fresh eyes. Then, give it to friends and family to read. Ask your friends and family to be honest with you. Explain that their honesty will help you far more than them placating you. You might be surprised at what they come up with.
The main resource that I recommend is Grammarly. I only use the free version, but it is extremely helpful. I run everything I write through this program.
Also, some of the best advice I received when it comes to writing is that with the ability to self-publish and self-promote, there’s an audience for everyone. As long as the story is written well and taken seriously by the author, there is an audience waiting to support you.

Arthur: How did you start writing? Did you write short stories before tackling your first book?

Colette: I started writing when I was ten years old. I have always been fascinated by stories. So, when I got old enough to be somewhat coherent in my writing, I started creating my own stories.  They were terrible, but they were mine. I wanted to be an author before I even knew it was an occupation.

My mom explained that you could get paid for writing books and I was thrilled. My dream just got better.

As long as the story is written well and taken seriously by the author, there is an audience waiting to support you.

Arthur: Here’s the opening lines to FAMILY TITHES, which brought me into the atmosphere of the book right away:

“The fire was crackling back at its admirer and the night was still, quiet and for everyone else on that same block; abundantly peaceful. 

As for that particular household, however, the evil within was stirring; brooding and culminating.”

Your prose and voice are flowering and deep, yet it also has a simplicity to it that keeps the story moving. M. K. Weiland talked about spending hours upon hours writing her own words to find her voice. How did you develop your writing “voice”?

Colette: I think my writing voice just found me. I did spend hours writing, but it was to create stories; it wasn’t for any specific writing purpose. I’m always learning and through experiences, I learn new ways to express myself through my writing.

Arthur: Where did the inspiration for FAMILY TITHES come from?

Colette: Originally, there were only two protagonists; one which now isn’t introduced until the second book. Since I was a child at the time, they were kids and it wasn’t nearly as dark as FAMILY TITHES ended up being. Through the time I spent adding different characters and building the story, what started out as flashbacks became vital to the story. Eventually, the main character became secondary in the first book, because the story started before what was originally the first book. I guess, FAMILY TITHES is a prequel to the first (extremely childish) ramblings of a ten-year-old who wanted to write something entertaining.

Arthur: Is writing your full-time job? What is your writing schedule and how do you dedicate time for writing?

Colette: Yes, I am a full-time freelance writer. However, I write my own books on the side. I write articles mainly, but I’ve also ghostwritten eBooks of varying genres.

For my books, I write when the moment strikes me. I write my best in the early morning or in the evening. So, I try to schedule my time out accordingly.

Nothing is perfect. Everything is open to interpretation and with experience, everything changes.

Arthur: How do you promote your work? What marketing strategy has had the best return?

Colette: I promote my book via my website, as well as Facebook, and Amazon. I have found the Amazon book giveaway feature to be an extremely useful tool.

Arthur: You have a blog article about free ebooks. Have you given your book away for free in an effort to “get your work out there?” Was the effort successful?

Colette: Yes, I have put my books out for free. It is successful, as a marketing tool, but I have found it far more successful to discount the books, (to $0.99). Even though it isn’t much, by discounting it, you are still instilling a value to the author’s hard work.

FAMILY TITHES is currently discounted on Amazon, starting on June 10th and running for a week.

Arthur: Have you used other mediums, such as Patreon or Wattpad, to find more readers?

Colette: Yes, I have just gotten into Patreon. While I’m still figuring it out, I like the concept and I think it’s a useful tool for creators.

I’m always learning and through experiences, I learn new ways to express myself through my writing.

Arthur: Do you have a target audience? Who are you writing for, if not just for yourself?

Colette: While I don’t have a specific target audience, I am writing to entertain.

Arthur: What kind of experience are you trying to create for your readers?

Colette: Since I am heavily character driven, I want to create an immersive, fast-paced experience for the reader. I want to keep readers hooked, while empathizing with the characters. I try to make my characters multidimensional and as realistic as possible.

Arthur: I’ve asked other writers about their “writing space” or “work space.” Kristina Mahr talked about protecting our writing environments to we can produce our greatest work. Tell me about your writing space. Are there specific attributes to your work space which help you focus on your writing?

Colette: My writing space is my house. I tend to move around a little bit, but the most refreshing writing space for me is my patio. It’s peaceful and I love to look at the water.

 

Arthur: There’s a great book called DEEP WORK, written by Cal Newport. DEEP WORK talks about learning how to focus and free ourselves from distraction so we can “create deeply.” Many of the strategies discussed in the book apply directly to writing. How do you free yourself from distraction when you’re in the middle of a writing session?

Colette: When the moment strikes, I have a good focus and I can cut almost anything out. However, when I am not in the throes of an intense epiphany, I leave my phone to charge and write when I’m home alone. That way, I can minimize distractions and focus completely on my work.

When I’m in the throes of an intense epiphany, I leave my phone and write when I’m home alone.

Thank you so much, Colette, for sharing your writing knowledge with us here in the Void. For more information about Colette and her writing, check out her website.

 

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