I love hearing the success stories of self-published authors. Here’s one from award-winning (yes, award-winning!) romance author Merry Farmer:
MC: You say you’ve been writing stories as a kid. At what age did you decide to get serious about your
writing and why?
MF: I feel like I decided to get serious about writing several times before it actually happened. In college I started entering writing contests and working on my craft, but after graduating I let myself be convinced that writing wasn’t a “real” career and I would never make any money from my writing. Fast forward about 10 years and a lifetime of experiences later. I had just had a horrible break-up with a man I was sure I would marry. In order to get over the depression, I started writing The Loyal Heart, which ended up being the first novel I published. I started out shopping it around to a few agents traditionally, but very quickly the whole traditional publishing world left a bad taste in my mouth. Then, in 2011, I heard about self-publishing for the first time. I knew instantly that it was for me. I knuckled down right then and worked on polishing up The Loyal Heart and sent it to a freelance editor. She wrote back saying she loved it and thought I was writing on the same level as the authors the publishing company she worked for part-time were signing. The rest, as they say, is history!
MC: You write historical romance novels. Why do you chose historical rather than contemporary settings?
MF: I’ve always loved history. In fact, I have not one, but two bachelor’s degrees in history. There is just something about the richness of all those lives that have been lived for thousands of years before us that speaks to me. The world has changed so much over time, and yet emotions, love, heartache, ambition, conflict, all those things have stayed the same. To me, looking at the lives of all of the people who have come before us reminds me that I’m not alone. Whatever troubles I may be facing, people have been through them before and come out on top. I love translating that feeling into my books. And let’s face it, the clothes were awesome!
MC: Why do you think romance novels have been and likely will always be popular?
MF: Romance novels will always be popular because love will always be at the forefront of the human experience. That’s the simple answer, but I think the truest answer goes even deeper than that. Romance novels primarily appeal to women and are about women’s sensuality, and in the case of the more explicit novels, sexuality. For some reason, society has tended to belittle so much of our feminine experience over the years. Or at least they’ve tried to. The enormous popularity of romance novels proves that women find strength in their sexuality and solidarity in sharing that with each other. We love reading about bold heroines who have the same emotions and urges that we have, but who are unafraid to embrace that and go after what they want. I think it reflects our own desire to take charge of our own lives in a world that too often isn’t perfect.
MC: You chose to self-publish your books. Would you say self-publishing is a good route for any author to go on?
MF: You know, I actually think that self-publishing is something that authors should enter into with extreme caution. I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint of heart. The reality is that it takes a mind-boggling amount of discipline. I spend hours and hours every day writing, networking, promoting, and thinking ahead to the next thing. I like that sort of thing though. I like the challenge. I try to mimic the process that a traditionally published author would go through (deadlines, revisions, line edits, beta-reading) as much as possible, but even I am tempted to click “publish” before a book is truly ready. That’s the biggest mistake I see my fellow selfies making. It also takes a large amount of money to self-publish. Editing, covers, and especially marketing all cost money, and the more you put in, the more you get out. And that’s not even getting into taxes! If I told you how much I owe Uncle Sam for the 2013 tax year, you might pass out. I know I almost did!
Now, all that being said, I wouldn’t do it any other way! I love the control I have over my stories, the way the books look, when they are released, and especially what I’m writing in the first place. I have always liked unusual sub-genres and characters that don’t fit the alpha hero duke billionaire model. I’ve written historical romance so far, but I’ll be publishing what I like to call “Sci-fi for Women” this summer and for the rest of 2014. I also have a bizarre dystopian story waiting to be written, as well as a time travel adventure series and a Regency high seas series. My plans aside, I have become increasingly alarmed by the trends some publishers have of writing clauses into author contracts by which they own the meta-data of a story (character names, titles, place names, etc.) and the harsh terms for getting rights to backlist back. That’s not even getting into the debate about how much royalty authors are paid and when they receive those payments! I’m so much happier publishing myself.
MC: You’ve won awards for your books. But which is better: having loyal fans or recognition by writers’ organizations?
MF: That’s kind of a chicken or the egg question in my mind. My gut instinct is to say having loyal fans all the way. I love my fans to bits! But winning awards gives you that boost of legitimacy that might just help someone who has never heard of you to take a chance on your book and then become a fan.
MC: What’s next for Merry Farmer?
MF: You know how I just said I love self-publishing because it allows me to do things with genre that I would never be able to do as a traditionally published author? Well, one of those things is publishing an m/m romance in the middle of a conventional historical romance series. The last book (of the first cycle) of my Montana Romance series, Somebody to Love, is a love story between Phineas Bell, the town banker who has been in all of the previous Montana books, and Elliott Tucker, the new sheriff in town. That will be released at the very end of April. After that, I’ll be leaving Earth for a while to publish the aforementioned Women’s Sci-Fi series, Grace’s Moon, which begins with a pair of novels, Saving Grace and Fallen From Grace. These books follow the struggle of a group of lost colonists from Earth whose transport ship explodes in deep space as they attempt to form a new civilization on a habitable moon while racing to solve the mystery of what happened to their ship before anyone else dies. It’s pretty exciting stuff!
Merry is offering a giveaway for one of her books! Check it out here!
Learn more about Merry here: