She began to write at the age of twelve but it was in 2015 that Suzanne Rogerson has ventured into the self-publishing world with her debut standalone Epic Fantasy novel Visions of Zarua (which I've read, reviewed, and recommend). Today, we'll be knowing more about Suzanne's design challenges and her experience being an indie author.
1 - When you first decided you'd be self-publishing, how much did you know about it?
I knew very little about self-publishing when I started out, so I read articles and books about it and googled everything I didn’t understand. My editor had also self-published her own novels, so she had lots of advice to help me along the way.
2 - How early in your journey did you start thinking about your book cover design?I’d already finished the book and it was with my editor for its proofread when I really started to think about the cover. I talked to an illustrator and spent hours a day trawling the internet for premade covers. I was getting desperate and running out of ideas when I stumbled on the cover for Visions of Zarua and fell in love with it. I knew it was perfect and bought it instantly. I was on a high for days afterwards.
3 - Did you have any budget for self-publishing? What type of professional services do you consider are essential for the success of a self-published book?
I’ve always had a tight budget for self-publishing. I had a small inheritance in the beginning that helped, but I knew I needed to keep the costs to a minimum. The services I refused to skim on were editing costs. The book was as good as I could make it, but when I sent it to my editor she managed to knock over 8K off the word count.
All writers should have a professional go through their manuscripts before publishing if they want readers to take them seriously.
4 - Did you have any help for your book cover design, or did you do it yourself?
I did try to get help from an illustrator, but I didn’t know what cover I wanted so I wasn’t much help when it came to her coming up with designs. I only realised what image I wanted when I saw it on a premade book cover site.
5 - Are you happy with the final result? Would have you done anything differently?
I love the book cover for Visions of Zarua. The ethereal quality and the mysterious figure fits the book perfectly.
With my next book, which I’m hoping to publish later in 2017, I love the cover I’ve chosen but I’m worried about finding covers for books 2 and 3 that can tie the series together. If I could do anything differently I would have all 3 book covers ready at the same time. Just to know they were ready would take a huge burden off the writing and publishing process.
6 - What was the most challenging part in the design process?
The most challenging part has been trying to get an author brand together, whilst doing it all for myself. Designing the blog, twitter, and Facebook page with banners etc. has been a challenge, but I’ve just had to learn along the way.
7 - Nowadays it's not uncommon to see books being relaunched with a new book cover redesign. Is this a tactic you plan to try at some point?
For my next book, The Lost Sentinel, I would definitely consider relaunching it with a new cover if I could come up with a set of book covers that clearly defines the series.
8 - Apart from your blog, have you considered having your author website? Why / Why not?
I did wonder whether to have a separate author website, or a book landing page (I think it’s called), but that’s a new skill I haven’t researched yet and I’m not sure I have the time to do any more on social media at the moment. I started the blog to get a presence on social media and I’m happy with the direction that is going, although it does eat into my writing time.
9 - How important do you consider your blog has been in your marketing efforts?
Without the blog, I wouldn’t have a clue how to go about marketing my book. It’s helped me launch Visions of Zarua, given me somewhere to showcase reviews, helped me find reviewers, been a place to advertise book sales and giveaways, and last year I ran a blog tour all because of the contacts I’d made via my blog.
10 - Do you have an email marketing plan? Why / Why not?
I haven’t got an email newsletter or marketing plan. I get bombarded with authors sending emails and sometimes they can become irritating. I know it could help me connect with readers, so maybe it’s something I’ll consider in the future.
11 - Do you feel there are there things that you'd still want to add to your marketing plan but can't due to lack of expertise and /or budget?
I want to do lots more advertising, but I’ve yet to work out how or where. I know I’m missing out on precious book sales, but I don’t have the money for the big ad companies and I can’t afford to make too many wrong decisions. It’s something I need to research more.
12 - Thank you so much for your time today, Suzanne. Do you have any tips you want to share with any aspiring authors who are just getting started?
Aspiring authors should plan as much in advance as they can. Learn from other authors and make connections online. Use the expertise you can afford, but don’t skim on things like editing and your book cover.
Visions of Zarua
by Suzanne Rogerson
Published: November 16th 2015
Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua's dark past?
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago - a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua.
Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.
She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream - even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.
She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.
Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.
You can visit Suzanne's blog at suzannerogersonfantasyauthor.wordpress.com
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