Tina started writing in earnest in 2008 and is the author of nine full length novels and a number of short stories in the paranormal and erotic romance genre. She’s a self-publishing success story, having sold more than 450,000 copies of her books in both print and eBook formats. Her most popular series, Scanguards Vampires, is sold in 4 languages (English, German, French, Spanish) all over the world, and she has hit the top 100 Bestseller lists not only in the US, but also in Germany and France.
Here’s a sampler of her Scanguards Vampires series:
Where do you usually write?
Ever since we moved into a larger apartment about a year ago, I finally have my own office. I converted one the bedrooms that looks out on the porch on the fourth floor into an office. It’s south facing, so I get a lot of light and have a wonderful view of the greenbelt between the homes. I live in San Francisco, but it almost makes me feel like living in the countryside.
I’m using a TV screen as my computer monitor, and I’m set up on a standing desk. I hope to really be writing standing up (it burns more calories, and as an author glued to the computer, any extra calorie I can burn, I’ll take it!).
How has the ability to publish and control your eBook entirely affected your approach to writing and publishing?
In a short sentence: it’s liberated me. I don’t have to write with a certain formula in mind, I don’t have to hit a certain word count. I can stick to my guns when it comes to a story line and not have an editor cannibalize my book and turn it into something that I don’t believe in. I think self-publishing has also made me more efficient and hard-working. I don’t get any big advances on my books; I’m relying entirely on my sales. Therefore, the success of a book is paramount to me. With every new book I create my best work possible, put everything in there that I’ve got. It’s my baby, and it will die if I don’t take care of it properly.
Tell us about your most memorable fan encounter?
When I was at BEA in New York in 2012 I arranged for some fans to meet me for drinks. Eight of them who lived in the tri-state area took me up on the offer and met me at the roof terrace bar of my hotel. We had a blast that night, talking about books, about families, about everything. It was such a great experience to meet the women who read my books, to talk to them about what they like. Two of them even brought their husbands with them, and it was funny to hear them talk, saying that whenever their wives are a little down and stressed out, they tell them, “Honey, why don’t you take some time out and read one of Tina’s books?”
Do you believe in writer’s block?
For me personally, writer’s block is an excuse to procrastinate. Sure, there’ve been times when a story just didn’t want to flow and come along as easily as others have before, but that just means I have to think about the characters some more and try to understand what they want. Most of the time when I feel I can’t continue with a scene, it’s because I don’t understand the character. In cases like that, I talk to my critique partner Grace and discuss the character with her, run ideas by her, explain where I’m with the plot. And in all cases so far, I’ve always found the solution. So, in effect, I’ve never had writer’s block.
How important are beta readers to a self-published author?
Very, very important. They are your front line. They are the ones who should tell you immediately if your book sucks, where the weak points are, whether they hate the hero. Those are the things you need to hear before publishing a book if you want to succeed. I personally don’t have beta readers, however I have a critique partner who does the same for me. In addition I have a freelance editor who doesn’t only do copy editing, but also some developmental editing, so he looks at the story and tells me what’s not working. Every writer needs that.
How do create your covers?
I work with a wonderful cover artist, Elaina Lee from For the Muse Designs. She’s created great covers for my Scanguards series and my Out of Olympus series. I do however get very involved with covers: I generally pick the couples I want on the covers myself, Elaina takes care of the layout and all the fancy stuff. Covers are so important. On the last cover she did for me, Quinn’s Undying Rose, we went through four different designs (and four different couples), before we found the right one. I can be demanding at times, but Elaina never complained and in the end produced the perfect cover.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming writers?
To be successful in self-publishing you have to be prolific and hard working. Writing one book, slapping a cover on it and uploading it, isn’t all there is to it. There’s a lot of hard work involved, long hours of marketing and promotion. You have to be prepared for that. At first, until you’ve learned the basics, your time spent on non-writing tasks can easily eclipse your writing time. If you’re not into the business side of it, self-publishing might not be for you, and it might serve you better to go with a publisher.
Find more eBooks by Tina Folsom here.