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Indie New York Times Bestselling Author Elisabeth Naughton!

PhotoShe is absolutely amazing and the perfect example of an indie author that made it big. I had the opportunity to touch base with indie New York Times bestselling author, Elisabeth Naughton about her success and her advice for aspiring authors as well.

 

For those who are not familiar with your Eternal Guardians books and other series, what are they about?

The Eternal Guardians series centers around the descendants of the famed heroes from Greek mythology. They protect the mortal realm from threats of the Underworld and the gods’ vicious schemes to obtain the Orb of Kronos, a magical object that has the power to release Kronos from his prison in Tartarus. The being who controls the Orb, controls all the power in the universe.

 

 

Since you used to teach middle school, have you ever given thought to writing middle grade books or YA?

I’ve considered it. I even have a YA book mapped out, but I haven’t found the time to write it. I think it’s entirely possible that I spent so much time with middle-schoolers, my brain is rebelling against the idea of being immersed in that world again.

 

 

What is your writing process like? Do you outline first? How long does it take you to write your first draft? And what is your rewriting process like?

I don’t outline on paper. Book ideas come to me after characters are developed. Story grows out of character for me. I often ponder a book plot in my head for months before I start writing. I’m an organic writer which means I let the story drive itself. Whenever I get stuck while writing it’s because I’ve tried to force a story in a direction it didn’t want to go.

 

As for my drafts…I’m a pretty clean writer and revise as I go, so my by the time I finish a book I usually only have to do one pass for major plot/character revisions, and another for mechanics. After that it goes off to my editor. I can usually write a book in about 4 months if I have everything figured out ahead of time.

 

 

Why did you decide to switch from traditional publishing to indie publishing? Will you ever write directly for traditional publishers again or will you only sell the print rights and keep the eBook rights?

The first books I indie published were books I originally wrote for Dorchester. After getting my rights back on those books, I knew no publisher would reprint them, and Indie publishing was just taking off. Because I was continuing my Eternal Guardians series with a traditional publisher, I didn’t want books one and two in the EG series to disappear. So I thought, “Why not?” Those books went up in December 2011. By the following summer (2012) I’d indie published six books – the first two Eternal Guardians books, the three Stolen books, and a never before published story called WAIT FOR ME. I was actually making money–good money–for all my hard work, and I was getting paid monthly, not twice a year. It became very clear, very fast that Indie publishing was far more lucrative and rewarding than writing for a traditional publisher. I found I worked harder because I saw direct results, and I was happy being in control of my career and not leaving things in the hands of a publisher. When my contract with Sourcebooks was up for renewal, I turned down an offer because I knew I could do better on my own.

 

The most important thing I’ve learned about publishing is that readers don’t care how a book is published, they only care that it IS published. My goal for being with a traditional publisher was to have my books available in print. But these days, shelf space is shrinking and bookstores are disappearing. And I make all my books available in print for readers who don’t have ereaders. My Eternal Guardians series is continuing with me at the helm. The sixth book (and the first straight to Indie release in the series) – BOUND – releases on March 26, 2013.

 

Interestingly enough, my the book that propelled me onto the New York Times Bestsellers list wasn’t a traditionally pubbed book. It was an Indie book – WAIT FOR ME. Had I not gotten my rights back on my Dorchester books I don’t know that I ever would have published that book. I’d been told by agents that no NY publisher would want to read it. Readers have proved differently.

 

As for whether or not I’ll publish with NY again…I’ll never say never to anything. I’d love to have a magic ball to see what publishing will be like in the future, but no one knows. The industry is constantly changing. I left my last publisher not because I was disenchanted with NY, but because the terms of the contract they were offering weren’t in my best interest. At the end of the day, I have to look at a contract from a business perspective, and if a NY publisher were to offer me a contract that I deemed positive to my career, I would definitely consider it.

 

What did you do step-by-step to get the word out about your books? What worked and what didn’t work?

The single biggest thing I’ve done is give books away for free. Free is a powerful tool to get new readers to try your work. Every reader who loves your free book will go and download everything else you’ve ever written. NY hasn’t figured this out yet, but Indie authors know the power of free promotion.

 

Did you stand up and do the “happy dance” in the middle of the street when you hit the New York Times? Who was the first person you called to tell?

I did. I have to admit it was always a goal of mine, so when I got that call, it was a pure thrill. I was actually at a coffee shop working when my husband called with the news. My agent had called my house, and since I wasn’t there, she told him. It was pretty special that he passed the news along to me because he’s my biggest fan and has always been supportive of my dream.

 

 

How many copies did you sell of your book(s) the first week they hit the New York Times and how many have you sold thus far?

The first week WAIT FOR ME hit the NYT list it was selling 5,000-7,000 copies per day. I think that week it sold about 40,000 and debuted at #3 on the ebook bestsellers list and #5 on the combined list.

CHAINS: Book 1 | Birth of a King – An Excerpt by Jeff Rivera (COMING SOON)

Chapter 1

Fifteen Seasons Earlier

 -UNEDITED PROOF-

Outside, a windstorm raged. The tent rocked and protested, but the constant work of many servants kept it upright. The wind would not harm the woman inside.

Queen Tula clenched the edges of her bed, legs spread, linen sheets drenched in sweat. She screamed as she pushed, attempting to force the baby out. And, somewhere at the edges of the pain, she began to doubt the Great One’s intentions.

Why would he inflict such agony on her?

She had heard about the pain of childbirth, of course; her mother had told her, as had the other women of the tribe. Most of them had left to be alone during childbirth; only she, the queen, had attendants. She had expected to bear the pain stolidly. But this . . . this was too much. She could feel that something was wrong.

Around her, maidservants chanted tribal songs and lit incense. She could barely hear them over the howling of the wind.

No. Not the wind; the Great One’s howling. He was observing the birth. He was causing her this pain.

Queen Tula squeezed her eyes shut against the stinging incense. If only my husband were here, she thought. If only I’d returned to him sooner.

Queen Tula felt something cool on her forehead and opened her eyes. Fufi leaned over here. “It will not be long, my queen,” she said. “The Great One is with you.”

“But I wish it to end!” the queen screamed.

“Be cautious what you wish for, my queen,” Fufi said sternly. She was the queen’s oldest and most loyal servant. “Soon you will be home, holding your child, safe in the king’s arms.”

The king. The Great King Chike of Ndiuno. Her husband.

She had been barely seventeen when she had met him, and as proud as the day was long. “I will never fall in love,” she had informed her mother, with all the wisdom of seventeen seasons.

Her mother had smiled a little. She was nearing forty seasons, but her face still bore the remains of beauty. Fufi had told Queen Tula many times that she looked like her mother, and Tula knew it was true. She had seen the way men looked at her, the way they admired her flashing black eyes, her full curves, her wide nose. She herself had often admired her smooth, muscled skin, dark under the glaring sun.

The sun had been glaring that day, back when Tula had met her future husband. Before she had seen him, she had scoffed at the idea of marrying him. She would not be like so many women before her, forced to marry an old, cruel man, torn from her homeland. Chike might have great wealth and many slaves, he might have gold, ivory, and cowrie shells, but in the end, he was merely a man. She had no reason to love him.

Then she had lain eyes on him for the first time. She had seen the wisdom in his face, the gentleness, the goodness. In that instant, she had known she could give herself to this man. She had known she would be safe and happy in his arms.

Pungent fumes of incense brought Tula’s thoughts back to the tent. Through the haze of pain, she could see only the bright reds and purples that adorned the thick, cream-colored tent. Now, all the colors mixed together, swaying back and forth with the tent as servants hustled back and forth.

Waves of pain pulsed through Tula, and then the colors, scents, and noise all merged in one great howling, the howling of the wind, the sign of the Great One.

The contractions quickened and Tula screamed again.

“Push,” Fufi urged her, leaning close. “You must push!”

Yes. She would have this child, the child her husband had yearned for. King Chike’s first wife had died in childbirth, and the baby was now a young boy. Chike also had had many bastards by his concubines, of course, but they meant nothing to him. They were not the children of his queen. Only sons of queens could become king . . . her son, if he won the people’s favor.

When Tula had married Chike, she had expected to become pregnant immediately, to bear him many sons. But moon after moon had passed, and she had not conceived.

She knew what the villagers had whispered: she was cursed, the Great One was not pleased with her, she would never have a child. Even servants were given children, but not she. Sometimes, when she was alone at night, she would weep. Her king had given her so much, and she could offer him nothing more than her beauty and virginity.

How long before he became disappointed in her? How long before he, too, believed the rumors?

“I will give you a son,” Queen Tula had whispered in her husband’s ear. “Do not listen to the rumors. The Great One is not displeased with me. I am faithful to him.”

“I know,” he had replied, stroking her hair with long fingers, leaning in to kiss her. “I have often heard you praise his name, and have never known anyone to live by the Five Promises of Ndiuno more faithfully than you. You will bear me a son.”

That night, she had conceived.

At last, the pain was lessening. Queen Tula’s eyes flew open – when had she shut them? – and looked down the length of the bed. Fufi waited expertly at Chike’s hips, waiting for the baby.

She was not smiling. Her wrinkled face had fallen into folds of worry.

Something was wrong. Fufi was usually so calm, so reliable. But no – the baby was almost out. Queen Tula could do this.

Tula gave one final push, screaming with all her might. Finally, the baby emerged in a tremendous surge. Fufi lifted it into her arms.

Panting, exhausted, the queen waited for the first cries of her child.

They never came.

“What is wrong?” Tula asked. “Fufi, tell me!”

Fufi’s face had fallen into unfamiliar folds. Her eyes flickered toward the queen. They she straightened her bent back. “Go!” she ordered the others. “Be gone!”

“What?” Tula demanded, when the others had gone. “Tell me what is wrong!”

Fufi gave the child a sharp pat to initiate the breathing. After several more pats, she stopped, cradling the baby in her arms. She made no motion to speak, or even to bathe the child.

“Give him to me,” Tula pleaded. “Give me my son.” She held out her arms, desperation giving her fresh strength.

“My queen –”

“Give him to me!”

The afterbirth had not yet come, and the umbilical cord was too short to reach. Fufi withdrew a knife and severed it before handing the infant, still sticky with birthing fluids, to its mother.

Tula stared down at her child. It made neither sound nor movement. “What is it?” she whispered, bringing the child to her breast, pushing it when it failed to respond. “What is wrong with him? Why does he not cry?”

Fufi did not answer. What could she say? She had born and birthed many children, and this was not the first time one had not had the breath to cry. Once the baby had been shocked into realizing it was no longer inside its mother, wailing always began, but today there had only been silence. There was only one ending to such births.

“You,” the queen hissed suddenly, lifting murderous eyes to Fufi. “You killed him!”

“No! No, my queen, I did not. He –”

“You killed my baby!”

“No, no – my queen –”

“Do something!” Tula screamed. “Bring him back! Bring him back to me!” She rocked the baby as well as she could, unable to sit up with him.

Fufi said nothing. She waited for the afterbirth and then knelt beside the queen’s bed.

At last, Tula spoke again. “You must not say anything,” she ordered, her voice as rough as rocks. “You must tell no one.”

“I will tell no one,” Fufi vowed.

“You must not.”

There had to be some way to fix this.