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April 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Author Perspectives on Self-Publishing
Even with the self-publishing revolution in full swing, many libraries are still reluctant to invest in these titles for their collections. Often, self-published books aren’t widely reviewed (although Booklist’s partnership with BlueInk Review is helping to change that), or they are only available digitally and not through library vendors. But some authors we know and love are moving from traditional publishing to either hybrid status or completely to self-publishing. For most patrons, however, the differences between traditional and self-publishing are not important. They only know they want to read the authors they have come to love, and, of course, they are always eager to discover new authors.
This month, we are featuring Laura Hunsaker, who also writes under the name Kenzie MacLir. Laura is a hybrid author, writing both for traditional publishers as well as self-publishing. Her books under her real name are historical and time-travel romance. She has degrees in both English and German and is a former teacher.
Robin: Tell us about your books.
Laura: I have six books out under the name Laura Hunsaker, and I have one brand-new story under the name Kenzie MacLir. This book is called Icing the Puck, and it’s an anthology with Isabo Kelly, Stacy Agdern, and Heather Lire and myself. If you like hockey, Norse gods, and the “best friend’s big brother” trope, you’ll love this. Plus, hey, sexy hockey players! (Fun fact: I played hockey for my university, so all our hockey talk is legit!)
The coolest thing about Icing the Puck, though, is that all three stories in the anthology involve the same team, the New York Empires. You’ll see the same guys and a similar time line since we all made sure everything lined up.
Robin: How long have you been writing and publishing?
Laura: I’ve been writing all my life. I realize now looking back (after finding an old notebook at my folks’ house) that I wrote a borderline JAG fanfic story back in the day. I think that’s where I realized that I was spending all of my free time filling notebooks with partially finished stories. One day I started typing one up, and next thing I knew, I had a full novel!
My first book, Highland Destiny, was published in 2009. (I promise it’s not JAG fanfic, ha ha.)
Robin: Where can your books be found and in what formats?
Laura: All of my books are available in all major e-book retailers. My paperback can be found at my local library (yay!) and on Amazon.
As of now, Highland Destiny is the only one available in paperback; however, Icing the Puck should be released as a paperback as well.
Robin: How do you get the word out about your books?
Laura: When I first debuted, I e-mailed all the bloggers who reviewed my genre and I sent review requests. Oh man, I remember sending out dozens! And I’d write guest posts, interviews, bonus scenes! The works.
Now, I really don’t see as much desire for that anymore. I’ve hired blog tour companies, but I think readers can get frustrated at seeing the same title blasted over everyone’s blog. So, honestly, I don’t know what the best way is anymore. I still e-mail and ask for reviews, I still offer to write guest posts, and I definitely utilize Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads as much as I can. I think Twitter is a great place to find book recs, just as long as that promo isn’t the only thing you’re tweeting.
Robin: Why self-publish?
Laura: I wanted to try it out. I figure, the worst thing I can do is put all my eggs in one basket. I’ve watched some of my favorite authors’ careers, and very few of them only publish with one publisher.
Robin: What’s the main difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing?
Laura: In self-publishing, you are responsible for everything. I mean everything. You need to not just find an editor but an editor who specializes in your genre. I mean I could hire the best baseball nonfiction editor out there, but how on earth would that help my romance novel? So you research, and in the end, the buck stops with you. Crappy cover? It’s not the cover artist’s fault since I had to approve it. Horrible formatting? Again, that’s on me, even if I hired someone.
In traditional publishing, you have a team. You have a cover artist, an editor, and a publisher all willing to stand behind you, but they all work together. I liked that.
Nowadays most marketing falls on the author, but if you have a publisher behind you, it can do some things you can’t, and get your book into the hands of readers who otherwise might not find you. Although hopefully things will change and places like Barnes & Noble will carry indie authors as well!
Robin: What changes, positive or negative, have you seen in indie publishing since you started?
Laura: I’ve seen indie authors become a lot more accepted in places. Bloggers are more willing to review self-published and indie books now than they were five years ago. I’ve also seen Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Worlds make some changes in how authors market and sell their books. Amazon wants exclusivity, and it draws readers in ways other bookstores haven’t yet. Indie publishing is constantly evolving and changing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next!
Robin: Cover design: DIY or contract it out to someone else?
Laura: Oh no, my Photoshop skills are limited to drawing mustaches on my sister and e-mailing them to her, or placing my face over Chris Hemsworth’s wife’s face. I definitely hire out.
Robin: What do you wish librarians knew about indie books and authors?
Laura: You know, I’m really lucky in that my local library has been amazingly supportive of all local authors, indie or not. But as far as other library systems, I don’t know. I’d love to see a shelf that says “Indie Authors” posted. Mine has one that says “Local Authors,” and it’s always got a lot of patrons browsing.
Robin: What do you wish librarians knew about your books in particular?
Laura: I know that some libraries will only pick up your book if it has reviews in certain media. Our county library, for example, is like that. I’d love it if libraries that aren’t as indie-friendly were more willing to take a chance. I’d love to set up a synopsis and letter to pitch my book to see if it would fit in!
Robin: What’s the myth about self-publishing that won’t die? How would you like to kill it?
Laura: I desperately hate that some people think authors who self-publish don’t use editors. Most of us pay quite a bit for the editing process. This isn’t the same as saying, “Oh my friend’s a teacher and she edited my book.” There’s a huge difference. And, of course, some authors don’t pay for an editor, but it seems that lately that’s less and less common than it used to be.
Robin: After we’ve read your books, what should we pick up?
Laura: If you love Highlanders, you’ll want to read Monica McCarty or Margaret Mallory. They aren’t time travels, but they’re wonderful stories. If you want time travel, I still love Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series.
As far as hockey romance, the anthology I was lucky enough to take part in is actually the second book in the series. The first is called Going All In.
Robin: What’s up next for you?
Laura: I have another Kenzie MacLir hockey book coming up, set on the same team, and it’s going to be fantastic! I mean, it opens with a fart joke, and if you don’t have hockey players in the locker room with fart jokes, I’m going to question your experience with hockey.
As far as my Highlanders, I’m working so hard to finish up Highland Betrayal, and I have a short series of Highlanders stories I’ll be self-publishing as well.
Robin Bradford is a collection-development librarian for Timberland Regional Library, Olympia, Washington.
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