Charlotte Abel is a full time writer that lives near Boulder, Colorado with her husband Pete. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys hiking, bicycling, and archery.
“Enchantment,” a paranormal coming of age romance, is her debut novel. She’s working on the sequel and plans to publish it by February 2012.
Future projects include “Shattered,” a romantic thriller set in the remote Sawatch Mountain wilderness of Colorado.
Why don’t you tell us about your book?
Enchantment is a paranormal, coming-of-age romance about a young girl whose parents try to “protect her virtue” with a chastity spell and her disastrous attempts to break free.
It illustrates the dichotomy of coercion versus free will as well as the difference between love and lust.
I’m still struggling to find the best way to put that into a book blurb. The following is what I’m currently using, although it could change before this interview is published.
Channie Kerns is a sixteen-year-old girl, bound by a chastity curse that inflicts unbearable pain upon any boy that desires her.
Josh Abrim is a BMX racer with Olympic dreams.
When they fall in love, she turns to dark and forbidden magic, hoping to break the curse, and unleashes a malevolent force with the power to destroy everything they love … including each other.
The story was written for young adults, but it does have the occasional swear word and a number of sexual situations. Nothing too graphic, but it gets a bit steamy during a couple of scene
What promoted you to self publish?
While I was waiting for an interested agent to “get back to me” I started researching other options. What I found blew me away. When I learned how much marketing a new author was expected to do on their own, I couldn’t see the value of signing with a publisher.
Amanda Hocking, John Locke and Michael J. Sullivan inspired me with what they accomplished on their own, but it was Joe Konrath’s logic that smacked me upside the head and said, “Why go through all that rejection and years of waiting for the remote chance to experience a fleeting moment of validation when you can publish your book yourself right now?”
I think this is where I’m supposed to say “I don’t expect to be the next Amanda Hocking, John Locke, or Michael Sullivan …” But I believe in the power of positive thinking, so I’m going to keep that possibility open.
I also believe in the power of hard work, dedication, effective marketing, faith and karma. Writing is my career. I spend eight hours a day doing writerly stuff. I take the occasional day off, but I usually average about fifty hours a week.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
I use Scrivener from start to finish. Version 2 added .epub and .mobi to its compile settings so I was able to do the conversions with the click of a button.
What about editing? How did you handle that?
I have a professional editor, a marketing guru and several beta-readers. I also have the support of the amazing folks that hang out at #pubwrite on Twitter. I’m an independent author, but I can’t do everything myself. Quality is important to me. I may be the captain of this ship, but I still need a crew.
How did the book cover come together?
I’ve been using Photoshop for years, so I was able to create Enchantment’s cover art for both the ebook and print versions. It still took several weeks of solid effort before I was satisfied with the results. If I didn’t already have a background in art, I would have hired a cover designer.
What is the process like for actually publishing the novel?
Publishing to Amazon and Barnes and Noble required nothing more than creating an author’s account at both sites, then uploading the correct files.
I’m using Smashwords to distribute Enchantment everywhere else. They require you to upload a .doc file which then goes through their “meatgrinder” software to output the various files required by all the different distribution channels. I appreciate what they’re trying to do. They don’t charge anything upfront, and only take a modest percentage of net sales. It’s a great idea, but I have to say that Meatgrinder was aptly named.
Getting Enchantment into print was a tad bit more complicated. Scrivener output a squeaky clean .pdf file, but it required some tweaking to fix pagination issues. I’m thinking about writing a “how to” booklet with screenshots of my process.
What are some good things about self publishing?
I love the fact that I can maintain creative control of all aspects of my story. Everything from the word count to the cover art and the freedom to write an entire series, knowing it won’t be cancelled by a publisher before the story is over.
What are some bad things about it?
There’s bad things?
Okay, yeah. There is one thing that’s really bad and there’s nothing an independent author can do about it. If you want to see your book in print, you’ve got two choices. Neither of them acceptable. You’re either going to drop a wad of cash up front and buy 500 copies of your book to sell yourself — or you’re going to have to use a print on demand service like LuLu or Createspace.
There’s no way an independent author can compete with the big boys when it comes to print. I had several requests for a print edition of Enchantment so I’m offering it through Amazon’s PoD service, Createspace.
But … it cost $12.99. I hate charging that much for a paperback, but if I don’t, I’ll end up owing Amazon money every time someone buys my book.
That’s why I love ebooks. It levels the playing field. I can charge a fair price that’s a bargain for readers and still make a profit.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for those thinking about going into self publishing?
Always strive to improve your craft. Learn from others. Take workshops, read “how to write” books. Pick a few that make you go “Oh … now I get it,” and study them. Mark ‘em with highlighters and apply what you learn. The ones I find most helpful are Orson Scott Card’s “Character and Viewpoint,” Randy Ingermanson’s “Writing Fiction for Dummies,” Donald Maas’ “Writing the Breakout Novel” and “Story Engineering” by Larry Brooks.
I also recommend Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. I learned more in that one week, than I did the previous year on my own.
But there’s only so much you can learn from a book or a workshop. At some point you just have park your butt in the chair and write.
There’s no such thing as writer’s block.
I have a file labeled “Word Vomit.” The sole purpose of “word vomit” is the same as regular vomit. To get rid of the stuff in my head that’s poisoning whatever story I’m working on.
When my muse is acting up, I open that file, already knowing that whatever I type is going to be pure … um … bullcrap. (Keeping it YA).
I usually start out just talking to myself … here’s an example from April 4, 2011 …
I’ve rewritten this sucker at least a dozen times and it’s still “off.” For one thing, If Daddy’s little gambling problem were so major that the family had to leave immediately, Momma and Daddy wouldn’t be sittin’ on the sofa holding hands when Channie walks in …
That usually leads to “what if” questions that help me find solutions. And you know what? More often than not, I find at least one nugget of useable prose amongst the dross. But even if I don’t, I’ve still met my word count goals and I’m still happy and excited to write the next day.
Write from your heart. Keep perfecting your craft, but don’t obsess about it to the point it sucks the joy out of your writing. You can create the most elegant literary prose but if you don’t enjoy writing it, it’ll show and no one but your momma is gonna like it.
If you have the courage to lay your soul bare on the page, it’s going to touch someone’s heart. And isn’t that the reason we write? To connect with one another?
Want to know more about Charlotte?
My blog is at: http://charlotteabel.blogspot.com
Facebook public page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlotte-Abel-writer/215522338479694?sk=wall
Check out her book!
It’s also available at Smashwords, but their website has been a bit buggy lately, so I’m not sending people there.