Thursday, September 11, 2014

Interview with Jolene Perry: Traditional vs. Self Publishing

by Katy White

I recently had the chance to interview the lovely and talented Jolene Perry about the differences between traditional and self publishing. She graciously took the time to answer question after question, and I'm beyond grateful for the perspective and information she provided. Enjoy!

K: So first off, hey! Thank you so much for being willing to let me interview you!
J:  And thank YOU for wanting to interview me :) 

K: You’re a successful author with, like, a bunch of fabulous books (and some seriously gorgeous covers) under your belt. *blushes furiously* Yet you’re also a wife and mother. How do you do it all?
J:  I have these house elves. Hermione is endlessly cross with me over the situation ;-) I’m kidding. I write in small spurts. I play with kiddos or do laundry, and think about what I want to write next. That way when I sit down to write, I really use that time – usually just 45-60 minutes at a time, or less. Getting a 3 hour “break” to write, doesn’t really work for me. I also separate “author” stuff – social networking/monies/contracts/emails with the FUN stuff “writer” stuff. Helps my brain. The “author” stuff I can sort of do while hanging with the family (sort of) but then I’m like – Mom needs 30 minutes to write. NO TALKIE TO ME. And for 30 minutes? That’s really good for my kids’ independence, and really great for me and writing. Also. Both my kids are in school now, and I’m at home… (Yes, it’s so very awesome and makes every single late night feeding and/or diaper change worth it).

K: In which type of publishing did you get your start? Traditional or Self?
J:  Traditional. Cedar Fort Industries published my first book and Tribute Books published my next two. Then I left my agent and had all these finished books, so I published a few of them on my own :)

K: What have you learned about publishing since then?
J:  This is about a month of blog posts. But I’ll simplify: I’ve learned that authors are basically professionals at waiting. I’ve learned that all the marketing in the world might not help and sometimes no marketing at all ends up being your best seller. Also. Publishing is first and foremost a business. If you think art will win, you are wrong. I know. I sound so jaded, but it’s true and I’m okay with that. I have to be or I’d go insane. The final thing is that sometimes it’s just the right book to the right person, at the right time – this goes for agents as well as editors.

K: Why do you pursue both traditional and self-publishing?
J:  They serve different purposes for me now. I’ve separated it slightly further than I did a few years ago. My self-published books are my fun romance books that I don’t want to rip out and stomp on my heart (like I do with my YA). The publishing process with being on submission and round after round of edits and the nerves involved in waiting for covers and releases are STRESSFUL. So my non-YA books I self publish, and it’s SO much more relaxing.  

K: Do you have a preference between them?  
J:  No preference. Just different experiences for different types of books.

K: Do you ever feel burned out writing? How do you reignite the flame, so to speak?
J:  I sometimes feel burned out on a specific project, which is usually okay because I do not sell on proposal (even though my publisher would be fine with it). BUT when I want something out or done, I find a way to fall in love with my characters. If I love them enough, I’ll have to tell their story and I’ll have to tell it well. For this I run, walk, Pinterest, or use iTunes.

K: Self-publishing is still fairly new and still often criticized. Where do you think self-published authors typically go wrong?
J:  The number of covers I see that look cheap is just staggering. SPEND THE MONEY ON A GOOD COVER. And editing… If you don’t have amazing editor friends, hire an editor. My trad pubbed books go through usually 3-4 readers and then through my agent. And then I usually do 3-5 rounds between first pass, copy edits, and final pages with my publisher. People do not take the time to edit properly. (Typos even happen in books from the big 6, but a lot of edit rounds will weed out sloppy writing).

K: What do you think successful self-published authors do differently?
J:  They write more sex?? Lol. I’m teasing. (a little). I think a lot of it is having an online presence that’s more than just pushing books. Covers are HUGE. And being nice goes a LONG ways. (Katy's note: Jo has some seriously GORGEOUS covers. She knows what she's talking about.) 

K: How does your process differ in getting a book published traditionally versus self-publishing? Do you go through the same editing/critique partner/beta reader process?
J:  I go through ALL the same process aside from I get to design my own books covers (or have my genius friend Allie do them). I do the same rounds of edits that I would before sending to my publisher. Although, I cannot imagine a time when I will ever read one of my own books and not want to tweak things.

K: Where would you recommend someone interested in self-publishing start?
J:  Google, lol. I think good critique partners are a must. The first time you format and upload, it’s frustrating and baffling, so find a friend who has been through the process before. Or hire out formatting and cover and stuff. I know there are a million resources out there, but since I do it all myself, I’m not the best person to ask.

K: One of the advantages people often cite to traditional publishing is the marketing support. How do you go about promoting your books that are self-published? Do you do any personal promoting for your traditionally published books?
J:  Honestly? I used to pay for big blog tours, but my two biggest tours are my two least selling books. No joke. It’s a little different for me now because I don’t have to do as much to sell the same number of books as I used to. I’ll give you my random secret… but only here... I make the book free for the first day and say NOTHING. Then I do 0.99 for a couple days for my friends, and that 0.99 sale I’ll post about. Usually that gets me a few reviews, and some buzz, and then I let it ride. I’m not great at marketing b/c it stresses me out, and I find that almost nothing determines the success or failure of a book. I self-publish because it’s much less stressful, so if I spent a ton of time marketing, that would negate the low-stress factor.

And people who walk into a book contract thinking they’ll get publisher marketing support are dreaming. I know that’s rough, and of COURSE a publisher puts some money behind marketing, but most don’t put a ton. Let’s say a particular publisher puts out about 50 books a year (I do have one in mind, an imprint of a big 6), probably 10 of those books gets pushed. The other forty are primarily left to their own devices.

K: Any last words or advice for authors looking to publish? 
J:  Find a good support group of other people doing what you’re doing. Don’t forget about your awesome family. Always remember that you’re making up stories, not performing brain surgery. Don’t take yourself too seriously. HAVE FUN.

K: Huge thanks to Jo for her fabulous help and fabulous books! (Side note: I ended this with a weird kissing sound, so if we never hear from her again, you completely have me to blame. But she's a rockstar and a total pro, so...meh. I'm banking on her forgiving me.)

All: If you have any questions about self or traditional publishing, please comment below and we'll try to get them answered in future interviews!

Also, for more information about how to connect with Jolene and about some of her books, including her new release, Stronger Than You Know, check the links below. 

I Blog  


  1. Great info! Thanks for doing such a thorough interview, Katy, and thanks to Jolene for her insights!

  2. This was excellent. So honest and refreshing. Thank you, Katy!



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