Interview with Self-Published Author Rie Sheridan Rose

In our series of self-publishing interviews, we are talking today to Rie Sheridan Rose who is the author of The Marvelous Mechanical Man, a steampunk novel.

The Marvelous Mechanical Man is the first book in a Steampunk series featuring the adventures of Josephine Mann, an independent woman in need of a way to pay her rent. She meets Professor Alistair Conn, in need of a lab assistant, and a partnership is created that proves exciting adventure for both of them.

Alistair’s prize invention is an automaton standing nine feet tall. There’s a bit of a problem though…he can’t quite figure out how to make it move. Jo just might be of help there. Then again, they might not get a chance to find out, as the marvelous mechanical man goes missing.

Jo and Alistair find themselves in the middle of a whirlwind of kidnapping, catnapping, and cross-country chases that involve airships, trains, and a prototype steam car. With a little help from their friends, Herbert Lattimer and Winifred Bond, plots are foiled, inventions are perfected, and a good time is had by all.

You self-published your latest book, The Marvelous Mechanical Man. Would you please tell us why you chose the self-publishing route? 

Well, to be strictly accurate, this is not a new book, though it is self-published. It originally was published by a small press in Texas, but I decided that I could focus my attention on the book—and its sequels (its the first in a five book series now)—if I had full control of every aspect. Yes, it has been challenging to do it all myself, but I have been pleased with the quality of the results. There still may be tweaks in future, but it feels good to know I have that control.

Take us through the process. You had an idea for your book, you wrote it, then you decided to find a publisher. What were your experiences with that? Or did you decide to self-publish without looking any farther? 

Originally, I had discussed the idea with the woman who runs the press that published the first two books when the first editions came out, and she wanted to add them to her stable from the beginning. She didn’t have any Steampunk at the time, and thought they would be great additions to her catalog. The experience was fine, but a small press with dozens of authors couldn’t focus on my books like I could, so we came to a mutual agreement to part ways.

What different online stores carry your book? 

At the moment, only Amazon, because I have been focusing on learning the ins and outs of KDP and so forth, but I hope to branch out to other outlets soon.

Authors who go the traditional route have an edge over self-published authors in regards to distribution to bookstores. How did you handle that as a self-published author? 

Most of my sales—I admit it—come from hand selling at conventions and other venues. I would probably be less sanguine about it if my husband wasn’t a computer programmer. That allows me the freedom to try different things without relying on my own income to pay all my bills.

On the other hand, self-published authors have the edge over traditional books in the regards that the author has all the control. I’d like to begin with your cover. Did you make it or did you have someone else design it? If you had someone else, can you tell us who it is? 

I’ve done both. The cover for The Marvelous Mechanical Man was commissioned by the original publisher from artist Brad Fraunfelter. When I republished it, I worked out a deal with the artist personally so that we could continue to use his spectacular art as well as the frame device which appears on all the books in the series. I found the photograph used on the second book myself and worked out an arrangement with the Deviant Art photographer who took it. For book three, I commissioned another cover from Brad. For book four, I took the photo myself, and for book five I worked with other Deviant Art and Flickr artists to get what I wanted.

So where do you see self-published authors making the biggest mistakes overall? 

I know one self-published writer who comes out with a new book every month or so. It is impossible to write a first draft, do a good edit, and rewrite for polish that fast and have a really good product in my opinion. To me, her books show the lack of revision. If you don’t have a publisher who gets it edited for you, you have to work harder on getting it edited yourself. It isn’t a step you can afford to skip.

What do you believe the biggest advantages are when self-publishing? 

To me, the biggest advantage is the ability to try things out without having to get buy-in from other people. If something doesn’t work, you can change it. If you find a typo after a book has been published, you can fix it. It is really quite freeing.

What was the hardest challenge for you to self-publish your book? 

The money to do it right. Hiring a professional cover artist is not cheap—and as their fame grows, so does the prices they can get from publishers. You need to pay for marketing yourself. You need to hire an editor if necessary—and it usually is. There is always something else to pay for.

They say self-publishers are control freaks. Do you think there is a lot of truth in that? 

To some extent. I do know that having final say in what goes into the book with my name on it is extremely important to me.

Did you get someone to format your book for you or did you do that? 

So far, I’ve done it myself, but they haven’t been complex formatting chores. If I had more elaborate needs, I would probably hire someone for that as well, because you want the best possible outcome. I am already thinking about trying again on a couple of the current books because I think they could be better.

What steps are you taking to promote it? 

I am doing this Virtual Book Tour in hopes of sparking more interest in the entire series. I tweet about the books when appropriate. They have their own website and Facebook page. I also feature them at conventions whenever possible. I am always trying to think of something new to promote them.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other self-published authors? 

Don’t rush the process. If you aren’t ready to go to print, don’t do it. Nothing looks more amateur than a book that isn’t ready to be shared with the world. I never put something out unless I think it is ready. (That isn’t saying I am never wrong. )


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