I recently came in contact with Vanessa Morgan, from Belgium. She’s a horror writer that recently self published a book using Llumina Press. I hadn’t heard of Llumina Press before, and as usual, I like to hear from other self published authors, so we swapped a couple of emails.
So, I just have to know, were you born in Belgium, or are you just living there?
Yes, I was born in Belgium. I’m not even a native speaker, but don’t tell anyone J
What else do you want people to know about yourself?
I’m passionate about horror movies, cats and good food. And when I say passionate, I really mean it. I get deliriously happy from watching a good horror film or kissing my cat or eating extremely spicy food (or preferably everything together). I’m 33 years old, but I still see the world as a little girl and most of my friends are way younger than I am. Have I mentioned my cat yet?
Now tell me a little bit about your book.
It may surprise you, but my work is rather dark. Don’t count on things to end well, because they won’t. I think my major quality as a writer is the ability to create a creepy atmosphere and tension. Horror movies are my main influence and people compare Drowned Sorrow to films such as The Wicker Man, Dark Water and Dead and Buried. It’s the story of a mother and her teenage daughter who get lured into a dangerous sect. It’s set in a small New England town and there’s a supernatural twist to the story.
Where can folks learn more about you or buy your books?
The easiest way to buy Drowned Sorrow is to go online. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, â€¦ carry my book and some of them give great discounts. You may also find Drowned Sorrow at your local bookstore and if they don’t have it, don’t hesitate to order it from them. If you prefer e-books, you may want to go to my publisher’s site http://www.llumina.com/store/drownedsorrowEB.htm. To learn more about me and my work, go to http://www.drowned-sorrow.com. There’s also a section with real ghost stories and a horror movie quiz with film clips.
Why did you decide to self publish?
Self-publishing was my first option. Unlike many other authors I never tried sending my work out to publishers. There were several reasons for this. First of all, I live in Belgium, a tiny country in Europe. Many Americans have never even heard of it. First-time American authors have a hard time getting accepted by major publishing houses, so it would probably have been even more difficult coming from another country. Getting a contract with a â€˜real’ publisher isn’t that important for me either. Sending out manuscripts would have cost me a lot of money and time and I preferred to use those resources to do everything myself. Second, many authors complain about the service they’re getting from small publishers, the main problem being that most books aren’t returnable which means that bookstores won’t carry them.
What self publishing house did you use?
I used Llumina Press and up until now I’m very happy with their service. One of the good things about Llumina is that they offer a lot of marketing options: bookstore and book fair representation, returnability, posters, flyers, business cards, press releases, advertising, you name it. They also edit the book. Books full of typos and errors won’t make it to their catalogue.
That said, I wanted to use another publisher first, Diggory Press. In the beginning they seem professional, but it’s a real scam. Don’t even consider using them.
Who did the cover and the interior layout for your book?
Llumina Press was responsible for the interior layout. I used a professional graphic designer for the cover of the book and I believe it’s worth the money. If the cover doesn’t look good, readers won’t pick up your book. I know I won’t. They always say that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I think that is so untrue.
Would you recommend your publisher to others?
What do you think?
How long of a process was it to set things up with Llumina?
About four months. That’s rather long, especially because the cover was already done before I contacted them. But at least it’s a serious company, so it’s worth it. And four months is a minimum to prepare your marketing. There’s so much competition, that you can never do enough of it.
What have you done to promote your books?
I’m on several networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Shelfari, Alive Not Dead and a few Ning-sites (don’t hesitate to send me a friend request or to become a fan). Thanks to those sites I got a lot of invitations for interviews and reviews, but I also contact webmasters and magazine publishers myself to ask if they’re interested in a review or an interview. I also run Google ads and paid placements on AuthorsDen. Drowned Sorrow has its own website too. It features real ghost stories and a horror movie quiz with film clips. To promote the site, I use link exchanges and I put links on all the websites mentioned above. I was very lucky to have a talented movie director make a fantastic book trailer for Drowned Sorrow; it’s on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ild3ZunVlz8. (Embedded Below) Unfortunately, I haven’t done much to promote the trailer; that’s something I should definitely work on. The sky’s the limit, so we’ll see where new marketing ideas will bring me.
What successes have you seen?
Drowned Sorrow is only out since a month, so it’s a bit early to talk about successes. Still, generally they say a self-published book is successful if it sells several hundred copies, so that means I’m already a best-selling author. Nice, huh?
What advice do you have for other authors?
Never give up on your dream. You have to make it happen. It may not be a smooth ride to the top, but it’s still a ride and if you return home because of some problems, you’ll never arrive at your destination. Prepare yourself as much as possible by learning everything you can about writing and marketing, but even more important, just write and get published. If you wait until the time is just right or your book is perfect, it’ll probably never happen.
Is there anything that I should have asked you?
You should have asked me about my cat.
Ok, I’ll bite. What about your cat?
Avalon is a 7-year-old Turkish Van cat, named after the Mamoru Oshii movie. He’s twice the size of a regular cat and he’s never more than an inch away from me. He’s the inspiration for my next novel, a story about a haunted village with more cats than one can handle. Other interesting facts: he loves peas and corn, he roars like a lion after using his litter box, and he’s afraid of my guinea pig.
Thanks for your time, Vanessa, and good luck with your book.
You learn more about Vanessa by visiting http://www.drowned-sorrow.com