by Christi Sheehan • December 9, 2015 • Follow
Published in Interviews • No comments
Indie author and award-winning writer Rajdeep Paulus shares her journey as a writer and offers thoughtful advice on how to live your dream as a self-published author. This mom of four not only finds the time to write has pretty much figured out how to succeed in the competitive self-publishing climate.
1. Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into writing.
My desire to write started with my love for books and movies. And like many English Majors, I began as a high school English teacher, but my little girl dream was, as I told my youngest daughter, “to find my books on the shelves at the library.” So when all my kids were finally in school full time, I started writing stories and entering them in contests. When someone asks me, “How do you do it? Write every day? Write a whole book? Fight through writer’s block, etc.?” I can’t help but count my blessings. I get to wake up every morning and do what I love.
2. What were some options you explored and how to did you end up self-publishing?
My agent tried to sell my manuscript to publishers, but it didn’t take, and he felt strongly that my book should be out there for young adults to read, so he approached me with the option to self-publish. The process involved getting professional editing and professional covers made in order to compete with the best books out there in the YA market. The goal was two-fold: gain a readership and prove my credibility in the genre, two things that I believe are happening with each review that comes out.
3. Tell us a bit about your books.
The Swimming Through Clouds trilogy starts out when the words on a Post-it Note spark a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. In a modern-day Cinderella meets Aladdin in the Chicago burbs, the story involves secrets, sadness, and an invitation to an alternative prom where an unforgettable slow dance happens in the middle of the clothes racks at Forever 21.
The series continues in Seeing Through Stones and culminates in Soaring Through Stars where the characters befriend a diverse group of characters that help them through their pasts to a future of hope they never thought existed.
4. What do you wish you had known before you started your self-publishing journey?
The whole process has been an ongoing learning process, discovering the power of a great review, appreciating the hard word of book bloggers that come alongside you and champion your books, and knowing when and how often to promote your books without feeling like you’re always screaming, “Buy my Book! Buy my Book!” which makes no sense, because no one likes to be yelled at. If I could do it all over again, I think I would start by getting the Blogging community on board before my first book was published rather than finding them on the journey. That’s one thing I hope to do better the next time around.
5. What was the hardest part about self-publishing and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge will always be how to break out of your inner circle of readers that include all your friends and family and local community and reach all oodles of readers out there. The few successful moments I’ve experienced all have one thing in common: someone other than you tells a bunch of people that your book is AWESOME! and “Go and read it NOW!” That someone could be a popular book blogger, a credible book review site, or your local librarian that can’t stop talking about your book.
6. How have your books been received by readers?
I don’t know about all authors, but I value the reviews that readers write on Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs, and elsewhere, taking in the praise as affirmation and trying to learn how to improve as a writer from the criticism. For the most part, the reviews have been very positive and encouraging. I was both humbled and wowed when a USA TODAY blogger wrote, “This series should be on the shelves of every American high school.” Now that’s something to shoot for!
7. What would you say is your “AHA, I’ve made it moment!”
I wouldn’t say I’ve “made it” until I hit a NYTimes Best Sellers List or my books get made into movies. BUT, I feel very blessed by all the positive reviews, and when an Editor over at Amazon emailed me, telling me how he loved my books and wanted to interview me, I wasn’t sure it was legit, but then it happened. And when the interview went live this past February, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the story was on the homepage of Amazon for three weeks. That definitely gave me the motivation to, as two young readers wrote to me in a letter, “Please keep writing!”
8. If you were to give one piece of advice to future authors, what would it be?
I would have to quote my Agent, Chip MacGregor on that one. He always says, and I hold fast to these words, “Good is better than fast.” Make sure whatever you publish is your best and nothing less.
9. Bonus question: Who is your favorite author?
It feels wrong to choose just one, because like music, I have a running playlist of my favorites. So I’ll just share the title of a book that I loved as a teen and still love to reread today: Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, because the writer made me laugh, broke my heart, and I thought about the story long after I put the book down.
About Rajdeep Paulus
Rajdeep Paulus is the award-winning author of Swimming Through Clouds, Seeing Through Stones, and Soaring Through Stars. Rajdeep studied English Literature at Northwestern and lives in New York with her Sunshine and four princesses. You can visit her website and find her on facebook and twitter.
Christi Sheehan joins the ranks of Bibliocrunch from her previous position as an Assistant Editor at Oxford University Press. She was graduated from Marist College with a degree in English (with a concentration in Writing) in 2012. Since then, Christi completed a number of social media and editorial internships. She currently works as a book reviewer for TeenReads.com. In her free time, Christi enjoys reading (primarily books in the mystery, literary fiction, and poetry genres), writing, singing, unabashedly watching the Real Housewives series on Bravo while on the elliptical, teaching swim classes at her local Y, and kicking her boyfriend’s butt in P90X classes at her local gym. You can follow her daily musings about life and books at her twitter handle, @ChristiShee.