It’s a treat today to welcome Rebecca York, an author with a wealth of experience to share, both in traditional publishing and indie. Tell me, Rebecca, if you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I grew up in Washington, DC, and love living outside the city, where I can drive in to the Kennedy Center or to see the cherry blossoms. I’d love to live somewhere warm in the winter because I hate the cold, but it would be difficult to move my three cats to an alternate location.
I sympathize. I’m struggling with what to do with one cat when we go away for long periods. Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
I was a college student, a graduate student and a mom before starting to write articles for my local paper. I gradually slipped from articles into novels.
Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?
I am a full-time writer, and I always have several projects going in various stages of development. I might be writing a novel and working on a proposal. If I stop and edit a novel, I focus on the editing until I’ve been all the way through the manuscript.
Do you have other talents? Or is there a talent you don’t have that you wish you did?
I wish I could draw better. And I wish I could sing. And I wish I knew Photoshop (but not enough to spend time learning it). I am a great cook. I’m good at gardening and decorating and craft projects.
My eyes glaze over after a while trying to figure out Photoshop. How did you get started writing?
I started my career writing articles for newspapers and magazines. The idea of writing a whole book would have terrified me back then. Some of my early articles were food oriented, and that led to my first cookbook, DON’T TELL ‘EM IT’S GOOD FOR ‘EM, which I wrote with two other authors. (This got me an entrée into the low-fat market, which is a whole other story.)
My career took another direction when a friend asked me if I wanted to write a romance, I told her I hadn’t read any, and she brought me shopping bags full. I loved them because they were an expansion of the romance subplot I’d always looked for in the books I read. And here were whole books where it was the main plot. I started in straight romance and quickly got bored with that. I wanted more action and switched to romantic suspense. My agent sent my first romantic suspense to Harlequin Intimate Moments, and the editor said it had “too much plot.”
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve written 140 books and novellas. My favorite is usually the book I’m working on at the moment; but right now, I’m still in love with Frank Decorah, the hero of ON EDGE. I will always love Ross Marshall, the hero of my first werewolf book, KILLING MOON. Another personal favorite is DAY OF THE DRAGON—again because I love the hero, Ramsay Gallagher.
Wow! 140! Tell us about your current series. I’m most excited about my Decorah Security series, my entrée into the indie market. It revolves around a detective agency where all the agents have paranormal powers or take on paranormal cases.
Indie publishing is a wild ride with some big advantages and also some disadvantages. Nobody tells you how long to make the book. If you have an idea that will work better for a short story than a novel, you can go write and publish it. And nobody censors you. If your bad guys tend to use the “F” word when they’re angry, they can sling the trash talk with the best of them.
Then there’s the book cover. Over the years, I’ve been disappointed by so many of the covers my publisher has provided for my books. Now I get to pick the guy, the pose and the background. It’s exactly MY vision of my story, which is more satisfying than you know. And it doesn’t matter if romantic suspense is “in” or “out” or if an editor wants paranormal or not. I can do it my way.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
I hate facing a blank page. I try to write as fast as I can so I can go on to the fun part—editing.
What is your typical day like?
I get up and read e-mail, do some social media stuff and read some of the paper. Somewhere along the line, I eat a little breakfast. By eleven, I panic that I haven’t written anything and get started on my current project. My goal is to write ten pages a day. If I try to write more than fifteen, my production for the next day will be very low. If I haven’t written ten pages by 10:00 in the evening, I keep working.
I wish I had your discipline! How does your family feel about your career?
As a dumb little 18-year-old, I was somehow smart enough to find the perfect husband, a guy who’s supported my career since the beginning. Not only that, because I can’t spell and proofread, he does that for me. He loves getting involved in the business of writing and loves going to conferences with me.
What a great guy! How has your experience with self-publishing been?
I love being in charge of my own books, covers and production schedule. I’ve sold more than twenty-seven thousand indie books, but I’d love to sell more. Part of the key to success in self publishing, I think, is in having a lot of books out. I wish I had the rights back to older traditionally-published books, but that’s not going to happen. That means I’ve had to produce a lot of new material while still working for traditional publishers. I think that if I were not a very experienced writer, I wouldn’t be able to produce the volume of work I’m putting out now.
What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?
Never put out a book that hasn’t been professionally edited.
What advice to you have for aspiring writers?
Apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Work at your writing as many hours a day as you can. Find a good critique group or critique partner because you can’t always evaluate your own golden words. But I emphasize the word “good” here. You need advice you can trust.