Nancy Healy

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I interviewed Nancy Healy early in 2014 after her first story was released. We were both new authors back then. I’d put out Sunset Island, the first in the Friends Series, and she’d recently released her first book, Intersection. Since then, I know she’s released Betrayal, Commitment and Falling Through Shooting Stars.

During that same timeframe, I’ve released the rest of the Friends Series: Awaiting My Assignment, Anything Your Heart Desires, and The Interim. Additionally, One Day Longer Than Forever and It’s Complicated were released this past year.

Nancy and I have read each other’s work and have been facebook friends ever since we began writing. She is a multi-talented and helpful person. I hope you will enjoy getting to know her a bit better through this follow-up interview.

Instead of following my traditional question and answer format, because I’ve gotten to know Nancy, I’m going to try just asking her to update us as to what’s new since we’ve last spoken about her books. I’ve sent her a letter asking her to tell us about the changes that have happened in her writing life in the last year or so.

AJ: We’ve come a long way in a bit over a year with each of us putting out several books. What have you learned about the process since your first book was published?

I learn something new with each book that I write and publish. Some of the lessons are critical in nature; reviewing feedback from readers and editors, reviewing the parts of the process that met or surpassed my expectations, as well as those that fell short of my expectations. I have learned that “tight” writing is easier to edit than “free” writing. I have learned a great deal about the timing of releases, marketing avenues, and the components of publishing that authors many times fail to realize impact success. I have also learned how to cope with criticism and how to separate the constructive from the invalid or hurtful feedback that any author will receive. Publishing is like any other experience in life. It is always evolving and changing. I think it is important to keep an open mind, to try new things, and then to evaluate how your decisions translated into results.

The landscape has changed with Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. The internet and social media continue to evolve as marketing platforms. It’s amazing how much the eBook world has evolved in just over a year. The first time out publishing a book is an exercise in shortcomings; I think. While Intersection was actually received well critically by Kirkus and Curve, and surpassed my expectations for sales and readership; there were numerous things I missed both in the editing and publishing process of the novel. You have to learn to LEARN. You have to learn to accept valid and constructive criticism, and to be honest in your own assessment of what worked and what didn’t so that you can improve. The list is long, and I learn something with every paragraph I write, every cover I select or design, every marketing strategy I employ, and every review I read.

The greatest lesson for me? Do it because you love it. Write and publish because it feeds your soul. Be true to yourself in the process. Some people will love what you create and others will not. You have to be able to face yourself in the mirror and say, “I love this story. I love these characters. I loved writing it. I’m glad I did. I recognize what I could or would change. The next one will be even better.” That’s what I have learned.

 

AJ: Are you still happy with self-publishing?

Yes, I am. There are pros and cons to everything. Working with a publisher gives an author access to editors without having to pay fees. It gives you access to some degree of additional marketing that relieves some of the pressure for an author. It takes aspects of the process out of your hands, but also largely out of your control. Depending upon the publisher, an author’s commissions can be quite low. At the end of the day, an author needs to decide what he or she wants to get out of the publishing experience. What is most important to you? While I do not enjoy the amount of time I have to spend on marketing, I do enjoy the creative process as a whole. It is important to me to be involved with and to have the final approval of my covers, my marketing text, and my story. It is also how I am making my living now, so commissions matter to me. I would neither advise a person to or not to self-publish. My advice is to assess what you hope to achieve from the experience. Also, how much you have to spend (if anything), how much time you are willing to invest in small details, etc. For me, I remain content in my choice.

 

AJ: Your most recent release, Falling Through Shooting Stars, is being very well reviewed. Tell us about your newest story.

Falling Through Shooting Stars is my latest novel. It differs a great deal from the Alex and Cassidy series in style, in length, and in content.  The story is told mainly from the perspective of Julia Riley. Julia is the executive director for a foundation in Boston. When a popular morning news host, Katie Brennan, agrees to offer her support for a new project; both women’s worlds are set spinning.

While Falling is a love story; it also a story of self-discovery. It follows the journey of two women in their forties seeking to find themselves again. Each is the catalyst for the other to embark on that journey. The connection that they share forces both to look deeply at who they have become. Like so many of us, Julia and Katie have learned to view themselves through the lens of others. They have careers that place expectations on who they are. They have spent years as wives, mothers, and daughters. In the ongoing effort to maintain all of those roles, both have forgotten that there is a person underneath all of that; there is Julia and Katie.

Both Julia and Katie must confront their individual lives, fears, and emotions before they can find each other again. Their discoveries will challenge their families and relationships. Falling is also about the endurance of love through life’s inevitable changes. There is a healthy dose of romance, but it is a slow burn; an abiding love that is fostered through time and friendship. It is the most personal story that I have written to date. As a woman in my forties, confronting changes in my life and rediscovering lost pieces of myself; writing Julia’s story was profound and emotional for me. I hope that it is a book that many women can identify with. It isn’t about facing your sexuality, or even about creating the perfect romantic relationship. It is about finding yourself and how an unexpected connection to someone can change your life in almost an instant.

AJ: Looking back, do you have any advice for other authors?

I have authors who are publishing, or seeking to publish for the first time reach out to me frequently. I cannot tell anyone what course is best for them to follow; submitting a manuscript to a publisher or self-publishing, for example. Anyone who wants to publish needs to decide first what they hope to achieve from that experience. They also need to determine what they are willing to compromise, how much capital they have to invest in the endeavor, etc. Once a person has those answers, determining whether to look for a publisher or self-publish will be an easier decision to make. There is no right or wrong answer. It truly depends on what an author’s expectations and goals are.

What I will offer for advice is more personal and based on my experiences working and conversing with new authors, as well as my experiences with publishing itself. First, if your hope is to get rich quick, you have picked the WRONG avenue. I spent years in the retail side of books. I worked with many authors during that time on events; from mainstream NY Times Bestselling authors, to local people who self-published for the first time. Even the largest publishing houses do little in the way of marketing for most authors. They have small budgets. They will send out press releases, set up some personal appearances (if an author is fortunate to have a great publicist assigned to them), and they will ensure that your work and you have a consistent brand image. Here is your newsflash; promoting that image and your work will ultimately fall in your corner; ninety-nine percent of the time. Know that. Marketing a book takes work, and there is a VAST landscape now to navigate. There are great sites on the web that can help. On the flip side, there are many people offering services who are scam artists. What they offer is neither worth the money nor your time. Do your homework. There are inexpensive ways to build professional websites; get one. Use social media as a launching pad, but understand it is only one part of marketing. Network with other authors and publishers. You can learn something from everyone.

Secondly, be prepared for criticism. You have to believe in your work. Some people will love what you write, others will detest it. The internet makes both praise and criticism immediate and possible for anyone who wishes to add their two cents. Accept and listen to valid criticism. You can learn from it and you should. No one is perfect. No one. That pertains to those who spend thousands on editors and those who have less to invest in that endeavor. If the criticism in a review, email, or forum is honest and constructive; take it, review it, and improve from it. A good example was the inaccuracy of my French and Russian in Intersection. I learned. Now, I have someone fluent in both languages that handles those translations. NETWORK! Did, I say network? There are resources out there. Don’t be afraid to honestly assess your work. Every book I have written has gotten stronger, cleaner, and while I loathe this word; better. With that said, do not allow hateful and spiteful people to deter you from writing. Those people do exist. You will never please everyone, so be true to yourself. Be prepared for some wide smiles and a few tears along the way. Authors are human.

Lastly, write because you love it. Success is not measured in the units you sell. That will vary. I don’t tend to submit my work for award reviews, etc. It is not because I don’t think my books are worthy; it just isn’t that important to me. For some people, it is. I write because I have stories to tell and telling them fulfills me. I love creating marketing posters, trailers, etc. and I love interacting with people. It’s part of who I am, so publishing has overall been a terrific experience for me. I have also had my “downs”. Sometimes the realities associated with putting my work in the public sphere, and with writing as a career are daunting and exhausting. Again, do it because you love it. Writing novels is not a pathway to fame and wealth. It’s a great deal of work, particularly if you hope to sustain your income as an author. Don’t lose sight of doing it because you love it. When you stop loving it; take a step back.

AJ: Do you use Kindle Unlimited for your books? If so, do you like it?

I do. I have mixed feelings about it; although mostly negative ones as an author. It’s important to remember that I spent many years in retail (retail books). I grasp the reasoning and the concept of the program from Amazon’s perspective. Love them or hate them, no author is going to make a living at writing without selling on Amazon these days. Since I publish with CreateSpace (which is the Amazon company), I can attest to the fact that they do pay decent royalties. Kindle is no exception. So many people jumped onto the self-publishing bandwagon in the last few years, particularly with eBooks that Amazon is now adjusting. Many authors do not even release paperbacks anymore. Publishing eBooks is affordable, and with commissions as high as 70% on Amazon, it quickly became enticing. So, I am not surprised that Amazon looked for a creative way to drop those commission payments. That is exactly what has happened.

Amazon Prime members have always been able to “loan” prime eligible titles. That was different, and LIMITED in nature. When I published Intersection, my eBook sales were five times what book “loans” were. NOW, that is often inverted. Why does that matter? That’s simple from a financial standpoint. An author might make about $5.00 per eBook sale on a title retailing on Kindle for $7.00. A rental or borrowed unit will garner between $1.50 and $2.00. The financial impact is huge. There are other considerations. Borrowed units are counted as sales when it comes to sales rankings. So, for self-published authors, if you want VISIBILITY, you have to seriously consider Kindle Unlimited. That also means your eBooks sell exclusively on Amazon. Again, an author needs to do the research. What do you hope to gain? What are your financial concerns and realities?

There are some other notable “consequences” of Kindle Unlimited. These are felt powerfully in genre fiction categories. The first is the onslaught of the novella and short story exclusively for eBook. Why? Simple money in most cases. A forty page story that retails for $1.99 will make MORE money on a borrowed unit in Kindle Unlimited than a sale. So, you are beginning to see well known authors jumping on that bandwagon at the same time you will note the despicable onslaught of crap that is flooding Amazon. Lesbian and Gay fiction have been hit hard with $1.99 to $2.99 “erotica”, which in actuality falls short by even Penthouse Letters standards of writing. Amazon cannot read every book. Authors and publishers determine category placement, so anyone can list anything as Lesbian Fiction, or Science Fiction, for that matter. That, in my opinion, demeans the genre when a consumer looks online. It also means that many fabulous authors who are with publishers are not ranking as they should on Amazon on Bestsellers and are being pushed down by these quick, money making short story eBooks. I’ve felt it too, and I am on the program. So, my final opinion? I don’t love the program, but I understand it is a reality that will continue to exist in some form. Therefore, I have to learn to navigate and leverage its existence as best I can. 

AJ: In our last interview, I asked if you had to go back and do it all over again, what would you change. You talked about better timing of release of the ebooks. How has your process changed now?

I have simply learned the time tables. It hasn’t changed my process so much as it has changed my timing in that process. There are always frustrations in getting a book released. And, the landscape continues to evolve and change. I think any author just has to be as malleable as possible and adapt. Just when I think I have everything nailed down, it changes again in some way. It’s part of the challenge of being a self-published author.

AJ: Have you moved to writing full time yet? If not, what other activities occupy your non-writing time?

If by writing full time, you mean writing as a profession or as a living; yes. My career is now defined by creative endeavors, which are not limited to the novels I write. I am working currently on revamping a one woman show that I wrote and performed years ago. I am also working on developing Alex and Cassidy for some type of live action (that’s my way of saying film) project. That is only in its infancy. It is an honest endeavor that I am working on with the help of some experienced people. Film has always been something that I have wanted to do. Alex and Cassidy were created with that in mind, so now I am moving in that direction.

I am also working with the play I wrote called SPIN, and looking into a live stage production. That is my back burner project right now. I have many irons in the fire. This is what I love; creating. There are financial realities to all of it. Once you begin doing what fills your soul, you have no choice but to follow that path and see where it leads.

AJ: Tell us about the Alex and Cassidy Series and where it’s going.

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I am currently working on the fourth book in the series, CONSPIRACY. COMMITMENT released in November. My honest assessment is that each book has gotten progressively cleaner, more interesting, and more concise. The core characters have grown immensely and so have their relationships. The political intrigue has gotten even more convoluted and more surprising in nature. CONSPIRACY will conclude this part of the series. There has been a great deal of interest in several of the supporting characters. I have also had many people ask me to keep writing the series. After CONSPIRACY, which I hope will release in late May or early June, I will be working on a book called THE SWAN AND THE SPARROW. It is the story of two of the supporting characters, Claire Brackett and Eleana Baros. It will trace the origins of their friendship up until the beginning of the first book in the series, INTERSECTION. I have a book planned called THE COLLABORATIVE which will tell the back story of the conspiracy as it began during World War II. It will be told as Alex and Cassidy recount their understanding to their older children.

And, as I mentioned earlier, I am in the process of developing Alex and Cassidy for some type of episodic film. Whether that will be television or web series, when and how that will look, I cannot answer. I can only say that I am in discussion with people who know far more about that industry than I do. It is a slow process. I am determined to remain involved creatively, but also to pursue this to fruition. So, stay tuned!

AJ: Where can people find more information about you and your projects?

Here are a few places!

Find Alex and Cassidy on the web at:

http://alexncassidy.com/


You can find more writing, etc. 

At the Bumbling Bard Creations website:

http://thebumblingbard.com/


Alex and Cassidy are also on Facebook


You can also follow me on GoodReads, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook:

GOODREADS

AMAZON

TWITTER

FACEBOOK


 


 

 

 

© JEN 2014