I met talented author Sarah Makela during the A to Z Challenge, and have kept in touch via Twitter.
I’m not a Paranormal Romance fan myself, but I’ve read a few, and would like to know more about the genre and its publication norms.
The story of Sarah’s publication is amazing, and since a lot of my author friends are also querying their books, I thought an interview with her would be of interest.
Sarah would be happy to answer any further questions in the comments, so ask away!
1. Tell us about the genre/s you write in, and what inspired you to choose them.
The genres I write in are cyberpunk romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. I write paranormal romance because it’s something I’ve loved to read for a long time. I enjoy urban fantasy because it gives me a chance to follow a character around and immerse myself in their world. It also allows me to have romantic elements, but not focus the plot on the romance entirely.
Cyberpunk romance is a new genre for me. I only started writing it at the beginning of the year. It was something I found intriguing before but it intimidated me. The push to try it came when I saw a call for submissions for it. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went for it. I’m glad I did since I’ve fallen in love with the genre, and it led to me finding my publisher through a contest win judged by celebrity judges Angela Knight, Dakota Cassidy, Michele Bardsley, and Kate Douglas. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
2. What is a genre that you find intriguing enough to try which is currently outside your comfort zone?
Well, I guess I just answered this one to an extent in the previous question. That said, I’m going to be trying my hand with a paranormal western romance which will come out December 2011. Another genre I’d love to try but haven’t yet is historical (of course with paranormal elements).
3. What is the profile of the readers you target through your work?
People who enjoy reading the genres I write in. Beyond that, I try write stories I’d like to read and then I hope readers will feel the same.
4. How important has your online presence been in the publication and sales of your work?
My online presence wasn’t a main factor in me gaining publication, having a great, polished story was. I don’t think it hurts though! I know of other people whom it was more important for. Sales though, I think having an online presence is a lot more important for, but authors shouldn’t nag people on social networks to buy your book or talk solely about their book all the time. It’s important to connect and communicate with people.
5. What are your views on self-publishing vs traditional publishing?
I think self-publishing has opened the door for people to publish their stories without having to go through the process of traditional publishing, which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing. I know that I learned A LOT during my querying process. It helped to make me the writer I am. Also, I think self-publishing comes with the potential hazard of books being published that might not be ready to see the light of day.
A pro is that it gives authors with out of print backlists the ability to make those books available to their readers. Something else is the complete control it gives the author (for better or worse) about cover art/editing, etc.
I’ll be honest, I’m happy with having a publisher since with self-publishing the author is wearing all the different hats and has to do everything. I find myself a little overwhelmed with all that I have going on as it is. I’m more than happy to let other people do their part in making (and selling) my books. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever experiment with self-publishing though.
6. How long does it take you from the germinating idea to publishing your novels?
It really depends on the book. I’ve been writing for about ten years, and I have several books tucked under the bed. With the Techno Crazed, the novella that got me published, I came up with the idea mid-December, wrote and edited it in January, and began submission at the end of January. It was contracted at the end of April and published June 16th. The idea for Jungle Heat came to me about nine or ten years ago. It was the first novella I completed. It was contracted at the end of April as well and published in July after coming very close to giving up on it.
My last two novellas have been about two and a half months from idea to publication due to writing them on contract.
7. What is the process you follow in writing your novels: are you a plotter or pantser?
I’m pretty much a hybrid. My process is typically that I don’t follow a process. Haha… Some books I’ve written in true plotter form, and some books I’ve totally pantsed. Yes, I did mention that I have several that haven’t seen the light of day yet, didn’t I?
Anyways, I typically know what has to happen, but I figure it how to get there as I write. I’m happy that my publisher doesn’t mind since with Jungle Fire, my book that came out October 6, my initial idea was a little different than what came about at the end.
8. Tell us about the books you have published, and anything you have forthcoming.
I have four books published with one free read short story coming soon and a paranormal western romance coming out in December.
Hacked Investigations 1: Techno Crazed-Cyberpunk romance
Private investigator Hannah Franklin’s life is turned upside down after being contacted by a former employee of MAX Home Security, the leader in security services. But they’re not just protecting people anymore. Hannah’s informant claims to have proof that MAX has ordered the assassination of politicians who stood against the corporation.
When her informant is killed and an attempt is made on her life, Hannah has no choice but to contact a freelance hacker. Her only hope now lies in the hands of a man she never expected to welcome back into her life.
Ian Bradley has lost his girlfriend and his job, as well as having acquired a very annoying gnome. Now his ex, Hannah, is in danger, and she needs his help. Ian vows to protect Hannah with every resource available to him — and as a technomage in a high-tech world, his resources are almost endless…
Hacked Investigations 2: Savage Bytes, which came out last month. Cyberpunk romance
Private investigator Hannah Franklin has a new partner, her sizzling hot lover and technomage, Ian Bradley. But they may be in over their heads when brought in by their friend from the hospital to quietly solve a case that baffles even the police. The victims are being drained of blood and having their organs removed in a ritualistic fashion.
When Ian’s attention narrows to solely encompass their work, he’ll need to keep their relationship strong, or he could find himself repeating a painful past.
The Amazon Chronicles 1: Jungle Heat-Paranormal romance
The Amazon Rainforest still contains a few secrets. One of these secrets is a hidden village of women whose history is filled with the horror of conquering men.
Adara Rukan, princess of the Amazons, ventures away from her village to find something waiting for her. Andrei “Rei” Makarov is a weretiger and a biologist on assignment. Can Rei and Adara find love enough to bridge their two separate worlds?
The Amazon Chronicles 2: Jungle Fire, which is my newest release-Paranormal romance
In the Amazon Rainforest, traditions are important. They’ve long led to survival for the Amazon warrior women.
Kyle Reynolds, ruler of the werepumas, is ready to fly in the face of those treasured customs for the love of Rubia Costa, who will soon be out of his grasp if he can’t win her affection before allies of the Amazons steal her away from him forever.
Find my books at Changeling Press and All Romance eBooks.
9. If you had the chance to speak directly to your readers, what would you say to them?
Thank you for all of your support! I’m truly amazed and humbled. I love hearing from my readers, so don’t hesitate to drop me an email.
Bio: Sarah Mäkelä lives in North Carolina with her husband and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, computer and console games, and traveling all over the world. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapters. Find her online at www.sarahmakela.com.
Thanks for this great interview and *wave* to Sarah. 🙂
I liked that you stressed the importance of having a ‘great, polished story’. That’s what it comes down to in the end.
It’s what we look for when we’re reading (that and strong, believable characters) so it’s what we have to aim for in our writing.
nice interview, people! 🙂
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Thank you for the comment, born! Yep, any genre you can find outside of the romance genre can pretty much be found within it too (and then some, sometimes!)
I didn’t know there were subgenres of Cyberpunk romance and paranormal Western romance. I haven’t read a great cyberpunk book in a long time. Thanks…good interview.
Thanks for having me here today, Damyanti!
Thanks for the comment, Alex! Yeah, I’ve read westerns and I enjoy watching them, but I also really enjoy paranormal romance. So the opportunity opened up, and I love trying new things!
J.L., I’m surprised about the cyberpunk publishing so quickly too, but I have to admit, I feel like it’s been a long time coming overall. Thank you! I really like Jungle Fire’s cover too. 🙂
Hi Arlee, thank you! You’re right. I think self-pubbing totally benefits both authors and readers when an author can make their out of print books digital, especially with how popular eReaders are now.
Excellent interview. I think the ability to publish one’s own catalog of out of print books to digital is a great advantage to self publishing. You can keep your works on the market indefinitely and that woks in favor of the authors and the readers alike.
Tossing It Out
I have to admire Sarah for being published so quickly in a genre that is new to her. Love the Jungle Fire cover.
Wish I had several book ideas.
Paranormal, western romance? Oddly enough, I think I’ve read one already, although probably less romance.
Good interview, ladies!