«Simon Whistler: Hello and welcome to the interview section of the show. Today it is my pleasure to be joined by Elle Casey. Elle first published in ...»
Episode # 16 – The Effectiveness of Perma-free with Elle Casey
An interview with Elle Casey, author of The War of the Fae series
Simon Whistler: Hello and welcome to the interview section of the show. Today it is my pleasure to be
joined by Elle Casey. Elle first published in 2012 and I always say what genre writer’s write in as part of
the introduction but with Elle it’s a little hard to define. Now, we were chatting a bit before the
recording began. Right now she’s writing new adult romance but previously she’s written in wow, a whole lot of stuff which you will begin to pick-up on the interview I’m sure. Okay, Elle you were best known for “Shine Not Burn” so I think it’d be a great way for you to start of the interview by telling us a little about that book.
Elle Casey: Okay, great. First, thank you for having me, I’m really happy to be here.
Simon: Oh, my pleasure.
Elle: “Shine Not Burn” is a new adult romance that features main character Andy as the female lead and the male lead is a guy named Gavin McKenzie who’s known by his friends and family as Mac McKenzie.
Reviews have built it as a cross between “What Happened in Vegas” and “Sweet Home Alabama”. And so if you saw either or both of those movies maybe you have a general idea of the feeling for the book.
And before I wrote the book I had not seen either one of those movies but I have since rented them.
And “Sweet Home Alabama” I think where they’d come up with that similarity is. It’s about where big city girl meets small town country boy kind of a thing and their worlds collide in Las Vegas. I have rented the Vegas movie but I haven’t watched it yet so I don’t know where the similarity is there. Except that the idea as they go to Vegas separately with their own group of friends both for bachelor/bachelorette parties. They both get drunk and get stuck together without their friends around and they have an instant connection and that connection goes very deep. And then they separate at the end of the evening after having a very intimate night and then two years later we have Andy getting ready to be married and she gets a phone call from the licensing division of the courthouse saying we can’t issue you your license because you’re already married. And so, she at some point in the evening in Vegas has a brownout. That’s kind of like a blackout where you just kind of forget everything that happened. So she has to go out to Oregon where this person who she allegedly married lives and tried to fix the problem because the man she’s engaged to be married to, she decides that this would not suit him at all to find out she’d been previously married so she kind of wants to do it on the hush-hush.
Elle: So that’s I guess the basic idea of it.
Simon: Sounds like an interesting concept and interesting that people said oh, it’s very similar to this but I’ve never seen that, that’s interesting. So when did this book come out?
Elle: This one came out in July of 2013.
Simon: Okay so, you’re also very well known for a book called “Wrecked” and that was the first book that you self-published, correct?
Elle: Yes, January of 2012, the first of January as a matter of fact.
Simon: Wow, and I’m sure we’re going to come on later in the interview to just quite how well you are doing but that’s less than two years ago this interview is being recorded on October 2013. In that year and three quarters you’ve accomplished an amazing amount. So “Wrecked”, was this the first book you re-rewrote or just the first book you self-published?
Elle: It’s the first book I’ve ever written or self-published for that matter. Although, I’ve done a lot of non-fiction writing because in my previous life I was a lawyer.
Simon: Ah, okay. So, when did you start writing “Wrecked”?
Elle: I started writing it in, I think it was November of the year before and it took me about six weeks to write it.
Simon: Wow, that’s amazing for a first book. And you were working a day job at the time?
Elle: Yes. Well, that time of year is kind of the—well, half of that time of year is slow time for what I was doing. I had moved to France and I was teaching at a university. So, right at the middle of December our semester kind of ends so after that period I really could dedicate a hundred percent to the writing.
Simon: Oh wow, I was going to say a lawyer isn’t exactly known for being light on the hours and finishing a full novel in six weeks on a standard lawyer’s schedule.
Elle: I wasn’t doing much lawyering because I live in France and my French is not good enough to practice law with so I never bothered to get my French license. But I did help some French attorneys with their English and also with their English contracts and so and so. I was doing a little consulting work but the majority of my working time was taken up by teaching.
Simon: Ah interesting. So in terms of your writing schedule at that time you essentially used what. I don’t know what they’d call it in France or university level but Christmas holidays? To write “Wrecked”?
Simon: What was the inspiration?
Elle: An article about Amanda Hocking.
Simon: So you just read that article about Amanda Hocking’s success I assume and well I could do that, six weeks later you published “Wrecked”.
Elle: Well, you know I’m one of those people that when something intrigues me I go into what I call hardcore research mode. So I read this article, I don’t remember, I actually—it might’ve been Darcy Chen’s article that I read first, it was just a blurb in the wall street journal about this lawyer who wrote this book you know in her free time over a couple of years and then couldn’t get anyone to publish it so she just kind of threw it up online. And so, it was the first I’d ever heard of self-publishing. I mean I know about Vanity publishing, that you know where you print a bunch of books and they sit in your garage and gather dust for a long time and it was never something I wanted to do. But I read how—you know it was in ebook form and I didn’t have a Kindle yet but I knew my mom did and she loves her Kindles so I thought well hey, maybe there’s something to that. So then I just typed in this Google search of selfpublish Kindle and I think that’s when Amanda Hocking’s thing came up which was more of the same but she was writing in a genre that is when I read a lot of which was at the time urban fantasy and paranormal stuff. So then I went to her website and she has this really great blog post, it was so inspirational. Basically saying how it rolled out for her from this you know, from the very beginning of well I’ve always written little stories and stuff in school and I took creative writing in college. You know I never could get anyone to want to publish my book so then I thought what the heck, I like the Kindle.
I’m going to publish my stuff for the Kindle and then it just kind of snowballed for her within a matter of months she was making more money writing books than she was working as a—I don’t know, she had a very low paying job but she was doing something I think with handicapped individuals, maybe therapy or something. Anyway, she—and it was so exciting and what was interesting to me is that she said she wrote—she could write a book in two weeks. Like she fueled herself with Red Bull and, I don’t what she said, Skittles. And she just wrote and wrote and wrote for you know 15 hours a day. And that’s something about me that you know, if I love something that I’m doing and I’m totally focused on it I can get obsessive like that. So, it just struck a chord with me like I don’t have to take two years to write a book, I don’t think. I think I have lots of ideas in my head and I don’t have—
Simon: Just six weeks.
Elle: And I started out during the teaching, you know during my teaching schedule so I couldn’t do it every day. But as I started to write it out I would you know write like a chapter and send it to my husband by email and say you know what do you think about this? You think this is worth reading? And he’s like he was very encouraging from the start. He’s like this is really good, this is really engaging. I want to know what’s going to happen next. So, with his encouragement and with the motivation fueled by Amanda Hocking’s article I just—or in her blog post I just went for it. I just I couldn’t stop at that point I was just too excited to see what would happen.
Simon: Totally understandable. I get that and wanting to just go your heart into it, when you’ve got that inspiration and you’ve had that [0:16:20.0] the feedback from your husband is just like yeah I can do this, let’s go. You mentioned you’d written non-fiction previously. Writing fiction is probably you know it’s a very different thing. Did you just sit down and write or did you follow a guide or how did you go about writing fiction for the first time?
Elle: Well, I’ve written like little stories when I was younger. When I was in junior high, I had these girlfriends who had crushes on these boys so I would write romances for my girlfriends featuring them and their interests as the main characters and how they would fall for them and my girlfriends were always like great! Write me another chapter! And so, you know I have tried my hand at doing things like that. And I’ve also—I’m good at writing letters to people and I’ve been writing letters to my adult relatives since I was a little kid so they would always share them with friends and family and say she’s really funny the way she tells the story, you should read this. And my grandmother kept my letters until she died so I think I’ve written fiction for a long time just kind of in a different format.
Simon: Absolutely. Right so, you finished “Wrecked” and that went up for sale in January 2012 right?
Simon: Just before we move on, I want to talk about the release of that book but did you go for editing, copy editing, proofreading just if you could quickly?
Elle: Yeah, because I didn’t really know like any of it. I went on to Elance.Com which I had used at service to find people that make websites and all kinds of other things in the past. And I also read Tim Ferraces’ “The Four Hour Work Week” and he’s a huge proponent of finding people to do these odd jobs for you.
So, I went there and I put up an ad for an editor and I had a lot of responses and the prices were like anywhere from a hundred bucks to four thousand bucks. And I was like oh my god, how do you choose?
And you know I didn’t know the [0:18:12.8] was somebody who had some experience and who also just seemed to really connect with the sample that I provided and stuff and I used her for my first book. And I also used my mom because she’s real handy with the red pen. And you know after I paid her and then I put the book up, I got a lot of reader comments about some issues with the point of view switching and telling not showing. And after I saw enough of those kind of them saying the same thing I was like okay, I need to figure out what they’re talking about because you know I had never taken a creative writing course in my life and so I only—I have read a million books and enjoyed lots and lots of them but I never paid real close attention to the mechanics. And you know, you just know when something’s off or not and I just didn’t notice it in my own writing because I was too close to it. So, I started looking up websites talking about those issues and saw good examples and bad examples. And then I went back through my book and I was like “ooh, there is a POV issue in that chapter, ooh, God why did I just tell that, why didn’t I just like have dialogue or you know paint the picture” or so. I went through maybe in March and fixed those things and re-launched it so anybody who had purchased a copy got new copy.
Simon: Ah yes, I see this often it says this book has been updated you can download the new version to your Kindle. I love that.
Elle: Yeah, [0:19:38.8] ethics. My readers, my early readers, actually all my readers do this but my early readers especially helped me refine my technique.
Simon: What I wanted to ask is when “Wrecked” came out was it a success right out of the gate? How did your sales look upon launch?
Elle: No, like my goals are very simple on the beginning. It was I want one person who’s not related to me to back the book and like it. That would have been a success maybe because I didn’t expect to have Amanda Hocking’s success or Darcy Chen’s success. I thought don’t even entertain the notion of bestseller or of a publishing contract or any of the things that I considered at that time to be you know the watermark of success. Just one person to buy it and like it who doesn’t have to face you across the Christmas tree one day, that’s what I wanted. And the first month I think I sold like 49 or 50 books and I’m pretty sure most of them were people who know me or were related to me. But there were a couple who were strangers and they posted nice reviews and I was like you know on top of the moon over that.
But I had already started writing my next book so I wasn’t really focused on—I actually shouldn’t say I wasn’t focused on the numbers because God knows when you’re at least in the beginning you go on to your Amazon KDP sales thing and you click you know to refresh your sales number.
Simon: Ctrl-R, Ctrl-R.
Elle: Yeah, so I’d be typing away on my next book and then I’d give myself a break and I’d immediately go over and refresh and [0:21:12.8] at the book. So it was like in the early couple of months it was like, it would stay the same all day long until like 4 o’clock my time and then one book and I’d be like “woohoo!
I sold another book today!”
Elle: So, the first couple of months my sales were one to two books a day that was it. But then immediately every month after that another book came out from me and one book I had two books.