I was at Word on the Street in Toronto a few week’s back. It was my first time there and it was more than I could have ever imagined. I met lots of great people in the publishing biz and I met quite a few fantastic writers. One of the coolest parts of the day was getting the chance to talk to the may independent, self-published authors selling there stories and sharing the stories of their friends.
Pretty early on in the day I came to a both and met Amanda Reilly. We got to talking and she told me about her book, The Shadows of My Hair, a story about schizophrenia. I passed my card along to Amanda and we reconnected later. Today you’ll read the conversation that I had with her via email and what she had to say about her book and her experience as a self-published author. I want to say a personal thank you to Amanda for taking the time to talk to me about her book. I’m happy to share with you a great Canadian author with a story that I’m fascinated by.
Title: The Shadows in My Hair
Author: Amanda Reilly
Publication Date: 2013
Hi Amanda! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. Do you mind starting off by giving a quick overview of your story?
The Shadows of My Hair is about a girl with Schizophrenia. The story is written through the perspective of the protagonist, Tia. Tia creates an alternative reality for herself and then loses herself between the two. She can no longer distinguish between the reality she’s created and the one we share with her. What readers seem to love about this story, is that you are really thrown into her psyche, you feel as if you are experiencing the erratic nature of her brain as if it were your own.
How did the idea to write come about? You mentioned you were quite young when you wrote this — What was the writing process like for you at that age?
Well I wrote the majority of the story when I was 16. At the time, and I believe this is true for a lot of teens, there were so many moments in my life where I felt utterly disconnected either from who I thought I was, or the expectations people had of me. Writing The Shadows of My Hair wasn’t intentionally to write a novel, that wasn’t the goal. It started out as journal entries and scribbles. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me.
You went through the process of self-publishing, didn’t you? Why did you decide to go that route?
I decided to self publish I suppose out of frustration. I googled for hours about publishing houses, agents and manuscript solicitation. What I found was either that the publishers I was really fond of or hoped would pick up my book, weren’t accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and the ones that would I knew little about or felt no connection with. Ultimately self publishing offered me the highest royalty, the most control and creative freedom. It’s definitely not an easy route as it may be construed of being I format and design the book myself down to the page numbers. It’s a labor intensive process, but for my first publication at 18 it is exactly what I needed to do to get my work out there.
Can you briefly walk me through your self-publishing process? What was the best part of this project?
The publishing process in brief will sound very simple; Write a story, edit story endlessly, format the interior of the book, design cover, and submit for review. Even though I self publish, the book is published through Amazon, they ultimately decide whether or not to accept it. After that it becomes available for major distributers to pick up if they so chose. I was fortunate enough to have Shadows picked up internationally by several distributers such as Barnes and Noble, as well as many smaller distributers around the world. I was even more fortunate when the latest book I published was picked up within twelve hours of its publication. The best part of this process is the formatting process, although tedious, I love using the design software.
What advice can you give to other writers who may be looking into self-publishing?
The only advice I can give to people looking to self publish is to make sure you are happy with your final product. If you’re rushing through the process out of an eager attitude mistakes will be made. Make your book look like something you would want to pick up at a bookstore.
What was the most difficult thing you had to face with this project?
The most difficult part of writing and publishing for me is that I am too close to my work and often will miss something really small, and notice it later. I’m a perfectionist so seeing an error in my work really irks me. That or not being happy with the story… I wrote three entirely different versions of Shadows before I settled on the one I liked the best.
What are you doing to get your book out there, now that it’s finished?
Getting the work out there is about being out there. I can’t be hesitant to put myself and my work where it needs to be. At the Word on The Street festival this year in Toronto, I was on writers block with a booth signing and selling copies. I had to be willing to invite people over to check out my books, otherwise they wouldn’t know my books exist.
Are you writing again? If so, what kinds of things are you working on?
I am writing! I’m currently working on a sci-fi trilogy entitled Sebastian Blaine, the first instalment will be subtitled Life In Death. In addition to the trilogy I am writing some children’s books, which I may choose to publish traditionally.
For more about Amanda Reilly you can look on her website: www.amandareilly.com.