Any writer can tell you that publishing a book is not an easy endeavor. Tears, frustration, and folders of rejection letters are part of the journey towards the coveted golden fleece that is publication. But self-published authors have further challenges on a completely different scale. While their peers who are lucky enough to sign on with the five major publishing houses have the financial support for marketing, promotion, and sell-out book tours, self-publishers have to do all this leg work for themselves, figuring out the uphill and often hostile world of marketing strategies and distribution channels.
Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is no exception. An author of suspense-romance novels, Bernadine recently published her second novel, Along Came Jones, about a financially privileged man with little drive and ambition who suddenly finds a purpose when he meets Lou, an agoraphobe with a troubled past and a broken heart, forced further into her shell by a former lover who allegedly looks after her financial interests, but in reality, is only looking after his own shady agenda.
Although Bernadine exercises her skills by writing fan-fiction, it’s her original works like Along Came Jones that allow her to share her stories with a wider platform. In the niche of self-publishing, Bernadine arranges virtual book tours with her fans to promote her novels and meet her readers while sharing her experiences as a writer.
I spoke to Victoria Bernadine via email about the self-publishing world and how keeps her sanity amidst the long and grueling process of drafts and re-editing.
In your view, what are the major difficulties of self-publishing?
Promotion and marketing, hands down. I mean, I can hire a graphic designer for a cover; an editor to help polish the manuscript; admin support to help me format the various versions of the novel, but promo? I have no idea where to even begin with that stuff.
How long have you been working as a self-published writer?
It depends on how you count it! This is the second novel that I’ve published, but the first one was in 2012, so five years ago. Split the difference and say 3.5 years?
Your characters are quite complex. A woman who cannot go outside and a man who is wealthy but doesn’t have much else. What (or who) inspired these characters?
In 2012, I quit my job and took the following year off to decompress and decide What I Want To Be When I Grow Up (spoiler: still no clue). During my year off, though, I found myself basically hibernating in my house and loving every minute of it. That got me thinking about whether I could write a romance novel where one-half of the pairing was somebody who had no desire to leave the house. That turned into Lou, an agoraphobic recluse.
As for Ferrin, he actually started off as a con man and eventually morphed into a somewhat hedonistic and aimless scion of a wealthy family running away from a broken heart. He wasn’t really inspired by anyone or anything in particular but simply evolved along with the other characters and the story line.
Along Came Jones mixes humor with serious issues like disabilities, lies, and betrayal. Was it difficult to maintain the balance between comedy and I suppose, tragedy?
Yes, it was, especially because the story careens fairly rapidly from one to the other and back again in some scenes. I wanted the book to be light-and-fluffy, but both Lou and Ferrin have baggage (and so does everyone around them) that needed to be treated somewhat seriously. It was a challenge to make sure that the light-and-fluffy didn’t unduly diminish those things that should be treated seriously and respectfully, while also not allowing the serious elements to overwhelm the light-and-fluffy. I think all the hair I pulled out has finally grown back!
Was the ending the same one you drafted when you started writing the novel, or did it change over time?
You’re going to make me pull out all that hair again! I struggled so much with the ending, I can’t even say.
Surprisingly enough, the ending is the same one from the first draft. It’s where the story needed to end, but the journey to get there changed pretty dramatically. I also played with (counts on fingers) at least three other endings AND beginnings, but finally circled my way back to what was in the first draft.
Tell me a little about your future projects. Any new novels in the works?
I have a novel, Historian’s Daughter and a novella Plugs that should both be published in 2018. They’re quite different from my first two novels, being a post-apocalyptic dystopia and science fiction, respectively, but I think people will enjoy them. I also have six or seven other novels or series in the works but those will take a little longer to finalize for publication.
Click here to join Victoria Bernadine on her virtual book tour for Along Came Jones, where she will answer questions about the challenges of self-publishing and her upcoming books.
The book tour is through Jan. 31.