Thea Atkinson has written for money, but she prefers writing for passion. It’s just nice when the two find a way to cohabitate together. She has spent time as an editor, a photographer, a teacher and a writer. It’s the latter handle that she likes best.
Thea’s written 10 novels and four are currently available from Amazon.com, BN.com, Kobobooks.com, Smashwords.com and various other spots—all in electronic form. Her most recent novel, Anomaly, is about J who wants you to understand that he’s really a regular everyday kind of Joe or Josephine. Like you, he worries about money, about work, about family: normal things for a middle class heterosexual person. Yet for J, there’s a gender issue and whether that gender is the same today as it was yesterday.
Anomaly is a psychological litfic tale that explores the duality in all of us, and how one week can change a person for a lifetime.
I’m thrilled that your books are available to the public now that you’ve taken the e-road to publishing. Tell us what prompted that decision and what’s involved.
My journey to e-publishing is a long and convoluted story. In the late 90s, I sold a historical novel to an electronic publishing company. Despite their best intentions, the world simply just wasn’t ready for electronic reading. The company went bust and the rights reverted back to me.
Meanwhile, like any good writer, I continued to write and study and submit. I was pretty dedicated to the ideal that I would eventually find a traditional publisher for my work. It took me a few years to acquire an agent that I liked and trusted. She submitted one of my novels to a lot of publishing houses. Although she got back some positive comments, none of them picked it up and so I worked on the next book, and the next.
Sometime in 2010, Amazon.com released a piece of equipment that completely changed the way people read. Amazon.com also lifted its restriction on Canadian authors publishing on their site. Eventually, I heard about Kindle and started thinking that come Christmas, it was going to be incredibly popular.
I took that original historical novel that had already been published as an electronic book in the late 90s (Pray for Reign) and submitted it to Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP) thinking I had nothing to lose. Within a week, I decided to put up One Insular Tahiti that had already gone the rounds of publishers. By the end of two weeks, I had sold four copies and thought, “If this totally unknown independent author can get found on Amazon.com and sell four copies in two weeks, how well could she do if she actually worked at it?”
I uploaded Secret Language of Crows while I waited to hear back from my Agent about Anomaly. When my agent told me that she just couldn’t get behind Anomaly, I was actually relieved. Why? By now I was researching self-publishing in the electronic world and discovered that some authors were doing very well. Incredibly well. Like Amanda Hocking. She’s the poster child for Kindle publishing and well worth investigating.
I knew I had a long and arduous process of learning in front of me and hours upon hours of marketing and self-promotion, but I had really begun to believe in the idea of independent publishing. I created a network of writers who are trying to do the same thing. I started to twitter and blog and face book and a lot of other activities that take up more time than writing and editing ever did.
So what have you learned?
You have to balance your time way more effectively than when you were just writing and submitting. I’ve also learned that while I always believed that the traditional route to publication validated me as a writer—the publishing world and its traditional mores are changing. The new generation is all about sound bites and texting. They do everything with their cell phones. They are computer savvy. They want electronics.
The smart writer always writes for her audience. Well, when the audience of electronic readers begins to overtake the dead tree book readers—and they will—I want to already have an audience ready to grab my next book.
Whew. That’s a lot of work. But it’s paying off. Congratulations! Last words?
My agent asked me once what drove me. She wanted to know why I was attracted to dark stories. What attracts me to dark is the light at the other end. Character is always the motivating force for me. It’s the human condition. It’s always something that has confused me and made me think. Why do good people do bad things? How can a person do good things? Why do we do what we do at all? That’s what gets me going.
ps. I asked Thea to send me a photo that was special to her. That’s why her daughter’s photo is included. Amazing, eh? Brittany took part in a hair style show in Toronto and ended up on the cover of a prestigious publication. Thea says, “She felt like a star for three days and when she came home, she was still regular ole Brittany who likes to schlep around in jeans and sweats and who helps her mom with the laundry. That says something about the beauty she has on the inside.”
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PS. If you have any comments or questions for Thea, click on Comments and fire away!
Welcome! This is where I occasionally pluck and post recent Stories or put notices of upcoming Workshops, such as memoir or travel writing. Author! Author! is a by-weekly series of interviews with authors about the writing life, and getting published. Anything else lands in Odds & Sods. Enjoy your visit and come back often. Better yet, subscribe!