Guest Post: “My Self-Publishing Story” by Nikki Rae + Giveaway

When I was 14 or 15, I wrote Sunshine. I broke my knee that year and had nothing to do. I’d written shorter things before, but I figured the six month recovery home from school on the couch, was a good time to start something longer.
At first, writing Sunshine was just something I did for fun. I wrote a few chapters during the day in a spiral notebook, and when my friends came over after their school day (I was on homebound so I only had school for three hours a day at home), they would read it, and they always wanted more chapters by the next day. Soon, I was able to sit at a computer for a few hours a day, so I began to type the story and make copies for everyone, and then they shared them with the other kids at school. I started to fall in love with the idea of people reading what I wrote and I loved that there were kids at school that I didn’t know reading my story.

But once I was better and I had to go back to school, I set Sunshine aside and didn’t touch it again until I was in my first year of college.

When I was at OCC (my first college), I told my creative writing professor that I had written a book before and wanted to maybe work on it for class. After reading some of it, she encouraged me to try and get it published. I spent a year researching how to publish traditionally, editing, and revising my book. Then finally, I started sending query letters to agents.

I did that for about five years.

Most of the agents I queried never wrote back and the ones who did sent me rejection form letters. There were two, however, that personalized their rejections: One agent told me in so-many-words that  the themes in Sunshine were “too mature” for Young Adult audiences, yet “Not Mature Enough” for the Adult genre. The other agent told me flat out that the “market” wasn’t looking for vampire novels anymore, but I could query them again if I either took the vampires out, or wrote them something different.

It was around this time that I took a break from querying. I transferred to Stockton (my second college) in 2010, and in my second semester, I met H.D. Gordon in Intro to Creative Writing.  We had a lot in common: we both wrote books about vampires and we had both been through the querying process. She told me about Self Publishing on Amazon, how she was doing it, and how people were reading her book. She thought I could do it too.

Once I knew about this option, I started considering it. I made a deal with myself to try to query one last time. I’d send letters to fifty agents, and if none of them wanted to read more of Sunshine, I would Self Publish.

But with every letter I sent out, I remembered how it felt, back when I was in high school, and people were sharing my work with each other. I thought about how much easier it would be if my work was on the internet, how many of my friends and family could read it. I think I only sent out about ten more letters before I began researching Self Publishing.

I finally published Sunshine on Amazon on January 28th, 2013, and almost instantly, my friends bought it for their kindles and computers. That was what I was expecting, and if nothing else happened, I was happy. Slowly, I learned about how important book bloggers and reviews were, so I started promoting myself and asking others for help.

And in the first few weeks Sunshine was out, I had sold 200 copies. About two months later, Sunshine reached Amazon’s top 100 Best Selling Ebooks. It stayed there for a month straight. On June 28th, 2013, I published the second book in The Sunshine Series, Sun Poisoned. And I’ve sold around 4,000 copies to date.

I don’t regret trying to traditionally publish my book, and I think in the future, I’ll eventually try again with a different one. I learned a lot of things I would not have learned otherwise, the most important thing being that “failing” to get a book traditionally published didn’t mean failure, and that there was more than one path to take, depending on what story I wanted to tell and how I wanted the story to reach people.

I think I would have eventually figured out that Self Publishing was the right path to take for Sunshine, but I’m glad I got that little push. Now, my story isn’t just being passed around in between classes, it’s being read by people all over the world. The most important thing was just sharing my story, so if one or one thousand people read it, I’m happy.

 Giveaway

In honour of the final book Sun Damage‘s release Nikki is offering a giveaway. Click the link and grab as many entries as you can before the competition closes and good luck!
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All Your Bits and Pieces Needs

Sun Poisoned Book Trailer
Sun Damage Book Trailer

Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble

Sun Damage (Sunshine #3) by Nikki Rae

Published: March 28th 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Self Published
Format: eBook
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal/Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Note: I was asked for a review by the author

Sun Damage_ebooklgLife wasn’t what Sophie was expecting, so why should death be any different? 

She’s come back from swimming between the two, and every problem she left is still there. And then some.

There’s the human world, where she has a brother on the verge of ruins, band mates all set to go on tour, and people she thought she wouldn’t be seeing for a long time showing up.

Then there’s her new world, where she’s seeing and hearing things that should not be heard or seen. Where Myles knows more about her than she could have ever guessed. She still doesn’t know exactly why Michael is tormenting her, but somehow, everything is connected.

The monsters are closing in on all sides and the question is, will Sophie be able to defeat them before it all ends?

 

The final book of The Sunshine Series was everything I have come to expect from Nikki Rae. The storytelling was filled with emotion, excitement, and an engagement that ensured you invested everything in the characters and story you were being told.

Sun Damage follows on from where Sun Poisoned left off to in-part quell all the anticipation Rae left us with last time. But do not expect any immediate solutions, one of my favourite things Rae does is give us a realistic environment amongst this paranormal world. Illness and injury needs time to repair and life goes on. The balance and struggle between the normal and paranormal is shown through the tour Sophie and her band go on, and we also see how Sophie is coping with all that has happened to her.

The continuity and the connection this series has to its past books is part of its charm. The life and relationship of Sophie and her friends is established and we only see more of it exposed and develop through the series. A key difference from previous books is that we get to see Myles’ point of view in addition to Sophie’s, an act which adds a whole other level to the story we’re given and have been told.

Because the story is told from both Myles and Sophie’s perspective, we do get a further insight into Myles’ character, but what you realise as more is revealed throughout the book, is that Myles is keeping secrets from the reader as much as he is withholding from Sophie. We don’t gain a lot of additional information by seeing things as Myles sees them, though what we’re given is significant. While we learn some things in advance, others are hidden until it is time for Sophie to know, until a time when the story requires it.

And you could analyse it and ask questions about more information but you don’t need it, there is just enough to explain, just enough to make it work in the context, and just enough to make you ok that there are some small mysteries in the world. More is explained vaguely and without direct reference than anything else which was fantastic, it’s explained to readers, probably to Sophie as well, without the need for it to be addressed directly. Even the characters don’t try to know everything, they just do the best they can in the situations they find themselves in. That is why it works, we accept their acceptance and you really do seem to understand everything with the explanations provided and what has played out.

I have to say, Sophie in this was a joy to read, we’ve seen how Rae expresses Sophie’s confusion and emotion previously, but what Sophie goes through, what she experiences and feels through this book is fantastic and half of the enjoyment from this book I got from getting caught up in Sophie and the actions and events around her.

There are key sentences that make your ears prick up and you go, “ooo that’s interesting” while there are others that cause you to gasp and read mouth agape. From page one Rae can change everything in a single sentence that alters what you thought you knew and then when you resettle she will spark a new series of questions a few chapters later with another single line. Your heart jumps as you make assumptions, knowing there is a full chance they may come true based on past experience and books. You cannot help but gasp with excitement and wonder and you find yourself being pulled along by these characters, flying through the pages, dragged along by the interest and investment in their lives and the world around them. It’s exhilarating, even when the narrative pace is slow.

Pace is once again wonderful, properly wonderful. The mystery and the continual issues that Sophie faces are wonderful. There is no instant solution, but nor it is drawn out so far that you tire of the problem either. Everything is new, and you see new sides of many characters and watch them become confused and pained as they all try and help. And truly, we all need a Jade in our life, we really do. From the moment the book starts until the end, reading about Jade was one the real joys of this book, and has been through the whole series.

I didn’t talk much if at all about the lyrics that open each chapter in my past reviews. They suit so perfectly to each corresponding chapter, they do in all the books but I noticed it especially in this one. And as usual noticing a few familiar and favourite bands is always a bonus. The music is also a key factor in the series, not just as a plot point but as an escape for Sophie. Her piano and music convey and calm her emotions really well and we gain an understanding of the role it plays in her life.

There is so much I could rave about in this book. I got to a point when I was just enjoying the story and engaged so much with the characters and I remembered I was supposed to be reviewing it and I couldn’t just keep blindly enjoying it, I had to find some faults. So I sat there and thought about the scene, and I thought about the few that came before it and I couldn’t find any so you keep going. Then at the next moment of emotions and exhilaration I forced myself to pause and go, there must be some fault, don’t praise it for no true reason, but I couldn’t and gave up trying.

I’m not a complete fool, I understand books are not to everyone’s tastes and I think if anywhere the ending may be where there is some contention. Personally I loved it, I had a long think about it and I really do. There is a line in there from Sophie that makes you understand why it is ok. Seeing how Rae has created this series, seen where it has come from, seen how Sophie has evolved, this final book is the best ending it could have been given. I think the way Rae builds us up to it, as well as the information and experience we have had with the other books, it is understandable how it comes to the conclusion it does.

I’m sure someone will find negatives, they always do, but I enjoyed this book a lot. Throughout this book, and the whole series to be honest, you get swept up in characters and they pull you along, you get involved in the story and the untold conversations and hidden mysteries you didn’t even know were there. Filled with moments of excited gasps and stifled noises of delight and excitement Sun Damage is definitely a fitting end to the series.

Interview with Nikki Rae

Today I am very lucky to be interviewing Nikki Rae, author of the paranormal/romance Sunshine Series. The third and final book Sun Damage comes out on Friday and I’ll be running a giveaway along with a guest post by Nikki on Monday, but before all that happens I’m asking Nikki about reading, writing, and her wonderful series.

Where did the idea for The Sunshine Series come from?
The initial idea for The Sunshine Series came out of a trip I took with my family when I was 14 or 15. I got sun poisoning on that trip, and I was stuck inside for the whole vacation. I started to wonder what would happen to someone if they got sun poisoning every time they went into the sun, and the story and characters took off from there.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series? Are you someone who plans out all the details of their stories or do you work it out as you go along and see what new things you think of on the way?
I do a little of both. I never plot out the entire thing because for me, writing a book is like watching a movie. It isn’t as exciting getting to certain parts if I already know what’s going to happen. So as you can imagine, my first drafts are really, really sloppy and I have to edit and revise a lot, but that’s when I start to really learn new things.

What was it about this genre that drew you in?
I’ve always loved vampires and I’ve always loved stories that dealt with difficult subject matter. It was a no-brainer to push the two ideas together.

Was there a certain author or book that made you want to start writing, or was it just a dream you’ve always had?
I can’t name one specific book that made me want to write because I think it’s pretty much anything I’ve ever read leading up to becoming an “official” writer. Reading for me was a means of escape and a way to not feel alone. Once I realized this in writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Ellen Hopkins, Anne Rice and Augusten Burroughs, I wanted to be that for people as well.

Is there any author now that has influenced how/what you write?
Again, I feel like every time I read something it influences how I read and how I write. I learn because I read as a writer. I find out what techniques certain authors use and I try to mimic them, or I find things I don’t like and never want to try out.

You started writing Sunshine in high school, having just finished the series and looking at where you are now you must be proud. How have the public reacted to your series?
Yes. Beyond proud of how far the story and how far I have come. The public, for the most part, seems to like the series. Most of the feedback I get is really positive and even sometimes goes deeper than “I liked this book”, which is really amazing to see.

Are you a person who scours reviews to see people’s opinions? Do you obsess over negative ones or do you take them as a chance to improve your work?
I try to read every review but I think that’s because I’m a workshop person. I like feedback. Positive or negative, it teaches me what to work on for next time. I used to get upset over bad reviews, but now they don’t really bother me. What’s important is that people are reading and thinking about what I wrote.

There is a strong music connection through the series, not only with Sophie’s band but each chapter opens with lyrics. Is this your type of music? Do you get any inspiration and motivation from music and lyrics?
Oh yes. Most of the music is what I listen to on a daily basis, but a few bands are favorites of Sophie’s, Myles’, or Jades. Music plays an extremely important role in this series and I found myself not being able to write without it, which is completely out of the ordinary for me. I found that the more music I listened to, the easier it was to slip into Sophie’s voice.

Do you have a certain process or any quirks when writing? Did you have any routines or do anything in particular when writing the series you didn’t realise you were doing?
I drink a lot of tea. Like, more than any one human being should consume in one day. When I’m writing, if my mug isn’t full, I get thrown off for some reason and I have to make more tea. It’s really weird.

What book/s are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading Switch by Janelle Stalder and The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Marakami.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
The Sandman Series. It’s such an amazing and complex idea and I love it so much.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Also, make friends who like to write. They’re good to have because writing is such a solitary thing and it’s nice to be part of a community and have people to bounce ideas off of, read your work, and give you honest advice. Other than that, read a lot. Research your options as to publishing, and have fun. Try to remember when things are hard that you do it because you love it and it’s worth doing. Your ideas are special and no one can tell you different. : )

You can check out all about Nikki and her series with the links below, and don’t forget to check back for the release day blitz and my review of Sun Damage on Friday, plus Nikki’s guest post and giveaway on Monday!

All Your Bits and Pieces Needs
Other stops on the blog tour
Goodreads
Twitter
Blog
Author page
The Sunshine Series page
Tumblr

Where to find her books
Sunshine (Book #1) on Amazon
Sun Poisoned (Book #2) on Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble 

Cover Reveal: Sun Damage (Sunshine Series #3) by Nikki Rae

Reveal

It has been awhile since I’ve done a cover reveal so this is very exciting. Today I get to reveal to you all the gorgeous cover for Sun Damage, the third book in Nikki Rae‘s YA paranormal/romance Sunshine Series. Sun Damage is due to be released on March 28th 2014. Those who know of Nikki’s work should look forward to finishing out the series, while those of you who are new to her work should take this release as a chance to get to know her and go back and start this great trilogy.

Synopsis
Life wasn’t what Sophie was expecting, so why should death be any different?

Sun Damage_ebooklg

She’s come back from swimming between the two, and every problem she left is still there. And then some. There’s the human world, where she has a brother on the verge of ruins, band mates all set to go on tour, and people she thought she wouldn’t be seeing for a long time showing up. Then there’s her new world, where she’s seeing and hearing things that should not be heard or seen. Where Myles knows more about her than she could have ever guessed. She still doesn’t know exactly why Michael is tormenting her, but somehow, everything is connected.

The monsters are closing in on all sides and the question is, will Sophie be able to defeat them before it all ends?

 

During the release week there’s going to be a giveaway and a chance to win all three in the series so keep a look out for it, or if you’re impatient check out the links on how you can grab a copy.

All Your Bits and Pieces Needs
Sun Damage  (#3) Book Trailer
Sun Poisoned (#2) Book Trailer

Goodreads profile
Twitter profile
Blog
Author page
Smashwords profile

The Sunshine Series page
Sunshine (#1) on Amazon
Sun Poisoned (#2) on Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

News and blog tours!

NewsI’ve been back at Uni for six days now. It has gone fairly ok. The typical first week bludge is in full swing, we tried hard to first two days and then we wandered off again. But with 7 years of uni under my belt I know how the system works, all unis are the same online or not. Next week we can get serious. This is the time to check all the bits and pieces then go off and finish the three books I’m reading and trying to create memories so I can remember what free time and fun feel like when I am stressed and have assignments coming out my ears.

I say that, but I must say one of my courses is so super interesting. It’s one of my electives called “History of the Book” and even in the first week it has taught me so much and so many interesting things about the origin of books and where the change from scrolls and tablets to books and manuscripts occurred. I was actually thinking of doing a post on it because it was truly a great read, and so relevant!

In other news, I am currently on a short stories run, I am reading Ryan O’Neill’s collection The Weight of a Human Heart (which is flipping awesome!), plus John Connolly’s Nocturnes, and they could not be any different from one another but I am getting a lot of good ideas for my own stuff which is fun.

In actual news, Monday marks the first unofficial stage of Nikki Rae’s Sun Damage blog tour and the start of the goodies that I’ll be having in helping to promote it. The official tour starts on March 14th and runs until April 6th but I’ll be doing a cover reveal on Monday to spark your interests, if you look at the past covers in the series you see just how excellent they have been and how good the third one is going to be.

As part of her tour Nikki is going to be doing a guest post for me, as well as an interview, and I’m also going to be hosting a giveaway and posting my review of the excellent Sun Damage to entice you further.  Those are for a bit later in the month though so for now the cover reveal must suffice.

 

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