LTWF: Interview with Shelli Johannes, author of UNTRACEABLE
You might have seen my book review for Untraceable on Sunday. If not, read it. This book is impressive–and its author, Shelli Johannes, is quite possibly even more impressive.
Why do I have such glowing praise for Shelli? Because she’s done something a lot of us are too scared to do: she has indie-published her debut novel.
But more importantly than that, Shelli has indie-published it right. She has approached it as a professional author who knows the industry, knows what readers want, and knows how to tell a damn good story.
If you want to hear more about her amazing and empowering journey, I suggest reading her blog series on it (which begins here). I was lucky enough to get an interview with Shelli about her publication process, and all I can say is: WOW. She is an inspiration to us all.
When you started writing Untraceable, what was the inspiration behind it? A dream? A musical clip? Plain, old-fashioned brainstorming?
My husband came home one day from being in the remote woods for the weekend and said, “I was so far out–a terrorist camp could set up there and no one would ever know.”
The story started out called Grace Under Fire. And it was about terrorist cells in the wilderness (hides face from embarrassment). Years later, I got rid of the terrorist camp but kept Grace and the wilderness.
It actually came in the quarterfinals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award of 2009. 1 of only 7 thrillers to make the list.
Wow–I did not know that about the Breakthrough Award! (Can’t say I’m surprised either ;)) And what a COOL way for a story to start…mine are always lame dreams, so I’m totally jealous.
What was the biggest challenge for you while writing UNTRACEABLE?
Editing it. Back in 09, I remember agents HATING the terrorist angle but loving Grace and the overall setting (go figure :)) so I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the entire plot from scratch. I did that more than once. But that time was the hardest.
You’re taking a different, unique path for getting your book out there, and you’re really showing other writers how self-publish in a professional, and reader-focused manner. It’s obvious you care about your readers more than making some quick cash. When and why did you decide to indie-publish?
For a few reasons:
- I was tired of people telling me a contemporary thriller would not sell well to teens.
- I wanted to see if I could do it on my own and learn more about publishing process in general.
- I thought it would be fun to create my own thing my own way.
Because I was scared everyone would think I suck, I decided to blog about the process openly – the ups and the downs to see if I could help others decide if indie pubbing was right for them.
I also hear so much about the stigma of indie/self pubbing. I wanted to break through that barrier and create a high quality product I was proud of and show people that you can do it the right way.
Yeah, I think that stigma is starting to fade as more and more writers with high-quality stories take that route. All I can say is: GOOD FOR YOU! For having the courage and the determination to do this the “right way”.
Is there anything that, in hindsight, you wish you had done differently with UNTRACEABLE–either in the writing or publication process?
I’m having so much fun I wish I had done this a long time ago. I wish I had skipped all the unnecessary anxiety. But I believe everything happens for a reason and I am where I am supposed to be.
Too true–I’m a firm believer of that as well. What’s your next writing project? And do you think you’ll continue on the self-publication path with it?
I have a special edition of Untraceable coming out in Jan/Feb with a different ending. And I am putting out Grace 2 – called Uncontrollable early next summer.
Beyond that – I’m not sure. I have manuscripts that have almost been bought on my shelf. Who knows maybe I’ll pull another one out.
But I am writing a WIP that I would like to get an agent for down the road. I love the traditional pubbing process so I hope to do both someday when I am ready to jump back in the pit.
I think it’s so awesome that you’re interested in both approaches and that you want to try to tackle both. I would love to as well…one day…when I’m not so lazy.;) Honestly, though, writing all these books and self-promoting–it must take a lot of perseverance and hard work. What’s a typical writing day for you?
I drop off my daughter at school around 8 and then hang with my son until I drop him off at preschool at 9. I spend about an hour on the Internet with emails, twitter, Facebook, catching up on blogs etc. I usually write from about 10-12ish. Then I catch up on emails again before I get my son at 1.
But this is not how it is all the time. Especially not right now.
Right now, I imagine your life is wrapped up in UNTRACEABLE promotion. In your spare time, though, what are you reading?
Just finished The Pledge by Kimberly Derting and Fracture by Megan Miranda.
And any final words of advice or inspiration?
Don’t give up. Let go of you ego. And follow your heart.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win not only an ebook of Untraceable, but also a copy of Escape Velocity and an ARC of Promise the Night.
It’s open internationally, and we’ll announce our giveaway winner on FRIDAY! ALONG WITH OUR BIG NEWS!