Welcome to Part Two of Calico In Conversation with Matthew S. Rotundo. If you missed Part One: Taking Off Like a Rocket, feel free to click here to catch up!
Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through July of 2016.
Let’s dig into Petra. It was a lot of fun re-reading it after reading the initial draft, what…. nearly ten years ago? I also remember at that time, I was a complete crazy person who read through that sucker TWICE (I don’t do that anymore with novels), so the published version is my third time through, and still, despite remember various details and broad strokes of the story (your ending is specifically memorable), I found it to be an engaging, fast read, and I’m really disappointed there wasn’t more interest when you shopped it around. I mean, I know SF has been a hard sell in the past ten years, but dang. This is one of the most professionally polished self-published books I’ve ever read, and believe me, I’m not saying that because I know you. You mentioned you hired a copy editor and a cover artist. How did you go about finding the right ones for your book?
Wow. Thanks so much for the kind words. Petra is a labor of love, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. In addition to the writing itself, I went to some trouble to teach myself how to format both ebook and print editions of the book. That was an inordinately time-consuming process, but I learned a lot, and am grateful for it.
I do wish the market — i.e., publishers and agents — had shown a bit more interest. Of course, I think it’s brilliant, but then, I would, wouldn’t I? Still, there is a glimmer of a possibility that a traditional publisher might pick it up. In the meantime, though, I’ll just keep plugging along with it.
My copy editor, Tamara Blain of A Closer Look Editing, came recommended to me. She did a sample edit of the opening pages, so we could be sure her style meshed with mine. Did it ever! She really knows her stuff. Beyond that, though, she has a lot of experience with independent publishing, which has been invaluable to me. She pointed out issues I never would have thought of on my own. So a lot of the credit for the polish you admire goes to her.
As for my cover artist, Ryan Malm — he’s my niece’s husband, and a talented graphic artist. It was kind of no-brainer to contact him.
Who knows what the market will bring, and what it will look for? If not Petra and its sequel (sequels?), perhaps something else you write in the future will be published through a traditional house! Then again, maybe you’ll get addicted to being an indy author and eschew the traditional publishing process!
But let’s stop speculating: What advice do you have for authors considering the self-publishing route?