Kindle Author Interview: C.J. Archer

C. J. Archer, author of The Adventures of Miss Upton and the Sky Pirate, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Adventures of Miss Upton and the Sky Pirate?

C.J. ARCHER: It's a steampunk romance set in an alternative Victorian England. Progress and new inventions fuel the nation's wealth and so inventors are treated like celebrities. But what happens to people born with "unnatural" abilities like telekinesis, healing and second sight? They're condemned to death. This will be Tilda's fate now the country's most eminent inventor had discovered the truth. To save herself and her family she must complete a dangerous task for him. Desperate, she turns to the one person who can help her—unfortunately he's a pirate with not a shred of moral fiber in his body.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

C.J. ARCHER: I find my characters develop organically, despite my attempts to work out what makes them tick before I write a single word. It sometimes takes a few chapters before I "know" them fully which sends me back again and again to revise those early pages.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

C.J. ARCHER: Miss Upton and the Sky Pirate is a romance at heart so it's geared towards a female audience, but if men want to read it then great! A romance reader who likes snappy dialog, fun action scenes, and a fast plot will enjoy this book.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

C.J. ARCHER: I've been writing with intent to publish for about 15 years now. I've won several awards and contests for my unpublished manuscripts and a few years ago I got "this" close when one of my books was passed up the editorial ladder at a big NY publishing house. But it was knocked back and since then my agent couldn't sell anything else. So we parted ways and out of sheer frustration (and because I'm a control freak) I went the indie route instead. I have to say it's the most fun I've had writing ever.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

C.J. ARCHER: I'm part plotter and part pantser (write by the seat of my pants). I'll plot as much as I can and try to work out the story and character arcs before I start but it almost always changes along the way. Once the draft is done I let it sit for awhile (anywhere from 2 months to 2 years) before I re-read and edit it.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

C.J. ARCHER: All indie authors inspire me because they've got off their rear ends and taken the road less traveled. Indie authors put themselves out there to be knocked down by traditional publishers and authors (let's face it, it happens) and yet they get back up again and move on. Plus they're the nicest, most supportive bunch of people I've met in cyberspace.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

C.J. ARCHER: Good lord, are you serious? It's so hard to pick just one. Ok, maybe Pride and Prejudice which I consider the most perfectly written romance story.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

C.J. ARCHER: Kim from Hot Damn Designs did the cover and I think she did an awesome job.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

C.J. ARCHER: Marketing this book has been a steep learning curve for me. I had to set up a blog, twitter account and goodreads account. Plus I've posted on message boards all over the place including kindleboards, goodreads groups and on Amazon's boards. I've sent the ebook off to reviewers but so far none have come back with a review.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

C.J. ARCHER: The ups and downs of traditional publishing were getting stressful. After my agent and I parted, I was very depressed. I gave up writing which led to more depression. I've since learned that to remain sane I need to write but the thought of starting the agent hunt all over again made me feel ill. I'd also witnessed some close friends who are traditionally published and considered successful in their genre get screwed by their publishers. If a publishing house can treat even a top-tier author as if they're expendable, I didn't want that. When I saw J.A. Konrath's blog I couldn't stop thinking about self-publishing. I finally decided last month to just do it. Being a control freak and incredibly impatient, self-publishing was perfect for me. I can control the price, the cover, the content, the publishing date. I can change these things NOW if I see a benefit. I can experiment. I'm absolutely in love with being an indie author.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

C.J. ARCHER: When you think you're book is finished, don't publish it. Let it sit for 6 months or more. Forget about it. Write another book or two. Then get it out again and be honest with yourself as you re-read it. Then get other people to read it, people you know you can trust to tell you straight if it's any good (this is probably not your parents). I know it's frustrating to wait (see the comment about my impatience above) but this is important to your long term success.  

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


C.J. lives in Australia with her husband, 2 kids and a kitten who thinks she owns the keyboard.  C.J. has been writing for 15 years while holding down boring day jobs and raising a family.  She loves writing, reading and consuming good food and wine.  When she's not doing any of these things she's catching up on the latest episodes of The Tudors, Dr Who, or Ashes To Ashes.

You can find C.J. at her blog or follow her on twitter.

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