Interview with Paulette Mahurin
Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, takes place in 1895, a year filled with memorable historical events: The Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta Address; And Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde’s conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship heal.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No. Initially a friend, who owns Blue Palm Press did the final edit, format, cover design, and had it printed. I then took over the printing costs and did the promo. I took it to createspace and did a professional kindle convert.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
Initially it was a test run while my book was submitted to the NY book fair with BEA. Then it started selling well on amazon so I left it there. It’s continuing to do well, with daily sales.
What is your writing process?
I get up and write in the morning and keep going to early afternoon then quit. I love to write and so putting in the time, and having the time available has been a gift. I write from a combination of planned format and spontaneous flow. The planned format would include things like setting up the sets of the scenes, for example, I diagrammed the entire town the story takes place in, the 1895 Nevada ranching town, down to the location of shops on the main street, the school yard, saloon, church, etc. I then note things I want to include in a rough outline, the overview, which moves me into chapter 1 with a spontaneous flow. When I finish the first draft it’s read through and self edit till I’ve rung this dry at which point it’s over to and back and forth with a professional editor. I use an editor for structure and creatively artistic flow, for feedback on authenticity, how the story sits, and rewrite depending on what sits well with me that if I change it, it will serve the story. It’s a process, that changes day to day, a lot of patch-work and flow.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you.
As mentioned above, both. The outline is very rough draft. The real meat is muse, gut, the story telling itself, the characters coming alive and screaming their dialogue at me, sometimes all at once. When the rapid fire is too much, I note down things, sometimes in outline, sometime randomly.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I worked with three editors. The first was for flow of the story. The second was a professional successful screenwriter/playwrite who read it for believability, authenticity, gaps in the story, etc. After the read write from her notes (which took close to a year) I went with my final editor, an ex-journalist for the fine tuning line editing, and detail pulling it together for a smooth flow and well structured format.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
It’s not all that painful, lol. I’ve had a publisher approach me to want to take on my book, but when my husband and I sat down and looked at the figures I decided to stay where I was, since it’s been doing well and also because profits are going to animal rescue, I didn’t want to take away from any funds going to help get animals out of kill shelters and into their forever homes. I may change at some point, I don’t know, it depends on how things continue to go in the future, but for now I’ve been lucky, blessed, and if it ain’t broke…
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Several stores in Ventura County, where I live.
I network everywhere I can, facebook, twitter, Goodreads (offer giveaways), The World Lit Café, Book Blogs, connect with bloggers and reviewers, and talk to anyone I can about having a look at it. It’s been well received and there’s been a lot of word of mouth promotion from others who have read it. I also got lucky in that it’s been featured in the press and national magazines as well as chosen by a prestigious Literary Branch Art Center, but were this not to have been the case I would brain storm, study, read books on promotional successful strategies, and do whatever I could to get the word out. There are also blog tours, which I am currently considering.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes, I’m mostly doing marketing but that’s okay because I’m passionate about spreading the word, the message of the book, tolerance, and also passionate about helping animals, which the profits are going toward.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
There’s a lot of good data on the internet on things one can do that are cost effective, study up on them. Network on all the above sites, I’ve mentioned and don’t be concerned with stepping out of your comfort zones to self promote, especially if you’re the only one promoting it. Ask for reviews and have them posted everywhere: amazon, goodreads, shelfari, etc. Connect with bloggers to feature your book, offer to do articles/posts for bloggers or interviews, giveaways, to get your book out there. And, ask other authors what they did that helped them.
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I love dogs, passionately, and helping to get those depressed faces off death row, out of kill shelters, into forever homes, is something I’ve been working on for years, one dog at a time, helping with animal rescue groups, donating my profits to them, and adopting what I can to help. I just love them. I also have a great relationship with my husband and do a lot of pro-bono work with him to help other in our community. I’m a nurse practitioner and love giving back to women with cancer and other health related problems (Women’s health is my specialty), so am involved in volunteerism. My husband is a retired NASA attorney and does only pro-bono consultation now. We both sleep well at night.
What’s next for you?
More of the same. Writing, animal rescue, hanging with my hubby and family, and continue to do my pro-bono work. I have a good life that I’m satisfied with, blessed with.
Thanks you so much for this opportunity and all the help you give to authors.