Monday, November 22, 2010

The Reluctant Trailblazer

My guest is woman’s fiction author, Jenyfer Matthews. She has also written three contemporary romance novels, published through Cerridwen Press.

Jenyfer is an American currently live in Cairo, Egypt, by way of too many places to name. Over the years Jenyfer has been a retail clerk, a department store model, a receptionist, a teacher, a freelance newspaper columnist, a librarian, a quilter, and a full-time mother.

Considering the brouhaha between traditional publishing and non-traditional, Jenyfer has some rather well thought out reasons for going non-traditional.

I never set out to be a trailblazer in the publishing world, but I published my first three books digitally, back before e-books were cool. It seemed like a sensible idea at the time – especially since I live in a part of the world where traditional bookstores are meh at best. I don’t think that e-books will ever truly replace paperbacks, but I love the instant gratification of being able to get books online and since I travel frequently, having multiple books available to me in one small device is hugely attractive as well.

Now I’m blazing another trail in the self-publishing world. I didn’t make the decision to self-publish lightly. I went through the traditional process of querying agents and publishers first, but I was doing it at a time when the economy was in the first stages of the melt-down. Agents weren’t taking on many new projects because publishers weren’t taking on so many new projects. I heard a lot of, this is a book I would have taken a few years ago but... In the end I had enough faith in my book to take the leap and do it myself. What did I have to lose? It wasn’t giving me any satisfaction hidden away on my hard drive.

There are up sides to self-publishing: no deadlines, no genre restrictions, no word count worries. However, there is a lot of responsibility too: writing, revising, editing, cover design, proofing and copy editing. Did I mention editing? For better or for worse, independently published books are judged more harshly than traditionally published books. If you're lucky you have a good critique partner, but if there are mistakes and problems with the book it still all comes back to you.

Editing and proofing are tedious processes, no doubt about it, but I suffer from another problem: the desire to endlessly revise. Maybe it’s just a word here and there, perhaps a few lines. It’s so easy to do when it’s primarily digital and you have all the power. It’s not even that hard to make changes when the book is available in print-on-demand form – all you have to do is upload a new file. Poof! Done. It’s hard enough to resist the urge to endlessly revise when it’s a new book you’ve put out there and you notice a typo. Now imagine the temptation when you get the rights to your backlist back…

I’m getting the rights back to my first three romance books on Christmas Eve. Best. Present. Ever. It’s entirely possible I’m a bit of a control freak, but I’m truly looking forward to re-releasing them myself at much more reasonable prices. The problem? The temptation to “fix” them.

My first book was published nearly four years ago and written a few years before that. In that time I’d like to think that I’ve grown as a writer and that I’m better now than I was then. The question then is, how much should you tinker with a book that’s already been published? All of the books have received good reviews so apparently readers like them as they are. Other than updating things a bit – the hero in my first book is a corporate lawyer with neither a laptop nor a Blackberry for goodness sake! – maybe I should just leave well enough alone?

As the author and now the publisher both, I have the ultimate decision making power. I’m doing my best not to let it go to my head or to paralyze me. My *plan* is to format, proof, and perhaps update those three books a bit and then leave them alone. I hope the perfectionist in me will cooperate.

I have other stories to write after all.


Sometimes running away is the first step toward finding yourself...

Aurora has spent her entire married life transforming herself from a regular, middle class girl into the perfect society wife. Life seems perfect until she is unceremoniously dumped by her philandering cliche’ of a husband just before Christmas – and their tenth wedding anniversary.

Devastated and unable to face the social ostracism or the holiday parties, Aurora and her best friend Kat plan a trip to Amsterdam for a weekend…then decide to keep going. Aurora attempts to drown her sorrows with wine in Amsterdam and Frankfurt, finds her anger in Athens and Cairo, and reclaims her sexuality in Dubai. By the time she and Kat reach Bangkok at the New Year, Aurora is ready and eager to move on with her life.

Planned as a way to escape her pain, Aurora’s travels instead become a journey to a new sense of self and a whole new world – post-divorce. Excerpt
Buy: Amazon (kindle or paperback) and Smashwords (distributes to Apple, Sony and Diesel, etc)


Jenyfer Matthews writes books for fun. She is an American currently living in Cairo, Egypt. Aside from writing, she's married, a mom of two under ten, a decent (if reluctant) cook, an encyclopedia of random scientific / medical facts, a wine lover (but not a snob!), and a Capricorn. She loves to travel, spend time with good friends, and laugh at life's surprises. View of life - definitely half full.

You can visit her blog, Writing News & Disconnected Thoughts and her Website.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Jenyfer, welcome to Over Coffee. I'm glad to have you visiting.

So Cairo, Egypt, is about 8 hours ahead of us, right, so we'll be seeing you as you can post.

I enjoyed your article and loved reading about your beach vacation on your blog. You have some wonderful pictures.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Thanks, Sia! Glad to be here.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Jenyfer .. interesting - thank you .. if it was me & I'm a Capricorn .. I'd leave it alone - you've set the date .. when Blackberries and gadgets weren't really around .. why make a mountain out of what is not a molehill?!

It sounds as though you've lots of other wonderful stories to tell .. and I'm sure everyone would rather read new novels.

I'll be over to say hi on your blog & see your pictures .. looking forward to seeing your part of the world ..

Have good weeks .. Hilary

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Hilary - I appreciate it! I will do my best to let myself off the hook because you're right - no one else probably cares much about such a minor detail. It's not as if the plot hinges on his phone (or lack of), right? (right??)

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi Jenyfer! I think what you've done is fantastic. I have a small publisher (Turquoise Morning Press) that supply digital and print for my books. I couldn't be happier!! We just had a multi author booksigning at a bricks and mortar store with four NY times best sellers and I sold all my books and they didn't. My publisher was so excited! I couldn't believe it. I'm glad that I decided to go with a small press because it's given me experience and the editing process is brutal! Still. . .I do want that BIG book. . .

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Tonya - Small presses can be a great place to have a book since you often get much more personal attention. And that is great news about your book signing! I am thinking of arranging one next summer when I am back in the US but I have to admit the thought scares me a little!

Judi Fennell said...

I love hearing people's paths to publication - and I'd love to hear your path to Cairo! Too bad I didn't "know" you before I wrote the book that's coming out in January. I use a lot of Egyptian references.

All the best!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Judi - my path to Cairo isn't so exotic. I'm the trailing spouse and my husband works in a university here in Cairo. We've been in the Middle East a decade now, coming to Cairo via Dubai. It's been a lot of fun to have the time and opportunity to explore so much of the world though - it's a whole lot easier to get places from this side of it!

VA said...

Aside from some typos, let the past rest and keep moving forward. I enjoy reading an author and seeing the trajectory of their craft. The imperfections you see are part of the joy of enjoying an author's work. My two cents, fwiw.

VA said...

Wow! Bryce is a monumental a$$. Better off without and hope Audrey enjoys her stint, for however long it lasts.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

VA - LOL! Your last comment made me laugh :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

I'm glad so see people enjoying the excerpt.

Jenyfer, what do you have coming out next?

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Aside from my three contemporary romances (backlist) that I will make available next year, I'm also working on a new women's fiction story (as yet untitled) I've been a bit derailed lately, but hope to get back to it soon and perhaps release it later in 2011.

(How's that for vague??)

I tend to be a fairly slow writer, but my first draft also tends to be fairly complete and just need polishing. I wish I could speed it up - I have so many ideas! - but life tends to slow me down.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


Awesome interview with a fascinating author!

I've got the book on my list and Christmas is right around the bend!
WooRah! I know what I'm getting!

Hugs Honey!

Mason Canyon said...

Even though I love paper books over e-books, I can see where they do have advantages. Jenyfer, as you pointed out it makes it easy to obtain a book over all the world. Your works sounds interesting. I like the idea of a corporate lawyer without a laptop or a blackberry. Best of luck.

Sia, another wonderful interview and now more books to add to my wish list. LOL

Thoughts in Progress

Kat Sheridan said...

I'm SUCH a fan of e-books and this sounds wonderful! More to add to my wish list. And I'm a control freak as well, and a picky perfectionist. Bad combination. But what a wonderful path to publication you've chosen! And your adventures are the stuff some of us dream about.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, I'm slowly working my way into e-books. I have kindle on my computer but no reader, just yet. So many choices of readers. I'd love one size fits all e-books.

Jenyfer, my son was looking at your beach pictures on your blog. So, Mom, how much would it cost to fly there for a holiday? lolol!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I knew this was going to happen - all the fun happens after I go to bed!

One reason I'm so happy to be getting control of my backlist back is so that I can make it available in paperback. Yes, the ebook will still be cheaper, but some people still prefer a paperback. I can understand, if I really really love a book, I like to see it sitting on my shelf too - and that includes my own titles! Making my books available in both digital and print form is the best of both worlds for me.

And now that you can give anyone with an email address a Kindle book as a gift (hint hint...) :)

Sia, the beach was lovely. But I'll bet you could find a pretty beach a little closer to your own home. I myself have wanted to travel to Cancun, Mexico since I wrote ONE CRAZY SUMMER!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Cancun...Love to go there again. Jake just fell in love with your pictures and commentary. Any long distance vacations will be to Scotland again and a bit of Ireland. Otherwise, there are soooo many gorgeous place stateside to explore.

Jenyfer, I'm so glad you come to visit. Let's do it again. :-)