I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Erica Hayes

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest... 

ERICA HAYES was a law student, an air force officer, an editorial assistant and a musician, before finally landing her dream job: fantasy and romance writer.

She writes dark paranormal and urban fantasy romance, and her books feature tough, smart heroines and colourful heroes with dark secrets.

She hails from Australia, where she drifts from city to city, leaving a trail of chaos behind her. Currently, she's terrorizing the wilds of Northumberland.

Erica is represented by the Stringer Literary Agency.

Pseudonym or Given Name: Erica Hayes. It’s my real name.

Location: An Aussie in the wilds of Northumberland, United Kingdom. 

Published Genre/s: Urban fantasy/paranormal romance 

Website: http://www.ericahayes.net or http://www.faecbook.com/ericahayes.author 

First published in: 2009.

Number of books published: 4. Number 5 comes out in October.

The Nitty Gritty
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication.

  1. My mum and dad, who let me be whatever I wanted to be and never once said anything stupid about ‘real jobs’. Thanks, M&D :)
  2. An editor at Samhain Publishing (I won’t dob her in by name!) who rejected an MS of mine years ago. Her feedback took me to the next level.
  3. NaNoWriMo 2007, wherein I finished my second ever MS. The first was a random mess that somehow turned out sort-of-okay (see point 2 above). The second was the one where I went, ‘hey, maybe this isn’t so hard...!’
  4. The folks from Canberra RWA. I turned up to my first meeting knowing less than nothing. They not only showed me how much I didn’t know, but made me realise that no, my stuff wasn’t total crap, and yes, I could succeed one day.
  5. My agent, Marlene Stringer. She thought my stuff was cool. She still thinks it’s cool. I call that awesome. 
Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
I was at home alone, and I woke up to 2 emails from my agent in the US. In Australia, by the time we get up, their business day is over. So the first email was about the offer. The second said ‘WAKE UP, ALREADY!!’ 

Looking back over your writing career, how have you grown as an author?
I write better now :) but that’s just practice. I think the area where I’ve learned most is about how to write for the market. Not to the market, necessarily, but for the market — how to select ideas that are going to be marketable. 

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
Apart from making the NYT in five years? (Thanks to Bob Mayer for that one...) I want to write one more books per year than I’m currently doing.

For me this involves overcoming certain mental blocks that prevent me from making best use of time. For instance, I find it really difficult to rescue a day that starts badly. 

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
Well... I do lots of outlining. That can take up to a month, depending on how complicated the story is, whether it’s a new series (in which case I have to do a lot of series planning and world-building stuff) and how much of a bitch it’s being.

Then I usually write a synopsis and a pitch. Then I start the MS, and write until it’s finished. My record for this entire process is about 10 weeks. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 months. Then, I’ll do some revisions--but it’s not usually much—before I hand in. 

One of the things I found challenging about being a published author is the constant juggling of tasks ie. writing a book, editing another, planning promotion, writing the proposal for another (and usually this all happens while holding down another job or dealing with family/life etc.).

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
I like writing the actual MS. I like outlining, too. And writing synopses, funnily enough. Editing is grand, also, because you’ve got a finished MS at your disposal. And writing pitch paragraphs is big fun.

The part I don’t enjoy is promo. Writing guest blog posts is hell. Thinking of interesting stuff to say on my blog or FB sucks away hours of my life. I’m just not a natural at it. But it’s gotta be done. Twitter, I do like. Random thoughts as they occur to me are more my style than structured posts. 

What do you least in the publishing process?
Oh, I think I’ve just answered that one :) 

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
I like any mail where readers enjoyed the books. Honestly? I’m writing paranormal romance. I’m not curing cancer or saving the world here. If a reader loved the story, that’s memorable enough for me. 

Is there anything you think pre-publishers writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Oh, jeez. Pull up a chair :)

Seriously, there are dozens of things. But if I could make pre-published writers assimilate Borg-style just one thing? It’d be how to tell the difference between *writing* your book and *selling* your book. They are 2 different skill sets, and you need BOTH.

You can hone your craft, take writing workshops, win contests and do whatever else you want. But until you get a clue about pitching and markets and tailoring your product to suit, you’re likely just swimming in the slush pile with everyone else.

Oh, and Amazon is not your friend. Just saying. Don’t complain you weren’t warned.

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color: uh. Talk about the hard questions. Green, I guess. No, purple...
Hunkiest hero ever: oh, there are so many. At the moment I’m hooked on Spartacus: Vengeance -- how many hot hunks can you fit in one show?
Most daring thing you've done in your life: uh... I’m just not that daring. *Stupid* things, I’ve done plenty of. Not the same thing.
Greatest love: chocolate. Yeah.
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: tv, x-box, walking. Or just working on something different :)
Special quote/saying you like: “I laugh at danger and drop ice cubes down the vest of fear.”


  1. Awesome post, Erica! Writing blogs may be from hell (I agree!), but yours was smoking!! I loved hearing about your journey and your thoughts on publishing! :D

    1. Hey, Cassi :) thanks! I still do blog sometimes... but nowhere near often enough. I should just stop making excuses :)

  2. I always value your advice on the Paranormal loop, Erica - even if it's not what I want to hear! :)

    Good luck with that NYT goal.

    1. Ah, yes, I'm always the grumpy one one on the paranormal loop. Never mind me, just carry on :)

  3. “I laugh at danger and drop ice cubes down the vest of fear.” Lol! Love that quote, Erica! Interesting post, thanks!

    1. Hi Imelda :) the immortal Edmund Blackadder. "I've got a plan so cunning..."

  4. Good to hear you're rampaging about in Northumberland. Doesn't do to be quietly invisible. We sure miss you in the Canberra group.

    1. Terrorizing coffee shops all over the world since 2008 :) I miss you guys too! And Margaret's shop. We don't have anything like that here :(

  5. Great post :)
    I bet that editor at Samhain is kicking herself for letting you slip through her fingers!!

    1. Ha h! I doubt it! That book was... interesting. And everything she said about it was totally right. One day I'm buying her a drink :)

  6. Thanks for having Erica in your show Kylie! And hey E, good to see you sucking it up and hitting the promo trail, and passing on excellent advice as always. Rockin' quote, too :-)

  7. Great interview Kylie and Erica! I'm glad you put the hunkiest hero bit at the end though because I saw Andy Whitfield an did the mental equivalent of Homer Simpson eyeing a donut - I don't think I would have taken anything in.
    Hope the weather's warming up over there!

  8. Hi Kylie and Erica.

    Love the insight in the post. It's valuable to us newbie writers. You seem to have a clear way of compiling the whole book journey. I admire that. I'm still scattered, but wonder if that has a lot to do with racing around with a day job plus the kids.

    I enjoy your books and can recall the fist time I saw your name on the shelves. I was in the middle of my degree and was stressed and wanted something different to read. Shadowfae stood there looking at me so I grabbed it and it was a most gratifying read. All I can say is, keep that writing of yours coming.

    Agree, the social time required on line is difficult. I really need a kick up the rear to get my act together there. Just the word blogging gives me palpitations. Lol.