Conversations with authors and writers from the self-publishing world.
Meet Stacy Juba
Best Known for: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today
Today I’m very happy to have Stacy Juba join us for another exciting Indie Interview. Stacy has been writing for almost her whole life and has received awards and recognition of her prowess. She has also published both traditionally and independently and has some interesting thoughts to share on the topic.
Welcome Stacy and thank you for joining us!
How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
I wrote my first mystery story in third grade, and by fifth grade, I was writing my own mystery series about an amateur sleuth named Cathy Summers. I loved to read as a child so writing was a natural progression for me. I was also very introverted and writing was a way for me to express myself. Once my teachers discovered that I had the writing bug, they went out of their way to encourage me.
Your book Twenty Five Years Ago Today is doing exceptionally well, was this your first books? If not, what was your first published book and did it do well?
My first book was actually my young adult family hockey novel Face-Off, published when I was 18 years old in the early 1990s. It won a contest for teen writers and received a publishing contract, which was incredibly exciting. It’s the story of twin brothers who battle on and off the ice and it did quite well.
I think it was so successful as it was a book written by a teen for teens, and it rang true. I wrote it in high school study halls. I received a lot of fan mail over the years and the book was included in Best Books for Young Teen Readers: Grades 7-10 and it was also included on the recommended reading list of the Hockey Hall of Fame Junior Education Program. I recently re-issued a new edition, available in paperback and as an e-book, and it’s also available as a new audiobook. It was really exciting to have a new generation of readers discover the book as it was out of print for several years.
Tell us a little bit about Twenty Five Years Ago Today…
Twenty-Five Years Ago Today is about Kris Langley, an obit writer and editorial assistant for a small daily newspaper. While researching her 25 Years Ago Today column on the microfilm, she stumbles across the unsolved murder of Diana Ferguson. Kris becomes obsessed with Diana, a young artist influenced by Greek mythology. While investigating, she falls for Diana’s nephew, Eric Soares. I once worked as an editorial assistant myself and had the task of compiling the 25 Years Ago Today column from the microfilm, so that is where I got the idea for the book.
How does this book differ from other mystery novels?
It is a blend of cozy mystery, romance, and literary mystery which I think makes it unique. If readers are looking for a page-turning beach read with a puzzle and some romance, then the book is an entertaining distraction. But if they’re looking for something deeper to share with a book club, Twenty-Five Years Ago Today has a lot of underlying message and some interesting discussion points.
I have a Reader’s Guide on the Twenty-Five Years Ago Today page of my website, at the bottom past the review snippets. The Greek mythology subplot is unusual and the book is known for its big twist at the end. Although there are other mysteries about newspaper reporters, Twenty-Five Years Ago Today blends the journalism, mythology, romance and mystery into an original story.
You have achieved what many indie authors dream of- how did your success come about?
Twenty-Five Years Ago Today hit #5 in the entire Nook Store and #30 on Kindle, nearly three years after its release, and made some bestseller lists. This was the result of a sale, aggressive advertising campaign, blogging campaign, and Twitter campaign called the #WhoKilledFerguson campaign. In between a series of ads, I ran blog posts about the murder victim, Diana Ferguson, and many tweets pointing out different aspects about Diana. I think that got people interested in finding out who killed her, so they downloaded it and read it quickly, leading to many new customer reviews. It took off in March and is still doing really well, with new reviews springing up every day or two.
I still post the #WhoKilledDianaFerguson tweets from time to time. I also published a companion book 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back, which is available free at many retailers. It contains a bonus scene about the last day of Diana’s life, as well as essays from 52 authors looking back 25 years into their own pasts and the pasts of their characters. It’s an original, feel-good book and having it free helps new readers to learn about Twenty-Five Years Ago Today.
Do you have any special tips that you’d like to share with other authors, regarding writing, marketing or publishing?
First of all, believe in your books and don’t give up. I recommend having a website that you can maintain yourself, on a platform such as Wordpress; having a blog and using Triberr to syndicate your content; being an active Twitter user; and participating on author forums to discover new marketing leads and the latest development s in the publishing industry. I also recommend having critique partners and developing your editing skills, and if you’re indie publishing, don’t publish the book until you’re 100 percent certain it’s ready.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
I’m so grateful to readers who give my books a chance and then take the time to write a positive review. If readers can tell their friends about my books and help spread the word on online retail sites and reader sites, word of mouth is much appreciated. Readers can also sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get updates. I have a few freebies on my website, including the companion book to Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back, as well as free short story called Laundry Day, which is available in e-book and audiobook formats. I hope readers will stop by to check it out.
Why did you choose to write in the mystery genre?
I grew up reading Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. It is fun to create a puzzle for readers and to leave clues and red herrings. My two adult mysteries are Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim, and I have another one in progress which was a recipient of the Malice Domestic Grant awarded annually at the Agatha Awards banquet. My young adult book Dark Before Dawn is a suspenseful thriller. My latest book, which should be out this year, isn’t a mystery, though. It is a romantic comedy and that’s a new genre that I will be focusing on for a while. Lately I’ve felt drawn to writing something more playful without a dead body in it!
Do you also read? What sort of books?
I love to read, mainly mysteries, romantic suspense, sweet romance, romantic comedy, and chick lit. I also enjoy reading inspirational and motivational books from time to time. My to-read pile is huge.
How did you learn to write?
In Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, Diana’s sister Cheryl owns a used bookstore. This is based on a real bookstore that I used to visit as a child. It was huge, in this big mill building, and there were shelves and shelves of books. That bookstore had a huge impact on me as I could spend hours browsing the shelves and no matter how often I visited, I would always find something new. At age 9 or 10, I bought college textbooks on writing and did all the exercises in the books. That taught me how to write, and so did reading fiction books as I was able to see concrete examples of the descriptive writing that the textbooks mentioned. I also bought my first book on Greek mythology at that bookstore, which I referred to when describing Diana’s paintings in Twenty-Five Years Ago Today.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?
I think self-publishing provides an amazing opportunity to writers and that there is no better time to be an author. I’ve been traditionally published by a New York publisher and by a small press, and have also self-published. All three have different pros and cons. Right now, I’m very happy with indie publishing as I don’t want to hold up a project for a year or two waiting for agents and editors to decide whether to take it on, not when books are selling so well on Kindle, Nook, and other retailers, and now ACX has fascinating opportunities to get your book turned into an Audible audiobook. The advantage of going with a big publisher is they will send your book out to major reviewers and can get it into bookstores and libraries. But indie publishing has the advantage of immediacy. You can get in on it right now and get your book out directly to readers.
You do need to learn the ropes and learn how to make your own luck, and even if you work hard, some books will sell better than others. Putting out a lot of books is important as it increases your odds of getting discovered. You do need to make sure your book is edited and professionally done, and that your cover is professionally done, so that it is strong as those published by large houses. Readers don’t really notice who the publisher is so that’s not as much of an issue as it was in the past. They look at the cover, product description, price and reviews.
Do you have any more books being released soon?
I am finishing up a romantic comedy/sweet romance revolving around the Cinderella theme, and I hope it will be out by Christmas. If not, definitely by early 2014.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?
I have also published books for young adults and children, including my YA hockey novel Face-Off, my YA psychic thriller Dark Before Dawn, and my picture books The Flag Keeper and the Teddy Bear Town Bundle. I call my website Stacy Juba’s One Stop Reading as there are books for the whole family. Readers are always welcome to stop by and check it out, and while you’re there, feel free to say hi and comment on my blog or on my Facebook wall. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with new readers!
Thanks for being here today, Stacy!