Conversations with authors and writers from the self-publishing world.
Meet Tara Quan
Best Known for: Tower in the Woods
Dear Tara, thank you very much for agreeing to participate in the Indie Author Spotlight.
I started writing Harry Potter fan fiction back when I was in high school. I took a long break from writing after starting college, though I continued to scribble in various notebooks. I began dedicating large chunks of time to writing again in 2010.
Your book More than Strangers is doing well. Was this your first book? If not, what was your first published book and did it do well?
More than Strangers is my third published work, and I wrote it on a lark knowing it wasn’t likely to sell many copies. My debut novella is Tower in the Woods, which is a twist on the Rapunzel story set in a post apocalyptic zombie world. Even after being out for more than six months, it’s doing better than More than Strangers.
More than Strangers starts off at a polo match in Dubai, where two strangers agree to have a one-night stand. They spend a creative night together (with champagne, strawberries, and a riding crop) in a gorgeous desert resort.
My hero is a security specialist who co-owns a company called Safe Harbor. Six months after meeting my heroine, he’s contracted to extract a public health worker who had gotten into a spot of trouble in Pakistan. Let’s just say he was in for a bit of a surprise when he meets the woman he’s sent to rescue.
How does this book differ from other Romance novels?
This is the first time I’ve been able to set a story in places I’ve lived in and know well. While I took some creative license, the descriptions are as authentic as I could make them. There might be other romances set in Dubai, though I haven’t found any, but I doubt there’s one set in Pakistan as well.
You have achieved what many indie authors dream of- how did your success come about?
This is going to sound boring: writing and research. Like many authors, I have countless finished and unfinished manuscripts that will never see the light of day. I actually have two 90k novels that I have written off as practice. Once I had something I thought was publishable, I haunted writing forums for months to come up with a list of ePublishers that might take it on. And then came the dreaded submission process—racking up rejection letters is an ongoing torture for most writers.
Do you have any special tips that you’d like to share with other authors, regarding writing, marketing or publishing?
Take this one with a grain of salt—spend most of your time doing what’s fun for you. In my case, writing gets almost all of my attention.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
Thanks for giving my books a try. If you have time, a review would be lovely.
Why did you choose to write in the romance genre?
I’m a romance junkie. I started reading them when I was in my teens, and I never stopped. I’m in love with the genre, and I can’t imagine writing anything else.
Do you also read? What sort of books?
Yes. Romances—all genres. I’ve been more of a paranormal fan of late, but I’ll try anything with a happily ever after. My favorite authors are Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole, Julia Quinn, Linda Howard, and Judith McNaught.
How did you learn to write?
By reading and writing. I’m not sure it’s the most efficient path, but I can’t imagine going about it differently.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?
I chose something in the middle, so this might seem a bit wish-washy. If I had liked the other aspects of publishing (formatting, distribution, cover art, marketing, accounting, etc.), I would have chosen self-publishing since it offers immense freedom. Having a publisher (trade or ePub), means conforming to genre rules and pricing. Everything also happens at a slower pace than self-publishing.
Small press ePublishers offer some of the advantages of trade publishers. The heavy lifting for my books is done when I turn in the line edits. I don’t have to format it, buy cover art, upload it to a dozen different distributers—my publisher takes care of that. They have their own fan base, which helps my sales potential as a new author. I’m still responsible for quite a bit of marketing, and obviously my books will never be sold in bookstores. Since I write category length books in a genre where eBooks are gaining popularity, it’s a good fit.
Trade publishing is the ultimate dream for many authors. I still sigh at the thought of a book of mine siting on a shelf at Barnes and Noble. But because I like writing in this genre and length, trying to get trade published just wasn’t a practical option.
Do you have any more books being released soon?
I’ve got a few works in progress—I just need to convince someone to take them on. I’m writing the sequel to More Than Strangers right now (and it will probably be done by the time this interview goes live). I’m also revising the sequel to Tower in the Woods, which is a twist on Little Red Riding Hood.
Thank you, Tara!