Interview by Tsana Dolichva.
You can find Patty and all information about her books at http://pattyjansen.com
After many years of experience, you have become somewhat of an expert on self-publishing. Do you think you would have taken the same path with self-publishing if you had started writing ten years earlier or ten years later?
Ten years earlier…
Truth is, I self-published my first book in 1995. It was niche non-fiction and I sold every single copy I printed (no ebooks back then). In 1985, I would have been way too young.
I self-published my first fiction in 2011, which was not terribly early. In those days everyone was still adhering to this thoroughly silly mantra that if you self-published, you’d shoot your career down in flames. There were some people out there in a little corner saying “Hey, come here, the water is nice,” but I wanted to make sure I did not publish a first draft, or even a final draft of my first book, before I knew I would not be embarrassed by it later. I started with some shorter work that was out of contract. The first novel I published did, in fact, get a contract, which I chose not to sign.
In short, self-publishing always had my name on it, but I wanted to make sure I put work of acceptable standard out there. If I started right now, I would be even less inclined to go traditional. I want a career in writing and thoroughly dislike the idea of that career be on the behest of someone else’s business. My husband travels to Canberra to work every week. The plan is that he can stop doing this and we live off my writing income. I’m about halfway there. Either I double my income, or we boot our kids out of the house.
You have been organising a lot of cross-promotions among self-published authors. Do you find this more effective than other means of promotion?
There are a lot of things that fall under the umbrella “promotion” that would not at first sight appear to do so. Getting the right cover is promotion. Getting your book in the right categories is promotion. Getting reviews is promotion. Getting people on your mailing list is promotion. Paid advertising is only a small part of it.
Anyway, some people were much better at the Facebook advertising thing than I was, and all of a sudden they had giant lists without a clue what to do with them. I knew what to do with the lists, but lacked the lists, so put the two together, add some authors with giant followings on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and you have a pretty powerful promotion engine. On the first weekend of each month, over 100 authors make their books free or 99c, I put them on a page and we go kill the internet with it.
It’s been surprisingly effective, has given me a can-do community of people I can go to for help of any kind, and it’s a lot of fun.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming releases. What can we expect to see from you next?
I write about five full-length books per year, and like I did in 2016, I want to start something new in 2017. I might finally take the plunge and start my Urban Fantasy series that will be based on the area where I live (Sydney’s North Shore), councils, corruption, murder and were-possums. I guess I’ve been threatening to write this thing for long enough now, and I should actually go and do it.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I read more non-fiction than fiction these days, but I’ve read Glenda Larke and have Kate Forsyth on my TBR pile. Other than that, I read a lot of ebooks, and kinda baulk at some ebook prices of newly released books. As consequence, I’ve bought a lot more self-published than traditionally published, and none of those are Australian, especially in my genres.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
That said, I would *love* to sit next to Kim Stanley Robinson, because he is such an interesting person and has so many great ideas. We probably would barely say a word about his books, though. I prefer to enjoy those in private.
I know, this is nuts.