Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Middle Grade Author Anita Laydon Miller

I’m welcoming self-published middle grade author Anita Laydon Miller to the blog today. She is the Colorado Springs GAZETTE book columnist, the mom of four and an author of kids' ebooks (EARTHLING HERO's a sci-fi and A SCARY GOOD BOOK's a mystery). 

You can visit her at her at

K: Thanks, Anita, for being here today. You’ve recently e-published two MG novels, EARTHLING HERO and A SCARY GOOD BOOK. I’m fascinated about the decision that goes into self publishing. How did you come to that decision?

A: I had a well-respected agent and I liked her (still do), but I thought the whole publishing experience was so humiliating…jumping through the hoops of the agent querying process, and then listening to the subjective opinions of editors (some thought my books were too scary, some thought they weren’t scary enough). And the worst part about it, the thing that made me feel like dirt, was that I had no other viable option. If I couldn’t find a publisher, the stories—and I thought they were good stories—would end up under my bed forever. With only dust bunnies as readers.

And then epublishing came along, started to get big. I thought, “Heck. I’ll give that a shot.” And I did. Politely parted with my agent, figured out the formatting stuff and took those babies live. I’ve enjoyed myself. Had a lot of fun. Have sold several hundred books, and just keep selling them. It’s cool.

If I ever go the traditional route again, I don’t think it will feel humiliating to me, since I now have options. I’m currently revising a YA and am at the decision stage of whether to query agents or prepare the book for epubbing. I’m still on the fence…I’ll keep you posted.

K: Good luck as you make that decision--I love YA and can't wait to hear about that project. What made you start to write seriously?

A. About 20 years ago, I started writing greeting card and catalog copy for a greeting card company. Then I got freelance work writing for regional publications. I’d always been a big reader, so after I’d gotten some freelance writing under my belt, it was a natural progression to try writing fiction.
K: You mentioned your current work-in-progress, a YA? Can you tell us about it?

A. My YA is about hope, forgiveness, love. My main character, Olivia, is 15-years-old. She moves to Colorado with her mom. They move into the home of Olivia’s recently-deceased grandfather, which is located next to a cliff. Over the years, people have come to the cliff to commit suicide. Olivia’s grandfather talked many of the jumpers off the edge, but some of them jumped, including the brother of a guy Olivia falls in love with.

There are lots of twists and turns in the story. It’s heartfelt, but there’s humor there, too. It’s written in first person, present tense, which is interesting.

K: I love the sound of that--sounds so haunting and beautiful. Have you been surprised at all by anything that’s happened since you decided to self-publish?

A. I’m actually surprised by how many strangers have bought the book. I thought blog followers and friends would be the ones to purchase it, but, frankly, I’ve only recently gotten family members to get the books (that’s been like pulling teeth, and then they’ve called me afterward and told me how they love the books, like they’re surprised I can write J) and only a couple handful of blog followers have purchased the books. So, mostly, it’s been strangers who’ve purchased. I think they find the books on Amazon. Maybe they search by price, lowest to highest?

K: It must be such a lovely feeling to know that you're reaching your readers. I know I plan on buying both of your books as soon as I get my e-reader--in another week or two. Are you a full-time writer? What is your non-writing life like?

A. I’m the mom of four kids. I also volunteer a lot. And I write a weekly book column for the COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE. Readership is around 100,000. I should really tap that market better.

K: And lastly, just for fun, do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” you want to share?

A. I love long hikes and bike rides. But I don’t feel guilty about them at all.

Thanks so much for being here today! Good luck as you finish your YA. Have a lovely holiday season! Buy Anita's books here.


Laura Pauling said...

That YA sounds terrific! It's always interesting to hear the stories behind any publishing venture - trad. or self pubbed! Good luck Anita!

Laura Marcella said...

Great interview, Kristine and Anita! I like Anita's reasoning for deciding to e-publish. I'm glad it has worked out well for her!

Heather Kelly said...

Third time's a charm, I hope! Both previous comments disappeared into the blogosphere ether.

I was wondering if Anita has any goals as far as publishing a certain number of books per year. I've been so impressed that she's already published two!

Oh, and Kris, you won't be disappointed when you read Anita's books--they are wonderful. And for anyone who is wondering, you don't need an e-reader to read an e-book. Just a computer (although I do prefer reading on my nook).

Anita said...

The internet's out at my house right now, but I'll check in soon to address these comments. Thanks so much for having me here!

Anita said...

LAURA PAULING: I always like sharing the story, because people can get so down during the publishing process. The truth is, some people don't have the skills to write a great story, and that's why they get rejected. Those people probably shouldn't get published--traditionally or independently. But there are many people who write great stories and for whatever reason--maybe it's the kind of story that's not hot for publishers at the moment--get rejected. Those are the people who should consider indie publishing...and also people who are disenchanted with the system.

Anita said...

LAURA MARCELLA: It's a great feeling to sell books. I hope I keep selling this point people are mostly finding the books via a search on Amazon for kids' ebooks, I think. It's tricky trying to figure out how to come up high on those searches.

HEATHER: Thank you for your support! I had planned on having EARTHLING HERO 2 done by Christmas, but then I got wrapped up in the YA. That's another benefit of indie pubbing...I can decide what I want to do. In addition to finishing the MG in early 2012, I also hope to write some MG short stories, possibly linked in some manner to the exisiting MGs. I also want to finish the current YA and start on another YA. I'll have to see what non-writing items life throws at me. :)

Rick Daley said...

Great interview, I was wonder about the behind-the-scenes regarding your split with your agent. I'm glad you chose to self-publish, because otherwise it sounds like I wouldn't have had the opportunity to read EARTHLING HERO or A SCARY GOOD BOOOK!

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

So basically you had these people telling you how to write and you told them to scram and you did the work yourself and are having success.

I like that. It shows you have guts and determination. So many of us writers are so gutless like fish staring out at the world in our fish bowl.

Anita said...

RICK: Thanks for buying my books! I enjoyed your THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS ebook and am recommending it to families this Christmas season. This epubbing thing is mostly fun, right?

MICHAEL: I just think there are so many avenues for writers these days...might as well travel as many as possible and see which ones lead us to some place good. I hope lots of kids find my ebooks with their Christmas ereaders...I want as many people as possible to read my words. Kind of selfish of me, but true.

Anita Saxena said...

Great interview. I can't imagine how tough of a decision that must have been to leave your agent and epub on your own. I'm very intrigued by your YA, can't wait to read it, whether it's traditionally published or e-published.

Anita said...

ANITA: It was a tough decision...and I didn't have much support in the writing community, because most people thought I was crazy. All in all, though, I'm very happy with the decision. Thank you so much for your interest in the YA...revising it now.

Kristine Asselin said...

Thanks so much to Anita and all the wonderful readers who commented today. I've been offline working on revisions and just got on now.

Thanks Anita and good luck this holiday season! May all your dreams come true!

Anita said...

KRISTINE: Thank YOU! I really appreciate the time and place to tell my writing story. :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

A suicide cliff? Talk about a rich concept. So much to work with there. Sounds like it could be a sad, but really moving story. Great interview, Kristine!

Anita said...

CAROLINA: Thank you...I love reading about your life and all the good you're doing.

Kelly Polark said...

Great interview and Anita's YA sounds unique and interesting.
I am only surprised that Anita didn't mention tortillas in the interview. :)
Anyone that pops over here. I highly recommend Anita's ebooks!!

Anita said...

KELLY: Thank you! I actually have the main character in the YA make chicken enchiladas. Yum! Maybe I'll put the recipe at the end of the book???