WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO COMPETE AND SUCCEED AS AN EMERGING FEMALE AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER TODAY? AMANDA DEITZ HAS BEEN WRITING THE STORY…LITERALLY.
I have always been in love with serials. As a young child, I remember sneaking into the house when I was supposed to be playing outside, hiding behind one of the sofa chairs and watching Another World or All my Children with my mom.
Like many young girls, watching serials was a means of connecting with my mother. And due to most characters being adults, I often saw it as a foray into a mature, fantastical and intoxicating world. It was like I was peeking into something totally forbidden. It was bliss!
When reading, I was always captivated by the hijinks and adventures of identical twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, of the infamous Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High book series.
Serials were everything to me.
By the time I was 16 years old, I was following to more than 15 daytime and evening serials.
So, by the time I reached adulthood, I made the decision to create my own. Little did I know that this endeavor would lead to the creation of a world of 105 characters and a fictional town with over 100 years of history!
My journey began by educating myself about the history of serials and how they began as radio dramas for house wives. The longest running show to ever air was Guiding Light. Very few people realize that it started out as a radio serial. Guiding Light is even listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest-running drama in television in American history. It ran for 72 years,with its final episode airing in 2009.
Irna Phillips, and later, Agnes Nixon pioneered this genre that literally captivates every single person who watches television. Even if daytime serials do not peak your interest, any book or show that sucks you into a new world, hooks you and makes you want more, is a nod to the efforts of Phillips and Nixon.
Though I was raised in the city of Regina, like many Saskatchewan residents, my entire family history is connected to its surrounding small towns.
The inspiration for the fictional Irbac was derived from the time I spent in the real town of Cabri in Southwest Saskatchewan with my aunt, uncle and cousins.
The closer I became with the community, the more I realized just how connected its inhabitants were. Generations of families building a community, raising children and leading lives alongside one another during the stifling, hot summers and unforgiving winters — to me it is historically beautiful. Their connections run deep and no matter how I looked at it, I knew there were a million different stories to tell.
So when I decided it was time to create my own serial, it seemed natural to draw inspiration from this place that had begun to mean so much to me.
LONGER THAN LIFE SPOTLIGHT: NOTABLE CHARACTERS (INSERT SLIDESHOW)
Writing is an art, self-publishing is a business.
HOW DOES A 24-YEAR-OLD IN SASKATCHEWAN WHO HARDLY MAKES ENOUGH MONEY TO COVER HER RENT AND HER STUDENT LOAN PAYMENT ACCUMULATE ENOUGH WEALTH TO PUBLISHING A BOOK SERIES?
PARTIES. LOTS AND LOTS OF PARTIES.
(INSERT SLIDESHOW OF RANDOM PARTY PICTURES HERE)
(INSERT PROFILE OF TEAM HERE. ASHLEY PETERSEN, TAMARA KLEIN, JENNIFER CATES, SARA DEMYEN).
Yes it is time consuming and can be demanding, but self-publishing is also so much fun. No, I really mean it!! Watching something you create going from a notebook to a word document to a PDF to a published book is such an exciting and fulfilling experience. It also gives me the ability to have total control over my creation, collaborate with fellow artists during the production process and learn about a business that I’m honestly blessed to be part of…it is just all so amazing to me.
Then there are the readers. Longer Than Life started as bi-weekly episodes that were emailed to about a dozen people. Never in a million years did I expect that number to grow and for people to become hooked the way they did. The readers were hungry for the drama I had created. This hunger fuelled my passion and creativity to keep going.
Soon people would approach me in the most unexpected places, even calling me at my day job, just because they had to know what was going to happen to these characters. It was always so wonderful seeing my world impact others and come to life!
I eventually started printing the episodes because back then, not everyone was online. That is honestly how I became an author. I decided to print copies through a printer to cater to the people who were curious about Longer Than Life but did not have email yet.
The next leap of faith would be to publish my stories. I stumbled upon ArtBook Bindery in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I could not believe my luck or how my real and fictional worlds were about to change. This was a company that would print my books for me and I could then market them with an actual product in hand.
I laugh when I think back on this time because I was so green to the world of self-publishing and unfortunately there is a lot of “stigma” in that world that I had to overcome. But instead of focusing on negativity, I focused on sharing my series and growing my audience.
(STIGMAS OF SELF-PUBLISHING)
I invited readers to become addicted to my serial, just as I had in my youth, and become enthralled in the lives of the residents of Irbac. And to my great joy, you did.
When the Regina Public Library announced that it was going to offer an award that would be voted on by the readers, I knew that it was my shot to get my project some recognition.
Facebook had just emerged and was mostly used by young people. The concept of using Facebook as a marketing tool also wasn’t a thing yet so people were not being blasted with a million requests and marketing information constantly. When someone appealed to their audience for help, everyone saw it. It was great.
I was able to connect with my audience every time I logged into the computer. So when I needed to secure votes, I had everyone I needed in once place.
Winning that award was overwhelming. I will never forget the moment when my name was called. I did not want to jinx things by preparing a speech beforehand and I regret that so much. I was so taken aback that I stood on the stage staring at everyone for what seemed like hours. I blurted out a few lines about being grateful, thankful and honouring my team then I wandered off. I will likely never watch the video from the taped event, but I will always treasure this award.
Even with the unjustified stigma of self-publishing, I had proven myself and the writing community tried to embrace me afterwards. Books were selling, interest in media interviews were picking up and doors that hadn’t felt open before suddenly were almost swinging off their hinges.
But like all beginner entrepreneurs, I lacked confidence in how to take my now award-winning project to the next level. I love self-publishing so much…being in control of every facet of my work product appeals to me in so many ways. I’m not ashamed to say I like to be in control. But back then I did not have the experience to grow. I did not know anything about marketing, networking and trusting my instincts. When I look back now, I see I was on the right path but I became too comfortable. I stopped trying to figure out how to move forward. I wasn’t thinking of the future.
When I decided that I was going to get back into writing again, I sat down one night (and then for three more months after that) and began researching how self-publishing had changed. Just like in the beginning of this journey, educating myself was going to play a vital role in moving forward. I learned very quickly after reading a feature story on Amanda Hocking in the New York Times that I potentially missed a very lucrative opportunity back in 2009 when I decided to walk away. Hocking had started self-publishing her writing as e-books and almost a year later had sold over a million copies of her books, earning herself $2 million from sales. This type of success was unheard of for self-publishing authors. (Source: Wikipedia)
I knew of Kindle, the electronic reading device. I just didn’t really know anyone who was using it and I wasn’t sure it was going to prove to be something I would financially find viable. Plus, I confess I’m one of those people who prefers a book in hand to an electronic device and I thought most people would feel the same way.
Boy was I wrong. The thing about learning something new is that eventually you start to think you are an expert and you do not realize that you can’t stop learning, changing and growing in order to keep up. Well I had indeed stopped. I decided that I had found a method that was working for me and when I ran out of ideas, I just quit. I left e-publishing to all of the other creatives and because of that, I missed out on an opportunity to take my idea and lift it up onto a global platform…before the rest of the world caught onto what was going on. The product was created. And because I didn’t want to pay to upload it, I missed out on the chance to see what it really could have become.
Approximately, 500,000 people were publishing on Amazon back then compared with over 5,000,000 today. Although success is easier to reach now, you are swimming in the water with a lot more people. There’s a lot of figurative treading water, keeping your head up and collisions with other swimmers of various skill levels.
I shake my head every single time I think about my missteps and missed opportunities. Just like the Sex and the City episode of the same name, it will nag at the back of my head as my very own Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda!
In 2009, I quit. I was tired of every single thought in my day being aimed toward Longer Than Life. It felt like it was time to focus on something else. I reconnected with friends. I bought my first home. I built a career. I got married. I became a mother. I wanted to have a real life instead of living vicariously through my characters and my readers.
I always knew I wanted to write again, I just never imagined that I would go back and write Longer Than Life again.
I had been living with the idea that novellas would be the perfect fit for busy moms. Between IBook and my night table stand, I am pretty sure I have about 25 half read books sitting by my night table stand. I just don’t have the brain space or daylight hours to finish all these full length novels. I feel like if I am having this issue, than other busy women must be as well.
The other benefit to novellas is that I get the opportunity to really focus on a handful of characters. I get to dive into their backstory, fill in any gaps with details and provide the readers with a chance to really get to know the characters. To understand why they are the way they are or identify with events that made them the people they are in the original series. I’m also looking forward to challenging any preconceived notions my current readers have about the characters they think they know everything about and introducing them to the eyes of brand new readers.
The novella series is going to bring the project full circle, back to its roots. I beyond excited to share this amazing next chapter with everyone.