Laura Howard: Six Questions with Nikki Jefford


Six Questions with Nikki Jefford

One thing before I announce this week's Six Question Guest. Due to the fact that I am getting down to the wire with publishing The Forgotten Ones, I'm going to be cutting down the number of posts I publish per week from four to two. 

I'll keep Six Question Saturdays because they're my most popular posts. But, I am getting where I am really needing to focus on the editing stage of the book, so please forgive me and know that I'm still here, just a little less.

And, with that -- today I'm honored to present the talented and beautiful Nikki Jefford to Six Questions! Have a great weekend!

Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

Jane Austen, Diana Wynne Jones, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Roald Dahl.

What has your road to publication been like?

Long and arduous! I never dreamed it would take me this long to get out my first fiction novel. I got serious about writing back in 1997. Since then I have attended creative writing workshops at university and online; writing conferences and retreats; and continually devour book after book about craft.

I have received stacks of rejection notices along the way. I got so frustrated I switched gears for several years to work at the local paper and freelance – at least I was getting published for a change!

In 2009 and 2010 I came within inches of acceptance on a historical romance manuscript. You would think that would convince a writer she was on the right track, but after the fourth or fifth letdown I felt crushed beyond repair. I've only ever wanted one thing in life and that’s to publish a novel.

I switched gears briefly and wrote several erotica novellas under a pen name. Three pieces were accepted by two online sites, which turned out to be a much needed confidence booster. But my heart wasn't in it.

I feel like I found my calling with upper teen and new adult. It seems to suit my writing style and language, which I was often told was too modern for historical fiction.

The growing popularity of e-books and self-publishing presented me with the opportunity of a lifetime. I love how it allows readers, rather than agents and editors, to decide whether a book is worth reading.

What is your editing process and have you hired a professional editor?

I go through several rounds of self-edits before sending my manuscripts to beta readers. Once it’s back from betas, I make more changes based on their critiques. I also send a copy to my Aunt Carmen – the family grammar whiz. She’s also an aspiring author so I get a chance to pay it back by beta reading her historical romance manuscripts.
For self-edits I read my manuscript on the computer, Kindle, and a final print-out copy. I find an alarming number of errors after I print out the story on paper.

Finally, I pay two professional editors per book.

After the professionals have had at it, I do a final read through and still end up running into an error or two that slipped through the cracks.

How did you come up with the cover designs for your books?

I wasn't happy with the initial cover my designer came up with for Entangled so I spent an entire week looking through royalty free stock sites until I found an image that grabbed me. I had two ideas for the cover. My designer did mock-ups for both and I did a blog post to get opinions from readers and writers. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of the current cover.

From there Bob Friel, friend and bestselling author of the true crime adventure The Barefoot Bandit, made numerous design suggestions. He used to oversee magazine cover layouts and I’m so grateful for his time and attention to detail. He got down to the nitty gritty on each and every Spellbound cover, in addition to Aurora Sky. He also gave me the stellar advice of shrinking the cover down to thumbnail size and checking how it appears to readers when browsing online book sellers.
What would you have done differently since you first became a published author?

I would have started my first book, Entangled, out at 99 cents. It sucks to only make 35 cents per book (after Amazon takes their cut) – just enough to buy yourself a gumball. But what blows more is doing all kinds of promotion for your book and not having it take off because you started too high. (Who would think a few bucks was too high, right? Sadly for the majority of debut Indies it is.)
Jeff Bennington, author of The Indie Author’s Guide To The Universe wrote an excellent post titled How to Keep Your Book in a Top 100 Category that goes more into the 99 cent strategy.

How do you stay in touch with your readers?

Email, Twitter, and Facebook. I get back to every reader who contacts me eventually. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks. My inbox gets hammered every day. It’s crazy how much of my writing time gets eaten up by correspondence. It probably takes me ten times longer than the average Joe to compose a message because of my slight dyslexia I read and re-read several times over everything I write looking for mistakes.


Correspondence does take up a HUGE chunk of time, doesn't it? Anyone have the code cracked on that dilemma? Please leave a comment!

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