Writers know the joys and pains of crafting and polishing their stories, submitting them for publication, waiting, suffering the ego blows of rejections letters and, through persistence, the joy of a contracted work. Then there are the revisions, edits, proofing, formatting, each step requiring more waiting. But then release day comes and you can sit back and relax, proud of a job well done…the end of a journey…wrong! Then comes promotion, getting your work out there so others know your book is available for them to read.
Now imagine going through all of that over and over—50 times. Author Sedonia Guillone has done this and is now putting her extensive experience to practice as a new publisher, starting up two sister publishing companies: Ai Press: erotic romance (http://www.ai-press.net) and Kokoro Press: mainstream fiction and literary works (http://kokoropress.wordpress.com/).
Below is an interview where Sedonia answers questions about her writing as well as her experience as she begins her new publishing companies.
DH Starr: What prompted you to begin writing?
Sedonia: Nothing really prompted me. I’ve had the impulse to write at a very early age. I remember in first grade we had to write a book report every Friday on a book we’d read that week. One week I wrote my report on Harold and the Purple Crayon. Well, I had so much to say about it that I was cramming lines in on the book report form in tiny writing so I could fit it all in. The irony is that Harold and the Purple Crayon is all pictures and no words! That’s when I had an inkling that I love to write.
DH Starr: You have over 50 books to your credit. How on earth did you manage that?
Sedonia: Truthfully, I managed to write that much because of the man in my life. Being with him has given me the confidence and emotional support that I needed to pursue writing because I’d always been busy pursuing other careers believing I needed to do those things to get my family’s approval when in my heart I wanted to be writing romance. Once I got going, the stories began pouring out of me. I had so many ideas they were all lined up in my head, each story pretty much complete from beginning to end, just needing my hands to type them out onto paper.
DH Starr: Of your books, which book fits the description and why?
• Your favorite in terms of the story coming together well…Sedonia: I have a bunch of those but I would say Men of Tokyo: Sudden Bliss (Total-E-Bound) simply because it’s the story that just is ingrained so deeply in my heart I adore it.
• The one you had the most fun writing…Sedonia: Two books actually were the most fun: 1. Acts of Passion (Ellora’s Cave) (Because it’ a murder mystery and I got to interview a homicide detective at the Boston Police Department and learn all about procedure from a real live detective.) 2. A Man for Michael (Ellora’s Cave) because it is my fan tribute to Jet Li and I adore Jet Li. This novella poured out of me in less than a week.
• The one that made you want to quit being a writer… Sedonia: I can’t say that any book I’ve written has made me feel this way. I’ve only wanted to quit writing when I felt I was using writing for gains such as praise, money and fame, reasons other than the simple joy of writing and telling a story that means so much to me.
• The one that is closest to your heart… Sedonia: Again, Men of Tokyo: Sudden Bliss. This is going to sound completely narcissistic, but this isn’t only my favorite book I’ve written, it’s one of my favorite books in general.
DH Starr: You write both f/m and m/m romance? What’s your take on why there are so many female writers of m/m erotic fiction?
Sedonia: Funny you should ask because just recently I was thinking about this. I honestly am not certain for all women why writing and reading M/M is so popular aside from the eroticism of imagining two beautiful men together. I can speak for myself in that my writing M/M has an incredibly personal dimension. I grew up with a gay father and surrounded by gay men. Growing into womanhood surrounded by men who are not with women comes with its own set of complexities and I know my stories are a way of working on personal issues; which is why my M/M books have much more emotional impact on readers. Almost every single one I’ve written has gotten recommended reads, some of them multiple recommendations – not to brag – it’s just because of the personal intensity I’ve put into them.
DH Starr: What has developed you most as a writer?
Sedonia: If I had to pick out one particular thing that’s developed me most as a writer, it would be love. I know that’s a broad term but in a way it’s not. Love has given me the courage to pursue my writing seriously. Love has been the muse that’s made my stories pour out of me and fueled my dedication to writing.
Ai Press: http://www.ai-press.net
DH Starr: You just started a new publishing company that publishes in eBook and print for both f/m and m/m fiction.
DH Starr: What made you decide to start up Ai Press and what are your goals for the publishing company?
Sedonia: Actually, it was my boyfriend who told me years ago I should open my own publishing company. I didn’t do it right away because I didn’t have the confidence. Years later, with much more experience, it was time and I plunged ahead.
DH Starr: What’s it like starting a new publishing company?
Sedonia: It’s quite the learning experience. The first thing I learned was how much work publishers actually do! It’s a lot of work to write a book and go through edits to prepare it for release. However, the publishers do so much else! They’re the ones who arrange for the cover, who make sure it gets an editor and make sure the author gets all the proper paperwork in. Then once the book has gone through edits, the publisher makes sure it’s typeset and formatted into all the different formats that are now available and gets the book uploaded onto the site and to the resellers. THEN, there’s the promo…It’s a lot of work!
However, it’s also been exhilarating for me. Creating the logo and designing the site and getting a marvelous cover artist (Les Byerley) whose covers are just so gorgeous and professional. I also very much enjoy working more directly with people. Although I love writing, it’s a solitary activity and the only real interaction with others is with the editor. However, it’s a whole different world working with authors and supporting them in their creative career.
DH Starr: Through your publisher’s lens, what advice do you have for both published and unpublished writers?
Sedonia: The most important thing for all authors is to write from the heart. That means writing your emotional world into your characters. You don’t have to be writing in the same world in which you live in order to do this. Of course, if that were the case, no one could ever write historicals, or stories that take place in other countries or worlds. It means that your inner world is manifested in your characters. This will automatically give them life and bring your story to life. Don’t craft your characters from the outside in, trying to fit them into an idea of what you think they should be like. Now that I look at other authors’ work with an eye to publication, I can tell you that this element is key to making a story that’s fresh and interesting even if the theme is something that’s been done before.
Then, once you have your story crafted, if you’re going to try and get it published, don’t send it anywhere until it’s as clean and edited as humanly possible. This will heighten your chances of acceptance and once accepted, make the process go so much more smoothly for everyone involved.
Oh, and also – incredibly important: always be open to the feedback you receive. Be open to learning. Of course, there will be times when an editor is just not getting what you’re trying to say, but make certain that you’ve weighed that person’s comments thoroughly before rejecting them.
DH Starr: Is there anything else you want your adoring fans to know?
Sedonia: Just that I hope they’ll come and visit Ai Press, http://www.ai-press.net/, and check out the growing list of titles there.