Ask me anything about indie publishing or even just how to get those daydreams down on paper and into a story!

Katie Epstein
Mar 1, 2018

My name is Katie. Hi there! I’m an indie author who has published eight titles so far, the latest being the urban fantasy Terra Vane series. I’m having so much fun with these books, the research alone keeping me tied to the laptop. Many hours of developing a new world that sits through a portal, has provided many a pastime as I bring the mythological creatures to life in a civilised society. The series follows Terra Vane, an Enforcer Field Agent whose job it is to make sure the vampire, the shifters, and the fey play nice. Being psychic and a human at that, I suppose you could say her job isn’t exactly a breeze, but she’s a great character to write about. In regards to the publishing side, I’m no expert by any means. But playing ball in the indie publishing game for the past six years has given me some insight. If you would like to ask questions about publishing as a indie author, my own books or even just how to get pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), then please, ask me anything!


What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

This AMA has finished, no more comments and questions can be posted and votes submitted to those. Check other similar AMAs here or host your own AMA!

Conversation (89)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

Though you’re satisfied being a self-published author right now, would you still want to have a traditional publisher release your books in the future?
Mar 3, 3:49AM EST0

I think if the deal was right for me, and for them of course, I would love to work with people who have such experience in the industry. However, it’s so important for me to have creative control because I write what comes through. I’m not very good at writing something with a specific criteria. To me it’s about making my imagination come alive without conformity or restraint, so I couldn’t give that up for anything!

Mar 3, 11:14AM EST0
What are some of the best comments or feedback/reviews you’ve seen or heard about your books?
Mar 2, 11:38AM EST0

One of the best things I think I’ve ever read about my books was how one reader said it was reminiscent of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. It was one of the greatest compliments ever because that series sits right on top of my ‘Books I adore’ pile! I have to admit, I did cry a little over that one. Happy tears though!

Mar 3, 11:12AM EST0
What’s the best way to promote books as an indie author? Do you give copies of your books in exchange for reviews?
Mar 2, 11:35AM EST0

I’ve found that the best way is through social media, investing in boosting posts or creating adverts when I’m doing something particular with the book e.g. reduced price or giveaway. I do give ebook copies to people to review if they are interested as I can get ebooks to people a lot faster! 

Mar 3, 11:08AM EST0
Among the books you’ve already published, which one sold the most? Why do you think it became your personal best seller?
Mar 2, 9:29AM EST0

Death Be Blue, book one in the Terra Vane series has definitely sold the most. I think it’s because this is the one I’ve had the most confidence in having applied a lot of lessons learned, and because of that I’ve promoted it and put myself out there a lot more. I’ve also been blessed with an amazing cover from a company called Yocla Designs who have created the main character to a tee, with the right dynamic for the genre. 

Mar 3, 11:03AM EST0

If given the chance to work with any publisher of your choice, which company would you pick?

Mar 2, 9:26AM EST0

Penguin publishing, definitely. To work with a publishing house who’ve published books I’ve read through childhood, at school and later on in life would be a dream come true!

Mar 3, 10:50AM EST0
Have you ever done a signing event or something where fans could meet you?
Mar 2, 6:36AM EST0

I’ve done a couple of literature festivals where there have been lots of authors and creative artists there doing workshops, and readings etc. While there, I did a reading from my books and signed those who purchased copies on the day. It was a little surreal, but very exciting!

Last edited @ Mar 3, 10:44AM EST.
Mar 3, 10:44AM EST0

Is there an element of snobbery when interacting with traditional publishers?

Mar 2, 3:00AM EST0

My personal experience when approaching literary agents and publishers was that many of them go to great pains to come back to you with a very polite response—even if it's a rejection. But then again, many didn't come back at all, understandably. However, compared to some, I didn't send off many submissions before I decided to go down the Indie route, and I've found that to be a much better fit for me, personally.

Last edited @ Mar 2, 5:55AM EST.
Mar 2, 5:54AM EST1
How much research on mythical creatures was needed before you could put it into your book?
Mar 2, 2:48AM EST0

Quite a bit! I thought it would be pretty straightforward after years of watching movies and reading books about mythical creatures, but as the world started to form, it was clear that I was going to have dig a little deeper! One of the fascinating things I discovered was how old these stories and beliefs around these creatures are, and how much in common such tales have with different renditions across the globe. 

In regards to the fey, I actually had to set up a fairy matrix of all things! It was a list of the different species from legend—and some new ones thrown in—based under one of the five elements. That makes it a lot easier when I have to reference them across the series—even if it takes some of the fun out of it!

Last edited @ Mar 2, 4:54AM EST.
Mar 2, 4:53AM EST0
Why did you decide to write books about vampires after the decline of that genre since the Twilight series?
Mar 1, 9:07PM EST0

Vampires are such a small part of the Terra Vane series, in a way that they are citizens of the world of Portiside where the series is mainly set. This means that we get to explore vampires in the same way we get to explore the shifters, the fey and even the demons who exist in the same world.

Portiside is so big, and we only get to see it through Terra's POV, so it's great to delve deeper into a specific area of this world as part of Terra's journey. For example, Death Be Charmed—book 2 in the series—takes us deeper into Darkwood where the vampires live when Terra goes undercover. While there, we get to understand their hierarchy, the different vampire houses, and the corruption and politics that lie within. In the next book, we get to explore the Fey, and so on. So, in essence, it's not a book about vampires, it's a book that includes vampires. And I agree that the trend of vampires may be declining, but I think the world of the mythical will always have a foothold in novel writing, and that vampires will never truly die (no pun intended!)

Last edited @ Mar 2, 4:30AM EST.
Mar 2, 4:28AM EST0
As an indie author, how hard is it to compete with authors that are well known?
Mar 1, 8:33PM EST0

One of the hardest things is getting people to trust in your brand; to get a potential reader to want to invest in your writing. Well-known authors already have that that trust with a majority audience, so they already have readers engaged before a new book is even released. That is why it's so important to ensure that the book has everything it needs to draw people in, and that it's a product that can stand on its own two feet in the professional writing field.

Last edited @ Mar 2, 4:14AM EST.
Mar 2, 4:06AM EST0
Apart from Terra Vane, what other books have you published?
Mar 1, 12:04PM EST0

I published Strike at Midnight back in 2016. Strike at Midnight is a twisted version of the Cinderella fairytale, and follows the story of Rella Rosewood. Rella is a renegade hunter in the kingdom of Carena. When she is hired by a knight to investigate the case of the missing Duke of York, Rella has to don her inherited glass slippers and go undercover at the Prince's ball—and all with a dagger hidden beneath her skirts. It's a tale of mystery, intrigue, and a protagonist who has a foul mouth and a liking for whiskey. But Rella has a new take on life when a certain man crosses her path, and unbeknownst to her, a fairytale happy ending is hot on her heels!

I've also published five books in the Prophecy Child series. This is a series in the paranormal romance genre that follows ex-demon hunter, Macey Jennings who crosses paths with human PI, Harry Sinclair who is on the case of a missing girl. When Harry is thrown head first into Macey's supernatural world, it's a race against time to find the girl and to unravel a prophecy that Macey is smack bang in the middle of. 

Last edited @ Mar 1, 1:32PM EST.
Mar 1, 1:30PM EST0

How do you choose the names of your characters?

Mar 1, 11:25AM EST0

Sometimes I'll just think on it and see what comes through. But other times I'll google baby names and have a look through that. Baby name sites have some great ideas with detail behind what they mean, and even though there may be a few raised eyebrows if anyone was to view my search history, it's still a great place to start!

For more unique names, I tend to look at my character's background. In the Terra Vane series, there are a few of the fey who have Celtic names or names made up from Gaelic words. 

Last edited @ Mar 1, 1:25PM EST.
Mar 1, 1:24PM EST0
How do you think of the plots for your stories?
Mar 1, 11:02AM EST0

I get a lot of my inspiration from listening to movies, going for walks in the woods or while relaxing in the bath or shower of all things! When my mind switches off, my imagination runs rampant, so I tend to grab onto something that interests me and run with it. With a series it's a little different. I plot out roughly what I want to happen overall, and then provide a loose plot for each one. These plots may change as time goes on, but they act as a guide for me as the series progresses.

Mar 1, 1:19PM EST0

When it comes to marketing what exactly does one do? And what are promotion sites that trully work?

Mar 1, 10:04AM EST0

The first port of call with this is to maybe look at your own habits. If you're an avid reader, where do you go to buy books? Where do you go to look for new material to read? If you're writing a genre that isn't usually what you read, reach out to others and ask them what their habits are. This will narrow things down a little for you. Many places also offer to advertise your book both for free and for a price. The main thing is to identify your market before you go ahead with any of these, and research where your potential readers go. Bloggers are also great people to approach to talk about your book, and I find Goodreads to be a great networking tool to discover potential book reviewers and to get your book out there. I would also recommend getting a website set up where you can direct people to, and to also get engaged in such social media platforms as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Keep up your tweets or posts, and build up a repitoire of followers. That way you have people who are interested in what you write about, ready and waiting to hear about any news or updates on your titles.

Last edited @ Mar 1, 1:14PM EST.
Mar 1, 1:13PM EST1
Do you work on multiple books at the same time or do you focus on just one?
Mar 1, 8:51AM EST0

I always try to have three books in a process cycle, but I prefer to only be writing one at a time. In other words, I'll try to be at a stage where I'm writing one, editing one and planning one around the same time! It takes me an average of six months to develop a book, from the researching part of the process, through to the planning, editing, and finally getting it ready for publishing. With three on the go, that allows me to maintain a good momentum for the series, and to allow for a pre-order option to those who are waiting for the next!

Last edited @ Mar 1, 12:53PM EST.
Mar 1, 12:52PM EST0
What is the best way to approach publishing companies?
Mar 1, 8:21AM EST0

A lot of publishing companies don't accept unsolicited manuscripts, so the best thing to do in the first instance is do your research. I found that the Writer's Handbook is a great place to get started, but make sure you borrow or purchase the most latest version to ensure the information is up to date. The Writer's Handbook is stocked full of publishers, literary agents internationally and locally, and so much more relating to the world of media. In there you will find data around who to contact, their contact information, what genres they cover and average percentage of royalties. From there, it's best to make a list of all the ones that are relative to the book you will be submitting then check their websites. A lot of time passes between the publication of the handbook and the time you get your hands on it, so some publishers and agents may have changed their terms and conditions. It's always best to double check first. The other thing I would suggest is to make a long, long list, and be prepared to contact literary agents aswell as publishing companies. A lot of publishers won't deal with authors without representation, so it's worth bearing this in mind. 

When you have your target list, make sure you adhere to the publishers or agencies requirements. For example, if they ask to only email your manuscript, don't go printing yours off and posting it. That way it's more likely to end up in the reject pile!

Last edited @ Mar 1, 12:44PM EST.
Mar 1, 12:43PM EST1
What is an 'indie' author or 'indie' publishing? When is something defined as 'indie' in the literary world?
Mar 1, 7:31AM EST0

My perception of being an indie author is someone who acts independently on their own behalf. Some may be their own agents and publicists, or be signed on with others externally, but the main thing is that you're the one in control calling the shots. However, I'm aware indie author means something different to mean different people.

Mar 1, 12:35PM EST1
Which is your favourite, the vampires, the shifters or the fey? Why?
Mar 1, 5:45AM EST0

I would say for me it has to be the fey. Especially how the fey are portrayed in the Terra Vane series. The reason being is because they are linked to the elements, their powers nurtured by the essence of Mother Earth, and I think that's beautiful. The reason they're slightly different in the Terra Vane series is because I've banded anything that links to the elements or fairy world in some way, to the fey. That means mermaids, giants, dwarfs, nymphs, valkeries, selkies and so on—each one linking to an element that they are more connected to. This also gives me a very large playground to play in where my imagination is concerned, so I'm one happy lady! 

Personally, I have a very dear love for fairies and the possibility of magic they represent, so researching for the fey has been an amazing experience with a lot more waiting to be discovered. I can't wait!

Last edited @ Mar 3, 11:25AM EST.
Mar 1, 7:17AM EST0
Is Terra Vane inspired from a real person?
Mar 1, 3:57AM EST0

Not a real person, no. I suppose she has some of my traits, what author can resist adding those in! But they are very minor or exaggerated greatly. For example, I've always picked up on emotions and vibes of other people when entering a room. I seem to be a lot more sensitive to tone of voice, body language and other forms of communication other than verbal, so that's always been hard for me to get my head around. With Terra, this trait is emphasized through her empathetic abilities and the struggles she has with fitting in. I wish she was based on a real person though! She could teach me how to kick the ass of a vampire. Now that would be a whole lotta fun!

Last edited @ Mar 1, 7:13AM EST.
Mar 1, 7:12AM EST0
Are you selfpublished or do you work with a publishing company?
Feb 28, 10:13PM EST0

At the moment, on the publishing side, I do it all myself. I have set sales channels I like to use and I'm now also able to provide paperback versions of my books. It's been a learning curve, I have to admit, but doing it myself has helped me to appreciate how much goes into getting a book out there, and how much work is needed once it's been released. I've also learned where I need to put my investment to help get the desired return, and this has been key in me becoming a lot more consistent and professional in how my books go to market. I also have an amazing editor and cover designer which helps. I'm lucky to have them and my team of beta readers to keep me sane!

Last edited @ Mar 1, 7:09AM EST.
Mar 1, 7:07AM EST1
About #AuthorsAMA

Welcome to #AuthorsAMA, an AMA Event channel for authors and their important work sharing their knowledge with others.

The #AuthorsAMA channel is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.

Top Contributor
Marisa Donnelly