Publishing with a Small Press: Ask Me Anything

T. M. Becker
Feb 13, 2018

My name is T. M. Becker, (aka Steph) and a small traditional house, Prospective Press, just published my first novel. Ask Me Anything about publishing, writing and editing, my creative process, writing with a house full of kids, building a social media platform, my new book, or any random book questions. 

You can check me out here: www.tmbecker.com

and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FullMoonRising.ProspectivePress/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/t.m.becker/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TsiphBecker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17564427.T_M_Becker

and Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker

Conversation (61)

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!

What is the process for learning creative writing for a beginner who would like to express his/her thoughts?

Feb 16, 12:55AM EST0 Reply

As a creative writer, if you could make one aspect of the writing process dead simple, what would it be?

Feb 15, 9:12PM EST0 Reply

How do you deal with criticisms and negative feedback about your work?

Feb 14, 11:18AM EST0 Reply

What’s the best compliment you got from a reader?

Feb 14, 6:04AM EST0 Reply

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Feb 14, 5:42AM EST0 Reply

Have you considered approaching the big publishers, and what led you to prefer an indie publisher?

Feb 14, 5:07AM EST0 Reply

Where are you making most of your sales, and in what medium (paper or ebook)?

Feb 14, 4:36AM EST0 Reply

Do you only write on good days or do you force yourself to write sometimes?

Feb 14, 2:36AM EST0 Reply

Is there a way to judge a book by its cover? How would one know if a book is actually going to be a worth it read at least?

Feb 14, 12:45AM EST0 Reply

What are the best modern romance novels from a female perspective by you? Anything from your favorite collection?

Feb 13, 10:16AM EST0 Reply

I love novels with romantic elements. My favorites right now are some of Sarah J. Maas's novels...A Court of Thorns and Roses, etc, and Sarah Dessen. Older novels that I like a lot are books by Gail Carson Levine. The romance is more subdued in those, but I enjoyed them a lot when I was reading them. Fantasy novels are probably my favorite, but there are lots of others out there in other genres that have a great romance. 

And my own novel, Full Moon Rising, is also a fantasy with a romance from a female perspective. https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker

Feb 13, 3:28PM EST1 Reply

Could you recommend a good and inexpensive accounting program to use for an indie publisher?

Feb 12, 8:17PM EST1 Reply

I haven't run into accounting issues yet, but I am keeping careful track of my own personal  expenditures.

I'm sure there are great accounting programs out there, but a spreadsheet can be just as effective. And as with all things accounting, keeping good records is the best way to keep track of things. 

Last edited @ Feb 19, 11:28AM EST.
Feb 13, 10:58AM EST0 Reply

What do you do when you are not writing? How do you like to spend your time in your log house?

Feb 12, 10:36AM EST0 Reply

I homeschool our children, so I spend a lot of my time teaching. I also have six children active in soccer, so I often have to take kids to practice in the afternoon or evenings. I work on weekend nights and I have a toddler...who is currently sitting on my lap bewailing his existence, apparently. This morning I took my son to the ER to have his finger stitched up (he cut himself in his vo-tech class). 

My life is hectic, crazy, and happy. And each day is different. So I spend most of my time not writing. : ) But my husband and children are supportive and my sisters are my biggest fans, so all is good.

Oh...and I spend a lot of time feeding the fire so we don't freeze in our little log house. :) 

Feb 12, 2:32PM EST0 Reply

According to you, is there any standard plotline for romances in fiction writing?

Feb 11, 4:40PM EST0 Reply

Like I said, I don't consider myself a romance writer, but I'll answer this as best I can. Each character needs to have an arc and motivation, and there needs to be conflict and resolution in the novel, and all the subplots need to be relevant and move the story or characterization foward. Be wary of character soup or over describing your setting or adding too many irrevelant details. These things can be problematic for fantasy and syfy writers.

As for romance...let's see...

Fair damsel meets dashing hero. Hero thinks damsel would make the perfect hero's wife, but damsel is more interested in becoming a knight. Hero spends the rest of story trying to change her mind. Hero almost gets eaten by a dragon. Damsel rescues him, then rides off into the sunset with the dragon. Hero drowns his sorrow at the local tavern and then runs off with the barmaid, who is actually a princess in disguise.

: ) 

Last edited @ Feb 12, 2:26PM EST.
Feb 12, 2:19PM EST0 Reply

As a romance writer, how do you find so many ideas to basically write a romantic situation differently every time?

Feb 11, 12:34PM EST0 Reply

I don't consider myself a romance writer. Full Moon Rising is a fantasy with a dash of romance, but most of my sequels aren't romances at all. Yet it's always there as an undercurrent, infiltrating the scenes when the main character in my sequels (he starts as a 12-year-old) least expects it. It is so much fun writing his reactions to his adopted parents' displays of affection. : )

Feb 12, 2:10PM EST0 Reply

What's the inspiration behind, "FULL MOON RISING" cover picture?

Feb 10, 6:17PM EST0 Reply

That lovely lady represents my heroine, Arabella. She feisty and determined, and she has a loving heart and great empathy, but she's pretty crappy at reading people. : ) Of course, the moon on the cover seemed appropriate, given the title. And in case you were wondering, there are no werewolves...

This seems like an appropriate place to put a book description...

*Spoiler Alert*

Full Moon Rising     https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker

A Father’s Neglect… A Brother’s Betrayal… Answers…that’s all Arabella ever wanted. Answers about how to vanquish the recurring nightmares that plague her…or where her mother came from and why she disappeared so many years ago. To fifteen-year-old Arabella, the answers must lie in the books her mother left behind when she vanished. But the books are written in an ancient language shrouded in mystery—the language of magic. And in the conquered land of Atruria, magic is forbidden. Instead of answers, the books offer only more questions—and a death sentence when her brother discovers her secret. Arabella is resigned to her fate, until late one night her cell door bursts open. For though magic has been forbidden in Atruria…it has not been forgotten.

Feb 12, 2:01PM EST0 Reply

What is something that you ended up having an unexpected passion for and how did you realize that?

Feb 10, 5:03PM EST0 Reply

Trail-running! Never in a million years could I have guessed I would like to run trails! Running is invigorating and cleanses the mind and the spirit in a way little else can. And sometimes those pesky phrases that have been bugging me have a way of working themselves out as I'm dodging rocks and climbing the hills. I love it!

Feb 12, 1:57PM EST0 Reply

How do writers connect with different artists? Do you wish you had more exchange about ideas, etc.?

Feb 10, 9:07AM EST0 Reply

The open exchange of encouragement and ideas is valuable to any writer or artist. However, any time spent evaluating and critiquing other authors' work is time not spent on my own. I have to be careful not to spread myself too thin. Also, those sessions can quickly turn into 'pat me on the back and tell my how wonderful my book is' sessions, which aren't useful to anyone. I find that talking with readers, sisters, and friends who know my work has offered me a lot more inspiration than gabfests with other writers. And I find an incredible number of ideas in nature. Last night as my husband drove on the highway, I watched the way the fog clung to the river and wisped over the islands in the center. Then later, the sun shone through the fog-drenched forest, back-lighting all the trees. It was gorgeous...and fodder for future settings.

Feb 12, 1:55PM EST0 Reply

If a book is published by an indie publisher, do you think a trade publisher would consider republishing it?

Feb 10, 6:15AM EST0 Reply

The short answer is yes. However, I think the book has to crush the rest of the competition. I think some authors are picked up after a series does well. But no matter how you go about it, achieving publishing popularity is hard. The better your books and the more you sell, the better your chances. Isn't it every author's dream that they'll write a best seller and soar to the top of the charts? 

Last edited @ Feb 19, 11:26AM EST.
Feb 12, 1:47PM EST0 Reply

Do you have any recommendation on slow build romance novel?

Feb 9, 11:57AM EST0 Reply

Well, my book could be classified as a slow build romance...although it's a fantasy first and a romance second. : ) You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker

Now that the shameless self-promotion is behind us...

May I suggest Desert Breeze Publishing? They were the first to offer me a publishing contract, and I declined (when I received a second offer) because I didn't really want to be classified as a romance author. Also, my sequels aren't all romances, and I wasn't sure if that would work for them. They specialize in non-erotic romance. I can't promise that they are all slow build, but I imagine you should be able to find a number that are. They have an impressive list, and they offer their books as e-pubs as well as print books. Good luck!

Feb 11, 7:31PM EST0 Reply

What do you think is the future of novels?

Feb 9, 6:26AM EST0 Reply

As long as people have eyes and ears, there will always be books. The internet (and Amazon especially) has made publishing ebooks as easy as pushing a "publish" button, but it has also made it easier for readers to weed out the lemons. Amazon's "Look Inside" feature can either help seal a sale...or kill it. I have seen so many horrible self-published books that I vowed I would never do that. The small publisher who pickedme up has been perfect for me. 

As to the future--I think there will be more and more lousy and mediocre books out there as self-publishing becomes easier and easier. But the cream always has a way of rising to the top. I don't think the big publishers are going anywhere. They still have a corner on the market. But one thing that irks me is the rise of "Free" ebooks. Why on earth would a writer give their blood, sweat, and tears away for free? Free implys that their hard work isn't worth anything. Even the crappiest book deserves more than that. 

Last edited @ Feb 19, 11:24AM EST.
Feb 11, 7:23PM EST0 Reply

Which would you consider to be the best channels to promote your novel so far?

Feb 9, 3:21AM EST0 Reply

I think once I have some experience doing signings, readings, and writing/publishing workshops, I will be better able to answer this question. For now, I find face to face interaction is most effective. I am hopeful that Instagram might prove a useful channel for promotion. There are so many IGers who love to post about the books they are reading. I'm hoping to get some traction there, but it's hard to find people willing to read, and it takes time to build reviews. I'm hoping I see some results from my social platforms within the next six months. 

Feb 11, 7:15PM EST0 Reply

What inspired you to write your novel? Did you always wanted to work on one?

Feb 9, 1:49AM EST0 Reply

To answer the second part of your question...

Ever since I was a girl, I imagined being an actress...or better yet, a singing actress. Music and acting were the two talents I cultivated in high school. My theater director once asked me how I could always deliver a perfect line, and yet never have the right response in the moment. I was socially awkward and high school was difficult for me, so I escaped into the world of the stage.

And what is acting really, but the expression of a fertile imagination. So eventually, I started writing. And my talents are much better suited to that. :)

As for my inspiration...

I read two books that served as major inspiration—Beauty by Robin McKinley and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. In Beauty, the title character refuses to marry the beast at the end because she doesn’t feel she is beautiful enough for him. Her issues with self-image have been reinforced by the dearth of mirrors in the Beast’s enchanted castle. The Thief is told in first person, but the MC is withholding information from the reader throughout the entire book, with a spectacular reveal at the end. So I thought, what if a mirror didn’t show someone their true reflection? How would that influence their psyche and interpersonal interactions? And what if the MC was the last one to figure that out? And so the basis of Full Moon Rising was born. 

*Spoiler Alert*

I thought it might be appropriate to include my book's description here:

Full Moon Rising     https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker

A Father’s Neglect… A Brother’s Betrayal… Answers…that’s all Arabella ever wanted. Answers about how to vanquish the recurring nightmares that plague her…or where her mother came from and why she disappeared so many years ago. To fifteen-year-old Arabella, the answers must lie in the books her mother left behind when she vanished. But the books are written in an ancient language shrouded in mystery—the language of magic. And in the conquered land of Atruria, magic is forbidden. Instead of answers, the books offer only more questions—and a death sentence when her brother discovers her secret. Arabella is resigned to her fate, until late one night her cell door bursts open. For though magic has been forbidden in Atruria…it has not been forgotten.

Feb 11, 7:11PM EST0 Reply

Have you thought about writing more novels in the future?

Feb 8, 5:00PM EST0 Reply

I have two sequels fully written, and I am currently working on what I affectionately call Book 1.5. It is a bridge book between my current novel and the next sequel. It will become the second book in my series (once I figure out what to call my series). It is an interesting exercise, one I have never done before. I've always started with an idea and written from there. This time, I have characters and setting, and I'm building the plot around that. And since I have books completed that will come after, it's like writing a sequel and a prequel at the same time.

I also have two companion novels started, as well as a fourth sequel, and I even have a few chapters completed of an urban fantasy. So yes...lots of ideas rattling around in my attic.

Last edited @ Feb 8, 5:13PM EST.
Feb 8, 5:12PM EST0 Reply

Do you keep your old writings with you? Has your style changed since the beginning of your career?

Feb 8, 2:51PM EST0 Reply

I do keep all my old writing. The first draft of my first novel is really long...like 147k long. I still have it, and I even used a scene I cut from a draft to craft a companion short story, (which you can download for free if you head over to my website, www.tmbecker.com, and subscribe.) My writing style hasn't so changed as much as it has evolved. Now, instead of being long and winding, my first drafts are much more tightly constructed and much closer to the finished novel. As with anything, practice makes perfect...or at least better. : ) I also have an excellent band of critique partners that I trust to tell me if something is crap.  In someways, my slow, laborious style is detrimental. I really wish I could write faster. But I'm working on that. I try to maximize my down moments, and I carry a pen and pocket notepad almost everywhere I go.  

Feb 8, 5:08PM EST0 Reply

Does your social media platform project helped you on the marketing process of your new book?

Feb 8, 6:46AM EST0 Reply

The short answer is...no. Online connections are soft connections, meaning usually the people I meet online are casual, passing connections. I'm not certain that any of my many online connections have bought my book. The best way to make sales is face to face. It's a lot harder for someone to turn you down when you are smiling into their face and telling them how great your novel is. I certainly haven't abandoned my social network, and I probably spend too much time cultivating it, but I use Crowdfire (which is a great platform) to curate content so I am constantly active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, but I don't have to remember to constantly post. I prefer Instagram over Twitter, and I cultivate contacts with large followings and ask them to retweet for me, but I'm not sure this kind of activity boosts sales. Once my book has been out for a month, I am going to start asking for readers to post reviews to Amazon and Goodreads, and also ask friends, sisters, cousins, and aunts to actively tell their friends about my book. Besides having a great book (which I do!), I believe word of mouth is the best way to generate sales. So I tell my customers. :) And my strategy is working so far. My sales have been slow but steady, with sales on Amazon every week so far. I realize my book could easily sink into a death spiral on Amazon's rankings. It both saddens and amazes me how few sales are required to break 100,000 on Amazon's best seller rankings.

Last edited @ Feb 19, 11:20AM EST.
Feb 11, 6:59PM EST1 Reply

How do you manage to have a balance between your work and your family, especially when you have children?

Feb 7, 7:10PM EST0 Reply

This is hard. :) Most of my time is devoted to teaching my children and running our household, but my husband helps me a lot. He sends me out to write whenever it's feasible, and some evenings I sneak in a couple hours while our daughter is at soccer practice. Occasionally, during a slow night at work, I manage to handwrite a few hundred words at the beginning and end of my shifts. I also carry a small notebook where ever I go, and I sometimes scribble some lines while waiting in line. I have also given up solitaire, and I devote any down time I have to marketing or writing...though my networking efforts chew up a lot of my time. But I'm hoping that once I establish a reader base, I will be able to dial back on my online time and spend more time writing. 

My husband is also my marketing manager. He's in charge of finding events for me to attend in our area and he keeps my calendar updated.

Feb 11, 6:49PM EST0 Reply

Where does your ‘Steph’ nickname comes from?

Feb 7, 5:26PM EST1 Reply

My nickname comes from my first name. It's long...ten letters. And I'm sure you can find it if you google me, but the first five letters are Tsiph. Say it quickly, and it comes out Steph. My personal peeve is when my customers (I'm also a waitress) call me Stephanie.  Surely not every Steph is short for Stephanie! : ) 

Feb 7, 6:40PM EST1 Reply

What are some good events to attend that can get someone in touch with the indie industry within your country?

Feb 7, 3:53PM EST1 Reply

Representatives from my publisher often attend 'Con' events in their area, such as DragonCon, ComicCon, etc. There are 'Con' events for almost every genre you can imagine. I know many authors attend these events, as well as the publishers who print their books. They can be a great place to network with other authors. If you are looking to find an agent, writers' conferences are great events to attend. There are always at least a couple agents in attendance, and they often give feedback in small group sessions. For myself, I am concentrating on library and school events, as well as writing and publishing workshops among teens and adults. In the right venue, a reading along with a meet and greet are great ways to interact with your audience as an author.

Last edited @ Feb 19, 11:18AM EST.
Feb 7, 6:53PM EST1 Reply

Which writer has had the most impact on your writing style?

Feb 7, 12:34PM EST1 Reply

Believe it or not, this is a difficult question for me. : ) My first novel, Full Moon Rising, is written in first person. I decided to write in that style after reading Megan Whalen Turner. She's a fantastic author, and her main character, Gen, hides things from the reader. I loved that idea, and it certainly influenced how I wrote FMR. Stylistically, I think I write like Gail Carson Levine, with her rich description, compelling narrative, and expressive dialogue. As far as story influences, I cannot neglect to pay homage to the father of fantasy, J. R. R. Tolkein himself. Perhaps every fantasy tale forevermore will be but a pale imitation of the genre he began.

Feb 7, 7:02PM EST1 Reply

Is there any author you’d like to work with in writing a new novel?

Feb 7, 8:42AM EST1 Reply

Wow! If Sarah J. Maas, Tamora Pierce, Sarah Dessen, Megan Whalen Turner, or Gail Carson Levine (or any number of talented fantasy writers) wanted to collaborate with me, I would be doing somersaults until sometime next year. But I would really love to understand how Markus Zusak can produce such amazing, lyrical works. His books are incredible works of prose, but so poetical at the same time. I would like to think that I achieve a kind of lyrical quality to my work, but I suppose only time will tell if my readers agree. 

Feb 7, 7:13PM EST0 Reply

Are there any special countries you’d like to publish your writings?

Feb 7, 6:04AM EST0 Reply

I would love to see my book available in English-speaking countries around the world (and it is, through Amazon), but as English is the third most common language in the world, it is possible it could appear in other countries as well. I know someone in Bangladesh who purchased a copy, so that's exciting to think about.

Feb 7, 7:18PM EST0 Reply
Show all 3 replies

Is the indie industry a stable and profitable way to publish your work?

Feb 7, 4:57AM EST0 Reply

As a whole, publishing is hard. It's difficult to generate sales. Without the long arm of a large publishing company, authors don't have much chance to get their books into bookstores, even indie stores. Unless a book (or author) has a proven record of sales, bookstores large or small don't want to dedicate shelf space to it. There are ways to combat this through dedicated marketing, but even social media falls flat when it comes to driving sales. Nothing can replace readers touting a new book to their reading friends. Instagram is a great platform to discover readers, but you have to get your book into their hands...and that can be tough. But if you have a great book and are as stubborn as a mule, I think new authors can break the mold and find success. Of course, success may be defined as several thousand copies rather than tens or hundreds of thousands of copies. 

Last edited @ Feb 19, 10:13AM EST.
Feb 7, 7:27PM EST0 Reply

Where did you get the inspiration from in order to write your novel ‘Full Moon Rising’?

Feb 7, 3:18AM EST0 Reply

I read two books that served as major inspiration—Beauty by Robin McKinley and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. In Beauty, the title character refuses to marry the beast at the end because she doesn’t feel she is beautiful enough for him. Her issues with self-image have been reinforced by the dearth of mirrors in the Beast’s enchanted castle. The Thief is told in first person, but the MC is withholding information from the reader throughout the entire book, with a spectacular reveal at the end. So I thought, what if a mirror didn’t show someone their true reflection? How would that influence their psyche and interpersonal interactions? And what if the MC was the last one to figure that out? And so the basis of Full Moon Rising was born. 

*Spoiler Alert*

I thought it might be appropriate to include my book's description here:

Full Moon Rising     https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker

A Father’s Neglect… A Brother’s Betrayal… Answers…that’s all Arabella ever wanted. Answers about how to vanquish the recurring nightmares that plague her…or where her mother came from and why she disappeared so many years ago. To fifteen-year-old Arabella, the answers must lie in the books her mother left behind when she vanished. But the books are written in an ancient language shrouded in mystery—the language of magic. And in the conquered land of Atruria, magic is forbidden. Instead of answers, the books offer only more questions—and a death sentence when her brother discovers her secret. Arabella is resigned to her fate, until late one night her cell door bursts open. For though magic has been forbidden in Atruria…it has not been forgotten.

Feb 11, 6:40PM EST0 Reply
What kind of audience do you expect to reach with your writings?
Feb 6, 6:56PM EST0 Reply

My new book, Full Moon Rising (which can be found here) https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker is a YA fantasy. I read primarily YA and I write the kind of YA I loved when I was a voracious teen reader. However, my book should grip the imaginations and stretch the vocabulary of readers of any age. My stories are all character driven, and this first novel has both tragedy and romance.  

Feb 11, 6:36PM EST0 Reply
Ask your question
About #AuthorsAMA

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

The #AuthorsAMA channel (http://www.AuthorsAMA.com) is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.