Erica has successfully self-published fiction under the name E.K. Henry, and adult coloring books as Erica Henry. Today she tells us about self-publishing both, and if socks and sandals are ever appropriate.
Tell us about your YA novel Freak.
Freak is about a lower-class human named Juniper Rayne who lives in a world where vampires rule. No matter how hard she tries to fit in, she’s labeled a freak. When her dad signs the family up to take part in a reality television show, Juniper hopes that it’ll give her the edge she needs to shed her freak label. Unfortunately for Juniper, vampires aren’t that accepting. She decides to take control of her life and become a vampire hunter, instead of continuing to live in her own personal hell any longer. She will regain control or die trying.
Are you working on more YA novels? What can we expect to see from you next in fiction?
I actually don’t have any YA novels in the works right now, but that doesn’t mean that won’t change in the future. I took time off of YA because I contracted to write several romance novels under a secret pen name. Since those novels have been completed, I have written several middle-grade novels that are still trying to find a home. YA is where I got my start, and I am positive that I will find my way back to it.
You hit the adult coloring book market right as the trend took off. Do you follow market trends to be able to time participation, or did you hit the timing just right?
Adult coloring definitely has trends. I will say that I follow trends to a degree. For instance, I was actually one of the first to start putting out grayscale adult coloring books. I was seeing one book’s pages starting to pop-up in some of the Facebook groups I belong too and I fell in love. I decided right then that was going to become a big part of my coloring books. I started before it because a really popular type, and luckily others shared my love of grayscale coloring and it became a very popular trend.
You are quite creative, in that your published works include fiction and producing coloring books, what other create outlets do you pursue?
I also create art, and YouTube videos. My YouTube videos are normally art and coloring themed, but they are a big passion of mine. I love getting in front of the camera and teaching people from around the world because that is how I learned to create art. Some people find it interesting, but I never went to art school. I am completely self-taught and YouTube taught. I have spent so many hours experimenting with different techniques and mediums until I found what worked for me.
Make sure to leave a comment because I love getting feedback.
What inspired you to start writing? What keeps you writing?
I have always written poems and short stories for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t seriously start writing until after my son was born. I was stuck in the house with a baby that had colic and a hernia, and I about when crazy. One day after having only a few hours of sleep and trying to function in my zombie state, I sat down at my computer and started typing, and I haven’t stopped since.
You’ve been involved in self-publishing for many years, how did you first decide on taking that route to publishing?
Freak was my third novel that I had written, but it was the first one that I felt was good enough to query agents with. When the rejections started rolling in, I was devastated. I started completely doubting myself and my talent. I was about ready to give up and I opened up an email from an agent that was not just the form rejections I had received. It was a rejection that was personalized and actually suggested I self-publish because the big six were not buying paranormal books anymore.
At first, I thought it was a crazy idea. Everyone else had rejected it, so it must not be good enough.
Well, six other emails came in from agents that pretty much said they loved the book but couldn’t sell it because publishers were moving from paranormal.
As each of the emails came in, my confidence was built back up little by little, and eventually, I decided to take the plunge and self-publish Freak.
What aspects of publishing YA and coloring books overlap?
This is a very interesting question. There are actually many aspects that have overlapped for me.
#1 – I had to become very familiar with formatting my document for the printer. For coloring books, there isn’t nearly as much formatting as there is for fiction, but my written portions had to be formatted.
#2 – Because I had self-published Freak, I had already researched print-on-demand companies that were available to use. This was a big timesaver for me. As soon as my first coloring book was complete, I knew that I would start off with publishing it through Createspace.
#3 – I was already used to creating websites, promotional activities, and advertising because I had previously published my fiction novel,
Have you learned something in one publishing field that you unexpectedly were able to carry over to the other?
Coloring books were a whole different beast when it came to preparing the files for print. The first time that I upload my coloring book, I had like 1,000,000,000,000,000 error messages. It was very frustrating and unexpected. I had to learn so much about preparing images for print because it was very differently than just printing words.
What’s probably the hardest part of being self-published?
The hardest part for me is time management. There are only so many hours in the day, and it is hard to decide what aspect of self-publishing I need to focus on. There are so many things that need to be done. There is creating the pages, editing the pages, creating books, coloring pictures from my books, connecting with colorists, making social media posts, and creating YouTube videos. There are certain parts that I enjoy more than others, but all have to be done.
What’s the most rewarding part of being published?
The most rewarding part for me is that I have complete control over what books I put out there. When I talk to colorists and they tell me what they want to see, I don’t have to get permission to create the book I just create it. It makes me so happy to have input from colorists and to be able to make something that is exactly what they want.
Your book gets picked up to be made into a movie, who is in your ideal cast?
Oh man. As long as Jennifer Lawrence played Juniper I could care less who else was picked. I am a huge fangirl of Jennifer Lawrence.
What’s your favorite color? What does that color mean to you?
Oh, I hate this question! There are sooooo many gorgeous colors out there that I can never pick. One day it will be a shade of purple, the next sky blue, and so on. But I will say that I tend to be drawn towards cool colors.
You’re at the movie theater, what are you going to see?
Anything scary or action packed. This girl is not that into Rom-Coms.
Do you load up with popcorn and candy?
I usually skip the candy but always go for popcorn with extra butter.
Are socks with sandals acceptable or not?
Socks are a must have. Unless I’m in flip flops, you will almost always see me in socks. Shoes on the other hand are very unacceptable.
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