I hope you have all had a magnificent week!
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Vivien Reis, author of the upcoming novel The Elysian Prophecy! Reis is a phenomenal help for aspiring authors; when she’s not busy working on her debut novel and her blog, she’s focused on producing YouTube videos designed to help teach upcoming authors about constructing a novel.
Her YouTube channel, Vivien Reis, covers everything from writing a prologue to managing beta readers. Several of her videos also include information on how to use the popular writing software, Scrivener. In 2015, Reis participated in National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo), an online community that encourages participants to meet a word count goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. All of this, in addition to her novel-writing, has afforded her extensive experience in the writing field.
Honestly, Vivien is so inspirational! She always shares timely, useful advice in her videos and is so helpful when it comes to her viewer’s questions. It has been a huge blessing working with her to produce this interview!
Here’s her interview:
What are the first few steps of your planning process (book planning, publishing planning or both)?
When planning a book, my first few steps are to brainstorm, make a rough outline, and then get to know my characters–in that specific order. My publishing plan involves brainstorming marketing opportunities, making a (huge) list of potential ARC reviewers, and coming with up PR materials to spread the word about my novel.
How did you choose an editor?
I scoured the Internet and asked every writer I knew what editor they used. By Googling search terms like “young adult freelance editor” and “fantasy novel freelance editor,” I came up with a list of approximately ten editors that were in my price range. From there I requested sample edits from each and then chose the best two (a developmental editor and line/proofreader) based on the type of feedback they gave me. These back and forth emails also made it clear which editors were more professional and responsive.
How do/did you finance your project(s)?
My “real” writing journey started in July 2015, when I set out to write and publish The Elysian Prophecy (TEP). As soon as I decided that, I started to set aside $60 every paycheck (earned from my day job). Since I started this so early, by the time I needed to commission editors and cover designers, I didn’t have to worry about the money. I definitely recommend everyone do this. Even though you might not need the money for another 6 months, start saving now so you’re not scrambling later!
What are your tangible and intangible rewards (i.e. tangible – profit, intangible – satisfaction and joy)?
Since my novel hasn’t released yet, my biggest tangible reward was finishing my novel. TEP is the largest novel project I’ve ever worked on, and having the opportunity to hold the finished draft in my hand feels amazing! Every writer struggles with self-doubt, but the intangible reward I’m most excited about is a renewed confidence. In writing, we can only do as much as we limit ourselves to do. Through some poor planning on my part, I realized I could write so much more in one sitting than I thought I could–with greater quality than before. The feedback I’ve gotten from readers has given me a confidence I didn’t know I was missing.
On a separate note, my YouTube channel is also very rewarding. I’m an obsessive researcher, so when I started to take my writing seriously, I looked up hundreds of articles, blog posts, videos, and books on improving my craft, marketing, business plans, and networking. Many of the people giving such great advice online became go-to resources for me, providing inspiration and knowledge at the click of a button. Those people helped me tremendously, and now I’ve become one of those people for other writers. I get the most amazing emails and comments from my viewers, telling me how much I’ve helped them and inspired them. That’s the absolute best part of sharing everything I’ve learned–knowing I’ve helped another writer on their journey!
How do you use social media?
I use social media for both professional and personal content. Writers love to see those scribbled editing pages, office photos, or coffee/cafe pics. Readers like snippets from novel excerpts or character collages. I’ve recently decided to renew my Instagram efforts since a large majority of my audience (young adult) uses Instagram. I’m rarely on Facebook anymore, but I’ve fallen in love with Twitter! It’s so easy to chat with anyone and I always make an effort to respond to people!
In the future, I’m planning on using social media more for book marketing purposes. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr–they’ll all be utilized for cover reveals, giveaways, pre-order links, etc.
What was your best marketing technique?
So far, my YouTube channel. I currently have over 13,000 subscribers, and while all of them are there for writing advice, a majority of them are also excited about TEP’s release. It was definitely scary when I first started out, and I cringe at my old videos (both at the quality and my noobness), but it’s been well worth it. At least I think it was…we’ll see when it’s release time!
Did you write a business plan? If not, do you wish that you did?
I definitely made a business plan! Being so obsessive with my research, it was easy for me to create a list of objectives I needed to hit for marketing purposes. Writing a novel is incredibly hard, but a novel won’t sell if the writer isn’t willing to push sales. In addition to general business goals, I created a timeline for TEP’s release, starting six months before release day. I’ve tweaked that plan a few times, but I believe it’ll be a great recipe for a successful release.
How do you think your voice is different from other writers in your genre?
I think I have a knack for writing dark scenes–something I was unaware of until a few months ago. While I always have room to learn, I’m proud of how well I can create tense chapters and scenes. Those dark scenes come easily for me and, as a strange result, are typically my best scenes. Dark writing isn’t incredibly commonplace for the young adult audience, but it’s become far more popular in recent years.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have pushed myself earlier than I did. Before I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in July 2015, I didn’t think it possible for me to write 50,000 words in one month. At the end, I was not only 50k words closer to a finished first draft, but I realized how much I was holding myself back. I wish I had pushed myself like that years before, but I’m still happy with where I am today–I have an appreciation for every struggle I’ve had. It’s made me who I am today!
Oh, I also never would have switched from first to third person after writing 80k words. Or rather, I wished I had started with third person. That was an incredible hurdle in the editing department!
What is/was your favorite part about writing your first novel or current novel?
There’s so many amazing parts! I love outlining because that’s where I first fall in love with my story. I’m a huge daydreamer, and love that I can zone out for productive reasons, thinking of new plot lines and worlds and characters. I make outlining boards and thirty-page documents, character Pinterest boards, and world maps. Every part of discovering my story is so exciting to me!
I’m also a hyper-planner, but not so much a “do-er.” For this reason, the writing part is what I struggle with most. As I grow, though, we’ll see how that changes!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read and re-read. Since I’m a voracious researcher, I’ve found that reading the same article or post more than once benefits the reader. Our ability to absorb information is limited by what we believe we need to learn. This is usually best illustrated when some time has passed, and a writer has grown in a way that they’re now aware of the mistakes they’re making.
For example, I know for a fact that I’ve read plenty on the topic of passive voice. I didn’t think I had a problem with it then, so I didn’t pay that much attention to those articles/books I read on avoiding it. As I grew as a writer, I finally became aware that I had allowed my writing to fall victim to passive voice. Only then was I ready to absorb that knowledge.
For that reason, I’m an advocate of re-reading those previously discovered resources as much as finding new ones.
The important part: never stop learning!
Bonus nugget of advice: don’t wait for the perfect time to write your story, make time to write your story. Get up earlier, stay up later, write during lunch at work. Do what you have to do to get that story out into the world!
If you’d like to find out more about Vivien Reis and her upcoming novel, The Elysian Prophecy, you can find more information on her website, http://vivienreis.com. Both the Prologue and Chapter 1 are available to read on her site, and you can add the book to your Goodreads profile as well. Additionally, she offers links to recommended websites for writers under the Writing Resources page.
Thank you so much for interviewing with me, Vivien! I can’t wait for The Elysian Prophesy to release!
Vivien’s Social Media:
**This is NOT a sponsored post. Ms. Reis was kind enough to interview with me, and I wanted to return the favor 🙂 **