Interview with Lucy Varna

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Many of my favorite books are speculative fiction: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood; Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I read and reread this one many times over, well before the movie came out); Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress (I prefer the original novella); and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

All of these have changed my perspective or deepened my understanding of the world. It may be because with speculative fiction, whether it's science fiction, fantasy, or literary in nature, the author engages the reader and forces her to think about the story and how that story applies to humanity, our culture, our civilization, and the way we think and do things.

I know I only listed four books above. Narrowing the list of favorites down to just five is really hard for me because I'm a compulsive reader and have read many, many wonderful tales over the years. If I had to pick just one more story, it would be either Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck or The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. See? I couldn't pick just five!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I began writing my first novel, I really had no intention of being anything but an indie author. These are just a few of the reasons why.

The first three books I published were non-fiction transcriptions or abstracts of records (intended for use by genealogists and historians). For two of the books, I applied for and received a publishing grant. The third book, I published independently because the mix of abstracted records didn't (in my mind) meet the requirements necessary to receive a publishing grant.

For both of the books published thanks to those very generous grants, I had difficulties, not with the grant-giving organization but with the other businesses that had a hand in the publishing process. The non-grant book, on the other hand, presented none of those problems. I had full control over every aspect of the book, from the records I included to the cover, and that was very important to me.

I went into publishing fiction with that mindset, bolstered by two years of hearing my significant other extol the virtues of the self-publishing industry and criticize traditional publishers. The more we looked into self-publishing, the more I realized that there was absolutely no reason to go any other route with fiction. I already have a small publishing company (an in-name-only imprint) and am learning about marketing as I go. Between the editorial skills of myself and my SO, I have little need for outside editing help. Other than the potential of getting my work out to the large chain bookstores, there was really no reason for me to even consider trying to market my work to an agent and publisher.

Indie publishing allows an author to have much more creative control over their work. Those authors also receive a higher percentage of sales than do authors who go the traditional route. Plus, indie-published stories are much fresher and more relevant because there's far less time between writing and publishing. Potentially, the latter lag could be just a few months, as opposed the one to two years it takes traditional publishers to get material out to the public. If I write a story, I can hold it for seasonal marketing, or I can get it out now, something that wouldn't be possible at all if I weren't an indie author. How cool is that?
Published 2014-01-15.
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