Next up in our Author, Editor, and Agent Interview series is author Amanda Ashley (who prefers to be called Mandy). She also writes under the name of Madeline Baker. She has published over 70 books and short stories and won nineteen awards, including the ACRA Heart of Excellence, The Golden Quill, and Historical Storyteller of the Year.
Mandy has worked with several publishers including Zebra and Leisure Books. She also publishes E-books with Ellora’s Cave through their sweet romance line called Blush. Let’s all welcome Mandy to The Literary Mom! Thanks so much, for being here with us today, Mandy!
Me: How did become a published author?
I never intended to be a published author. I started writing because my husband worked nights, my kids were little and went to bed early, and there was nothing on tv. I don’t really remember what prompted me to sit down and start writing, but once I started I couldn’t stop.
I wrote three books without telling anyone, and then, one day, I let a friend read one of my stories. She said it was very visual and I should try to get it published. I let my best friend read it, too. We both read a lot of historical romances and she said mine was as good as anything out there. My first friend gave me a copy of Writers Market and I started sending out query letters. The first book I sold was rejected 31 times before Leisure bought it.
Getting “the call” was probably one of the most exciting things that ever happened. I remember being so excited, I ran down the street to tell my best friend.
I’d been writing for over six years before I finally saw one of my books in print.
Me: Tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing.
I usually write on and off all day long, though mostly at night. I don’t have a regular schedule, but I do try to write at least a thousand words a day. I don’t write on Sunday. I write in my office. I don’t think I have any quirks. I can pretty much write any time, any where. I’ve written on napkins in restaurants, and between frames in the bowling alley. In the camper on vacation. Wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.
Me: Tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be an Ellora’s Cave author.
It’s a little strange to write for Ellora’s Cave, since I don’t write erotica or anything close to it. They publish my books under their Blush imprint. They publish my books first as eBooks and then, about six months later, in trade paperback. They’re very easy to work with, and they’ve given me some lovely covers. They’re publishing my Reckless series (Reckless Heart, Reckless Love, Reckless Desire, and Reckless Embrace) and the covers are wonderful.
Me: I know you also have books out through large publishers, such as Zebra. In what ways are their publishing processes different from Ellora’s Cave? How are they similar?
The biggest difference is that I have a closer relationship with my editor at Zebra, largely due to the fact that I also worked with her when she was at Leisure books, so I’ve known her for over 20 years. I have very little one-on-one contact with anyone at Ellora’s Cave. However, they reply quickly to my emails and I’m very happy to be working with them.
Me: I’m planning to cover small presses and self-publishing in addition to large publishing houses and E-Book publishers in this interview series. Do you have any thoughts/ideas on these other forms of publishing? Would you have considered any of them if you hadn’t taken the route that you did?
I really don’t know a lot about small presses or self-publishing. I have some books published by an eBook publisher, mostly short stories. I’m basically lazy and Rebecca does all the work – she formats the book for eReaders, arranges for covers, etc. It’s been fun working with her, and while there are no large advances from epublishers that I’m aware of, it’s a nice outlet for books that are too short to be published in mass market. I really don’t know what I’d have done if I’d failed to sell that first book to Leisure.
Me: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?
The only advice I can think of is never give up. If I’d quit after 30 rejections, where would I be today? Find your own voice. Don’t try to write like anyone else. Join RWA.
I don’t know what advice I’d have given myself. When I was still sending out query letters, it was just a game. I never really expected to sell anything. I made a list of all the publishers, and sent out query letters. When I reached the end of the list, I started over again. So, I guess, subconsciously, I knew you should never give up!
Thanks so much for being here, Mandy!
You can find Amanda’s website at www.amandaashley.net
Her books can be found at Amazon and Zebra books.