Marionettes is an upper Young Adult Urban Fantasy (or, perhaps more accurately, Urban High Fantasy) series that begins with three books before its sister New Adult series, Monsters, begins. The two series then run together until one series comes to an end and the other continues.
How do the perspectives work?
Think of Marionettes as being two stories in one. The first story is Kali's, told from her perspective, whether reliable or not. The second story is how everyone else revolves around her, revealing the world outside of her perspective and how she affects it.
Monsters will be limited to only a few perspectives from characters whose lives have moved away from Kali in some form.
Who writes what?
Sarah is the primary author of the Marionettes series with Victoria writing her part of the character cast. Victoria is the primary author of the Monsters series with Sarah writing her part of the character cast.
Why did you decide to self-publish the series?
My story and Victoria’s story are separate series, but they intertwine. The problem is that mine is upper YA (young adult) and Victoria’s falls into the category of NA (new adult). Our themes and many of the subplots are different, but we share characters and storylines. For traditional publication, this would be a real marketing conflict.
So, for the benefit of our stories, taking charge of our own marketing and maintaining perfect creative control over how our stories combine is the best option.
On a similar note, we write a lot, like 4-6 full books a year. Traditional publishing means we have to be slotted into book release dates that could be roughly a year apart. That’s annoying. As it stands, the first three books of my series are already written, and the first book of Victoria’s is nearing the end. We get to control our own release dates.
On top of all that, we get to control our own pricing, and since we’ve knocked out that problematic middle man, the pricing will be a whole lot more reasonable. We like reasonable prices. They’re nice.
But isn’t self-publishing bad?
There are many things that can go wrong with self-publishing, but the old stigma that comes with self-publishing is fading fast in the digital era. This is a great thing for writers, because now the “why” behind self-publication is realer than ever. So many authors find this route a more viable option for reasons like ours, and if they’ve got a great story, edited well with an attractive cover, but doesn’t really fit with what publishers are looking for, why not?
There certainly are pitfalls, however, just as there are with traditional publishing, but we’ve taken great care to avoid those things. So much care. Insert “Oh my god do I try” gif here.
Is there any difference between your book and a traditionally published book?
Nope. Zero things are different. We’ll have formal e-book formats for both Kindle and Nook, and we’ll also have paperbacks in the Amazon store.
Well, I mean, you might miss the publishing house emblem on the spine, but that’s an expensive little thing anyway.
Where did you get the cover?
The cover was done by us in Photoshop CS2 (which is now free on the Photoshop website, just in case y'all need a digital painter-type program). The photo of the Pittsburgh skyline was taken by us, and the font design for "SHADOW" was drawn by hand with a tablet (as in, it isn't a downloadable font).
We went through several different versions of the same cover with minute differences before we settled on the final version, and one of the important things we kept in mind was making sure the title stood out boldly and legibly so that it could be read even in its little icon form. This meant making sure the title had stark contrast against the background and going in by hand to darken the background accordingly.
Typography is a tricky beast. The font and the way it's positioned and how much space it fills creates specific moods that need to represent the book honestly. And because we had budget cover planning with limited skills, we decided to make the title the center focus of the cover with all the other elements framing it.
It was also important that we kept our names bold and easy to find and read, but not competing for spotlight with the title. Branding is an important part of building name recognition, so it's good to always make sure the name stands out.
Who did the art?
The art was also done by us in Photoshop CS2 and Gimp (another free digital painting program). Neither of us are artists, no way, but we had enough skills and strengths to do what we do best to create our own promotional artwork.
The blog banner and the sprites scattered about the blog were all done in similar and simple cell-shading fashion. Lighting and texture effects were thrown on after. One sprite could take about 1-2 hours, whereas the combined images of the banner would take several hours apiece. This is just another embarrassing testament to our lack of art-type efficiency.
The big semi-realistic Kali poster took a couple days and many hours of agonizing over tiny details. The lighting effects and textures, coupled with the typography of the book cover, gave her a more finished look, and then I could use her for promos and banners and all that fun stuff.
Having promotional artwork is a plus, but only if it looks fairly professional and visually appealing. Artists are always available for commission (though keep in mind that, if you intend to use the work commercially, you'll have to pay a lot more), but since we're poor bodies, we did what we could with our limited skills.
Do you have a question to ask us?