Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Conversation With Rhiannon Frater, author of THE UNTOLD TALES

Me: Thanks for stopping by on your tour for Untold Tales! As we talked about before, you are a hybrid author, having both traditionally published your As The World Dies Trilogy with Tor (Book Three SIEGE coming out April 24th), as well as self-publishing your other works, including Untold Tales, a collection of short stories related to the As The World Dies universe. Can you tell us a bit about why you’re self-publishing Untold Tales?

Rhiannon: Thanks for having me back!  The first untold tale was originally written to support the trilogy when I self-published it.  I wanted to give my fans some new material while reminding them about the upcoming publication of the the three books.  I am basically doing the same thing now that the three books (THE FIRST DAYS, FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, SIEGE) are being published by Tor.  I like giving my fans some new insight into the supporting cast of characters while promoting the main trilogy at the same time.  Short story collections usually do not sell very well (unless you're a huge name), so the Untold Tales collections are not something Tor was interested in.  I did let them know I was self-publishing the Untold Tales.  They agreed it was a good marketing idea.

Me: I love this aspect of self-publishing – the freedom to write something for fans (or for yourself), knowing you can publish it, regardless of the sales potential that a publisher has to consider. Of course writers want sales as well! But with the low overhead associated with self-publishing, I think writers can take more risks, think more outside the box, whether to reward fans or entice new readers or just write something that they love (and see if it finds its audience). This is something I did recently as well, with my short prequel story MIND GAMES, part of the IN HIS EYES Anthology with the Indelibles. It was part marketing effort, but I wrote the story explicitly to give fans an insight into a non-POV character (Raf), as well as intrigue new readers. And it has turned out to sell really well! Do you see more of these kinds of non-traditional uses for self-publishing in the future, either with your own works, or the writing community in general?
Rhiannon: Though I don't consider myself to be a short story writer, I have noticed that the market for short stories is drying up in the traditional world.  I've been invited to a few anthologies (I turn down all of them last year due to time constraints), but overall there really isn't a lot of short fiction being published like in the old days.  I remember finding really old copies of anthology magazines at my local library that were full of unique fiction by very famous names.  Those aren't around anymore.  I had a lot of short fiction just sitting on my hard drive and I recently went through all of the stories at the urging of a friend to publish them as collections.  I reread my short fiction and realized I really wanted to offer them to the public.  

The first short story collection called BLOOD & LOVE AND OTHER VAMPIRETALES was just released exclusively on amazon kindle.  I'm selling the paperbacks for five dollars on my website.  It contains all my vampire short stories and has a beautiful cover from Claudia McKinney of Phat Puppy Creations.  I'm offering it for .99 and so far the reception has been really good.  I've set aside my other short stories with horror themes to be published in a separate collection in a few months.  It's definitely a way to give my fans new fiction while providing a little extra income for me on top of finding a home for short works that may not be published otherwise.

When it come short fiction or novellas, story formats that aren't popular traditionally, I definitely feel self-publishing can be the answer.

Me: That’s great that you’ve got such a treasure trove on your hard drive! And what a treat for your fans as well! So, you’ve got Tor re-issuing your AS THE WORLD DIES trilogy, you’re touring for the UNTOLD TALES collection, and you’ve got more short stories coming. What else do you see yourself doing in the future? Do you feel that the option of self-publishing has changed the way that you write, or the kinds of things you would consider writing in the future?

Rhiannon: Right now I'm undergoing the submission process with Tor. I wrote up three book ideas, they chose one they liked, but asked for revisions on it.  I was fine with that because the book is in its infancy and not fully formed in my mind yet.  Since I write organically, I know the majority of the story will come to me when I write it.  The summary is a guideline.  I have returned the revised synopsis and first chapter to my agent and once she's done going over it, she'll either have me do more work on it, or it will go back to Tor.  My editor at Tor has been amazing to work with, so I hope to continue that relationship.  I'm not particularly stressed over this submission though.  I don't feel like if she rejects the idea my career is over.

Because self-publishing is a viable option, I know that whatever the major publishers reject, I can publish on my own.  Major publishers reject good books all the time.  They reject GREAT books all the time.  If the story doesn't fit what the publisher is looking for they're not going to buy it.  My agent has told me many times she has turned down representing authors who write really well, but their stories are not ones she can sell to the publishers.

I did withdraw my two vampire series from consideration after I realized I did not want to go through the same process I did with the AS THE WORLD DIES trilogy.  It was a great learning experience to revise the three books, but it was mentally exhausting to take what was written for fun online as a serial and shaping it into actual novels.  I burned out on going over the books over and over again. I don't want to do that with my vampire series.  On top of that, if I were to sell the series to the big publishers it would be years before the fans would see the next installment.  The first of the series would have to be reissued first.

Self-publishing has definitely given me a lot more peace of mind and power over what I write.
Me: Peace of mind and power over what you write. That seriously speaks to me and I feel the same way about having self-publishing as a viable option. My career feels like it’s in my hands, and I’m the kind of person that really flourishes in that kind of environment. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us today! And best of luck with all of your projects!

Rhiannon: Thanks for hosting a day on the tour. :)


You can find all of Rhiannon's books on her website, including the As the World Dies Trilogy and her Untold Tales collection. She also has the world's coolest Twitter button.


  1. Reminds me of when Stephenie Meyers put out her novella for free as an ebook. Good marketing maneuver.

  2. Rhiannon, you've said so many good things in this post. But the main thing I want to point out is what you said about the low cost of overhead for self-publishers. This, in itself, makes self-publishing a viable option. I self-published 10 years ago when the process was costly. And, even though I have chosen to go traditional now, I know that self-publishing is still a good option. Because like you said, there are some stories that publishers just won't buy, regardless of how good they are.

    Thanks, Rhiannon and Susan.


Erudite comments from thoughtful readers