This month, Las Vegas based author Dela not only celebrates the second anniversary of her debut novel, The 52nd —a YA paranormal infusing Aztec and Mayan mythology —but also reveals the cover of its sequel. That’s right, Dela’s sophomore work, Beyond The Neon Shore, will be revealed this Thursday! Read as this talented (and busy!) author discuses her publication journey, and what it really means to be an “authorpreneur.”

232554481. Your social media presence is fast-growing and incredibly impressive. What’s your approach to social media as an author, and why is it important? Do you have a preferred platform?

Being an author with a social media presence is simple: know your audience. This is the CONSTANT advice I hear all experts talk about so I generally try to stick with this rule in mind. For me, that means (typically) high school age kids to adults. Anything I talk about I ask myself “Is this related to books?” and “Is this appropriate for a fourteen-year old?”

Since I’m wrapping up a contemporary romance that contains older main characters it’s starting to get a little tricky. Keeping that rule in mind, I steer away from photos and bio’s that are a little steamy—to be safe—because my original audience is from my YA series. If they wanted to follow a romance author they would do so. If you think that’s you then fine, do it, post away, but expect to lose some followers. But I suppose in the end that would be fine because you’ll eventually gain the right romantic-driven audience. I wouldn’t jump back and forth though. Pick one and try to stay with it.

My next advice is the importance of #hashtags. I tend to use the same ones but if I find one that is trending (which I should probably do more often) than I will try to incorporate that in my post. #lockerroomtalk

Another sound piece of advice is commenting on other people’s posts, which I explain further on. Just think of it this way . . . karma.

2. Many authors are taking a chance on a form of hybrid publishing. Do you think merging traditional and self-publishing is the way of the future for authors? Why or why not?

100 million percent yes. As authors dive into the industry they will find this more and more common, and totally acceptable, but I want to add that it is specifically a trend with the romance genre. My bookclub girlfriends could testify to this. They are the queens of one-click buys. Who can pass up a $.99 cent romance novel, right? My tactic for marketing and producing my contemporary novel will be completely different than with my YA series.

Here is the reason—and this is strictly based on my own personal research—eBooks sales drive majority of the overall sales for romance novels. So what does that mean? That I can focus on eSales rather than printing and selling a paperback copy. That means your marketing will be different, all online if you wanted, and you take home 70% (depending on your selling price AND if you’re self-published) of the retail price. Yes, please! No agency fees, no publisher fees. But I believe that this can only go so far. If you become a bestseller author, and you need to publish your book in multiple languages this might be where an agency can step in and help you, or, you find multiple publishers who could translate it for you.

Traditional won’t go away, either. In fact, I feel that sometimes it’s necessary and truly makes someone great regardless if they deserve it or not. When a top publisher puts bucks behind you, you have access to things you wouldn’t otherwise have as an indie author if a) you can’t afford it or b) you have no idea how important some things are and what you really need to thrive as an author. I had to dig deep and learn everything over the course of years in this business. I’m grateful for everything that I’ve learned and everyone that I’ve met, who honestly speaking, I wouldn’t have met on such a personal level if I was with a traditional publisher.

Some authors are brand-spanking-new and step right into the scene with their shiny new book and are like “hello world” and guess what? The world is listening because of their backing!! It’s crazy and awesome (good for them!) all at the same time, yet, I find that those shiny-new authors sometimes may have a hard time connecting with people when thrown into the fandom world too quick. So, I don’t regret my decision to self-publish. My relationships are solid and my reviewers actually became my friends.

3. Many people believe that writing is a solitary activity. Can you explain the importance of making friends in the publishing world as you grow your career?

#BookishFriends—nothing is more important than them. Truth be told, you can’t do this without them. You need friends to help spread the word about your book. You need friends to support you and they need YOUR support too. I’m a firm believer of giving and not just receiving. Find ways to make the relationships genuine. Don’t just like someone’s mediocre picture, comment and encourage them to keep going. Tell them why you like their picture even if it’s not the best. Find something good in it because honestly they’re either really proud of it or they’re insecure about it. Comment on their cat and how cute it is. Tell them you like to wear pizza socks too, or that you would if you only had some yourself! Be a REAL friend because it’s the only way to survive. I honestly think this is the key and answer to question number one. Be yourself, and put in the extra work to comment. Don’t get lazy.

These relationships are a free form of marketing. Friends talk, and if they like you as much as they like your book, then you bet they’re going to want to review it and potentially read whatever else your write afterwards.

4. You’ve published a successful YA book, crafted its sequel, and are completing an NA romance. What compels you to write, and what is your process for creating a new book? Do you have any tips for budding authors?

What compels me to write is the fact I can’t shut my mind up. If you could take a peak into my notes on my phone you’d see probably 10 story ideas on there waiting to be written. So there’s that, plus, once I get passionate about something it’s game over. That’s how THE 52ND all started. I lived in Mexico in the Yucatán peninsula for about 6 months and was able to visit most ruins that lay in that lowland region. There’s no denying the old spirit and energy you feel when you go to ancient places like those. And every time I went to an old city I would tell myself (I suppose I talk to myself a lot) “Something happened here and it needs to be told.” I had experienced too much greatness to just let it sit dormant within. I knew that with the human sacrifice ritual and the Mayan calendar, I had a number of things to work with.

My process for writing THE 52ND was much different than for Seat 2A. If you write something with history there’s no going about it. You HAVE to do the proper research. I spent months researching Aztecs and Mayans, and in doing so, formed my 5th draft that pretty much became the story you read today. Seat 2A I was able to write non-stop, letting the dialogue come out first, and then later worked on sentence structure and plot.

My tip for new authors? I heard this phrase once before and it goes something like this, “Your first draft comes from your heart and your second draft comes from your head.” Just get out what you need to, then worry about laying the magic pieces later.

5. What does the term “authorpreneur” mean to you?

One word: boss.

I’m my own boss. It’s beautiful and evil at the same time. You have to discipline yourself with deadlines and long hours. But also give yourself breaks when you really need it. It’s actually quite confusing and extremely easy to be lopsided with your time (too much writing at night and not enough with family, etc.), but with practice I’m confident one can learn how to balance their “authorpreneur” job.

McKenna Heintz

McKenna is a short story author and blogger with an affinity for all things science fiction. Originally hailing from northern Wisconsin, she has work appearing in Her Campus Roosevelt chapter, Eau Claire’s Volume One magazine, and various blogs. When she’s not daydreaming and writing, you can find her cycling in Chicago or in small coffee shops with her head in a book.

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