Author: Ekta Garg
Book: Two For The Heart
A brief bio:
Since the start of her publishing career in 2005 Ekta has edited and written about everything from health care to home improvement to Hindi films. She has worked for: The Portland Physician Scribe, Portland, Oregon’s premier medical newspaper; show magazines for home tours organized by the Portland Home Builders Association; ABCDlady.com; The Bollywood Ticket; The International Indian; and the annual anthologies published by the Avondale Inkslingers, based in Avondale, Arizona.
In 2011 Ekta stepped off the ledge and became a freelancer. She edits short stories and novels for other writers, contributing to their writing dreams. She is also a part-time editor for aois21, and she reviews books for her own book review blog as well as NetGalley, TypeReel, and Bookpleasures.com.
Prairie Sky Publishing serves as the publishing arm of Ekta’s professional writing blog, The Write Edge (thewriteedge.wordpress.com). When she’s not writing, Ekta is a domestic engineer–known in the vernacular as “a housewife.” She’s married, has two energetic daughters who keep her running, and she divides her time between keeping house and fulfilling her writing dreams.
Book purchase links:
Social media links: twitter, facebook, etc.
Blog: The Write Edge at thewriteedge.wordpress.com
1. Why did you decide to go indie and self-publish? What was the process like for you?
Like many other writers who have made the decision to indie publish, I have a driving passion for writing and for this amazing craft. I want to share my stories with readers. But I know that unless I spend years submitting my work to traditional publishing establishments and waiting for rejections so I can submit again, I probably won’t see the publication of my writing through traditional routes.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and energy in the last three or four years studying the publishing industry, its changes, its ups and downs, and I felt like the market has evolved to a point where I can take a risk in indie publishing. There are indeed risks, but the rewards are also just as high. I feel like the production schedule and goals I’ve set for my publishing company might help me reap more rewards because I’m attempting something a little off center from what everyone else is doing.
At the end of the day my drive doesn’t come from landing a six-figure deal. I just want to share my stories and words with others. Indie publishing allows me to do that without the challenges of a traditional publishing contract.
I knew I would need to launch my own publishing company to add a level of professionalism to this whole enterprise. If I want others to take me seriously as a published author, I have to take myself seriously as a published author. So I launched Prairie Sky Publishing (prairieskypublishing.com) in December 2014. My first book, Two for the Heart, came out on schedule on February 3, and I hope to continue producing books every two months.
With all the research I’ve done, I was mentally prepared to do a lot of work. I can’t imagine an indie author jumping into publishing without preparation, and yet I’ve talked to and read about authors who do just that.
It’s been a lot of hard work but also immensely satisfying to accomplish all of the tasks. More than anything, I’ve never had this much fun before!
2. How do you market/promote/advertise? What’s been successful and what hasn’t?
I have a pretty decent following on my blog, The Write Edge, so I’ve promoted the book there. I’ve also posted on Facebook several times about the book release.
In anticipation of the release of the book on February 3, I contacted more than 100 book bloggers in the first big marketing push to review the book. I’ve heard from several who have wanted to read the book and review it. Slowly those reviews are coming in, and I plan to continue contacting book reviewers.
The last part of my marketing plan, which truthfully I’m still considering (because of the cost involve,) is joining NetGalley as a publisher and allowing my books to gain more exposure through that medium. I may do it toward the end of this year, but before I do anything else I want to make sure I’m standing firm on the platforms I’m building now. No sense in trying to jump before I can walk.
Because I just launched Prairie Sky and my book just came out, I don’t have enough data yet to know whether my approach has been successful. I know one thing for sure, however: if this approach doesn’t work or needs some tweaking, I’m ready to adapt to find the best formula to help get the word out about my books.
3. What advice would you give to an author who’s trying to decide between traditional publishing and independent?
Like any other career, writing takes most of your time and energy and effort. Indie publishing means a writer risks remaining unknown for most (if not all) of his/her career. Traditional publishing means spending years trying to get past the gatekeepers. Both have pros and cons. A writer who wants to spend the rest of his/her life writing stories and trying to sell them needs to study both sides of the industry and then decide where his/her personality fits best. Then jump into that part of the industry and pursue every task wholeheartedly.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s fair to look at publishing as an “either/or” situation anymore. Several writers have pursued the hybrid track, and I think writers need to stay open to that option. While publishing is a business, it also is thousands of people who truly love books and stories and who want to share those books and stories with readers. It doesn’t matter if you’re indie, trad, or hybrid—that ultimate outcome is one we can all agree on.
4. When/how did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
It wasn’t necessarily a light bulb moment. I’ve been reading since the age of 4 and always felt happiest in my childhood when I had a book in hand. When I was 8 I started writing poetry and short narratives; I became fascinated with the whole idea of expressing myself through words.
Around that same time I started competing in spelling bees, which requires a deep exposure to words. So I spent much of my childhood and teen years dealing with words in one way or the other; when I got into my late teens I started to realize just how much those words meant to me. By the time I went to college I knew I would spend my life pursuing this craft. I’d fallen in love—head over heels—and I still feel giddy about my writing.
5. Most indie authors have day jobs. How has your current or previous employment informed your writing?
I have an MSJ from the Medill School of Journalism (at Northwestern) in magazine publishing, and right after I got married I worked as an editor in a publishing company. A month before I had my second daughter, though, we moved halfway across the country for my husband’s job and I had to resign.
I began blogging in 2010 because I had a preschooler and a toddler at home and I wanted to do something for myself. I wanted to remind myself of why I’d fallen in love with writing in the first place; I wanted to rekindle that passion and nurture it until it became a bonfire.
I knew that if I just left it up to myself to work on my writing, I’d keep putting it off for all of the other responsibilities in my life. So I decided to psyche myself out; use reverse psychology, as it were. I didn’t really think, back then, that anyone would read the blog, but I decided to use posting online every week as motivation. And it worked. I started blogging and, unbeknownst to me at the time, I began building a platform.
Through that platform, I started meeting people online from all over the world; when someone asked whether I did any freelance editing, I said yes and my freelance career got its jump-start. I missed working, so when I got the request for editing it suddenly made sense to start freelancing. The biggest advantage to this entire situation came is the fact that I could set my own hours and accept or reject as many projects as my home and family duties allowed. I wanted to make my family my top priority, but I also knew that freelancing would give me some professional satisfaction.
I began freelancing in 2011 and have edited short stories and novels pretty regularly since then. Editing other people’s work allows me to be more objective in editing my own. Before I began freelance editing I used to agonize over cutting scenes in my stories. Now I just wince and hit Delete.
When I began blogging I started reviewing books, which adds another dimension to my writing. I’m a self-confessed bibliophile, so I decided to put all that reading to good use. In the beginning I did it as a gleeful way to read more books, but I soon learned that by increasing how much I read (although I didn’t know I could even do that because I already read so much) I exposed myself to more writers and began an informal study of the craft of writing.
Now I look at reviewing as the third line in the triangle that comprises my career: writing; editing; and book reviewing. All three feed off one another. All that to say I guess I kind of came at indie publishing from the opposite direction compared to most writers.
6. Do you have any favorite authors and do they influence your writing?
I enjoy a variety of genres—women’s fiction; historical fiction (particularly about WWII); good middle grade and YA fiction; and South Asian fiction (owing to my Indian heritage). Also, even though I’m not a hardcore fantasy reader, I have a very soft spot in my heart for the Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan.
If I had to pick one author, I think I would focus on Jhumpa Lahiri’s books. I feel like I’m dining at one of the finest restaurants in the world when I read her work. Her prose is sumptuous and incredibly satisfying. She also takes her time publishing—she doesn’t let a publishing contract or pressures dictate that she has to produce X number of books in Y months/years. She writes at her own pace and time. While I know indie authors have a better chance of success if they publish more frequently, I am inspired by the care she takes with her stories and always aim to take the same amount of care with my own work.
7. Anything else readers should know about you?
Some silly things, maybe?
- I love Nutella, especially with homemade banana bread.
- My favorite color is purple (might have something to do with my time at Northwestern.)
- I’m exclusively a tea drinker; I stockpile tins of Tazo Joy every December.
- My husband and I discovered The Big Bang Theory two summers ago and can’t get enough of it.
- Renoir is my most favorite painter of all time.
- My favorite type of cake is Red Velvet.
- I got to meet and participate in a group interview of Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan a few years ago.
- I’ve appeared on national TV on the Rachael Ray show when I did a spot on re-purposing kitchen products for other uses (I showed how I use empty spice jars to store my daughters’ hair clips.)
- I deeply admire what Steve Jobs has done for technology; having said that, I will only use PCs.
- I used to be a hardcore hard copy book reader but got a Kindle for my birthday two years ago and now love it as much as I do physical books.