Hi book peeps!
I have another special treat for you today! I’m thrilled to have Rebecca Taylor on the blog talking about her latest release, as well as her take on traditional and self-publishing. There’s so much honesty and invaluable insights here, I really appreciate Rebecca for being so candid. We first met as #2020debuts and I became an insta fan of her book, Her Perfect Life, which I had the privilege of reading early and reviewing. Rebecca has a fantastic blog of her, so be sure to follow and check her out on socials too (links below). Enjoy! And thanks to Rebecca for dropping by!
1) Tell us about your book. What inspired you to write it?
Once Upon a Lie is about a woman, Mia, who lost her memory at age eighteen as the result of an assault. She was pushed from the third-story landing of her parents’ gold coast mansion after witnessing the murder of her famous father. Mia is now thirty-six, married to a neuropsychologist with twins, and is experiencing psychological and behavioral problems that are putting her girls’ safety at risk. Her husband has grown tired of the pill popping coping strategies and gives Mia an ultimatum: either she gets real help, or he’s going to leave her and take the girls. Mia volunteers for a new study and begins making progress—but there are people in her life that don’t want her to remember exactly what happened the night her father died.
The inspiration, as usual for me, came from a multitude of sources. Generally there is a singular experience or book or show that gives me the initial spark of an idea or a question, but it’s never enough for a whole book. As I’m building the book, filling in gaps, developing subplots, more and more things begin to influence where the narrative goes. It’s always hard to answer this question because sometimes things make it into my novels that I didn’t even realize were influencing me until after the fact. All the things you read and see and watch just sort of lurk around in your subconscious.
2) You’ve had a prolific career as a self-published and traditionally published author. Most recently, you’ve decided to return to self-publishing. I was really moved by your own blog post in which you discussed your reasons for making the switch back. I think for some aspiring writers on the outside of the industry it might come as a surprise, since being traditionally published is a dream for so many. Can you talk a little bit about why going back to self-publishing felt like the right move for you. What surprised you most about traditional publishing? What do you love most about self-publishing?
To be honest the switch back was at first initiated out of necessity. Here’s the dirt (which we so rarely get to hear, to be honest). My two book contract with my publisher was fulfilled with the completion of The Secret Next Door. When my agent pitched Once Upon a Lie to them, I didn’t receive a solid response for ten months. This was the beginning of the frustration you read about in that blog post. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that these people that I had had a good working relationship with and published two books with (that both earned out, by the way) just didn’t respond. Not even to say “no” until I really pushed for an answer after ten months. On top of that, my agent, who never read more than the first three chapters of Once Upon a Lie and the synopsis, said she was unwilling to shop it to other publishers (this is after initially saying she loved the writing and the concept—which she later recanted.) I will say this, both my editor and my agent asked me to pitch something else. Here is why I didn’t. First, I had become increasing disappointed in both of them at that point. I was examining, every day, whether or not these were even people I wanted to continue a professional relationship with. And second, I really believed in Once Upon a Lie. I just couldn’t let it go, especially given the fact that neither my editor nor my agent had even read more than the first three chapters and the synopsis. You wonder all sorts of things at this point. Things like: Am I crazy? Am I difficult to work with? Is this book really not good enough? In the end, I realized it didn’t matter if the answer to all those questions was a resounding, “YES” I knew it wasn’t a book I was going to walk away from AND I knew that I could publish it myself. It would require me to let go of the thing I thought I wanted so much, to work within the traditional publishing space, and to also let go of expectations about reach and sales. Self publishing is a rough business and it can be hard to get readers to trust that your book is worth their time—so yeah, I have no expectations that I’ll be raking in the dough. Instead, all this has really caused me to reexamine what my priorities really are: I want to write the stories I want, when I want, and create books that I feel proud of. Once Upon a Lie hits all my marks.
What surprised me the most about traditional publishing—How committee based all the decision making is.
What do I love most about self-publishing—The only person standing in my way is me, and I can usually figure out how to deal with her and her issues quickly.
3) What advice do you have for writers who are debating about which publishing path to take?
I know this will sound weird after all I just shared, but if you dream of having your book in stores, selling well, hitting a bestseller list, winning awards, supporting you and family as a full time gig, etc, etc—I still think traditional publishing is your fist best bet. Hear me out. Not all but many, many, many writers turn to self-publishing because it’s easier than breaking into traditional publishing. I could seriously type up five thousand words this morning and have it up on Amazon by this evening…but I shouldn’t. One thing traditional publishing will teach a new writer is a RIGOROUS editing process. So rigorous you will consider crawling in a hole to die before going through your manuscript even one more time. If you’ve never experienced how much work it really should take to put your best work out into the marketplace, you are more than likely to give yourself and your book way too many outs. Here is my personal opinion: When done right, self-publishing should and is far more work than traditional publishing because you are still holding yourself and your work to all those exacting standards AND you are doing all the work yourself. Having started off self-publishing, then switching to traditional, I can tell you without a doubt that my books now are far better than my earlier ones. And sure, partly just from the experience of writing and learning more about my craft. But mostly due to that traditional experience that taught me how hard I really need to be on those early drafts. But for anyone who doesn’t want to mess around finding an agent and engaging in the terminal waiting game that is the traditional publishing world, I would advise doing everything you can to make that book the absolute best you possibly can…and then, go through it and make it the absolute best you possibly can at least five more times. There are plenty of indie authors who do it right and are making a killing doing the thing they love—delivering great stories to their voracious readers.
4) What are you reading and loving right now?
Sadly, nothing. I’ve been getting Once Upon a Lie ready to publish for months now. I’ve just picked up a book I was particularly excited to read and I’m halfway through, but I’m starting to feel like it may end up a disappointment. And I never talk publicly about books I don’t or didn’t like, so I’m passing on this question. However, one book I always shove on readers who haven’t already read it is The Push by Ashley Audrain. It’s not new, but it’s SO GOOD. (AK: AGREED! Love this book.)
5) What are you passionate about outside of writing and reading?
Travel. I recently left my career as a psychologist to return to working as a mainline flight attendant (a job I had in my twenties). I love it. The lifestyle suits my personality now that my children are grown and it’s perfect for finding quiet time on my layovers for the writing.
6) What’s next for you? Are you working on anything new?
I have seedling ideas for two books right now. I’m leaning into one of them more and more every day. Since I just launched Once Upon a Lie, I might give myself another week or two of rest and then start the plotting process. But it’s too early stages to share any details.
Rebecca Taylor is a licensed psychologist and author of bestselling women’s psychological fiction. Her book, The Secret Next Door, was a bestselling title in Target stores throughout the USA, a #1 bestselling book on Amazon, and a Book of the Month selection on Apple Books. Her book, Her Perfect Life, was the winner of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s STAR award. Her previous titles have won the Colorado Book Award and been nominated for the RWA RITA award. She lives in Colorado but currently spends most of her time on airplanes, writing and traveling all over the world.
Find Rebecca on SM:
Facebook: RebeccaTaylor https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaTaylorPage
Instagram: @RebeccaTaylorBooks https://www.instagram.com/rebeccataylorbooks/
I appreciate the honest approach to both the traditional and indie publishing world. Great advice for writers and I think the books you’ve written sound very interesting! I am always up for a psychological read!
Thanks for reading, Kendra! Agreed, Becky’s honesty and experience is invaluable. One of my fave chats yet! xoxo