Today’s Author Spotlight is on Amy Sutphin! Hello, Amy. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Amy, I am a writer with two published books, I have a degree in molecular biology and a fascination with space exploration and experiments. I attribute my love of fiction to my mom who read novels to me and my siblings for years. I live in sunny Florida with my obnoxiously loud Sun Conure named Sunshine who I love dearly.
What genre(s) do you write in?
Science fiction and fantasy both adult and young adult,
Are you traditionally published, independently published, or both?
Me too! What made you choose the publishing path you’re on?
I chose self-publishing so that I would have control over my work. Once I started the process I realized I liked everything I had to do to publish. I enjoyed formatting my book, and picking out the cover and everything. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment and I have learned so many skills I can use for other things.
I have control issues when it comes to my book babies as well! Also why I chose to go the independent publishing route. Why did you choose to write in the genre(s) you’re in?
I have always loved science and science fiction fascinated me. I played a lot of sci-fi video games so that was the main contributor to my love of sci-fi storytelling. I have loved Fantasy ever since I was little and my mom read Harry Potter and Redwall to me.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember exactly when I realized that I could write books just like the authors I admired. I only remember the feeling of awe. The stunning realization that someone had to write books and that someone could be me. I first decided I wanted to be a published author when I was writing my first book with my best friend Lindsey (waves). We wrote a fantasy book about a girl from earth who was brought to a fantasy realm to pretend to be a princess. We thought we were so clever because we had one scene where the good guy was presenting our main character as a princess to the bad guy and she was sitting with her legs crossed and the bad guy mentioned it because ladies weren’t supposed to sit with their legs crossed in that world, and our character goes “oh sorry,” and crossed them the other way. We both thought that was so funny. Looking back I’m glad I didn’t go into comedy.
I have had that aha moment myself and it’s amazing. I always kind of idolized authors like J.K. Rowling and how they could change so many lives with their stories and then one day I just said, “Why not me?” And I never looked back. Tell us a little about your writing processes and your writing space.
I usually write with at least part of a plan. I’ll write a few lines about what happens next and then I will incorporate those ideas into the story. I don’t write every day but I think about writing every day. I think about what is going to happen next or what has already happened and if I need to change it. This helps me focus when I do write. I usually write in my living room on the couch. I bought a really comfortable couch that’s blue, my favorite color. Being comfortable and happy with my surroundings helps me stay focused. Sometimes I try to go to a coffee shop or something to write but I find being out in public is distracting and I don’t like the idea that someone might be reading over my shoulder. I usually drink tea when I’m writing because it doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee and I have a really pretty tea set that adds to the ambiance.
I have a very similar process. I like to plan but I don’t like to box myself in either. What are your favorite books to read?
I read fantasy and science fiction mostly. I love Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings. Simon R. Green’s The Nightside series, Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series, and Folk of the Air series. As for sci-fi, I am a big Halo fan. I’ve read many of the books and played all the games. I’m not a big fan of nonfiction but one of the best books I have ever read was Riding Rockets by Astronaut Mike Mullane which is a good look into what it’s like to be an astronaut.
HP and LoTR are some of my favorites as well! I have Holly Black on my TBR list as well. Looks like we like a lot of the same genre material! What does marketing look like for you? Are you an avid believer in social media or do you like paid advertisement more? Do you DIY or do you have someone else or a company handle it?
I have come to believe that social media is the best free marketing you can have. Most of the books I have sold were to people who I met on social media. Interacting with people on social media is a good way to build your following and make a few friends along the way. Paid marketing for books seems to be really difficult. The key to paid advertising is, simply, to get people to look at the ad and people don’t like to do that when there is something else they’d rather be looking at. Websites like Instagram and Pinterest have changed that. If you have a pretty image you can post it as an ad like any other picture and most people won’t even realize it’s an ad until they click or tap. The problem with those is you can spend a lot of money getting views with very little return. The best way to get new readers seems to be through websites that exist to bring authors and readers together, like Bookbub, but I don’t have as much experience with those as they can be expensive.
Paid marketing for books IS really difficult. Trust me. I have thrown away a ton of hard earned money trying to figure out that puzzle. What works the best for me is also social media and blogging. It really is effective! If you have to do any research for your books, how do you like to accomplish this? What is your organization of research like? How long do you usually spend on research?
I haven’t had to do much research for my books as of yet but I will have to for a future project. Maybe that’s the real reason I’m putting off finishing it.
I hear that! Research can be daunting. I started writing a Historical Fiction set during the French Revolution and it was a huge rabbit hole that took me months to wade through. Now I have pages of notes, a lot of which I will most likely not even use. Which of your books is your bestseller and why do you think it is? What do readers say they like about it?
Twisting Every Way is my bestseller, mainly because it’s the first book in the series. If it turns out to be my bestseller overall I would guess it’s because it’s relatable to a lot of people. Most of us have had a bad authority figure we had to listen to or been misled by someone promising us something we want or need but who takes advantage of us in the end. We’ve all chosen not to do the right thing because it was hard and then decided to do the right thing after all even if it seemed like it was too late. I think my readers do see this. I had one review that said, “Emya goes through a lot in the first half, and the author does a good job of showing how these tragedies and tortures can leave a person timid, mistrusting, and disbelieving when new friends show her kindness.” I think that’s something many of us can relate to.
First in series always do best, though they don’t always bring in the most money. I have mine set at a permanent $0.99 to get people reading it in hopes they’ll continue the series. It’s been a good marketing strategy so far. Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.
My next release will be the third book in the Twisted Realm Series. It will finish up the Companion storyline- (Spoiler) which is the magical object that tethers Felix and Emya and threatens their lives and the people around them- but It won’t be the end of the series. I intended to spend a lot more time in this world. I think readers will be excited to learn some very interesting things about their favorite characters particularly Artyem who will reveal some shocking backstory. They will also get to find out more about the Twisted Realm which is the series name but hasn’t really been brought up too much. This book will push Emya to her limits and will also show her she’s capable of so much more than she ever thought. I’m aiming for a release in December.
Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite? (I know, it’s like choosing a favorite between kids)
Emya, the main character of the Twisted Realm Series. I think she is the most resilient character I’ve ever written. Her life has been difficult from day one but her mindset has always been ‘how do I deal with this? How do I get through this?’. The first book starts with the most difficult thing she has ever faced and even then she’s trying to figure out what she’s going to do next more than feeling sorry for herself. She’s willing to take risks and do what she needs to survive but she also has compassion and empathy. In the first book, you really get to see those two aspects of her personality collide and how messy it becomes.
I love a good strong female lead character! Seems to be what I keep writing as well and love to read about the most. I will definitely be check out your series. I’ve included Amy’s social media and website links for all of you who would also like to check out her work. Her books are available through Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.