22 December 2010

Interview with Jamie DeBree

Author Jamie DeBree
A full-time webmistress for local government by day, Jamie DeBree writes steamy, action-packed romantic suspense late into the night. Her goal is to create the perfect blend of sensual attraction, emotional tension and fast-paced adventure, similar to the television crime dramas she’s hopelessly addicted to. Her favorite way to write a novel is to serialize the draft on one of her blogs. There’s always a free serial story in progress at her main blog, The Variety Pages.

In October 2010, she opened Brazen Snake Books, her personal publishing company. She also writes as Trinity Marlow (erotica) and Alex Westhaven (thrillers), and is currently working on serial drafts in each of those genres.

Born in Billings Montana, she resides there with her husband and two over-sized lap dogs. She reads in a wide variety of genres including romance, erotica, action/adventure, thriller, horror and literary.

PPM: For a self-published romance author, you've been transparent about the process through twitter and on your site Beyond the Words: http://bookbiz.jamiedebree.com. Do you hope writers who are interested in self-publishing will be able to learn from your experience?

JDB: I suppose so, though most of what I do is experimenting, so I don't pretend to be an expert by any means. I share my experiences so that those who are considering self-publishing have a lot of information to make an informed decision with, and also so those who do decide to take that step know what to expect from an "average" experience. I think a lot of very visible self-publishers are that way because they go flying out of the gate, but I think a much slower build (as I'm doing) is normal and attainable for most people.

PPM: Can you tell us a bit about Tempest and the other novels that you have planned?

JDB: Tempest is a fast-paced action-adventure style romance that started as the second serial story I drafted on my blog. It's a fun ride, I think, and while my poor heroine has to go through a lot to get her hero, I think that makes for a well-earned "happily ever after". 

Desert Heat (1/21/11) is a full-length novel in the same style as Tempest, with plenty of action and suspense along with steamy sensual tension. Marie, my heroine is smart, introverted, and very intimidated by the hunky lab tech who is determined to get past her prickly exterior. Desert Heat explores the issues of trust and fear in a relationship, along with the lack of confidence some women feel when confronted with a really good-looking man.

Also in the works is my Fantasy Ranch series, which all center around a compound in the desert established to make people's fantasies come true. These are also romantic suspense, the first of which is The Biker's Wench, currently being drafted on my main blog, The Variety Pages (http://varietypages.jamiedebree.com). I have at least five books planned for this series, and the characters are some of my favorites so far.

I have projects underway in two other genres as well – erotica and thriller/suspense. So there's a lot planned for the next year or so.

PPM: You're obviously a passionate and adventurous author, do you find that you tend to take on more than you can handle or has it been difficult for you to share your work?

JDB: I do tend to pile it on myself a bit thick at times, but I normally figure out how to make things work, or scale back when I need to. Balance is key, and when I find myself taking on too much, I'm pretty good at reevaluating my priorities and moving on from there. It's not difficult for me to share my work - I post many of my drafts as serial novels on my blogs, which actually helps me stay on track since it's a hard deadline, and readers are waiting.

PPM: What does an average day look like for you? Do you spend more time writing or more time on the responsibilities of being your own press?

JDB: I work a full-time day job, so 8:30am to 5:30pm I have very limited time to answer emails, etc. I can't actively engage much in networking or marketing then either, because I'm at work. My writing/publishing work "day" starts after dinner around 7:30 or 8pm at night, and until 10pm or so, I focus on networking, marketing, web site & blog updates, and other administrative projects. Any editing I have fits into that time slot as well, and I do a lot of editing & administration on the weekends. 10:30pm to around 1am is my writing time, which includes plotting, outlining, brainstorming and drafting (and tearing myself away from twitter). Luckily I'm very organized, and keep a fairly rigid schedule so everything gets done for the most part. And because I only publish my own work (under three names) though my press, everything I do as far as writing/editing goes applies to my business as well. It would be much different if I were publishing others (I couldn't do it, and still write/publish my own books – there's just not enough time).

PPM: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

JDB: One of my main strengths is writing in scenes that pull the reader through the book. Several of the reviews I've gotten mention that the reader couldn't put the book down, and I attribute that skill to my serial writing, where my job is to entice the reader to come back for another installment.
As for weaknesses, I have a hard time adding enough description, I don't always set up character motivations as well as I should (getting better though!), and I'm a serial comma abuser (both too many, and not enough). Thank goodness for beta readers and editors. 

PPM: What is average for a self-publisher and why do you consider your start slow?

JDB: I've heard that the average self-published book sells around 200 copies total. I'm not sure if that's actually still true or not with the advent of digital publishing, but I do know that of all the self-publishers I've watched, the vast majority don't start selling much until they've published at least three books. After that, it comes down to writing quality and marketing savvy – those who work at it do well, those who don't...don't. 

I consider my start slow because I engineered it to be slow (slow isn't equal to "bad"). Tempest released in August, and so far I've sold around 60 copies (print & ebook combined). There are a few other indie authors who really pushed hard and marketed their first books in a flurry who have sold over 1000 copies in less time, but I really didn't want to do that. I wanted to take my time and experiment with different marketing methods instead, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time marketing when I knew I'd need a good backlist for steady, maintainable sales anyway. My marketing is pretty low-key at the moment, though I'm working in new methods as I have time. All of this is part of my business strategy, and my plan to build slow, steady growth, which I believe will be better for the long-term viability of my business.

PPM: Do you ever just marvel at how much you’ve accomplished so far? Did you think it would be like this when you started?

JDB: I rarely marvel at how much I've done...mostly because it doesn't really feel like I've done all that much just yet. There's still so much to do before I reach my goals, but I'm pleased with my progress so far. When I started, I kept my expectations very low, so it's been better and more rewarding than I could have predicted. I'm really glad I went the independent route, and I doubt I'll ever pursue traditional publication.

PPM: Besides being an author and a owning a small press, do you have any other major undertakings planned or in the works?

JDB: Ha! Ask me again when I've made enough money writing/publishing to quit my day job (five years is the goal). Until then, my schedule is all maxed out for the foreseeable future.

PPM: What skills from your non-literary life have helped you the most in becoming an author?

JDB: I love to watch and analyze people. Introverted by nature, I've always been sort of an "outsider" – at a party, I'm usually the one sitting in the corner, happily sipping my drink and just watching everyone interact around me. I've always been pretty organized too, which helps not only with scheduling and working on multiple projects at once, but with plotting and keeping my characters straight as well. 

PPM: Would you recommend other writings to pursue the path you’ve chosen and if so, what advice would you give?

New Release by DeBree: Jan 2011
JDB: For beginners or those on the fence, I'd highly recommend Becoming an Indie Author by Zoe Winters. It's a great overview of what's needed to self-publish a book and/or set up your own publishing company if that's the direction you want to go. It also gives a rough order for how all those things need to be done, which I would have found very helpful when I was preparing to release my first book. 

Most of what I've learned so far has been through reading blogs, engaging in forums and communities for self-publishers, and watching what other indies do so I can emulate what works (and avoid what doesn't). My advice to anyone considering self-publishing is to be proactive in searching out both information and other indies online. The information is all out there, most of it free if you're willing to do the legwork. 

by Carrie Bailey


  1. What a lovely surprise this morning, Carrie! Thanks so much for hosting me...it was a great interview. :-)

  2. Very insightful I think. Thanks for being interviewed.

  3. Great Interview, Jamie :-)