We know two things about author Kiera Cass: her series The Selection is a New York Times bestseller, and that she’s in Manila to answer almost every question you have about it.
But little did we know that before all the fame, she peddled a breakout novel titled The Siren online, garnering her the belittled title of self-published author. It’s easy to crush one’s success over a self-published work, but do we really know what it entails? And what if the work was—according to amateur, unfiltered reviews—all but great?
Kiera explains. Sit down and read.
Tell us how the process of self-publishing your own book was like.
The self-publishing happened because I was working on a project and my best friend Liz and I were making Twilight spoofs. In one of the videos, she mentioned that I was finishing a book. Then people were like, “Oh, Kiera’s writing? Could we see the book?” Then I was like, well, okay, I’ll try to get it published.
I tried to go the traditional route, but it didn’t quite pan out. After 83 letters and finding an agent, nobody wanted it but people still want to read it, so I did it anyway.
It’s difficult to do it on your own. Now, it’s become easier because the stigma around self-publishing has gotten less awful. It’s great to have a team—my editors and agents are on my side. They know how to make my books sell in a store, and I can’t do that. Still, self-publishing is a healthy alternative now.
What was it like having so much freedom over your own work?
I didn’t know much about editing at all! Now that I have an editor to make me realize how little I know is really eye-opening. The truth is, I can write but I’m not a great editor with all the polishing. That aspect was pretty difficult.
What have your learned from your editor?
I didn’t realize how much I repeat words. The word ‘just’ comes up a lot. And she also helps in making me fully explain something. In the early part ofThe Selection, there wasn’t a history lesson in it. I knew how the country came to be in my head, but I didn’t give that information to the audience. My editor is good in asking questions and fleshing out the world—it becomes richer.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Pros would be the control and the duration. You can get a book out much faster if you self-publish it than you can traditionally.
But the great thing about traditional publishing is that you can really catch the mistakes, and have a really well-made book if you can’t do it on your own. I know there are writers out there who are also great self-editors and can make good cover art. I did not have the skill. For me, the pros of traditional publishing are much higher than the pros of self-publishing.
How has the self-publishing helped you become the author you are now?
It helped me in the fact that I don’t have to think about the actual promotion of the book. I was coming up with really creative ways to get the book out there, so I got people to join contests and do videos. They were ways for them to get creative and have fun. It was a whole little community, and at the same time, they sort of helped get the word out.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m using my fans, but I just want to say they’re valuable. It’s great to have this community you can talk to.
What’s the misconception on self-publishing that people need to drop right now?
To assume that the author is not a real writer. Maybe there was a time [when] it was true because if anybody could publish it, then anybody can publish it—but that doesn’t mean it was good work. But more and more, you’ll find more people who actually make good books and are eventually picked up by traditional publishers. It’s hard work all the same.
Kiera Cass will be holding a book signing session tomorrow, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m., at the Manila International Book Fair in SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. The session is limited to 200 slots only.
Photo by Acushla Obusan