Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I’m McKella, or M. K. Sawyer, and I’m YA/NA paranormal fantasy author. My first novel, The Goblin’s Daughter, will be released in ebook and paperback on June 30th! I live in northern Utah with my husband and cat, and when I’m not writing I love to make art and spend time outside. My love of art and nature tend to show up a lot in my writing as well.
I honestly don’t remember what inspired me to start writing, because I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always loved making up stories, even before I could write. I remember being four years old and not wanting to take a nap, and just lying in my bed making up little stories in my head.
I read voraciously in my childhood and teens, and somewhere in there I started writing. Sometimes I’d even stay in from recess to write stories in the library or my classroom. I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my childhood self would be very unsurprised that I’m publishing a book. She’d probably just wonder what took me so long!
Tell us about your books.
My novel, The Goblin’s Daughter, is about a young girl named Nolin and her struggle to fit in and earn the love of her mentally ill mother. The mother and daughter are being stalked by an unseen presence that lives in the forest surrounding their town. When Nolin starts to see this being and delve into secrets of her mother’s past, she learns that she, Nolin, may not be human.
It’s a character-driven story about two damaged people and the universal struggle to find belonging, with a paranormal twist and the spookiness of a ghost story. Think White Oleander with goblins.
How did you go about getting published?
I queried agents for about a year and got a few nibbles before I decided to go the indie route. I was an unknown author with no platform, and I knew it would be difficult to get a publishing deal, but I got sick of waiting for someone else’s permission to publish my book.
So I started learning everything I could about indie publishing, hired a professional editor and designer, and produced the book myself. So far, I’m loving the process and this whole world of indie authors.
I’ll admit, I was a little freaked out by the stigma of self-publishing of first, but then I realized how silly that was. Indie musicians, artists, and filmmakers are considered cool and even trendy, so what’s wrong with being an indie author? Nothing.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I usually write in the morning because that’s when I can get it done. If I wait too long in the day, something else will inevitably come up.
As for my actual process, I’m a pantser. I usually come up with a concept and a loose outline for a book before I write it, but most of the story just comes to me as I write. If I try to plan too much in advance, I’ll explore tangents and what ifs until I’m so off-track that my outline is useless. If I force myself to stick to an outline, the story falls flat.
I’m still trying to find the perfect balance of planning and pantsing, and it’s different with every book. All I know is that if I start to get stuck, I just have to sit down and write, and a solution will usually show up.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I work as a freelance writer and virtual assistant for online businesses, which gives me a lot of flexibility to work on my fiction projects.
I also have a lot of creative energy that likes to be worked in different ways, so I juggle a lot of hobbies. I’m an artist and I’ve sold paintings on Etsy for years. I also love to travel, ride horses, hike, mountain bike, play the ukulele, hula hoop, and spend time with my furry family members like my fluff monster cat, Louka. I actually write a lot of my fiction with her curled up in my lap.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Unless you 100% know what you’re doing, hire the best designer you can afford. Your cover is what readers see first and ultimately, they will judge the book by its cover. Make sure it looks professional and matches the mood and genre of your book.
I found my designer, David Provolo, on Reedsy, which is an amazing resource for connecting with professionally vetted editors and designers. I highly recommend it!
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
I’m still learning this myself, but my best piece of advice is this: Think long term. You’re not just pushing book sales. You’re building an audience make of real people, real readers. Your goal should be to connect with people who would love your book.
Talk to people in real life and on the internet. Treat them like friends. All of your marketing efforts should be about connections, not just sales.
For more specific tips, I think more authors should focus on building their email lists, because that’s the best way to stay in touch with readers. Social media is great and all, but any of those platforms could go away tomorrow. Your list actually belongs to you, so you’ll never lose those contacts.
What’s your favorite book?
I have a lot. I’m a huge Potterhead (I have a Deathly Hallows tattooed on the wrist of my wand arm), but I also really love White Oleander by Janet Fitch. That book was a huge influence on my writing voice.
What are you reading now?
I’m usually reading several books in print, ebook, and audio format. Right now I’m working through the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and The Dreamland series by E. J. Mellow.
What’s your next book project?
Right now I’m working on a paranormal fantasy trilogy that I hope to start rolling out in early 2019. I’m exploring a lot of themes I’ve been fascinated with for years like reincarnation, time travel, and psychic abilities, so I’m super excited for this.
I’m not revealing the title yet (mostly because I’m still tossing ideas around), but I can say that the tone is a bit lighter than The Goblin’s Daughter, though it still goes to some dark places. Fans of The Goblin’s Daughter will love it.