Tag Archives: indie authors

Catherine West, Author of Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Catherine West

Catherine West writes stories that connect with readers’ imaginations and with their hearts. Her novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 from OakTara Press, and she’s re-releasing it now as an independent author.

Because I loved the story, and because I’m also a newly independent author re-releasing a traditionally-published book, I asked Cathy if we could chat.

Janet: Welcome, Cathy, and thanks for taking time to join us. Congratulations on this second edition of Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Fantastic new cover, which we’ll talk about in a bit. For now, tell us about the story itself.

Cathy: Vietnam, 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Janet: Yesterday’s Tomorrow is written from a Christian worldview, yet it’s gritty and real. Not the sweet sort of story many associate with the genre. I’m glad there’s room for stories like this. What’s the takeaway it offers to readers?

Cathy: I think readers can really take as much or as little from this story as they wish. The main theme that runs throughout is forgiveness. Both Luke and Kristin make life-changing mistakes they must come to terms with and grieve in their own way, but to truly move past those dark moments they must learn to forgive themselves and each other. I also like the theme of redemption that is ever present. God truly can take any situation and redeem it for good, sometimes when we least expect it.

Janet: Since it’s set during the Vietnam War, you didn’t have to update to match current technology, but did you make any changes for this edition?

Cathy: I worked with freelance editor Mick Silva, on this edition. Outside of one big change, the real magic was in the telling of the story, tightening tension, polishing the prose, and making the plot even more intriguing and motives more believable. I think at the end of it we have an even better offering. I hope readers will agree.

Janet: Do you have a favourite character in Yesterday’s Tomorrow?

Cathy: Ah. Of course. Luke Maddox will forever hold a place in my heart no matter how many books I write. He’s the type of guy you love to hate at the beginning, but by the first half of the book you realize just how wonderful he is and you can’t wait for Kristin to finally wake up and see that too. 🙂
Yesterday's Tomorrow, by Catherine West

Janet: The original cover was striking, but I think the new one is more so. And I like how it reflects both the war and the romance elements. What goes into designing a great cover?

Cathy: I love this cover so much. Dineen Miller did an amazing job! She had read the story, so she knew what I was looking for right off the bat. While still giving some hint of the era and the war backdrop, we really wanted to play up the romance, and I think the images we finally agreed on do that very well.

Janet: When did you decide to get your publication rights back and go indie? Was it a long process?

Cathy: It usually takes about six months for the process to be completed. My agent and I made the decision back in January.

Janet: There’s a lot for an independent author to learn, but more and more people are choosing this route. Do you have a few favourite resources to share?

Cathy: I don’t have a whole lot of experience going this route yet. I’ve joined a few Indie author groups on Facebook and I’m learning a lot from the folks there. I’m reading a lot of books on self-publishing and marketing, but I don’t know enough to make any recommendations yet.

Janet: What’s the most exciting thing for you as an indie author?

Cathy: I like having control over my books, I guess. It’s all so new that I’m not really sure yet. 🙂 It’s nice to know that if I want to do a free or 99 cent day offering, I can do that.

Janet: What’s the biggest challenge?

Cathy: I was fortunate to be able to work with my agency Books & Such, on this Indie venture, so they dealt with Amazon and all the formatting etc… I imagine that would be very difficult and I was glad not to have to do that! The biggest challenge, I think, will be marketing and making sure the book gets the best exposure. But that’s the same with traditional publishing as well.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers, especially those considering the independent route?

Cathy: Independent publishing is a viable option nowadays, but you really want to make sure you’re putting your best work out there. I highly recommend working with a freelance editor on any project, even something you’re planning to submit to an agent or publisher. It’s really hard to pick up mistakes, grammar or spelling, when you’ve read something over a hundred times! And objective, professional eye – an editor with experience – is worth the investment. There are many to choose from so ask around, get recommendations from authors you trust, and really make sure that you find someone you believe you can work well with, especially if you want a substantive edit rather than just a line edit.

Janet: Are you planning to re-release your second novel, Hidden in the Heart, as well?

Cathy: Yes, that is in process.

Janet: What other projects do you have in the works?

Cathy: I have four completed novels making the rounds at the moment, so we’ll see what comes next with those.

Janet: Life is more than writing. Tell us something you appreciate about living in Bermuda.

Cathy: I love the beauty of this island. The sparkling blue waters, pink sands, green hedges and colourful flowers everywhere, no matter the time of the year. I’m not a city person nor do I enjoy winter, so island living suits me fine. There’s also a slower place here, which I like. Nobody’s ever really in a hurry.

Janet: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Cathy: Hmm. Neither really. I used to be a night owl, I worked well after midnight and still got up and functioned fine the next morning. Not so much anymore. I like to be in bed by 11pm at the latest. I’m definitely not a morning person though. I need my coffee and a couple hours silence before I’m ready to interact with the world.

Janet: What’s your favourite food?

Cathy: I would say chocolate pudding cake, but it’s a migraine trigger for me, so I have to stay away from it. Chilled lobster with hot garlic butter sauce is definitely up there on the list!

Janet: Sounds good to me! Thanks so much for visiting today, Cathy, and all the best with your new ventures. I hope many new readers discover and appreciate your fiction.

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Yesterday’s Tomorrow, second edition, is now available in ebook and print formats through your favourite retailers. (The first edition is still available too, with the original cover, so be sure you get the new one.) There have been a few changes for this new edition, but the basic story is the same. You can read my review of the first edition here. I look forward to reading the new version soon.

So What’s the Fuss About Indie Authors?

Independent AuthorsWhat’s an indie author, anyway? Independent. Self-published, but also self-directed and self-marketed.

As has always been the case, many authors self-publish because they’re not offered a traditional contract. That might mean their work isn’t high-quality, but it might also mean they have a great book for a small market. Publishers have to have high sales volume to cover their overhead. Or it could mean any number of other things. Maybe they defy genres. Or they just don’t fit in the marketing “box.”

Others are confident, tech-savvy, and would have to think long and hard about accepting a traditional publishing contract. They like their freedom and the higher rate of return per book sale.

As technology makes this option more accessible to writers and as the publishing houses are clinging more to known sellers and avoiding risk-taking, independent publishing can only rise.

For Readers:

Best bet? If you’re interested in any book, especially an independently-published one, use Amazon.com’s “look inside” feature (even if you plan to buy elsewhere–shhh). See what you think of the writing. Read some of the reviews, alert for clues about the quality.

Like Christian fiction? If you’re on Facebook, check out the Christian Indie Books group. You can scroll through the posts or click the “photos” tab to see galleries of participating authors’ books.

Or find Christian Indie Authors on Pinterest.

For Writers:

Here are some resources I’ve found very helpful:

Going Indie Internationally, by Valerie Comer, posted at International Christian Fiction Writers: part 1 & part 2.

India Drummond has an excellent Tutorial Walkthrough: Formatting Documents for Createspace. (Thank you to Steve Vernon for sharing this link with me.)

Online writers’ groups, especially those with a section for indie authors. Also, Createspace, Kindle Direct, Kobo’s Writing Life and others have user forums.

Why Me?

I was happily published with a traditional house, and I loved it. Choose NOW Publishing is small enough that they invited and accepted my input. I felt like part of the team. I learned a lot from the marketing director, and had flexibility in setting dates and price points for sales. When Choose NOW decided to discontinue its fiction line, I was disappointed, but I saw the potential. I’d already been learning what I needed to know for the indie route, and it was either finish the Redemption’s Edge series on my own or kiss it goodbye.

This summer I reacquired my rights to Heaven’s Prey (and bought the cover because I loved it too much to commission a different one). The series will stay together, even though there’s a definite downshift in the intensity level after book 1.

Heaven’s Prey, second edition with Canadian spellings and with the majorly embarrassing mistake corrected, is now available for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks and Scribd. The print book will be out shortly.

Redemption’s Edge #2, Secrets and Lies, is in the final editing stages and the cover will be ready sometime in September. I hope to release it November 1. Stay tuned for more information, and remember that my newsletter subscribers get the first look at the new cover!