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Author Spotlight: Patti Davis

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Jun 10, 2013 5:16:53 AM Davis comes from a famous family, but she wants her work as a writer to speak for itself. As a long-time journalist and author, she had written her fair share of non-fiction books about the Reagans, but Patti wanted to focus on her passion for novel-writing. After rejections from publishers who told her they only wanted books with Reagan themes, she knew it was time to take matters into her own hands. Read on to learn about Patti's new novel, Till Human Voices Wake Us, and how she took control by independently publishing with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).


Tell us about your book.

About 12 years ago, I overheard a conversation about two sisters-in-law who fell in love with each other and simultaneously divorced their husbands. They simply fell in love, unexpectedly and deeply. I thought this was wonderfully complicated and would make a great basis for a novel. I'd also hung onto another story of a woman who lost her young son in a swimming pool accident. I combined the two stories in Till Human Voices Wake Us, feeling that in the shattering of grief, in the unspeakable pain of losing a child, what had once seemed impossible might suddenly become possible.


Care to share your author bio?

I have published eight books, three of which were novels, but my non-fiction is what I'm most known for. Pat Conroy once said it's both a blessing and a curse for a writer to be born into an interesting family. No one would deny that the Reagan family is interesting, and yes, I have gone into that well many times. But throughout my writing career, I have also worked on novels that have nothing to do with my family.


I also do a lot of journalistic work. I have written for Time, Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Town and Country, Ladies' Home Journal, More, Allure and a few others. I've also written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Hallmark Channel produced a screenplay of mine, Sacrifices of the Heart, a few years ago.


How did you come to independent publishing?

My books had previously been published traditionally, so I thought I'd stay on that course for my novels. Till Human Voices Wake Us was sent around a few years ago. It got rave reviews by editors, but no offers. The consensus was, "Patti Davis is known for writing about her family. Where are the Reagans in here?" ("Nowhere in this book" is the answer.) I soldiered on, wrote two other novels, and couldn't get those published either, although editors liked them.


I began to fear that I would die with unpublished novels on my computer, and that wasn't okay with me. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and self-publish. There is something inherently infantilizing about the publishing world. Authors have to wait for approval and hope for permission to put their work out there. It seems to me that more and more authors - both new and established - are no longer accepting that.


I had been watching the self-publishing trend for a while, particularly Amazon, which has clearly led the way in what I believe is a new era in publishing. I never had any doubt that if I published independently it would be with KDP and CreateSpace. I've found both to be very helpful.


Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out? 

I initially promoted the book on Facebook and Twitter and got immediate sales. Promoting your work online is crucial. We live in a digital age now, a world of social media. That's where the power is. I'm continuing to learn about promoting my work on the web, which is a big adventure for me. I did a few conventional things, but I am trying to tailor my promotional activities to things that focus on my writing - not my life or my family.


What are your goals with your book project?

My goal is to have Till Human Voices Wake Us sell for a long time. Conventional publishers pull the rug out from underneath you if you don't sell thousands of copies right away. But artistic success is a marathon, not a sprint. That's another benefit to indie publishing.


I want this novel, and my other two (which I plan to self-publish as well) to succeed under the radar that people are accustomed to when it comes to my career. If I can succeed with these books as an author, and chart this course myself, I will have entered a new phase of my writing career, which I very much want to do.


What has been your greatest success so far?

My biggest success is that people are reviewing my novel for itself and not reviewing me as the former First Daughter. It's what all writers want: to have their work judged on its own merits.


I have always been in love with writing; I have never been in love with the professional part of being a published author. It always felt like an adversarial situation. Authors do look at their books like their children. We gave birth to them, nurtured them, and then we have to put them out into the world. With conventional publishers, I felt like I was taking my child to a strange city, dropping that child off in the senseless murder district, and saying, "Hope you make it." But with indie publishing, for the first time, as an author, I don't feel like that.

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