Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Featured Author: Tracy Falbe

Tracy Falbe not only writes great fantasy books, she embodies the spirit of the indie book entrepreneur. Her four volume series, The Rys Chronicles, is published by Falbe Publishing, under her own brand, Braveluck Books. In addition to being available at Smashwords.com, her books are sold through her fully functional eStore, in any non-DRM format, and at Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions.
Volume One: Union of Renegades is available at the lowest possible price at both Smashwords.com and Amazon.com, and as a download at ther blog, Her Ladyship's Quest.
The more I read about her books and Indie marketing skills, the more I know SBR readers will appreciate hearing from Tracy about the effort she has put into this project.

Q&A With Tracy Falbe:
Your website Her Ladyship’s Quest looks wonderful. How did you set it all up?
My blog is set up through Blogger.com. Originally it had one of the free blogspot.com domains, but I purchased the dedicated domain of www.herladyshipsquest.com a few months ago through the Blogger system. It was very affordable and lets me still use the Blogger publishing interface. Really anyone can do it.
As for the merchandising page at the blog, I used the same system that I use at my main website. Buy buttons through Paypal.com and automatic downloads through Payloadz.com. These third party vendors let you set up everything with copy and past codes.
The Rys Chronicles are in four volumes, each with its own central thematic structure. Tell us about the original idea and its evolution.
That is a tough question. I began the first novel Union of Renegades in 1997. At the time I wanted to explore with my hero, Dreibrand, the desire to break away from what you are supposed to do. Just stop following the rules and do what you want to please yourself. Refuse to accept the path that is presented to you by others. At the time in my personal life I was quitting a halfway decent job in Nevada because I was sick of it and moving to Northern California where I had no job and did not know anybody. Most people thought I was nuts, but I just checked myself out of the rat race. Fortune favors the bold you know. Of course, in my fiction things are much more interesting than my life. My hero gets to kill people, win vast treasures, be friends with the most powerful being in the world, and found a kingdom.
In my series, I also wanted to create a female fantasy character who was not just some young virginal princess. This is where Miranda came from. She is a woman who suffers the abuse of an exploitative society and snatches at every chance she gets to have power. She possesses no innocence, but, as a mother and a person who has known oppression, she is compassionate.
As my imagination continued to reveal the series, I wanted to write fantasy flavored by my American heritage with westward expansion, people seeking freedom, native civilizations resisting conquerors, slavery, rebellion against tyranny, and founding new societies.
Because I write fantasy I of course needed magic in my series. I did not want to just grab the concept of “elves” out of the toolbox, so I created my own race called the rys. Most of them have only limited common magic. They can cast heat spells and remote view over short distances, but a few rys have astounding powers. They can see across vast distances, read minds, influence thoughts, cast destructive attack spells, heal flesh, create elaborately enchanted physical objects, enslave souls, and more. These are the rys that battle for power, and the human characters basically always need to be allied with a rys champion in order to achieve anything. I construct my stories with a rys-level plot, a human-level plot, and a plot that joins the two levels.
Each novel in the series contains a whole story because I feel a novel should have a story arc with a beginning, middle, and end. And then each novel contributes to the series by assembling a grand epic. I’ve read some series in which each book just builds up to something that then gets punted to the next book. It is important for something to HAPPEN in a novel, so I work to craft a story within each novel. I hesitate to say that each novel is a stand alone novel because each one contributes to the next, but I always resolve some plot lines in each book. I want the reader to feel like he or she is making progress and not always pining for the great big finale.
When I first published the books I often worried that I did not have proper cliffhangers at the end of each one. Maybe this is a mistake, but I’ve had readers write me and say that they just have to find out what happens next even though I don’t leave anyone tied to burning stakes or falling over waterfalls at the end of each novel. I try not to push readers too often with artificial dramatic devices.
Has fantasy always been your genre?
Yes. I have been reading the genre consistently since I was 12 or 13. I read and enjoy other things as well. I am mostly a nonfiction junkie. I’ll devour books on sociology, economics, politics, history, anthropology, hobbies, and just about any subject that catches my eye. I just finished a book about feng shui, so I’m now officially determined to align myself with the forces of my environment.
Tell us about Falbe Publishing.
Falbe Publishing is my actual company. I produce one nonfiction title Get Dicey that is a how to play craps book. I used to work in Las Vegas as a craps dealer so I know the game well. Get Dicey was my first publication that I used to start the company. Then out of Falbe Publishing I created the fantasy imprint Brave Luck Books www.braveluck.com to produce The Rys Chronicles. I also publish several small informational websites that generate revenue from Google ads. I also have a collection of free-to-download public domain classics. These represent old titles that I’ve read and enjoyed.
Do you offer books through Amazon?
Yes. All my titles in trade paperback have been at Amazon for years, and just this summer I added The Rys Chronicles to the Kindle store when the royalty structure became more attractive.
What websites do you enjoy?
I follow the History and Women blog http://www.historyandwomen.com by Mirella Patzer, author of The Pendant, which I am currently reading. At her blog she posts fascinating mini biographies of women throughout history. She really comes up with interesting subjects. I enjoy surfing around YouTube.com, especially to watch music videos. I like Self Publishing Review http://www.selfpublishingreview.com. For a while this year I was addicted to People of Wal-mart http://www.peopleofwalmart.com but it eventually became unbearable. It’s grotesquely funny, but continual daily viewing will make you lose all hope for the future of humanity.
What are you working on now?
Oh, how I have been working! I am writing another four-part epic fantasy series of course. I’m closing in on the completion of the third novel. I’ve been working on the project slowly since about 2004, but I’m finally gaining steam now that I’ve broken the habit of being pregnant and giving birth. It’s really killing me sitting on these novels, but I won’t be publishing until the whole quartet is complete. I go back and forth and fiddle with the characters and societal details as I write the series. I did the same thing with The Rys Chronicles. All four novels were written before I started publishing them.
I don’t have a working title for the new series yet, but it is set in the same world as The Rys Chronicles only it is 2,200 years in the past. So, I’m working on creating two ancient human civilizations, plus the young rys society and the existing tabre society, so it’s been grueling, but I’m pleased with how all the elements are coming together. Of course all these societies have to make war in a colossal and tragic clash of civilizations. I really can’t wait until I have it all written. It will be a relief to get it out of my head.
What inspires you to write?
Although I use the fantasy genre, I gather inspirations from many things in current events. There are so many dramatic and terrible things in the world. A lot of suffering and injustice that I hear about in the news goes into the development of my characters. Of course, it is the fantasy genre so I get to do other things that are fun, like create master assassin warlords and imperial officers and magical beings tormented by the dark temptations of their powers. I must also admit that I am intellectually fascinated by the political role of religion throughout history and how it is used to control whole societies.
Mostly I write because I need it as a therapeutic creative outlet. I can’t imagine not writing novels. I’ve known ever since I was a kid that I wanted to write novels.
Do you have any advice for other Indie authors?
Don’t stop trying. Every sale to every single reader is greatly fulfilling, at least to me. With digital publishing there is really nothing to make you stop pursuing your dream of reaching an audience. The barrier of cost is low, so keep doing it. Use all the distribution channels available to you at Smashwords. Also make sure you have your own website where you market yourself and at this website include a way to sell your work. I’m astonished at how some authors don’t bother selling directly to readers. Many do of course, but I’ve read in forums how writers say it would not be worth the bother. Well, it’s not much bother with Paypal and any download service you want to use. Any sale without giving a cut to a middleman is most excellent. Your website will hardly rival the exposure at big retailers, but I still can’t think of a single reason not to do it. Before there was Smashwords or the Kindle store or anything like that, my website was the only place people bought my ebooks.
Honestly though, I wish I had some miraculous marketing advice, but I don’t really. I plug along just like everyone else.
How did Books Two and Three and Four change your marketing plan? 
I always had a series to market. There was never a point at which there was a Book One and nothing else published. Book One and Two were published simultaneously and then I got the last two books out the next year. They had been completely written when I published the first two but still needed some editing. My approach has always been to give away Book One so people will have a chance to get into the series. If they like it, then some buy the rest of the novels.

What's it like to try to get a series of books out?

A huge bunch of work! There's just so much editing and formatting and checking details back and forth between novels. Plus I have to write promotional copy and descriptions and everything. Just deciding on titles for each novel took months. Luckily I happen to be a person who thrives on colossal tasks that take a long time to finish. I must have built cathedrals in a past life. I break everything into small tasks and just chip away at it. From writing the first word to publishing all four parts of The Rys Chronicles was a 10-year process.

Now that you have one series available, do you plan another?

Absolutely. For some reason I am a person who can only dream up stories in multiple volumes.


  1. Very good interview and excellent answers by Tracy. I particularly like this part of one of the answers.

    "Every sale to every single reader is greatly fulfilling, at least to me."

    Best of luck to Tracy!

  2. Fantastic and inspiring interview. "Don't stop trying" - yes.