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Success Stories: Congratulations to Sanctuary Editorial Client Brooke Marley Jones on Publishing Her Book!

Congratulations to Brooke Marley Jones, who just published her Adult Fantasy, The Forest Where the Phoenix Sleeps! When I first edited this book, I loved the voice of a barista kidnapped to a very strange land and all the action and suspense. I bet you'll see what I mean from the very first line of this interview...


1. Can you tell us a little about The Forest Where the Phoenix Sleeps?


The Forest Where the Phoenix Sleeps follows a burned-out barista named Nell, who, while walking home one night, accidentally incinerates someone. It’s during this rather unexpected arson that Nell realizes she’s magic.


Huh, neat.


Unfortunately, during this altercation, Nell is mortally wounded. Fortunately, Darragh, a rugged and magical outcast, witnessed the entire thing. To save Nell’s life, Darragh whisks Nell away to a world where magic reigns. However, as is so often the case with magic, it comes at a price. In this terrifying world, the monsters that lurk in the darkest corners of Nell’s nightmares await her.


Where did all these wonderful, troubling ideas come from? Well, I’ve always been a fervent daydreamer, and one day, after reading a very popular book about courts and thorns and roses, I thought to myself, I think I can do this. So, I grabbed the notebook I always carry for scribbling ideas, and one sentence popped right off the page. It was a quote that I had intended to be the last line in a book. Building from that final quote, I wrote my story.


In just four harrowing—age-multiplying—years, The Forest Where the Phoenix Sleeps was born!


2. How has your experience with indie publishing been? How has the reality of it compared to what you'd heard about it previously to trying it yourself?


I’ve discovered there’s always a great many things to do, and I don’t quite know how to do any of them.


The most amazing part of abandoning the traditional route and pursuing indie publishing is that you remain responsible for every tiny facet of your book.


Unfortunately, that’s also the most terrifying part.


Suddenly, you’re waking up in the middle of the night wondering: How do I get an ISBN? Or a barcode? Will my book be six by nine inches or five by eight? What does that do for spine width? Will my title still fit on the cover? How do I price my book so that I can still make a profit when it sells in Australia? The reality of indie publishing is that you’re going to have to do most, if not everything, yourself. I suggest you brush up on your research skills, because Google and YouTube just became your closest associates.


That being said, it’s imperative that you understand your limits. I knew I needed a developmental editor to look over my story, that’s why I sought out Sanctuary Editorial. I also knew I needed extra help with punctuation and grammar. That’s why I took an editing course through my local college, realized my own inadequacies, and hired a professional copy writer / proofreader. The same goes with formatting and cover design. So, while indie publishing is a tremendous amount of work for the author, it’s also important to know when to step back and let a specialist take over. With this combination you’ll create a professional book that holds up against even the most scrutable of readers, and show those big traditional publishers that, whatever they can do, us indie authors can do too.


3. I know you've done quite a bit to market your book. Is there anything that's been particularly fun or useful that you'd want to share with other authors hoping to try the indie path?


Engage with your audience!!! Make friends in book groups and have fun with your readers. Think of your favourite author. Now, imagine you were in a group and could ask them questions, how amazing would that be?


Long before I planned to publish independently, I participated in book groups on Facebook. That’s how I made friends and built a reputation as a meme queen and jokester. In time, this allowed me convenient access to eager ARC readers, who ultimately turned into die-hard fans. Don’t underestimate your book buddies, seriously. They’ll promote your book just as much, if not more than you ever could.


4. Speaking of book buddies, tell me what you're reading lately!


I've been reading and loving a romantasy by Mariah Montoya. It's called By the Orchid and the Owl, and in a fun coincidence, she's located in the exact same town you're based out of--Boise Idaho!


5. Wow, that is a weird coincidence! Love it! So, what would you say is the best thing you've done for yourself, through this whole publishing process?


The best thing I did for myself was set aside a budget for a cover designer. Now, I knew I wanted an illustrator to design my cover. In an era of creeping A.I., I wanted a human—an artist to paint my dream for me. At first, I hated the process. Every artist, illustrator, or designer was booked into oblivion. It was during one of my lowest lows that I stumbled on an illustrator in Finland, named Eeva Nikunen. Instantly, I fell in love with her designs, and what was even better, she responded to my e-mail!



Despite what people say, everyone judges a book by its cover. My goal was to create a craveable cover that did justice to the whimsical, frightening tale within. So, I did my groundwork, and after many long-winded emails (on my behalf), Eeva conjured something magic.

If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t stray a single step from the path I chose.


5. What’s your top tip for other indie authors? (mental health tip or writing tip)


Don’t stop.


There will be a million reasons to quit, and you need to find a million and one reasons to keep going. In retrospect, I don’t (often) think of the one hundred agents who rejected me. No, I think about every single reader who’s approached me saying that I’ve written their favourite book. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d stopped, if I’d let those rejections stall me. If I could impart one tip to every indie author out there, it’s that you must keep going.


Do it in spite of those who’ve rejected you.


Do it for all the people whose favourite book might never be written without you.


And do it for yourself. As an author, there’s no richer feeling in this world than holding your book after you refused to quit. You can do it.


If you just don’t stop.

 

 Walking home late one night, burned-out barista Nell accidentally incinerates someone.


Whoopsie!


Now, if this tale began in a fantastic, far-away land, or Nell were, perhaps, a wizard, such a mishap might make some kind of sense. But this is not a wondrous, fantasy world. This is real life, and Nell just wanted to go home and eat macaroni. As Nell stares upon the smoldering corpse, she realizes something with horrifying certainty: She’s magic.


And not the cute, pulling-a-rabbit-from-a-hat kind of magic.


Unfortunately, during Nell’s little outburst, she suffers a mortal injury. Fortunately, Darragh, a rugged and magical outcast, witnessed the entire incident. To save Nell’s life, Darragh whisks her away to a world where magic reigns. However, as is so often the case with magic, it comes at a price. In this harsh world, the entities that lurk in the darkest corners of Nell's nightmares await her in hungry anticipation.


As Nell and Darragh vanquish monsters and ghouls, their affections for one another take root. Just when this treacherous tale is beginning to look like a love story, Darragh is captured by a wretched, cadaverous queen.


Now, it’s up to Nell to save him


The Forest Where the Phoenix Sleeps boasts portal magic reminiscent of A Darker Shade of Magic, the romance of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the action-packed adventure of Daughter of the Moon Goddess, and the humour of Tress of the Emerald Sea.  

 


 



Brooke writes fairy tales and nightmares filled with tenderness and terror. Her stories take place in wild woods and gothic buildings, overgrown by roses and forgotten to the world. In this lifetime, Brooke resides in Niagara with her beautiful husband and two fluffy cats.


You can find her on Instagram @whimsicalnightmarenovelist

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