Today I am welcoming independent author of historical fiction, Gemma Lawrence, into the Indie Spotlight. Gemma writes as G. Lawrence and is particularly interested in the Tudors.
I am an independently published author, and proud to be so. Living in a little cottage in Wales in the UK, I love where I live as much as I love to write.
The age of the Tudors has been an obsession for me since I was a child, and many of my upcoming books will centre on that time, but I also pen the odd dystopian fiction or historical fiction from other time periods. I will be releasing all my titles on amazon, for kindle and then hopefully for print later.
I studied Literature (with a capital L) at University and usually have twenty or more books I’m currently reading. Reading and writing are about mood for me, and I haven’t found a genre I didn’t enjoy something about so far…
You can often find me on Wattpad or Twitter when I’m not writing.
Contact Gemma Here:
Gemma’s GoodReads page:
Gemma’s Author page on Amazon.co.uk:
Gemma’s author page on Amazon.com:
Hi Gemma. Welcome to my first Indie Spotlight of 2021. I hope this year will prove to be a better one for all of us!
What made you decide to publish your books independently?
There were several reasons. I went through one round of sending my first book out to agents and although I had positive responses, many seemed to think the Tudor fiction market had been done and there was nothing left to offer, something I disagreed with then and still do now! I wanted to be an author, and a friend, already a successful indie, told me to try indie publishing. I did, and two years later I left my day job and became a full-time author. I think that also shows that the Tudor fiction market was, at least for readers, entirely open with more to offer!
Another thing that appealed to me was the freedom of indie publishing. As an indie you aren’t constrained to writing what your agent or publisher believes will sell, you can write what you want to write and allow the readers of the world to make their minds up as to whether it is good or not. As an indie, you don’t have to change your book, or ideas, according to someone else’s ideas, or according to how well they think it will sell (and publishers are businesses, so in addition to good writing they are looking for books they think will make a great deal of money). The book, any book you write, is yours and you do not have to compromise your vision or ideas. As an indie you are freer, and that is something I value.
I imagine that kind of autonomy must be highly attractive to most authors. What are other benefits of being an indie author?
The freedom, as I said, to write what you wish and keep your vision pure, but as an indie your royalties are higher, generally, than if you are traditionally published. With KDP for instance, (Amazon), an author takes either 35% or 70% of their royalties, whereas with traditional publishing the author can take home as little as 15%. Money may not be the reason people get into writing, indeed it can pay quite badly, but financial freedom can lead to a full-time writing career. Artists need to eat and pay bills too!
Indeed they do. It always amazes me how cheaply authors seem to sell the Kindle versions of their books. It must be difficult to make any money at all.
Apart from earning money, what other challenges do indie authors face?
You are free, but you are also on your own, and that can be daunting at the start or at any point of your career. All authors, I think, live at least slightly separately from other people in their lives, and writing is often a lonely profession; the price you pay for your art, and freedom as an artist. There is support from the indie community, but you have to work alone a great deal and as an indie you are artist, (at least part) editor, publicist, PR manager, and frequently accountant. It is a lot of work, but if you love what you do, you do it. Personally, as long as I have the option and people keep reading my books, I would not do another job.
That’s a lot of different hats you have to learn how to wear! What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?
Read a lot, and read everything you can. It aids your writing.
Write a lot, practise your craft and always know you can get better; no one is the perfect writer, everyone is always learning. Stay humble and you will learn more.
Get an editor and/or proof reader; eventually even the best author’s eyes cease to see mistakes in their own work, so you need someone else to find the mistakes, and to tell you if something doesn’t make sense.
Lastly, pricing your books. Unless you are famous or well-known, price your books to sell. The price you list your books at is not a reflection of your worth as a writer, the merits of the book, or representative of the amount of work that you have put into it, the hours spent away from those you love. Price your books to sell. As an unknown author you are a risk for readers; they have no idea if your book is good or not, and if you price your books with that in mind, a lower price will make more people take a risk with you and buy your book. All my books are 99p or £1.99 and equivalent prices on other platforms for other countries. I throw my heart, sweat, tears and soul into my books, but I price them so people will take a risk on an unknown author, and hopefully try more of my books too.
Great advice there. What have you learned from being an indie author?
They tell you to grow a thick skin as an author, because you will get good and bad reviews. I can’t tell you that bad reviews don’t hurt, I’m afraid they do, but it is important to learn from criticism, and to understand that you can’t please everyone, and that is okay. If you write to please everyone, you please no one. Write the books you want to read, and be happy when you please someone. Readers have contacted me to tell me that certain books touched them for a variety of reasons, and there is no feeling better than that for me in the world. Readers who told me that my books helped them through the pandemic have also made me smile for an entire day. Knowing that you touched someone’s life, even for a moment, is an amazing feeling.
Another lesson is that your writing time is precious and it must be protected. You love your family, but you need a quiet and private space to write. Ask them to respect that, and they will when they see how important it is to you.
The last lesson is self-discipline. I constantly have people saying to me isn’t it hard to write in your house, on your own, don’t you wander off and do things, tidy or watch TV. To me that was always quite funny. I arrive at my desk (fully dressed, mind you, no pjs!) ready to write from 9am. I always approached my writing, when I went full time (when you are trying to fit writing into an already full life, pjs are allowed as is writing whenever you get a moment of time!) as a job, and as such I have always had good self-discipline. Approach your writing as a job, and as a joy, and you should be fine. Put the hoover down and tidy the sock drawer another time!
I think those tips will probably apply to a lot of people who have found themselves working from home recently! Now onto the final question:
What can we look forward to from you in 2021?
I have more books in my series on Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII coming in the early part of the year, as well as the next book in my series on the Empress Matilda and the Anarchy. I hope to bring out the last books in my series on Elizabeth I, and the dystopian series, Farm Land, I have been writing. I write a lot, and I publish often. In this odd year of the pandemic I have found many more distractions than usual, but I am not happy unless I am writing. In fact, publishing a book may be the worst part of writing for me, so I am always quick to go on with my next book!
Wow – you certainly have a lot planned. I will keep my eyes open for these new releases. Thank you very much, Gemma, for coming and taking part on my blog. Good luck with all of your upcoming projects!
A selection of Gemma’s books
Find all of Gemma’s books here:
The Invincible Armada is defeated and England rejoices. Their Queen, Elizabeth Tudor, stands before them as a shining icon of immortality, strength and wealth… yet she is a lie.
Broken after the death of her love, Robin Dudley, struggling with war, debt and personal loss, Elizabeth holds the mask of the Queen to her face as inside she is fractured. Turning to the youthful, reckless Earl of Essex, Elizabeth seeks solace, yet from man may monster be made.
As Elizabeth struggles to maintain her power, her favourite rises, surpassing her own popularity with the people of England, and Elizabeth begins to fear Essex may no more wish to serve his Queen, but to supplant her.
Old Foxes is Book Nine in the Elizabeth of England Chronicles by G. Lawrence.
The author’s thanks are due to Julia Gibbs, proof reader of this work of fiction, and to M. M. Rainey Creative Art, the cover designer.
Add Old Foxes to your TBR on goodreads here:
Buy Old Foxes here:
Shadow of Persephone
February 1542 – A young woman awaits her execution in the Tower of London, sent to death on the orders of her husband, Henry VIII.
Daughter of the nobility, cousin to a fallen Queen, Catherine Howard rose from the cluttered ranks of courtiers at the court of Henry VIII to become the King’s fifth wife. But hers is a tale that starts long before the crown was placed on her head. A tale of tragedy and challenges, predators and prey; the story of a young girl growing up in a perilous time, facing dangers untold.
The fifth wife of Henry VIII would end her life on the block, like her cousin Anne Boleyn…but where did her story begin?
Contains mature themes.
Add Shadow of Persephone to your goodreads To Be Read List here:
Buy Shadow of Persephone here:
La Petite Boulain
May 1536, London… a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life… from the very beginning.
Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens… she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine.
Following the path of the young Mistress Boleyn, or La Petite Boulain, through the events of the first years of the reign of Henry VIII, to the glittering courts of Burgundy and France, Book One of “Above All Others: The Lady Anne” tracks the life of the young Lady Anne, showing how she became the scintillating woman who eventually, would capture the heart of a king.
La Petite Boulain is the first book in the series “Above All Others: The Lady Anne” on the life of Anne Boleyn by G.Lawrence.
Add Le Petite Boulain to your To Be Read list here:
Buy Le Petite Boulain here:
Nest of Ashes
At a time of most supreme triumph, the moment of her greatest glory, security and power, a Queen of England lies dying.
Through dreams of fever and fantasy, Jane Seymour, third and most beloved wife of King Henry VIII remembers her childhood, the path forged to the Tudor Court; a path forged in flame and ashes. Through the fug of memory, Jane sees herself, a quiet, overlooked girl, who to others seemed pale of face and character, who discovered a terrible secret that one day would rain destruction upon her family.
Nest of Ashes is Book One in The Phoenix Trilogy: Story of Jane Seymour, by G. Lawrence.
Add Nest of Ashes to your goodreads To Be Read list here:
Buy Nest of Ashes here
The Bastard Princess
In Richmond Palace, London, the last Queen of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth I, is dying.
As Death hovers at her elbow, waiting for her to obey his call, the aged Queen looks back on her life, and on the trials, victories and sorrows which brought her eventually, to the throne of England. Not quite three years old when her mother, the notorious Anne Boleyn, was arrested and executed on charges of adultery and treason, Elizabeth became a true princess of the Tudor era, in a time when the balance of power, politics and passion were fragile… and the cost of failure was death. Her childhood and teenage years were fraught with danger as competing factions and ideologies sought to undermine and destroy her in the bid for power at the Tudor court.
This is the story of Elizabeth Tudor, last daughter of Henry VIII, and her journey to the throne of England. Told from her own mouth… the tale of the Bastard Princess, who would, one day, become England’s greatest Queen.
Book One, in the Elizabeth of England Chronicle by G. Lawrence, The Bastard Princess.
Add The Bastard Princess to your goodreads To Be Read List here:
Buy The Bastard Princess here:
Child of Water
Winter, 1110, England
On a beach, standing in the snow, a girl of eight winters waits for a ship that will take her from her homeland of England, from her family, to her husband. That girl is Matilda, daughter of Henry I, King of the English and Duke of Normandy. In time she would become Queen of the Germans and Romans, and Empress of the Holy Empire.
From the dark forests and mighty castles of the German states of the Empire, to the Alps, northern Italy and Rome, Matilda will travel, at first the apprentice of power, learning from her husband, Heinrich, the Emperor. Through times of war and peace, loss and deepest sorrow, her story unfolds, leading her back to the place of her birth, and the promise of a throne.
Child of Water is the first book in the series The Heirs of Anarchy, by G. Lawrence.
Add Child of Water to your goodreads To Be Read list here:
Buy Child of Water here:
Who’s next on Indie Spotlight?
On January 14th I will be welcoming debut author Zuzanne Belec from Prague to the Indie Spotlight to talk about publishing her collection of short stories independently.