Friday, March 24, 2017

Hope Ann's Publication Story + Q&A

Author Foundations: Hope Ann

I wrote my first story when I was eight. It was four or five sentences long and I was so proud of myself. I wrote my first book a few years later. There were bad guys, children escaping, doves bringing them pizza so they wouldn’t go hungry, rattlesnakes (in China), and an angel opening a prison door for the parents to escape. I was a genius. Or so I thought.

My love for writing stemmed from my love for reading. I read anything I could get my hands on from a young age. It was difficult to find great Christian fiction, so I read Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens, classics, history, Henty books… there were some fiction books, but it wasn’t until I grew older that I really began finding great Christian fiction and, especially, Christian fantasy.

I wrote on and off through my younger years. My first ‘real’ book was one with shadow snakes and tadpoles and crabs and leeches—more fighting and spies and stealth. I knew practically nothing about writing at that point beyond instinctive things I picked up from reading.

Over the next several years, writing grew on me. There was never a point I decided I was going to be a writer. I just started writing more. I took a few college level correspondent courses on writing. Most importantly, at age sixteen, I watched Lord of the Rings. Then I read the books.

I fell in love with Middle Earth at once. I can’t claim that was where my love for fantasy began because I already liked fantasy, but that was what plunged me fully into it. So I wrote my first fantasy novel when I was seventeen. A few months ago, I looked at it again and was stunned to realize it was only 24,000 words… shorter than my current novellas. Still, it was a start.

After that novel, I never stopped. I wrote a script for my siblings that summer for a fantasy movie. I wasn’t particularly happy with the final product, but I liked the story idea and turned it into a book, corrected it, added twice as much to the story, corrected it again, changed the second half… After four and a half years, I’m currently rewriting it under the final title of Fidelyon.

As I began to write steadily, I knew I wanted to get my books published. I loved my stories and I wanted people to read them. I was under no illusions as to my own need to learn to write better before publication (ok, maybe I was a little bit. I knew I had more to learn. I didn’t realize quite how much I didn’t know.) but I had confidence my basic stories. I wanted to write fiction that entertained and also inspired; the kinds of books I wanted to read growing up.

But traditional publishing seemed so hard. It was such a long process. I began hearing about self-publication but never thought about it seriously. After all, how was I going to sell to people on my own? How would people beyond my family and friends find out about me? I didn’t have the first clue what to do.

Then, in the fall of 2015, I listened to a webinar by Nick Stephenson about ‘Your First 10,000 Readers’. In two hours, my perspective changed. Using permafree ebooks and reader magnets to grow an email list, using said email list for marketing… This was something I really could do. Building such a platform was something I’d need to do no matter if I self-published or was traditionally published.

So I set to work. I already had a novella, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. A few years before, I’d come up with an idea of writing a series of nine stories that retold fairy tales and focused on the nine aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit then done nothing with it. So I dusted the idea off, gave the series the name of Legends of Light, and, in February of 2016, I self-published my first novella, Rose of Prophecy, on kindle.

There is nothing quite like doing something to learn all about it. I learned how to format. I learned how to set up an email list. I learned how to put an Amazon ebook on permafree. I learned how to change a document after it was published. In the summer of 2016, I published my second novella, Song of the Sword, a retelling of Rapunzel. That one I sold. I didn’t make tons of sales, but it was a start. As I prepared to publish my third novella, Shadows of the Hersweald, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel (which actually comes out next week! :D ) I started doing a few things I’d ignored the first two times around. Things like getting my novellas edited.

With each book I publish, I learn more. I have a futuristic trilogy and a fantasy novel in the works. I’m hoping to submit those for traditional publication, but I may end up publishing them myself.
I’m also completely rewriting the first Legends of Light novella to match the series better, and just last month I ended up making some changes to my second novella. But I’m not sorry I published when I did. At the time of publication, that was the best I could do. I’ll not go back and change things every time I learn something new, though sometimes it is needed. But there comes a point when one has done the best they could and the book just needs to be shared.

Don’t wait forever to publish your story, afraid that someday you’ll learn something new or need to change. Once you decided to publish, you do need to prepare and edit and make sure your story is the best you can, but then go for it. The more you write, the more you will improve. You will always be learning. Even if you need to go back and change something, the platform you have grown around your first stories is that much of a platform you wouldn’t have if you didn’t publish at all. Take the time to focus on quality, but once you’ve done all you can do, take the plunge and publish your book. There is no better way to start growing a following than to actually have something for them to follow.

I would like to open the floor now for questions. Feel free to ask Hope any questions you might have about writing, her writing, her writing process, or anything else you can think about. She'll be around sometime today to answer them!


  1. Whoa, Shadows of the Hersweald is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel? How did I never know this? I SERIOUSLY need to give it a read now ;). Thanks for sharing your publication story with us, Hope! It was fun to read. What got you interested in writing retellings of fairytales?

    ~ Savannah

    1. It was the Rooglewood contests that first gave me the idea to rewrite fairytales. But I quickly grew to love rewriting fairytales. Most fairytales are short and can be viewed as the outline of a story. They prompt so many questions too. Like 'why do the bad guys always want the first born child?' It's fun taking a basic story, adding reasons, depth, a few twists, and seeing what happens. :D

    2. *gasps* Seriously? I was curious because I've been writing retellings for a couple years, and it was the Rooglewood contests that started me off, too! :D Thanks for answering ;).

      ~ Savannah

  2. Great story! Thanks for sharing, Hope Ann!

  3. You have a Hansel and Gretel retelling coming out? Cool! I haven't seen many of those!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. My question: other than your own books, what's your favorite fairy tale retelling?

  4. I've not read terribly many fairy tale retellings, strange as that might be seeing how much I write them. One of my favorites that I have read, though, is Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin. I enjoyed it, but the end... the allegory went so much deeper than I'd expected. I loved it. :D

  5. Great story (I especially love the concept of your first book haha ;) I remember some of my first stories were about that crazy too). I just read Rose of Prophecy last week and really enjoyed it. I will definitely be checking out your others. I love retellings of any kind, both reading and writing them. What is your favorite fairy tale? And what do you like most about writing retellings?

  6. I love how I can change things as I please when I rewrite a fairy tale. If something doesn't make sense, I can add logic behind it. If there is something I don't like, I can change it. Beauty and the Beast, for example. I always hated how the father begged Beauty to give herself up to the beast to save his life. So when I rewrote that fairy tale, I changed the events to what I thought should have happened.

    My favorite of the common fairy tales is probably Beauty and the Beast, mainly because it actually has a decent amount of theme for a fairy tale and because the characters are together for six months before they get married. It's not a 'three days and a few dances' sort of a deal. XD Of the lesser known tales, I like Fairy of the Dawn and The Ice Queen.


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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