Awesome Authors– Polly Iyer

picture of the authorToday on Awesome Authors I get to interview the lovely and talented Polly Iyer.  As fellow suspense authors, Polly and I have crossed paths through the years and tend to be members of many of the same groups/forums. In that time if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Polly, you definitely know where you stand with her–and believe me, in this biz that’s tres refreshing😀

Here’s her bio (from the author): Polly Iyer is the author of six suspense novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and two books–soon to be a third–in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games and Goddess of the Moon. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. She grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. After living in Rome, Italy, Boston, and Atlanta, she now makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. She spends her time thinking of ways to make life difficult for her characters. Learn more about her at PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.

“The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really.”

D: Hi Polly! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.

P: Thanks for having me, D.V. I started out as fashion illustrator when department stores actually employed people to draw their ads. I worked for Fairchild Publications out of New England, which included Women’s Wear Daily and W. Then I switched to commercial art when I moved to Atlanta and drew storyboards for television commercials. When my husband and I started an import/design business, I stopped drawing. I’m really not sure artists do what I did back then anymore. Computers have taken over that field. The import business led to a home furnishings store, along with a custom frame shop. So I still worked in the arts. Then the writing bug hit, and goodbye store. I promise this is my last career.

D: Sounds familiar🙂 Tell us about your latest release in two sentences.cover for threads

P: Threads took 13 years for me to write and publish. It’s about a woman’s worst nightmare.

D: You write in a few different genres, including mystery/suspense and erotica. How difficult is it to switch gears between the different genres? How do you handle writing under a pseudonym as well as your own name (e.g., marketing, fans, etc.)?

P: This is a tough one, because my erotic author persona is the forgotten stepchild. I started out paying attention to her, but after three books I really haven’t promoted her as much as I should. Actually, I kind of let her go. I do have another book half-finished, and I may start bringing her back. She doesn’t feel like me, so that’s a problem. Besides, she’s cuter and younger and makes me jealous.

D: LOL. Why did you decide to “go indie”? What was your road to publication like?

P: I wrote my first erotic romance because I thought it might be a way to break into publishing, though I’d never read the genre. I was right and found two great epublishers for my books while my agent tried to find publishers for a couple of my suspense novels. When that didn’t happen, I decided to publish them myself. It was a good decision, and I’ve never looked back. I now have six books on Amazon with a couple of others on the way.

“Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor.”

D: What kind of marketing has worked best for you?

P: I’m really not sure I can pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. I love Facebook for the camaraderie, but I try not to pimp my books unless I have a reason. I don’t like Twitter. I do it, but I don’t like it. Does it work? I have friends who swear by it. Of course, they have 40K followers. That would take too much time for me. Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor. That meant my books would be on all the platforms—B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.—libraries, and foreign wholesalers. I wish I could say that worked, but it didn’t. I gave it a year and feel now that I lost a good bit of revenue by doing that. I went back on Select. I made more on borrows in the first month than I made in any month with the distributor. I offered a couple of free books, and my sales have definitely increased. So that has worked for me better than all the social media, and I didn’t have to do much pushing my books or me down anyone’s throat.

D: I totally get not wanting to force books down people’s throat. Readers don’t like it.

What’s your process like? Do you sit down with an idea and just go with it, or do you plot the story, do character sketches, etc., or something in between?

P: I get an idea and just go with it. I don’t plot, but I know where I want to end up. The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really. I get into their heads as if I were them. I had wanted to be an actress when I was young, so maybe that’s my way of acting. All I know is it works. I edit as I go because as the story develops, earlier plot points have to be changed, and I’m afraid I’ll forget to do that. I don’t trust myself to do it later. Things come up in my stories that I know I never would have thought of if I’d plotted. I’ve written ten books that way and a few I haven’t finished, so it works for me.

D: As indies, we need to know about every facet of publishing from self-editing to marketing to formatting to cover design to accounting. Which of these do you tackle and which do you hire out, if any?

P: I mentioned self-editing, but when I’m finished, I turn it over to an editor who’s a writer and a grammarian, Ellis Vidler. She’s a critique partner and friend, so we keep in touch on a daily basis anyway, and we’re there for each other when needed. I also have another excellent critique partner, Maggie Toussaint. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I do my own formatting for ebooks and for paperback. I also do all my own covers. After a career in the arts, it’s one way of keeping my tired old hands in the visually creative part of writing. Besides, it’s what I did, and I doubt I’d be happy with anyone else’s vision of my books.

“Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know.”

D: What are you currently working on?

cover for BacklashP: I’m working on the third book of the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Backlash. This one has been especially difficult because I’m a stand-alone writer and love to develop the characters. That’s harder to do as a series progresses, which is why series get tired unless we can find something new to write about the characters. I’m almost finished. It’s also hard to keep the quality up to what readers of the first two books expect. I would hate to disappoint them.

D: Which writers have inspired you?

P: I’ve always been a reader of dark novels. I love Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, early Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Robert Crais. For lighter fare, I love some of the writers of the 70s like Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Leon Uris, and Judith Kranz. They wrote good stories I loved reading.

D: What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?

P: Worst? Write what you know. Why would I? Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know. Now if I were an ex-secret agent or an adventurer, maybe I would. But I’m not. I have a good imagination, and I use it. Best advice? Write what I want to write the way I want to write it. I can’t write to the market just to sell books. I don’t play safe, and that’s the way I like it.

“Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know.”

D: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

P: Get readers who will tell you the truth to read your manuscripts. And get an editor. Join groups. Keep up with what’s going on in the publishing business. Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know. I sure didn’t, not that I know everything now.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

P: Doing what I’m doing now. This is my most fun career because I can become so many other people.

D: Where do you think publishing is headed?

P: If publishers and Amazon can stop their silly power plays, the future of publishing should embrace both electronic and paper books. I’d like to see new respect to indie authors instead of the distinctions being made that separate us into two camps. I just went to a big conference and was barred from being on a panel because I wasn’t traditionally published. I saw first-time authors on the panels who had no portfolio of reviews and rankings. That should stop, and I hope it does.

D: My sentiments, exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Polly–good luck with Backlash!

P: Again, D.V., thanks for having me. Your questions were fun and made me think.

D: Here’s an excerpt from Polly’s book, Threads:

(Begin EXCERPT:)

The artsy crowd packed the gallery’s opening night. Once inside, Alan grabbed two champagne flutes off the tray of a roaming waiter, giving him the eye and getting one back.

“Half the city’s here. Hey, check out that couple,” he whispered in Miranda’s ear. “I’ll tell you all about those two tomorrow. Scandalous. Clue―that’s not his wife. In fact,” Alan cupped his hand around her ear, “she’s not a she.”

“Huh? You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Oh, there’s Jeffrey. Mind if I go over and thank him for cluing us in on this?”

Miranda waved him on. “I’m a big girl, Alan. I can take care of myself.”

“Be right back.”

She stole another peek at the object of Alan’s gossip―sheesh, who’d’ve thought? After stopping to chat with a few acquaintances, she continued her stroll around the gallery, listening to varying reviews of the art.

The paintings, displayed on white walls with halogen spots, hung in three different abstract groups―figuratives, landscapes, and paintings the art world might describe as “what the fuck.” The artist had wielded his brush with thick, vibrant color, creating an impression of movement and energy. Miranda stood back, sipped her champagne, and squinted at each one. The portraits were easy to distinguish as were the landscapes, but she couldn’t for the life of her define the subject matter of the third category, and their titles didn’t help. Dream #1 was anything but dreamy. More like a nightmare.

“Well, what do you think?” a deep, slightly accented voice from behind her asked. “Do you like them?”

She turned to the tall, exotically handsome man who asked her opinion. He wore his dark brown hair long enough to partially cover a small diamond stud, and his smile revealed unnaturally white teeth. But his most riveting feature was his eyes―black and piercing and intensely focused on her. Heat rose on her face as those same eyes flashed with amusement at the obvious impact he had on her. She couldn’t help herself. The man could have been a movie-star idol.

“I haven’t had a chance to study them all,” she said, “but I like a few.”

“And the others?”

She stood back, deliberating, then faced him square on. “Suck.”

Gorgeous burst out laughing. People turned to see what happened. “I love it. A breath of fresh air.”

“Well, I mean, take that one.” She pointed to a large canvas with a black figure embracing a red figure. “Who are they supposed to be? Fred and Ginger?”

“The black figure is Medea.”

“What’s she doing? Is she―” Miranda stopped when she figured out the action in the painting. She shuddered. “Now I know I don’t like it. The artist―what’s his name, I forgot―must be a whack job.”

“Hmm, could be.”

“Where is he anyway? Point him out.”

A subtle bow accompanied his offered hand. “Stephen Baltraine, at your service,” he said with a playful smile. His gaze remained on her face, exactly where it had been throughout their conversation.

Miranda’s cheeks flamed. “My father always said anyone asking my opinion better be ready for it.” She forced a smile. “I should learn to keep my mouth shut until I know who I’m talking to.”

“I’m just glad you spoke softly.”

“I don’t suppose I could start over and say it’s fabulously frenetic and original, could I?”

He leaned into her. “Not a chance.

(End EXCERPT)

You can find out more about Polly Iyer at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Audible.

 

About dvberkom

Bestselling author of the Kate Jones and Leine Basso thrillers. View all posts by dvberkom

31 responses to “Awesome Authors– Polly Iyer

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    Refreshing Interview. And the excerpt definitely made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Polly Iyer

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Yvonne. A few chapters in and you wouldn’t be smiling anymore–I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Elaine L. Orr

    Polly — Interesting and wide-ranging. Always interesting to see who else an author reads. In terms of marketing, I keep mine on all platforms (some I load directly, some through Smashwords), and I keep one (at most two) on KDP Select. I rotate, though I’ve abt decided not to put any of my primary series (Jolie Gentil) on KDP Select again. When I take it off BN it lowers the rankings there and then sells less when I put it back on. My compromise with myself is to put the series in boxed sets as well (three each) and then I keep one of those on KDP Select. I do a giveaway of it just before a new one in the series comes out. Think that, for me, I’ve finally found a mix that works and lets me have sales on all channels. Just thought I’d share. Always enjoy your posts on FB. Elaine Orr

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Elaine, I do think we have to do what works for us. I can’t say I didn’t try, but sales has a lot to do with how we market. I got almost nothing from B&N, and when I started out, I got nothing then. The scattered sales from the other platforms weren’t enough to keep me there. My sales on Amazon since leaving the distributor have been much higher, but that’s because of the Select freebies. I feel I reach readers who wouldn’t read me otherwise, and in turn they buy my other books, because those sales have increased too. You do have many more books than I have, and I’m going to concentrate on getting more out there. I will probably publish two more by the end of the year. I wish you continued success, and thanks for sharing your point of view.

      Like

  • Maggie Toussaint

    One of my favorite things about Polly Iyer is that she tells it as she sees it. This comes across in person and in her characters. They’re real. They don’t mince words. They cause you to think. Having Polly as a critique partner has been refreshing and has caused me to stretch and grow – in a good way.

    I also think Polly has a lot of courage. She’s blazing trails in indie publishing and capturing readers and fans right and left. I’m proud to know her.

    Maggie Toussaint

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Thank you, Maggie. You know the feelings are mutual. You make me see things I skip over, like “Where are your characters?” and “Where’s the reaction?” While I’m in my characters heads, Maggie is putting them in place. As far as blazing new trails, I don’t know about that, but it comes down to the best advice: Write how you want to write. There will always be people who won’t like your style or your stories, but it’s my style and my stories. Thanks for being here for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  • ellisv

    Good interview, Polly. Your honesty shines through your answers. It’s also what makes you a good critique partner. You do have a wonderful way of getting into your characters’ head; that insight gives some of your scenes a big emotional impact. I go from holding my breath to tears. Keep up the good work.

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Thanks, Ellis. I learned tons from you right from the beginning. I always say you’ve forgotten more than I’ll ever know. I wonder sometimes if I’m not a bit schizophrenic with getting into my characters’ heads. Maybe I have multiple personality disorder.

      Like

  • Ashantay Peters

    i enjoyed the interview, Polly! Best wishes for increased sales and book exposure!

    Like

  • Polly Iyer

    Thanks, Ashantay, for the comment and for stopping by. I think that’s every writer’s wish. Now if I would just get the he…,um, heck off the Internet and write, I might just finish Backlash.

    Like

  • auntiemwrites

    Polly, I didn’t know all of your accomplished background in art! No wonder you have such great covers~ see you soon~

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Thanks, Marni. Just goes to prove that if you live long enough, you build up a resume. I love doing the covers, and like I said, I probably wouldn’t like what anyone else did.

      Like

  • jlsimpsonauthor

    Loved the interview, Polly. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who becomes my character although being a man can be a bit odd at times.

    Like

  • Cindy Sample

    Great interview, Polly. I’ve always appreciated how you’ve shared your publishing experiences with other authors,helping us to learn and grow as well. Keep those terrific books coming!

    Like

  • Polly Iyer

    Cindy, you could probably teach me a thing or two about being self-published. You’re doing great. Cheers to you. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Like

  • pegbrantley

    Love Polly. Love her books. Love this interview. I’m just in a kind of lovin’ mood, I guess.

    All kidding aside, Polly Iyer knows her stuff and deserves to have a wider readership… which is coming!

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Thanks for the kind words, Peg. It’s definitely a mutual admiration society. Being perfectly selfish, I hope you’re right about the readership. It’s what we all hope for. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  • bellwriter

    Raising hand and shouting I’m a fan, too! Love that you become your character Polly, I’ve heard getting inside their heads but becoming them… Interesting. Your character Diana’s not the only one who’s psychic. Me thinks you make an accurate prediction about the future of publishing. Waving to DV — terrific interview you two!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Polly Iyer

      Thanks, Donnell. I hope I’m right about the publishing scene. It’s getting pretty hard to ignore a growing group of writers who are writing good books that deserve to be recognized. I can name a whole lot. Of course books like yours are being recognized, and rightly so. So nice that you dropped by.

      Like

  • Polly Iyer

    Thanks everyone for joining me here today, and thanks, DV, for hosting me. It was a lot of fun.

    Like

  • Christine Finlayson

    What a great interview–and an inspiring one. I loved your honesty about the ups and downs of writing, producing, and self-publishing, and can’t wait to read Threads. Sounds intriguing!

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Thanks, Christine. Like everything, there are always pluses and minuses. I love the control self-publishing offers the writer. I don’t like that people are still judging books by whether they’re traditionally published or indie published. Maybe that will disappear in years to come, but I’m still happy with the choices I’ve made.

      Like

  • Kait Carson

    Fantastic blog, Polly. Lots of interesting perspective. I am a huge fan of yours and enjoyed reading about your writing process. FWIW I agree, indie authors should not be seen as the redheaded stepchildren of the writing world. I think readers judge us on the quality of our books, that should be the universal standard.

    Like

    • Polly Iyer

      Thanks for the support you’ve given me, Kait. I remember one line of yours in a review, and I love it still. I’m thrilled that you have a new series coming out soon. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for posting here.

      Like

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