Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Amy has been a motivational speaker, a grade school teacher, a junior high teacher, a home school mom, and a member of the Grammy Award winning Saints Unified Voices Choir, directed by Gladys Knight. She has written five novels: Running Barefoot, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue, and coming October 20 , Making Faces.
1. Tell us about your start as a writer.
I started writing full-length novels about eight years ago. Not because I had any definite plans for publishing, but because it was just something I wanted to do. I have always been a writer, but prior to my first novel, I wrote song lyrics and poetry more than anything.
2. Why did you decide to publish your novels independently rather than through a traditional publisher?
My youngest son was born with a facial deformity that is fixable, but it requires ongoing, expensive treatment. My oldest son started really struggling with his health around the same time, and our medical bills started really mounting. I knew I had to do something to change our circumstances. I didn’t have time to wait or time to waste. I researched self-publishing and put my first two books out on Kindle in April of 2012, not knowing anything but the bare minimum. I don’t know where the confidence comes from, but I guess it’s more “blessed assurance” than confidence. I really felt like I was led in that direction.
3. How do you market and promote your books?
I don’t. Ha ha. Seriously, someone told me that the best marketing strategy is just writing another book. My fifth book, Making Faces, comes out on October 20th (my birthday). That means I have published five books in a year and a half. Obviously, I didn’t write all those books in a year and a half, but with each book, I’ve gained new readers and new momentum. Facebook has been my best friend for marketing. I try very hard to interact with as many bloggers as I can and to always be available for interviews, etc. I always respond to messages from my readers. There are outlets like Bookbub and other book promotion sites that are also very helpful.
4. Now that your books are getting national and international attention, have traditional publishers approached you?
I have a very well-respected agency, Foundry Media in New York, and that developed right before I hit the New York Times bestsellers list in June. A Different Blue has been picked up by a publishing company in Italy, which is exciting, and I have had some interest from traditional publishers, but I write romance that isn‘t typical, which makes me harder to place. My books tend to be cleaner, yet not clean enough for Christian publishers. I suppose I straddle that line, which I believe has given my books very broad appeal. They don’t turn off the non-Christian reader, yet they don’t offend those who like their reading material less graphic.
5. What catapulted A Different Blue to the New York Times Bestseller list?
Again, I really don’t know. I had published three books in quick succession and had created a little reader base, but A Different Blue, my fourth book, grabbed the attention of some bigger bloggers who read it, loved it, and really put it over the top. Two months after it came out, I put it on sale, and it just exploded. The sale wouldn’t have worked if the book hadn’t already grown legs, but A Different Blue hit not only the New York Times list, but also the USA Today list and the Wall Street Journal list. It was absolutely the most awesome, humbling experience of my life.
6. Tell us about your upcoming novel Making Faces.
Maybe because I have a child who has a facial imperfection, I am sensitive to what people go through Making Faces is a story about war, disability, beauty, and most of all, love. Here is the synopsis.
Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.
7. Who does your book covers? They look great.
Well, me mostly. My nephews and nieces are on my first four book covers. I had a photographer take the pictures and then I used Amazon’s CreateSpace Cover Creator to do the covers. My photographer added the title and my name to the photo I liked for A Different Blue, and then I uploaded it to a template on CreateSpace’s Cover Creator. The latest cover [for Making Faces] I had someone design for me. I picked a picture I liked from Shutterstock, an online photo site, and had the cover artist do her thing with my input.
8. Who are some of your hero authors?
I greatly admire people like Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Jane Austen, because they made me fall in love with books. But I also love Stephenie Meyer because she inspired this little Mormon mom—she made me believe if she could do it, I could too. I also like Dean Koontz: I think he’s a master, even though I don’t usually care for Sci-Fi. I like historical fiction and love the intelligence and study it takes to write books like Herman Wouk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I loved both of those books.
9. What advice do you have for discouraged writers?
Just keep writing. Really. Don’t expect to sell thousands of copies with your first book. I gave away thousands of copies of my first book through Amazon’s Kindle Select program. My goal was just to gain readers and recognition. And don’t wait until you “know everything” before you take the leap. I cringe a little at how green I was, but I’m grateful for my ignorance too. I didn’t know it couldn’t be done.