A little birdie told us that we should reach out to today's interview author and we are so excited to introduce you to her. This woman is a writing phenom! Releasing a WHOLE SERIES in a year, balancing her school/work and writing life on a pinhead while also relocating and doing it all with a bright attitude! She's an entrepreneur, publisher, author, and a wife. How does she keep it all straight?!
Introducing Sarah Bailey!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
SB: I started seriously writing in early 2017 when I wrote my first complete book, but I've written on and off since I was a teenager, mostly poetry and some attempts at novel writing. When I finished my first book, I knew this was something I really wanted to do for a living. At the beginning of 2018, I had two short stories published in anthologies which is what spurred me on towards actually publishing my work myself. So after writing a few books, I finally found I'd written something I thought was worth publishing which is what started my journey really.
RL: What's your current work in progress?
SB: I'm in the midst of writing the last book in my new series, The Devil's Syndicate. It's the fifth book, Depraved, and it's the culmination of the four previous books and I finally get to write my happily ever after for my five characters. This series as been a lot for me to manage as I've had five main characters all with their own points of view chapters. It's a juggling act, but a very enjoyable one.
I'm also at the same time writing a complete standalone. I usually tend to write series, so this is something different. It's a coming of age story that's quite tragic and dark. All I can say is it's going to be super long and emotional. It's a story that's utterly captured my soul and I really hope I do these two characters justice.
RL: You write Romance with a splash of other genres. What led you to write romance?
SB: I first fell in love with romance when I was a teenager reading my aunt, Elizabeth Bailey's regency romance novels. I've always been a huge fan of romantic subplots in my fantasy books and I hugely loved paranormal romance because I've had a fascination with the supernatural since I was young. It's a combination of all these things which led me to write romance.
Love is such a universal force and it's such a huge part of the human experience. I wanted to capture that in my writing and who doesn't love a happily ever after? I grew up watching romantic comedies after all. I think I've just always been surrounded by romance. So for me, it really was a no brainer when it came to writing. I wanted to explore love in a way that isn't always black and white, which I think is why I fell in love with dark romances after my best friend and now critique partner recommended them to me not long after we met.
RL: Your first book was released in 2018 and in that year you released five books in the After Dark Series with book 6 coming in February 2019. How did you manage to publish the titles so quickly?
SB: I write a lot and fast. It was a crazy time period where I was working full time and writing at every opportunity I had outside of that. As a self-published author, I get to set my own schedule and that means I can release books quicker than you would find in traditional publishing. I've been so determined to make this a successful career for myself, I sacrificed all my free time to drive that forward. I stopped coming up with excuses as to why I couldn't write and just got on with it. Part of what paved the way for me to balance this was having worked both part-time and full time whilst I was doing my BA (Hon) in History via distance learning with The Open University. I had to be very self-motivated in order to get my assignments in on time and that gave me the ability to juggle my work and my writing.
And then, of course, my husband and I moved to the Highlands in Scotland from the south of England at the beginning of 2019. That's the point where I decided to try and make a go of this as a full-time writer, which so far has paid off. By that time I'd already written the sixth book and the reason it was delayed slightly was due to my move and getting settled in.
Now I write full-time, I essentially write a book a month on average. I have the time to sit and get on with it without all the distractions. I guess I have a rather overactive imagination and my characters won't let me rest until I get them written.
RL: How do your books and stories rebel against the status quo in your genre?
SB: I'm going to talk about my dark romances because that's what I'm now mostly known for. There's a lot of boundary-pushing in this sub-genre of romance, which sometimes I do feel crosses lines it shouldn't. I don't like to do that. There's a lot of dark and taboo for the sake of shock value, which isn't what I like to inject into my stories. Yes, I push the envelope out, but not in the same way. I like to ground my stories in reality. I've been told by one of my friends, who's a reviewer, that realism is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. The characters are in a crazy situation, but I don't act like it's a 'fantasy' world. They're in a contemporary setting and these things could happen. I think that can hit close to home in a lot of ways.
Ultimately these stories are about people falling in love so I tend to focus on that whilst creating a plot surrounding that journey they go through. I'd say I write very character-driven narratives that get readers invested in them. And most recently, I'm pretty sure I could classify the heroine for The Devil's Syndicate as an anti-heroine if such a term exists. Ash is not a black and white character. She doesn't come from an innocent background. She's just as embroiled as the boys. I've loved writing the clash between them that stems from it. This isn't something I've seen much of within the genre so to be able to play with the typical tropes has been fun.
The other thing about this series is a lot of reverse harem books, you don't tend to get the viewpoints of every single male, particularly in contemporary romances. I've made sure to highlight each of the four boys and Ash so we get an insight into their backgrounds and that's been a really different exploration of this particular sub-genre.
RL: Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
SB: I decided to self-publish because I felt like my stories didn't fit the traditional publishing mould. I wanted to retain creative control and write the stories I felt I needed to tell. I didn't want to be restricted by the number of books I could write and put out. And really, I just wanted to be my own boss. To make my own way and I guess I had a point to prove to myself that I could do this and be successful at it.
Perhaps one day I might write something fit for the traditional publishing realm, but for now, I'm happy writing the books I'd want to read and putting those out myself.
RL: You are also a publisher! Tell me about Twisted Tree Publications.
SB: I set up Twisted Tree in 2018 because I wanted to start my own business and do this whole self-publishing thing properly. I wanted my own imprint to publish my books under and ultimately, publish other authors. If I was going to be an author, I wanted to get it right from the get-go.
I started publishing my father, D.R. Bailey's books last year in 2019 after he approached me about the opportunity. I do also have another author with Twisted Tree who I've not yet announced as we're still working on their book, but it will be released later this year. At that point, we'll drop the big news, but safe to say, I love the book and can't wait to promote it to the world.
I do want to take on more authors in the future, but I'm just me and publishing is a lot of work, especially when I publish so many books myself. I'm in the middle of setting up my own career and when I'm further established, then I'll have more time to take on others and maybe get some help with some the aspects of Twisted Tree I currently do myself.
RL: How do you plan book releases? For yourself and for others.
SB: Book releases is something I'm still testing, even for myself. I like to create as much hype as I can surrounding a new release, but it's very hard to do when you're a debut or very new author. It's all about developing your reader base so that when your book releases, those people will be excited for it and want to get your book.
One of the things I've done for myself is to talk a lot about what I'm writing and where I am in the process, something I encourage my authors to do as well. I do things like giveaways. I've started creating author 'swag' to go along with my books, which is something I'm giving away to my readers who are subscribed to my newsletter. I also have an ARC review team, who help me by reading my books early and leaving reviews which can help give you social proof. As I'm self-published, I get to pick when I launch a book. When I'm doing my own series, I don't like to leave too long between releases as I have a tendency to write cliffhangers. It's a little different when you're doing stand alones in a series where the stories are wrapped up in the book. You can afford to have more time between those books. I guess each time I release a new book, I'm learning what works and what doesn't so I incorporate that into my next book launch, but I think this whole writing business is a learning curve. So I never stop trying to find new ways to get books out there to the right people and that in turn helps me plan launches for my authors.
RL: How does your publishing company help authors grow?
SB: I'm really about allowing authors to publish the stories they want to. I've been working quite closely with my new author on their book to help them tell the best story possible for the characters as that's what they've needed from me. I want to give authors as much support as they need so whether that's hands-on or hands-off, that's up to them. They get input on things like cover design, book launches and so on. I feel as though I want Twisted Tree to be a collaborative project between myself and my authors, which is something I've tried to implement. I just want to help them tell the best stories they can.
RL: How do you manage writing time? Is finding writing time an issue for you?
SB: Well as I'm now a full-time writer, I don't have an issue finding time to write, but as I've said before, I eliminated all my excuses as to why I couldn't write. I learned to write on my phone so I could get down a few hundred words whilst on the move or when I couldn't be bothered to open up my laptop. I write in the bath at times because I find it very inspirational. When I first started writing, it was an issue to find the time and I did neglect my relationships and social life, but I'm very lucky to have an extremely understanding husband who supports me in my writing ventures.
RL: Your book covers are always breathtaking! Do you work with a book cover artist?
Thank you. I've worked with two different artists for my book covers. Covers by Christian did all my paranormal book covers, he's an amazing artist to work with. I let him run with my ideas and he produces such amazing work in different genres. I chose a different artist for my contemporary romances to fit with the genre so for my Corrupt Empire and Benson Siblings. I think it's important to work with someone who understands your genre and the expectations for those covers.
For my latest series, I've actually started learning cover design myself, so The Devil's Syndicate series was designed from scratch by me. It's been a huge learning curve, but as a publisher, I wanted to expand the services I can offer to my authors as well as it being beneficial to my own works.
RL: Which of your books is your favorite?
SB: This is an incredibly difficult question because I do love all of my books and my book children as I call them. My favourite book I've written that's published is Promises, which is the second book in the Benson Siblings series. The reason for this is I just adore James and Ellie's story. It's a slow burn romance which gave me all the feels when I wrote it. These two have gone through so much in their lives and for them to find love finally, well it just gave me life. I love these two so much and they will probably remain one of my favourite couples forever. They just have a uniquely beautiful relationship. It's a book I've re-read several times and I'm still like - I wrote this?! - I sometimes can't get over how much their journey to their happily ever after gets to me.
However, of my books I've not yet published because I can have more than one right? I'm going with what I'm currently writing - my coming of age romance because these two characters are very close to my heart. It's one of those books that you know is THE book. The one that completely captures you and won't let go until it's finished. So I can't talk about my favourites without mentioning it.
RL: Where do you see your writing and publishing career going in the future?
SB: I really just want to keep writing stories that readers love. One day, I'd like to get that orange bestseller's tag on Amazon, but I haven't set my sights quite as high as things like the USA Today Bestsellers lists, even if that would also be pretty awesome. I'm hoping to be able to publish more authors and build Twisted Tree as a small indie publishing house further.
RL: What are you reading right now?
SB: I'm currently reading the Fake Boyfriend series by Eden Finley which is an M/M romance series I've fast become addicted to. I've also just got an ARC of one of my best writer friends, Elle Linder, and her Faithful Falls series, which are small-town romances. I've fallen in love with all her characters so I'm excited to get stuck into Dream With Me, Zoey.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
SB: Well, firstly The Devil's Syndicate is coming soon. The first book, Deceived drops April 8th and the other four books will come out pretty quickly after that with Depraved, the final book, releasing July 1st.
I'm also going to be releasing a dark romance duet at some point this year which I've been working on since last year. It's a second chance romance which is pretty crazy, but I do love these two characters.
And finally, my epic standalone coming of age romance which I'm SUPER excited about.
After that? Who knows. I'm sure inspiration will strike and I'll be taking my readers on brand new journeys soon.