Cheryl Kaye Tardif's work is called Canadian suspense with a killer twist. The bestselling suspense author from north of the border tackles sensitive and terrifying scenarios that most people wouldn't want to consider. From psychic investigations to serial killers and assisted suicides, she delves into the human psyche and spotlights our worst fears.
Cheryl, how did your first novel, Whale Song, come about and had you written/published anything prior to it?
Whale Song was in my head for two years before I ever wrote down the title. In fact, I wasn't even sure I was going to write it. At the time, I had pretty much given up hope of getting published; I had tried for years. But the story of Whale Song haunted me. I couldn't shake the characters or the plot. Finally, a friend said, "Cheryl, don't worry whether it gets published.Write it for yourself. Write it because you have to." That was the best advice I've ever been given.
Since Whale Song, which was first published in 2003, I've had six more novels published (Children of the Fog, Devine Intervention, Devine Justice, The River, Lancelot's Lady and Whale Song: School Edition), as well as Skeletons in the Closet, Other Creepy Stories, and Remote Control, a novelette. All my works are available in ebook editions and all but the novelette are out in trade paperback. I've also had a short story published in What Fears Become: An Anthology From the Horror Zone.
You've written in a number of genres and under a pseudonym. Which genre do you prefer and which has been the most successful?
Suspense is my forte. And any combination of suspense, mystery, paranormal has been successful for me.
Why do you think all your novels have made the bestseller lists?
In general, readers don't like predictable, formulaic works. They'll never have that with my novels. I strive to be unpredictable and I don't use any kind of formula when writing my books. My stories are a mix of plot-driven and character-driven tales. And I bring emotion into each story, whether it's fear, sorrow, happiness, excitement or another emotion. I want my readers to feel like they're right there in the story, seeing everything, feeling everything.
How do you promote your work?
I have two main websites and a blog, plus I belong to various social networks. Most of my marketing is done online through various websites and promotions. And my books are promoted via Imajin Books, my publishing company.
Why did you decide to go the indie route with your own publishing company and how long was it before you began publishing the work of other writers?
I began my career as an indie published author, self-publishing three titles from 2003-2005. With their success I was able to secure a New York agent and a traditional publisher. I recognized a lot of serious problems with my publisher early on and ended up removing my books just before they went under. My experience wasn't entirely negative though; I learned a lot from them--especially what NOT to do as a publishing company.
After leaving my publisher, I decided to return to indie publishing and set up my books again under my publishing company, Imajin Books. Over the next year or so I was approached by other authors who asked me if I'd consider publishing them. I said no, but it made me think. I realized there was a need for what I could offer.
So, on January 15, 2011, I opened Imajin Books to accept other authors. We now have a great group on board; some will be publishing their second book with us this spring/summer.
How does your publishing company differ from other small presses?
Imagin Books is an innovative company. We offer a hybrid form of publishing, kind of a cross between indie publishing and traditional. We offer a small advance and much higher than average royalties on ebooks and trade paperback sales. We consider ebooks to be primary rights, with print a subsidiary right. We only secure these rights so authors are free to purse film and other rights.
Our authors have more input into the creation of their books. We go through various editing stages, which they're part of, and they have input into their cover and trailer as well. We treat our authors like partners. Yet they pay nothing up front. We are NOT a subsidiary publisher. We focus on ebooks sales and market accordingly.
How do your print books sales compare with ebooks? And when did your ebooks begin outselling print editions in Canada?
Print sales are a small percentage of what we sell. Our ebooks far outsell our paperbacks. Last time I looked at the numbers we were selling 50 ebooks for every paperback. We have always sold more ebooks than print.
What's your work schedule like?
I work six to seven days a week. My hours vary, but I rarely work less than eight hours a day and often more. I love what I do and I take frequent breaks, so it doesn't really seem like I'm working that long. The great thing is that I can take days off when I need them.
My schedule is divided between answering email, reading submissions, coordinating editors and authors, assigning covers to designers, checking back with everyone, arranging our promotions, updating the website and blog, and anything else that comes up.
Advice for novice writers?
Facebook account BEFORE you query a publisher or agent. A book won't sell without consistent marketing on the part of the author.