I was interviewed for an article in the East Oregonian. An excerpt:
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” she told a fellow Ph.D. student.
In the years that followed, Woodbury proved herself wrong. The Pendleton woman has now written 21 medieval novels containing time travel, magic, treachery and adventure. The indie author has sold more than 400,000 books in the past five years.
These days, one will likely find the mother of four at home typing on a computer, her 17-year-old cat, Luke, sprawled between the keyboard and the monitor. A poster near her desk proclaims, “Novelist at work. Bystanders may be written into the story.”
Woodbury writes every day, at least 1,000 words. The result is a steady stream of books and a large cadre of devoted readers who eagerly await each new offering.
Woodbury credits her children for her transformation from blocked Ph.D. student to prolific fantasy author. After college, Woodbury jettisoned plans of becoming a college anthropology professor in favor of staying home with her growing brood, which she homeschooled. As a full-time mom, she marveled at her children’s imaginations.
“They were incredibly creative,” she said.
Some of this creativity rubbed off on Woodbury. She tried poetry, gardening and quilting and, 10 years ago, “I decided to write a novel just to see if I could.”
She finished in two months, writing during her youngest child’s nap time. The result, she confessed, was “horrible” and “unsalvageable.”
“I call it a trunk book because it will forever remain in a trunk,” she said. “It’s hopeless.”
The next book went much smoother. The idea for the novel came in a dream in which Woodbury drove her 1995 Previa minivan to Wales to save the life of a medieval prince. In her book, a pair of teens are catapulted back to the year 1282 and into the adventure of their lives. The book is targeted at teens and young adults.
Selling “Footsteps in Time” to a publisher, however, proved frustrating. Woodbury submitted the book to agent after agent, collecting 72 rejections before an agent finally took her on. That agent and later a more high-powered one in New York were both unable to interest a publisher in the book. Woodbury just kept writing.
The publishing industry shape-shifted as she wrote, partly because of the economic downturn. The new terrain included the option of self-publishing through platforms such as Amazon and iBook. After years of publishing houses dictating everything, suddenly “it was the Wild West of publishing” as authors jumped on the indie bandwagon. Woodbury decided to give it a shot in 2011, placing three of four finished books on Amazon.
“I just wanted to know if they were any good,” Woodbury said.
That January, she sold 22 e-books — and that included three copies to herself and three to her mom. In February, she sold 52 and in March, 250. She decided to experiment, uploading the fourth book of her series, a prequel, and offering it for 99 cents. The strategy worked. Readers downloaded the book, read it and decided to buy others. In April, she sold 1,200. The total was 30,000 by the end of the year.
These days, Woodbury is grateful she never connected with a publisher. She controls every aspect of the process. She can sell her books for a low $4.99 and still make more profit than an author going through a publisher. Her husband, Dan Haug, quit his job directing the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Office of Information Technology to do much of Woodbury’s editing (plus the laundry) and son Carew took on other necessary administrative work. Woodbury was free to write …