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Danielle Rollins, writes young adult horror novels under her own name and the pseudonym Danielle Vega. She’s the author of the bestselling MERCILESS series, as well as the award-winning BURNING and its upcoming companion novel, BREAKING. BREAKING is THE VIRGIN SUICIDES meets STRANGER THINGS and comes out this June.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I was working in publishing when I was approached to do some write-for-hire work for a boutique development company. Write-for-hire is when an author is approached to write a book based on an outline and character sketches that the company provides for them. After that, I was offered an exciting opportunity to build a teen horror series with a publisher I love and admire (Razorbill). Those books became THE MERCILESS series. That series did so well that I was able to start working on my own projects, a series of twisted psychological thrillers called BURNING and BREAKING.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I’ve always loved books so writing was a natural outlet. I assumed that I’d always work in publishing and write on the side, but when I started writing for development companies I realized that I’d found my dream job. Development writing works a little more like TV writing than traditional novel writing. It’s basically you and two or three other brilliant creatives in a room, coming up with ideas for plot and character together. In other words, heaven. I do one or two of these plot sessions a year and then take the ideas home and come up with my own spin. Since this type of work is mostly freelance, I have time to write my own novels as well so it’s a win-win.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and was always looking for new opportunities. I lucked out with my first client. A mutual friend introduced us at a book reading, and I was invited to submit my work to their brand new agency, and then put on a project soon after.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
My first “client” was a boutique book development company that I met through a mutual friend. After getting invited to submit my work, I sent in a sample of my writing and they offered me an audition. They sent me an outline of a book they thought was a good fit for me, and I wrote a couple of chapters to show them where I’d take the story. We worked on a revision together to make sure I could take notes and, within a few months, I was put on the project and offered a contract. We sold the book a few months later. The money was great, but not enough to quit my job, so I kept working full time until my second project, a teen horror series, sold the next year.
5) How do you market your business?
This is a tricky thing in the publishing industry, and I find myself constantly struggling to come up with new ideas! Right now I’m focusing on my online presence, building up my social media profiles and really spending a lot of time reaching out to other readers and writers in the community. So much of what sells a book is word of mouth, so it’s important to talk to a lot of people and find out what they’re reading and what they’re looking for.
6) What does your usual day look like?
I get up around 8:30 to have breakfast with my husband, but I don’t usually sit down with a cup of coffee to start writing until around 10:30. I tend to break around 1 to do yoga, and then grab lunch and read for an hour or so. At 3:30 I start up again, writing until 5:30. I spend the rest of the evening studying up on social media–listening to podcasts, reading books and checking in on all my accounts.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I wish I’d focused more on social media and marketing in the early days. As a writer, you spend so much time working on a single book that sometimes it’s hard to see beyond that, to the career you’re trying to build. I’m on top of it now, but I always fantasize about where I’d be now if I’d started sooner.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
Schedules are your friends! So are deadlines. And pants. When I first started out, I was home all the time with huge swaths of time that I didn’t know what to do with, and no real reason to get dressed in the morning. Once I realized that I needed to treat this like a real job–complete with a daily schedule, goals and deadlines for all projects–my whole life changed. This thing I do started feeling like a real career instead of a hobby. I’m also an extrovert, and the alone time got to me after a while, so it was important to me to seek out like-minded communities–like co-working spaces and facebook groups–so it felt like I had coworkers again.
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