CARY — Six years ago, Sarra Bittmann got married, moved to Cary and started writing.
The former music teacher has since sold more than 120,000 digital copies of her six self-published young adult novels, the Peachville High Demon series. She writes underr the pen name Sarra Cannon.
Her first book, Beautiful Demons, is being adapted into a graphic novel. Her fifth, Rival Demons, was named one of Amazons Top 100 Kids and Teens Kindle Books of 2012.
Cannon, a 36-year-old Georgia native, lives in eastern Cary with her husband, dog and 9-month-old son. Here, she talks about the writers life and the rising popularity of self-publishing.
Q: When did you first start writing?
I always loved two different things: writing and music. I double-majored in English and music, but music won out.
I studied opera and tried to make it as a professional opera singer. I ended up teaching music in an elementary school.
When I married my husband, he asked if I could do anything I wanted, would I teach or do something else, and I said I always wanted to be a writer. He said to do it, and it turned out to be a real dream come true for me.
Q: Was it hard to get started?
Yes. I started a lot of projects and never finished them. You get excited about a new idea and about 50 pages in, you get to the hard part and you have another great idea, and you move onto that.
I did the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, held every November) challenge to finish a whole book in a month, and thats what made me finish my first project. After that, Ive finished project after project.
Q: Tell us about your books.
My first series is about an orphan girl who moves into this mysterious town of Peachville to a home for troubled girls, and starts unraveling the secrets of the town.
I never would have imagined it would take off as it has! The series that Im doing now the first book will come out later this month is about a group of teens that survive a zombie apocalypse.
After that I want to write a new adult contemporary romance, for readers from about 17 to 25 years old.
Q: Why did you choose to self-publish?
When I decided to become a writer, I thought it was going to be hard to get a contract and find an agent. But the more I talked to other authors, I found out its not only difficult its almost impossible to get a good contract even if you have a good book.
So I decided it would be better for me to self-publish. The great thing about it is everyone can be an author and have an opportunity to get their work in front of readers and see what they think.
In the end, instead of an editor telling you what is good, the readers decide.
Q: What trends in self-publishing have you noticed?
I self-published my first book in 2010, and a lot of people were saying, You should find an agent, and people were kind of looking down on people who self-publish.
Now the attitude is completely different because the royalty rates are so high and you can reach readers much faster.
Now you have authors who were traditionally published for years who have realized the benefits of self-publishing. Its a whole new world.