Five Questions with August McLaughlin: Indie Publishing With An Agent

August headshot

Today, the amazingly talented August McLaughlin is here to answer questions on her hybrid self-publishing experiences. August is an agented author who decided to self-publish with the assistance of her agency. She’s a blog bud of mine who has taught me so much about promotion and social media. I’m honored to have her on my blog today.

1)  How did you know your book was ready for publication? 

It’s funny. I thought it was ready before I sought out an agent, but looking back, I was merely feeling impatient and trusted others’ opinions over my own. When a tough freelance editor gave me his stamp of approval, I decided I was ready, even though I wasn’t 100 percent happy with my draft.

As newbies, it’s tough to know when we’re ready. Then we learn to trust our instincts—at least, I did. After receiving notes from my agent on my first draft then tackling a major rewrite, I felt stronger about the book and more confident about my writing. When my instincts and agent gave thumbs up, I knew it was time.

2)  What has been the hardest aspect of indie publishing? The most unexpected time suck? The easiest part?

It’s a ton of work—enjoyable work primarily, but still work. It’s also been a huge learning curve I sort of plummeted into, having made the decision to self-publish weeks before it happened. Strangely, the easiest part was making the decision to self-pub. I knew instinctually it was the right decision as soon as my agent mentioned it as a possibility.

3)  I’m very curious about self-publishing with an agent. What role did they play in the process? What sort of support did your agency provide? 

I’m still learning the answer to this, but so far my agency’s been terrific. My agent is maintaining his previous mentoring and representative role he’s had all along. He’ll continue to market me and my work to publishers in the U.S. and elsewhere as sales accumulate. I also work with a digital rep, who formatted and uploaded my manuscript to various sellers. This cut a huge chunk out of my grunt-work load, as the process can be tedious. They’ve also provided resources for cover designers and copy editors, have answered my questions along the way and will provide pricing and sales analyses.

I feel like I have the best of both worlds, being an indie who owns all of the rights and makes the decisions and an agented author with a trusted team behind her. The prestigiousness of my agency hasn’t hurt, either. Many indie authors fare well on their own. I personally feel stronger with a team, and already had one by the time going this “hybrid” route unfolded. That said, I can always switch gears and go traditional or total indie. We all can. I find peace in that.

4)  Your cover is very eye-catching. Can you tell us a little about how you decided on the elements that would be incorporated into your cover and how you worked with the designer to achieve your vision for the cover?

Thank you! I had a basic design in mind and a stock photo it featured. I then called on Steena Holmes, an accomplished indie writer and cover designer. I could swear she’s psychic. I briefed her in no clear terms on what I desired and POOF! She had it done in a snap. We only went through a few drafts.

5) You are the superwoman of social media. You seem to be everywhere and on top of everything. Any tips you can to share on building your platform?

That’s so sweet of you to say. I think the keys are to be authentic, support others and build gradually. I dove in and gave myself headaches in the beginning, of course, but that’s generally how I roll. (Perhaps that falls under “be authentic.” ;)) Blogging, Facebook and Twitter are all useful, but they should never take precedence over our main work: WRITING. And babbling on and on about our books or trying to be ultra smart, funny and interesting aren’t necessary. Just be you, and prioritize your novel writing first. Timing is also important. I aim to write when my brain is sharpest and rely on social media for breaks and non-peak thinking time.

Engaging in social media has given me far more than the reverse, if that makes any sense. I hadn’t realized  the valuable support online friends can be until I had them. It’s also allowed me to meet fabulous people like you! If we view it as a blessing (Hello! FREE marketing that doesn’t have to feel like marketing. ;)), all goes smoother.

In Her Shadow - Finalx2


One woman locked in a basement, nearing death and longing for escape. Another baffled by the inexplicable symptoms wreaking havoc on her life. Both are lost and alone, yet somehow connected. And time is running out…

Near the tenth anniversary of her parents’ unexpected death, Claire Fiksen, a lovely young Harvard-grad and gifted psychologist in Minnesota, develops bizarre symptoms of an eating disorder that threaten her fledgling career, her relationship with a handsome young medical student, her grasp on reality and, soon, her life.

When her beloved grandfather reveals that there may be more to her parents’ death than she’s realized, Claire’s pursuit of healing becomes a desperate search for answers as she delves into her family’s sordid past. Meanwhile, someone is watching her every move, plotting to draw her into his own twisted web of misery. Claire has something he needs, and he’ll stop at nothing to obtain it.

Every step Claire takes brings her closer to the truth and danger. And her life, she discovers, isn’t the only one at stake.


She gulps the swig of poison like an eight year old inhaling cough syrup—nose plugged, eyes squeezed shut, her face pulled into a tight round ball. Toxic, metallic tasting vapors trail the liquid down her throat, filling her with venomous stench and nausea. Swallow, she instructs. Gulp. Breathe. There, that’s it. She did it.

She trembles on the floor, her sweaty back pressed against the bedside, awaiting action. The wrapper from the candy bar he forced into her mouth lies on the floor beside her, crumpled like an odd bit of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. No celebrations today, though. Well, maybe after. She withholds her tears, clinging as though to a ledge of which she can’t let go. If she cries, the poison might come out and that would ruin everything. Come on, she thinks, work. Damn it, work! If it doesn’t start soon, she’ll have to sip some more.

Buy IN HER SHADOW as an ebook:


Barnes & Noble



Paperback: Coming Soon!

For more details, check out August’s author page at or pop by her Facebook page. “Likes” and reviews are appreciated! You can also add In Her Shadow to your reading shelf on GoodReads and chat with her Twitter-style: @AugstMcLaughlin.

Upcoming Events:

Next Thursday, January 10th, August will be hosting an In Her Shadow release party and thrill-fest on her blog and Facebook, which will involve a raffle for a variety of signed thrillers (hers included) and author interviews. You can join the fun by visiting her blog and signing up on for the Facebook event here.

If you have any questions about August’s novel, her hybrid indie publishing experience, or writing in general, August will be popping by to answer questions all day. So ask away!

This entry was posted in guest blogs, Self-publishing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Five Questions with August McLaughlin: Indie Publishing With An Agent

  1. CC MacKenzie says:

    Love this interview and August is seriously talented. I’ve just started reading it and had to put it aside because I’m up against the gun with two pieces of work but as soon as I’m finished, August is at the top of my TBR list. It’s like saving your favourite chocolate to eat at the end.

    I predict great things for this girl!
    Honey, next Thursday’s January the 10th!

  2. August is one of the best – supportive, kind and talented. great success to you, lovely lady.

  3. Subhan Zein says:

    August is one wise woman, I learn a lot from her journey to brilliance. I cannot wait to read it, I think I am going to place an order when I get paid next week. Keen! 🙂

    Ubhan Zein

  4. Cat Forsley says:

    brilliant xxxx as always xxxx 🙂

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    It really does sound like the best of both worlds to self-publish but also have an agent, especially when it comes to marketing. Best of luck, August!

  6. Great interview and information. To me, August is the whole package–talented, supportive, and genuine–an Inspiration for any writer. 🙂
    Thanks Kourtney!

  7. I love to hear how other authors make their way through the publishing maze. I’ve been following August for about a year now and enjoy reading her about her progress and process. Thank you for the lovely interview. 🙂

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    Kourtney and August, you are both inspirations to me on my writing journey, and it’s wonderful to read this interview. May 2013 bring you both success with your novels!

    • Aw thanks JM! You inspire me too. I love your short story series on your blog. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Hope 2013 is the year we all see forward momentum with our novels! 🙂

  9. char says:

    This book sounds fascinating. And the cover is beautiful. Great interview Kourtney and August. Wishing you MUCH success with your book release, August.

  10. Elena Aitken says:

    Great interview! Congrats, August! I can’t wait to read it.

  11. Such a fabulous bunch! Thanks again for having me, Kourtney. Having read some of your work and the pleasure of getting to know you over the past year, I’ve no doubt that the reading and publishing worlds will embrace you BIG time. Best wishes, all of you!

  12. Wow August, I love the cover of your book! This is such an exciting time for you. And to think “In Her Shadow” is being release in just a few days. Congratulations August! Yay! 🙂

  13. Just outstanding interview (both questions and responses are full of info)
    The cover is great – thanks for the insight of its’ development.
    Her comment about writing must come first over social media is reinforcing – but enjoyed her comments about social media, too

    • Thanks! I’m really happy to have her visit and talk about her experiences. 🙂 I love researching indie publishing and getting lots of perspectives on it. 😉 Learning so much from my blog friends.

  14. 4amWriter says:

    Great interview, Kourtney and August. I have never heard of such a hybrid option, and it’s great that it is working out so well. Congrats!

  15. berry says:

    August is the whole package. Gorgeous talented smart. Wow. Insightful too. Thanks for info. Maybe we should all do this. Forgot about agents.

    • And super professional too. She’s so good at everything she does! I watch and learn. 🙂 LOL. I think agents serve a role. And I think their role is starting to evolve. Agents definitely improved my writing with their feedback.

  16. Pingback: What’s Going On With My Novel? « Kourtney Heintz's Journal

  17. Pingback: Book Review: In Her Shadow by August McLaughlin | Emmie Mears

Leave a Reply to Kourtney Heintz Cancel reply