Elise Kova is the USA Today bestselling author of books filled with magic.
In her past lives, she has graduated from an MBA program, lived in Japan for a bit, and worked for a Fortune 500 technology company. However, she finds herself much happier in her current reincarnation as full-time author. When not writing, she can usually be found playing video games, drawing, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She’s happy to call Saint Petersburg, Florida, her home, but is always looking forward to her next trip.
Elise is represented by Devin Ross at New Leaf Literary. Inquiries regarding translation rights, dramatic rights, literary works, convention appearances, etc, should be directed to New Leaf.
Other business matters should be directed through the form on her contact page.
Want to book time to talk with Elise one-on-one about your writing journey?
Interviews and Features
Interviews Elise has done (audio/video interviews are bold):
- Indie Author Lifestyle Podcast ep.13 – Book Marketing Strategies
- Interview with The Mortal Jessica (Nov 2019)
- Interview with Lynn’s Book Blog (Jul 2019)
- Interview with The Reading Fairy (May 2019)
- Building Rich Characters and Worlds (Mar 2019)
- Interview with the Hanging With Web Show (Jan 2019)
- Q&A With the Fussy Librarian (Nov 2018)
- How a Self-Published Author Launched a USA Today Bestselling Series – New Leaf Writing (Oct 2017)
- Interview with The Reading Life (Oct 2016)
- Indie Author Interview (Aug 2016)
- Reedsy Blog Treating Self Publishing Like a Business (Mar 2016)
- Rocking the Charts in YA Fantasy with Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast (Dec 2015)
Features on Elise or her Books:
- 15 New Fantasy Like Game of Thrones (Bustle)
- Meet Elise Kova (Huffington Post)
- 10 Self Published Young Adult Novels that Need To Be On Your Radar (Bustle)
Tips/Advice from Elise on Publishing & Writing
Every month I send out a newsletter that has news, updates, sales, special giveaways and more. At the bottom of this newsletter, I cover different topics surrounding writing, publishing, life as an author, and the ins and outs of the industry as I see them. If you want to get my newsletter each month for full access to all my topics, click here.
Here’s a few past newsletters that have topics which expand on the FAQ below that I think readers may enjoy. Remember, scroll down to the bottom of the newsletter for the content on these topics:
- The best ways to invest your first $1,000 (indie author focused)
- Key author marketing resources
- How to ask other authors for help
- When to bring in an editor
- Ideas for planning a cover reveal
- Dos and Don’ts for finding a cover designer/illustrator
- So you decided to self publish… now what?
This is a list of frequently asked questions I receive about me and my work.
How can I request a review copy or advanced reader copies (ARCs) of upcoming books?
Whenever I have review copies or ARCs to send out I always make sure I post it everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – so following me somewhere is a really good way to stay in the know. There’s also my newsletter that I sometimes give out exclusive early copies to.
Sometimes, I will send out review copies to people who “cold request” copies (aka, people who I haven’t spoken to before and invited them to request). If you are interested in requesting a review copy, please use the contact form on my website. Please include all the information relevant to you and why you’re requesting, things like: follower counts, social media links, blog links, and any other helpful stats. I will only email reply to people who I’ll be giving a review copy/ARC to. This is not to be rude, but only to help alleviate some of the to-do’s in my day so I can keep writing stories for you to enjoy!
Members of my street team also gain exclusive access and priority to review copies. Learn more about my street team, the Tower Guard, here.
What order should I read your books in?
CLICK HERE to learn more about my recommended reading order.
How did you start? / How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first novella, a high fantasy, in sixth grade. It was part of a school project to write a “long form” story. I was determined to write a chapter book and so that’s what I did. Needless to say, I’ve loved writing and storytelling for a long time. Reading and books have always been a big part of who I am, so even if I wasn’t dreaming of being an author at points in my life, I’ve always held a deep love for the art of storytelling.
Thus, when I began writing AIR AWAKENS in 2012-2013, it started as a hobby.
For a long time, I enjoyed Fanfiction and wanted to write in an environment as fun and as interactive as the Fanfiction websites I frequent. I wasn’t considering publication and just wanted to have good time writing. That search for community in writing led me to Fictionpress. It was a great site to help keep me on track by making it a habit of posting a chapter every day for my readers. Additionally, those readers became what were effectively my first betas. I had found the community I needed and finished the Air Awakens series.
I queried AIR AWAKENS in 2014 after substantial edits, but did not receive any offers of representation from agents (as it is for many debut authors). Rather than trunking my work and waiting to query or publish it later I decided that self publishing was a viable option for getting my story out there and helping build my career as an author.
AIR AWAKENS was ultimately published in August of 2015.
In January of 2016 I became a full time author.
In July of 2016 CRYSTAL CROWNED hit the USA Today bestsellers list.
In winter 2016 I signed with a publisher, Keymaster Press, for publication of the Loom Saga.
In February of 2018 I sighed with New Leaf Literary Agency and am currently represented by them.
To date, my work is published in 5 languages and I can’t wait to see what’s next in my career.
Why did you decide to self/independently publish? / What do you like about self/independent publishing?
I went a little bit into how I arrived at self publishing above. But one of the things I want to stress is that self/independent publishing is a choice. It’s not just because “no one would accept me.” I always considered self/indie publishing as an option for my work because I’d read many success stories about great authors who used it to break into the industry or remained independent throughout their careers.
Indie publishing offers a lot of benefits for authors like full creative control, the ability to run your own business, make your own schedule and manage your team, as well as higher royalty percentages. All of these things did, and still do, really appeal to me. They’re key components of how I run my business as an author.
What are the differences between indie publishing and traditional publishing? / Which do you recommend?
The major differences between indie and traditional publishing lie in a few key areas:
- Royalties – The royalty percentage for indie is usually higher… but once could argue there’s a better chance to move more copies in traditional publishing. So you may have a smaller percentage of a larger pie traditionally. Or a larger percentage of a small pie with indie. It’s hard to say which “makes more” and can vary book to book.
- Creative Control – With independent publishing, an author is in control of everything from content of the story, to editing, formatting, and cover design. It’s a lot of responsibility and requires a lot of market research. With traditional publishing, authors rarely have final say on any of these things. Which can be stressful in a different way.
- Responsibility – Because you as the author have more control with independent publishing, you also have more responsibility to make sure things get done. You are the one who has to find the editor. You are the one who has to get the cover designed. Etc… Traditional publishing is more of a “here’s my book” model.
- Marketing – In my experience, it’s a common misconception that traditionally published authors don’t have to do any marketing. This simply is not true. Most traditionally published authors bust their butt marketing and put in a lot of their own dollars. However, it is possible that the publishing house will assist in marketing (to varying degrees). With independent publishing, you know it’s 100% on your shoulders… and wallet!
- Distribution – The ability for independent authors to get their books into the world has increased incredibly. Indie authors can get their books printed on demand, listed in catalogs that bookstores and libraries buy from, and even do things like produce and distribute their own audiobooks. But, it’s undeniable that the publisher’s ability to get a book out in the market is still significant. Publishers can open doors with bookstores and libraries that are next to impossible to do as an independent author.
As for which is better… It really depends.
If you’re an author who wants to run a business. Who gets excited about marketing data, keeping financials, and studying the market, then independent publishing is a great option.
If you’re an author who wants to just focus mostly on writing and doesn’t want to deal with “all the other stuff” then traditional publishing may be a better option for you.
There’s no one right answer. Everyone’s publishing path is different. And no publishing method is perfect. For this reason, I enjoy being a hybrid author (both traditionally and independently published). But people who choose just one or the other are making the right choice for themselves and their books.
Who is your…?
Agent: Devin Ross at New Leaf Literary
Cover Illustrator: Merilliza Chan
Editor: Monica Wanat
Distributor: Gatekeeper Press
Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles
Cover Illustrator: Livia Prima
Editor: Rebecca Faith Editorial
Cover Text, Layout, & Distribution: Silver Wing Press
Cover artist: Nicholas D. Grey
Editor: Rebecca Faith Editorial
Distributor: Keymaster Press
Golden Guard Trilogy
Cover artist: Merilliza Chan
Editor: Rebecca Faith Editorial
Distributor: Gatekeeper Press
Cover Illustration & Distribution: Silver Wing Press
Editor: Rebecca Faith Editorial
How does your publishing process work? / What’s your writing process like?
For my novels with a traditional publisher, the process is governed by the publisher’s needs and timelines. But, for my independent novels the process looks something like this:
World Building (6 months – 2+ years)
I spend a lot of time in this stage. Some of it is active as I try to sit down and focus on how my worlds are constructed. Other parts of world building are passive, as I let ideas simmer in the back of my mind and see what bubbles up.
Plotting (1 week)
After spending so long world building, my plotting moves fairly quickly. By now, I usually have an idea of the characters and story, so it’s just a matter of generating the outline I’ll write from. I use my own variation on the Snowflake Method to help guide my plotting. My final outlines are usually between 2,000 – 8,000 words, depending on the length of the story, and are broken down as a summary of what happens in each chapter. This may or may not include important scenes or bits of dialogue that I want to make sure are included.
Drafting (4 weeks – 3 months)
In the drafting stage I sit down and hammer out the first draft. I make it a point to not edit as I go because I need to see the full story come to life. Once I have the big picture, I can be more effective in going back and editing.
Self Edits Round 1 (1 month)
After walking away from the manuscript for a week to clear my head, I return and begin self edits. At this stage these are usually large structural edits like adding and removing chapters.
Beta Readers (1 month)
I don’t always send my manuscripts to beta readers. But I send most. My beta readers give me feedback on pacing, continuity with other books in the series, and how the book resonates them as a reader of the genre.
Self Edits Round 2 (1 month)
I incorporate the feedback of my beta readers (along with anything else I’ve thought of) and make further adjustments before the manuscript is sent to my editor.
Developmental/Content Edits (2-4 months)
In this stage, the editor reads my manuscript and prepares an editorial letter. The editor gives me their expert opinion on the pacing, structure, and plot of the story. I then incorporate their feedback and they read through my changes to see if the issues have been addressed.
Line Edits (1-2 months)
Line edits is when grammar begins to be focused on. Now that the story is as it should be and there are no more major changes on the horizon, we begin looking line by line for grammar, syntax, continuity, and pacing on a more micro scale. This usually involves at least two, but sometimes three passes each of my editor and myself.
Proofreading (2-3 weeks)
Proofreading is the fastest stage because the manuscript has been polished and is ready to go. The proofer looks for any last minute typos. (Though, there’s always some typos that sneak through to the finished version.)
Formatting + Print Prep (1 week)
Now that the manuscript has been finished, it’s time to turn it into a book. The final stages are formatting all those carefully written words and getting them uploaded with the final cover layout to the printer.
How do you determine your cover illustrations? / Why does [character] on your cover not look like the book says?
I’m very lucky to work with some amazing illustrators to help bring my works to life. With every illustrator, we go through an extensive discussion process about the story, character(s), setting, and other important elements to have on the cover. Then, the illustrator presents me two, or three, very rough sketches and I select what will be the final layout. Usually, before finalization, I’m shown a rough color stage where I have the opportunity to make some final comments and suggest changes.
As a result of this process the character that comes to life on the cover is never a perfect model of what’s in my head, or the reader’s. I select my illustrators based on skill and faith in their overall aesthetic. I want my illustrators to bring the characters to life as they see them – and everyone sees the character differently.
So I encourage every reader to make the characters their own and look past any differences on the cover to hold true to their interpretation of the work within. Meanwhile, I will forever to continue to listen and learn from the feedback my readers provide.
What was your original inspiration for…
Air Awakens? Honestly, I was inspired by an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) song, Clarity, by the artist ZEDD. When I first heard this song I was just getting back into writing and it began to form the makings of what would be Vhalla and Aldrik in my head. I began to ask myself, “Why is their love clarity? Why is it insanity?” When I had the answers I got to writing and Air Awakens was born.
Loom Saga? In Air Awakens, magic is not in the blood. I wondered what would happen if I went the complete reverse of this and asked, “What if magic was ONLY in the blood?” From there, my mind went wild, steampunk flairs were added, and Loom was born.
Wish Quartet? Lynn (my co-author and I) were intrigued by the intersection of modern times and magic. So we began thinking about a world where magic lies just beneath the surface.
What is your primary advice to aspiring authors?
Never give up! You’ve chosen to pursue a tough path and it’s one that really demands a lot from you. You need to be ready to look at your books like a product and a business, beyond a hobby and a passion. Really, successful authors need both sides of that spectrum. Consider how you define success and then be willing to work toward that.
How do you pronounce the names in Air Awakens?
Vhalla: Val-La (Like Valhalla without the ‘Ha’)
Aldrik: Aal-drik (A like the A in apple)
Baldair: Bald-air (said exactly how each of these words are separately)
Roan: like roam but with n instead of m at the end
Want to hear me pronounce the names? Watch this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlAdRDNd4qU
You can also learn more about the Air Awakens world here:
How do you pronounce the names in the Loom Saga?
There’s actually a pronunciation guide in the appendix in the back of the book at the end in both digital and physical editions.
You can also learn more about the world of Loom here:
How do you come up with the names of your characters?
Currently, I try to develop a “naming convention” for the world so that way all names fit into the world the characters exist in. I admittedly didn’t do this with Air Awakens, and learned a lot from the mixed bag of names that ended up in that series.
The naming convention can be a series of sounds, inspiration from outside sources like places and times, or built around a singular name I hear and think is cool.
From there, I can look at baby names lists to get inspiration or names outright. Sometimes, I’ll just say sounds until I get a name that feels right.
Do you base characters off yourself or real people?
Yes and no. There are personality traits in all my characters that come from myself or people I know. And sometimes the situations the characters find themselves in, or the struggles they have surrounding friendship and hardship, are drawn from situations myself or my friends have been in. But it’s not a “one for one” situation. I can’t say 100% of this character is based off 100% of this person. It’s more like 60% of this character is based off 4 people I know and then 40% has evolved naturally from what that blend brings in the world the character is in.
What authors have influenced you?
I had the fortune of growing up in a home where books were prevalent and reading was encouraged. C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia were the first chapter books I’d ever read. I was surrounded by Robin Hobb, Anne McCaffrey, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan — I knew their names and their work from an early age.
As a product of the Harry Potter generation I also have to say J.K. Rowling. Additionally, I was exposed to the works of Dave Duncan in my high school years at a very formative time, and his A Man Of His Word series truly changed the way I viewed fantasy.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of writing fantasy?
Everything comes down to the world building. It is the most exciting part, the most rewarding element, and one of the hardest to manage. It’s exciting because you get to craft a world from the ground up. Everything is possible if you can imagine it. It’s challenging to think of things in a new way, honor tropes or subvert expectations.
But it’s also very challenging because once you make rules you must follow them, even if it would be easier for the plot to break them at times. Additionally, they must make sense within the world. The final challenge is after developing this rich world, scaling back to what the reader sees, because you can’t put everything in the book without taking away from the pacing and characters.
It’s one of the hardest parts, but it also is my favorite part.