Being an author in this day and age means that we do so much more than just write stories. It used to be that a fiction author would write book, then write one or more cover letters and send them out to publishers, (or agents), and if said author was lucky enough to catch a publisher’s eye, a contract would be signed and, (hopefully), a nice big juicy advance would be recieved. (Once the author locks onto an agent, they take over introducing your work to publishers.)The author would then work with the editor assigned by the publisher until the book was honed to perfection, and then the book would be seemingly magically produced and the publisher would launch a marketing campaign. The author might have to make some appearances for the promotion, but other than that, the author’s job would be pretty much done and it would be time to work on the next book. Following the path of traditional publishing has never been easy, but the author did his or her part, writing, and the business end of the endeavor was handled by the publisher.
Today’s authors have it even more difficult, because self-published authors, or even those who hook up with a small independent press, take the business end of writing onto their own shoulders. Modern day authors are expected to run the gammut, writing the book and then getting it edited, formatted, and selling it too. The tools and skills needed to do this are probably not in your writer’s tool box, so we must venture out into the land of marketing and promotion, or hire out these tasks. Either way it is our job as authors to see that these things are done.
Why do you think some authors sell well and others don’t?
Jordan Elizabeth: Of those I know, the ones who sell the best are the ones who put in a lot of money for marketing. They believe in their stories and really get the word out about their books.
Carol Riggs: Some authors are really good at marketing! They have the business brain along with a writer’s brain. Kudos to them; I’m not one of them. But also, some frankly don’t do well because they don’t take the time to make their writing the best it can be with revision and serious editing. They’re in too much of a hurry to be published. The ones who do the best take the time to write a good story and present it in a professional way. Also, if their cover nails their genre and is a strong image, those things go a long way. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but readers do select books by their covers.
Do you think print books are on the way out? Print or digital? Which do you prefer and what are the advantages or disadvantages of each?
Cynthia Vespia: No. Print books will be here for a long time. Too many people, including myself, prefer holding an actual book in their hands.
Chris Barili: No, in fact, sales of print books have surged lately, though mass market paperbacks are out and trade paperbacks are in. E-book sales have leveled off lately. I think we’ll see both continue to share the market. I know I buy both, and I think other people do too.
Let’s talk about writing organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Western Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Horror writers’ Association, or smaller, local organizations like the one I belong to, Pike’s Peak Writers group, who put on an annual conference each year, or the even more local writing group The Fifth Monday Writers out of Chaffee County. Are these organizations helpful to authors and in what ways?
What benefits do belonging to writing organizations bring? Do they help to bring readers or do their benefits regard craft and promotion? Do you think size matters?
Chris Barili: I think the primary thing we gain from such organizations is a sense of professionalism. Being around others who write keeps you focused, and reminds you that this is a job, first and foremost. That’s easy to lose track of if you’re locked away in your writing cave day after day.
Like it or not, we do judge books by their covers. The cover is the first thing any reader sees, whether in an advertisement or on the book store shelf, or in the Amazon line up on their site. If the cover needs to grab their attention, or your book will just hang out on the shelf, unread. You may have a killer story, but if you can’t interests readers enough to pick up your book, no one will ever know. As mentioned earlier, not all authors are artists or photographers, (although some are), and designing cover art may be outside of their skill set. Let’s Ask the Authors to see how our panel members handle cover art.
If you have a question you’ve always wanted answered, but it’s not covered in the post on that topic, or if our panel’s answers have stirred new questions within you, pose your query in the comments. Make note if it is directed toward a specific author. Questions will be directed to the general panel unless otherwise specified. Then, in the final post for the series, I will present your questions and the responses I recieved from panel members.
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I’m excited to tell you about a new series of posts coming to Writing to be Read. Starting next Monday, “Ask the Authors” will pose the questions you want to ask to our panel of authors, and I’ll bring you their answers. The series will cover all aspects of writing, with topics including the writing process and elements of craft, and issues surrounding publishing, and building a platform, marketing and promotion, with members from our panel weighing in on each subject. If you have follow-up questions for the panel or for the individual authors, you can leave them in the comments. I will get them answered and post them in the concluding post, so be sure to catch the whole series.
Our panel consists of eleven members, which I’d like to introduce to you today. All of them, I have worked with here on Writing to be Read, either reviewing their books or interviewing them, or both. Many have participated in either my 2016 Publishing series: “Pros and Cons of Traditionional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing” or my 2017 Book Marketing series: “Book Marketing: What Works?”. They are all outstanding authors and together, they cover a wide variety of genres and publishing routes. Feel free to pose any questions for them of for the panel in general in the comments of any of the posts and I will try to get them answered for you. I hope all my readers will give each of them a warm welcome.
Tim Baker is a Florida author of ten novels, most of which I’ve read more than once. His work is well crafted and entertaining, with memorable characters you can’t help but care about. (See my reviews of Tim’s books: Living the Dream, No Good Deed, Water Works, Backseat to Justice, Unfinished Business, Pump It Up, Eyewitness Blues, Full Circle, 24 Minutes) He started out his writing career with a publisher, but has now moved into the independent publishing arena.
Tim has played almost every sport imaginable throughout his life and currently enjoys S.C.U.B.A. diving, riding his motorcycle, reading and watching movies, (not necessarily in that order). In fact when writing a novel, he approaches it like he’s creating and watching a movie in his head. When asked who he’d like to play the lead character if one of his books were turned into a movie:
“That’s an easy one…in almost all of my books the hero is a guy named Ike. He is a 6’6” ex-Navy SEAL with a tendency to bend (and sometimes break) the rules. He was modelled after the character of Wade Garret, played by Sam Elliot, in Road House – but Sam is getting a bit old to play Ike so the next best thing is an actor named Anson Mount (from the series Hell on Wheels).”
Something his readers might not gues about him: “After reading my books I think most people would be surprised to learn that I am very non-violent. I don’t believe that violence ever solves anything. I also don’t own a gun (but I don’t care if you do), nor do I know much about them. Most of the technical jargon I use about guns in my books I learn from people who know. And I would go out of my way to avoid hostility.”
When asked to describe himself in three words: “Impossible to describe (that’s 3 words!!)”.
Living the Dream was one of the first reviews I did on Writing to be Read back in 2010. I’ve interviewed him for both my 2016 Publishing series and my 2017 Book Marketing series, as well as an author profile back in 2012, and I am pleased to welcome Tim to our Ask the Authors” panel.
You can learn more about Tim and his books at his website: www.blindoggbooks.com.
Jordan Elizabeth is a New York small press author of Young Adult fiction. (See my reviews of Jordan’s books: Escape From Witchwood Hollow, Cogling, Victorian, The Goat Children, Path to Old Talbot, Kistishi Island, Treasure Darkly, Wicked Treasure, Runners & Riders)
One of her secrets for juggling her writing career and family is to set aside one hour a night just for writing. If she’s fortunate enough to set aside two hours, she uses the second hour for marketing. When asked: “What is one thing readers would never guess about you?” She replied: “I am terrified of costumed characters. Think head-to-toe Mickey Mouse. If I see one, I freak out.”
I have reviewed Jordan’s work, both novels and short fiction since 2016, and I had the pleasure of interviewing her for both my 2016 Publishing series and for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and we started off the new year with another interview to talk about her latest book, Secrets of Bennett Hall. In fact, when asked to relate about the most fun interview she’d ever done, she replied, “Anything by you. You always ask unusual questions that really get me thinking.” So thank you for that, Jordan. It pleases me to no end to have you join our “Ask the Authors” panel.
You can learn more about Jordan and her books at JordanElizabethBooks.com.
Margareth Stewart is the pen name for Mônica Mastrantonio, debut author of Open/ Pierre’s Journey After War published by web-e-books.com. She has also compiled and published three international Anthologies featuring global authors: Whitmanthology, Womenthology, The Pain that Unites us All.
She holds a PhD in Social Psychology, and she has been teaching and tutoring students over 22 years. This zen-mother of 3, loves life and her tattoos. She spends her time between Sao Paolo, Miami and writing residencies.
When asked about her favorite form of exercise: “Jogging – that´s kind of an obligation for me. As writers, we tend to sit for long hours, so every single day, I do try to keep that up and go out for a short run of 4 to 5 kilometers. If I have more time, I go round a park nearby and that makes 6 kilometers. I do recommend it – it keeps our mind sharp and our ideas bright.
I only recently met Margareth through my interview with her, but I am happy to have Margareth as a panel member.
You can learn more about Margareth and her book on her Facebook page.
Chris DiBella is currently an independent California author. (See my reviews of Chris’ books: The 5820 Diaries, Whispering Death, Blood Dawn) I say this because Chris has been all over. Originally from New England, he began writing his first novel while living in Hawaii. I reviewed his debut novel, Lost Voyage, back when he was a Colorado author and I was the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner, as well.
I met Chris through another author on this panel, Tim Baker, and it is apparently Tim who gave Chris the best piece of advice he’s ever received:
“I wrote a blog piece about how it’s okay to sometimes alienate your readers…to a point. One of the comments on it was from my friend Tim, who said this:
“If Stephen King or JK Rowling want to piss people off, they can afford it. You and me? We should be a little more careful. Just sayin’.”
And that was the roundabout way of giving me the best piece of advice I could’ve ever received. I immediately got on my laptop, opened up a blank Word document, and typed in big bold letters “BE BIGGER THAN STEPHEN KING & J.K. ROWLING”.
Chris’ words to you readers: “I am however, an open book…..every pun intended….so if there’s anything you would like to know about me or about what makes me tick, please feel free to reach out and ask away. I love interacting with fans and I welcome any questions you may have.”
Soon you can learn more about Chris and his books at his website, which is under construction ans linked to his blog site: www.chrisdibella.com. For now, it might be easier to contact him through his Facebook page.
Janet Garber is the author of both fiction and non-fiction who lives in the U.K. and bases her writing on her experiences as an H.R. manager in New York.
Janet says that if Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager were made into a film, anyone playing her protagonist, Melie Kohl, would have to be believable as a New Yorker, funny and self deprecating, wildly imaginative, more than a little neurotic. She suggest Mary Elizabeth Winstead, star of that great political satire, BrainDead.
When asked what she would do in a life without writing, she says: “I would do what I always do when I’m avoiding my work: knitting, hiking, going to movies, cooking, getting together with friends, travelling, teaching. But . . .I prefer a future with maximum creativity and that means writing.”
I reviewed Janet’s debut novel, Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager, and thought it was one of the quirkiest books I’ve ever read, but it was very entertaining. I hope you will all give her a warm welcome.
If you’d like to learn more about Janet or her books, visit her at:
Her website: http://www.janetgarber.com
On Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Melie5
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/melie5
Art Rosch is an independent novelist and memoirist from sunny California. (See my reviews of The Road Has Eyes and Confessions of an Honest Man. Also see my interview with Art for my 2016 Publishing series here.)
Art says the best piece of advice he was ever given was to ask for help when you need it. If you find yourself bottoming out, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can’t get out of trouble by yourself. When asked to describe himself in three words: Becoming more alive.
I’ve known Art since 2008, when I administered my own writing site, Writer’s World, and Art was a member. Later, he had his life partner, Fox, who is a pet pyschic, do a reading for me after my son died and we inherited his dog. I am so pleased to welcome him to the “Ask the Authors” panel.
Carol Riggs is a Young Adult fantasy and science fiction author, and dragon collector from Oregon. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.
The most fun part of writing for Carol is “the freedom of drafting a first draft, and being imaginative with my storyline.” The least fun part: “The least fun is marketing, all that necessary left-brained business side of things.”
Carol’s favorite genres to read (and write!) are speculative, which includes fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, magical realism, contemporary fantasy, or anything else with a twist of weird or the imaginative.
When asked what she would do in a future where the was no writing: I would cry. Seriously (after I finished crying), I would return to my artwork, because I have a degree in Studio Arts and that is something I love to do, but haven’t had as much time to do it because I’m so busy writing. In general, I enjoy drawing people more than landscapes. I also like to create miniature fabric art.
You can learn more about Carol or her books at her website: http://www.carolriggs.com/
DeAnna Knippling is another independent Colorado author and one of the a great example of what being a writer is all about. She writes full time as a writer for hire in addition to writing fiction in both short and long forms under her own name. (See my reviews of DeAnna’s books: Clockwork Alice; Something Borrowed, Something Blue; How Smoke Got Out of the Chimneys; ) Her stories are always fun and entertaining.
The most unusual or unique thing she’s done in her writing career to date: “I’ve written murder mystery party games for Freeform Games in the UK. SO VERY COOL. So very intense getting them edited…”
When asked about what she would do in a future without writing, she replied: “Be in a coma.” and in one where writing made her rich and famous: “I would buy a house in the mountains and support my husband in the sloth and luxury that he deserves. I have other plans, too, but that’s at the top of the list.”
When asked to describe herself in three words: “I’m right heeeeeeere!”
I had the pleasure of interviewing her twice in 2017. The first time, a profiling interview and then for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and I am thrilled to welcome her to our “Ask the Authors” panel.
You can learn more about Deanna and her books by visiting the following sites:
Cynthia Vespia an award nominated speculative fiction author, cover designer and promotional content developer. She also teaches internet advertising classes and marshal arts workshops. Her speculative fiction encompasses fantasy, the paranormal, and magic realism.
Cynthia was another of Writing to be Read‘s first reveiws and, always willing to jump in where needed, she participated in a profiling interview, my 2017 Book Marketing series. (See my reviews of Cynthia’s books: the Demon Hunter Saga, including The Hero’s Call; Life, Death and Back; Lucky Sevens)
You can learn more about Cynthia and her books at her website: www.cynthiavespia.com/
Chris Barili is a speculative fiction and romance author who was also my cohort in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program at Western. (See my reviews of Chris’ books: the Hell’s Butcher series and his romance, Smothered (as B.T. Clearwater).)
Besides writing, Chris lifts weights, mountain bikes, practices martial arts and battles Parkinson’s disease. Writing just may be his salvation. When asked about a future where writing left him rich and famous, Chris said he would write more. Regarding a future without writing: “Shrivel up and die. Writing is part of me. Without it, a part of me dies. A crucial part of me. I cannot live without it. I can live without an arm or a leg. I can get by with this Parkinson’s thing. But without writing, I am sunk.”
The best piece of advice he was ever given: “Try genres outside of fantasy.” In addition to my reviews of Chris’s books and short fiction, he was also interviewed for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and I’m happy to have him as a member of our “Ask the Authors” panel.
You can learn more about Chris and his books at his Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Barili/e/B00NA04S8W/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_4
As you can see, we’ve got a terrific panel of multi-talented authors, both experienced and rising, representing a diversity of genres, covering a wide range of knowledge. The way this series works is I will present a series of posts that will offer answers the panel gives in reponse to my questions.
If you have a question you’ve always wanted answered, but it’s not covered in the post on that topic, pose your query in the comments. Make note if it is directed toward a specific author. Questions will be directed to the general panel unless otherwise specified. Then, in the final post for the series, I will present your questions and the responses I recieved from panel members. I hope you’ll all participate and leave your questions in the comments. I think if we can get enough particiaption it might be really fun.
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The Lying Planet, by Carol Riggs is a grabbing YA science fiction novel. Riggs puts a new twist on the story where all is not as it appears. On the planet Liberty, the future seems bright, but when the truth is finally unveiled, it may be very dark indeed.
On the planet Liberty, kids look forward to turning eighteen and venturing out of the colony they grew up in, away from their families, to live lives of their own. Jay can’t wait to gain his freedom. But what’s a kid to do when he discovers that everything he was ever lead to believe is a lie, the very fabric that he’s built his life on is false? Jay uncovers a secret that will change life on Liberty forever, and once he knows the truth, there’s no turning back.
Riggs brings us action and suspense in a well crafted YA science fiction novel which is filled with surprises. Just when you think you have it all figured out, another twist is added. I give The Lying Planet five quills.
Bottled, by Carol Riggs is a delightfully refreshing tale of a young woman turned genie, who is imprisoned in her bottle for centuries, bound to obey whoever has possession of it. Adeelah longs to find Karim, the man she loved when she was still mortal, but she is running from another, Faruq, who seeks her throughout time. The reader doesn’t know all this right away, of course. Instead, Riggs skillfully unfolds the back story throughout the story, revealing the details in small doses which capture and hold readers interest and keeps the pages turning.
—————————Partial Spoiler Below———————-
After a slew of horrible masters, Adeelah finally finds herself with a truly good master, who allows her to search for her Karim, the love in this magical romance. We learn the full story of how Adeelah’s imprisonment came to be, but all is not as it appears. When Adeelah learns the truth about Karim, she has some tough decisions to make. Can she reunite with Karim after learning the truth about his centuries old deceit and betrayal?
Bottled is a well crafted story, with plenty of tension and just the right amount of intrigue to keep the reader coming back for more. Riggs has created a wonderfully unique and interesting character in Adeelah, with just the right amount of naivity to convince me of her eternal youth, and a perfectly evil villain in Faruq, who only wishes to possess Adeelah’s bottle for his own selfish purposes. The pacing, too is perfect and the story moves along smoothly. The rules of the world are established from the beginning, enabling her to deliver fully the promise of the premise. because even genies have their limitations and the reader knows what they are. And I must compliment Riggs on her choice of cover art. The cover for this book is gorgeous. I love it. I give Bottled five quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read, and she never charges for them. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.