Good evening Debra and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to take this interview and answer a few questions about being an independent author and what drew you to writing Letting Go of Friends.
Q. So Debra, why did you decide to write Letting Go of Friends?
A. Letting Go of Friends is my second book published. I felt very strongly about women friendships in particular and the toxicity that some of these relationships can bring. I submitted a survey that received over 300 responses, so I know it hit a nerve with those surveyed. Their real-life experiences were a very integral part of my book.
Q. How long have you been writing foor?
A. I started writing earnestly in early 2015, with my first book Dream Launch. I wrote quite a bit in High School and a story was once published in a local newspaper. Nothing big, but it gave me the feeling that I might be good at it. However, life and changes put all of that on hold until recently.
Q. How long did it take you to write Letting Go of Friends?
A. I work full-time, so my writing schedule is quite limited. That, and along with the research necessary for my current book Letting Go Of Friends, it took me about six months to finalize and publish this work. However, my goal is to write three more books in 2016.
Q. What do you use to write your books?
A. Currently, I use a laptop because it is portable. Even though I am typically a visual person, I would like to try dictation with Dragon Naturally Speaking software.
Q. What problems did you encounter?
A. The only problem I encountered with my current book is organizing the massive amount of research material. Then in organizing how I wanted to present it in the book. There was simply no way to include everything without being overwhelming to me and to my readers.
Q. How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?
A. Leaps and bounds! But I know I have a long way to go. I absorb all I can by researching writing blogs, websites, and an author FB page that has been invaluable. I believe writing is an ever-learning craft.
Q. Is there anything you wish someone would have told you before you’d started writing?
A. How much of a business person you have to be. You can’t just write a book and wait for the throngs of readers to show up. It takes a lot of work to market your book(s), but do it in a way that is not spammy. I’m getting better at this, but it an area that I believe all authors struggle with.
Q. Do you structure your plots or just go with the flow?
A. My genre, so far, has been non-fiction, but that will change with my next book. However, I do like to structure my books per chapter. That way, I can add to those chapters as I think of or research material. It is a lot easier to manage and organize this way, for me at least.
Q. Do you work on a set amount of words per day or does it change?
A. Working full-time, I have to be very organized with my time. Up until recently, I haven’t set a specific word count goal per day. However, with my goal to write three more books in 2016, I will need to be more diligent in planning more aggressive goals as far as timelines.
Q. Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?
A. With my current book, Letting Go of Friends, there was a ton of research. I read books, studies, and even did my own survey which was invaluable to the core of my message. It definitely paid off, because in the reviews I have gotten, that was one of the main things people said – that it was well-researched material.
Q. How would you describe your writing process?
A. Just sit down and write!
Q. What time of the day do you find is best to write?
A. I write in the evenings between 7pm and Midnight. It’s the only time I can relax and be focused.
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. Anything and everything. You never know what will spark an idea.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A. Since my first two books were non-fiction, I just wrote what I knew or was passionate about. It’s the only way to do it.
Q. Have you ever tried to write other genres?
A. To date, I have not written in any other genres, but that will change with my next book. I will switch to fiction and most likely in a romance sub-genre.
Q. How many books have you written?
My first book Dream Launch became a bestseller and I was tickled pink. It is a short, motivational kick-in-the pants book about stop procrastinating and follow your dreams. Stop the naysayers, including yourself. My current book, Letting Go of Friends is about toxic female relationships.
Q. Have you ever written in collaboration with another author?
A. Yes. I have just collaborated with another author that writes paranormal. She is putting together an anthology of hauntings and asked if I would like to contribute. It was fun and that book is to be published at the end of April 2016.
Q. Who designed your front cover?
A. My first book, I did it myself. On my second, I bought the artwork from an artist and then created the cover from that on my own.
Q. Who was the first person you showed your novel too?
A. The world!
Q. How do you market your books?
A. Since I’m just starting out, I don’t have a minuscule email list. That is a goal I have this year in growing that list. Otherwise, I have a list of websites that do promotions that have been successful.
Q. How do you deal with bad reviews?
A. At this point, I have not had any reviews I felt were “bad”. If the reader gives me true feedback on their view of the book, I can take that into consideration on my next one.
Q. Do you use an agent?
A. No I don’t. No, I wouldn’t because I am and will continue to be self-published.
Q. How much time do you devote to marketing your books?
A. At minimum, a couple of weeks. Once the book is published on Amazon (right now is my only platform), I then start lining up promotions.
Q. How do you get your book reviewed?
A. I belong to an author Facebook page. I am a regular contributor, so they know me. When I am about to launch a book, I send out advance reader copies to those interested in exchange for an honest review. This year, I started my own Facebook page called “ARC to ARC”. Hopefully, this will also help other authors in getting reviews. It is the nemesis of every author.
Q. Do you ever run free book promotions? Have these worked for you?
A. For new authors, I believe it helps a great deal to run free book promotions. It helps with exposure as well as bumps you up the ranks and helps when you change your price to 99 cents or full price. I have run free book promotions for both of my books and it helped immensely. However, if an author has 3-4 books out, it may not be as critical to offer their books for free. It is an individual decision.
Q. Do you do all your own proof reading and editing?
A. I go through my own books very meticulously, but up until this point have never used an “editor”. I have sent out copies of my manuscript to beta readers and that has proved invaluable. On my next book in the fiction genre, I will be using an editor and already have one lined up.
Q. How and where are you publishing this book?
A. At this point, only on Amazon and CreateSpace. With my next book, I will be looking at other platforms.
Q. What are the main benefits of being an independent author?
A. Control over how, when, and where you publish your book and at what price point. Any of these things can be changed on a whim to best position your book.
Q. What are you reading at the moment? Which book do you have by your bed?
A. I am currently reading another new author’s book called “The Anonymous Source” by A.C. Fuller. It is quite good. Recently, most of the books I read have to do with improving the craft of writing.
Q. What was the first book you ever read?
A. The first book I remember reading was a Little Golden Book called “Saggy Baggy Elephant”
Q. Who is your most loved author?
A. I love John Connelly and crime/thriller novels.
Q. In your opinion what is the best book to film adaptation?
A. I typically don’t see film adaptations to books I have read, especially if I have liked the book. The two exceptions were One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Jaws.
Q. Where are your favourite places to read?
A. In bed. If it’s a nice day, I may go to the park.
Q. When you read do you prefer a book or a kindle/tablet?
A. I don’t own a Kindle, but I do have Kindle on my PC. I do read books that way, but most of the time I prefer a book.
Q. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
A. If someone is truly interested in becoming an author, then the first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to write about – if you don’t already know.
#1 – Don’t mimic other people, just because a topic or genre is popular. You need to enjoy what you are doing. If not, what’s the point?
#2 – Don’t spend money on courses or products if you can’t afford it, as a short-cut to learning. The way you learn is by doing, by writing, and by reading everything you can get your hands on. It can be overwhelming and information overload can happen quickly.
#3 – Please don’t believe the hype that you can make six figures in six months. It won’t happen. If that were true, everybody would be doing it. It can be a rewarding career, but it is also hard work. Put in the work and the income will start building. There is a lot more to it than just writing a book and throwing it up on Amazon or wherever.
#4 – Write the very best book you can. Don’t publish crap. There are too many people doing that to make a quick buck and it will never last long-term. Don’t think short-term, think of a career. It doesn’t happen overnight.
#5 – Believe in yourself and surround yourself (even if it is virtually) with like-minded people. Join websites, blogs or Facebook pages for authors that share information. It is the best learning tool out there.
#6 – Keep writing.
Wow, that’s some great advice!
Q. What can we expect from you next Debra?
A. I am about to embark on writing fiction. I have quite a few ideas and I need to pick one. Whatever it is, I am hoping to be able to create a series from it for long-term readership.