BookieJar interviewed award-winning novelist Susan Wingate on May 2nd, 2011. Wingate, author of the popular Bobby's Diner Series gave an insight of her career path, her advice to young writers. Rob Fuller, BookieJar's PR and Marketing executive and Susan also shared their point of views about the ePublising industry.
A summary of the interview questions and answers is posted below.
1. What made you get started as a writer?
I think back on this question a lot and I have to say my greatest influence and reason for wanting to write was my father. He was a writer. He wrote funny sexually-charged safari tales in the form of a journal. So, daily he'd write another day of the ongoing story. In fact, I think my dad might've fit well in the BookieJar community because he wrote serially.
2. Tell us about your books. Which book was your first one? How many have you written so far?
My first book was entitled "Of the Law". The tale is about police chief Harvey Flemings and his very last murder investigation. It's just recently been picked up as "A Falling of Law". I think that title gives a better idea of Harvey's dilemma.
I've written eight books since, dozens of short stories, hundreds of poems, a few one-act plays and one lonely un-produced screenplay.
3. Your books Bobby's Diner and Camouflage received international and national awards. Does winning awards make them to be your favorites?
Well, winning awards is such an honor that it's hard not to feel fondly about those award-winning stories. However, my favorite stories are the ones that I'm working on now or those I will be working on. I'm always thinking up new stories and I'm always in love with the ones I'm working on presently.
But, yes, those award-winning novels certainly have a special place in my heart.
4. What are the major challenges you have faced in your writing career?
Wow. What a great question. I think balancing my work with my private life. I'm not talking about celebrity at all when I say this. What I mean is creating some sense of balance where I'm not constantly working, thinking or discussing work. Like right now, I've been up since 6:30 this morning and it's 6:30 p.m. I tend not to stop. Working at home can have that effect on a person. If my work was outside the house, I wouldn't be working right now. So, that sense of balance flies out the window when I work at home. But, and here's the inherent problem, I LOVE my work so I could just go on and on and on...
5. What's your point of view about ePublishing and self-publishing?
About ePublishing, well, no matter how much people wish it would go away, I happen to think it's here to stay. It's the way we will be doing business from now on and much the way trains and automobiles effected the world, now we can transport goods via airwaves! Isn't that amazing. If we wish to buy an eBook, we just get online with our reader and order it, then we can read it--within a matter of seconds. Of course, it's forced some businesses out of business and some industries are scrambling to adapt and not to lose money but with any break in technology or industry, we see similar effects. It's the brave new world one very similar to the one that Aldous Huxley wrote about.
About self-publishing, well, authors have been self-publishing for over two hundred years so it's nothing new. What IS new is the stigma of self-publishing, indie publishers and vanity presses. That stigma has faded incredibly so. The quality and content of many self-published books is incredibly high. Another new occurrence involving self-publishing is that we're seeing many new markets opening up for these books. Authors are starting to pull in some great money, they're winning awards and getting fabulous reviews. Before, most venues--bookstores, libraries and other retailers would flat refuse self-published work. Competitions disallowed self-published books and reviewers wouldn't even bother to read them let alone offer a review. That's all changed within the last five to ten years. Again, a brave new world.
What is great about both ePublishing and self-publishing is that authors are seeing a reversion of control. We're getting control of our work back. Where, in the past, publishers had control, well, now we're seeing the struggle leveling out. We're also seeing print, eBook and subsidiary royalties rise. Authors lost control sometime ago. It happened in sometime between the 1960s and the 1980s. Many things effected this tilt in control toward the publishers. But, the fact remains that now we're seeing a more level playing field in today's market.
6. Ongoing book publishing model allows serializing a book and engaging readers. Are you doing it or are you interested in trying it?
I think it's great that BookieJar is doing this. You know, I believe that some great authors such as Benjamin Franklin and Charles Dickens both did the same but through print newspapers. So, the concept is an old, tried and true one. It's a model that I admire and would very much like to do and will, as soon as publishers can guarantee zero copyright pirating. So, until I find a publisher that can guarantee this, I'll probably wait to do so. But, I think it's great. It's just with the internet, anyone can copy and paste my work in some of these venues. So, at this point, I'm a bit hesitant.
7. How do you promote your books? Based on your experience, what promotion methods are most effective?
Again, in this new eWorld, most of my marketing has been done online, on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and a few others. But, usually, once a year when another book is released, I'll hire an online book publicist. Sometimes I'll take out an print ad but fewer dollars have been spent for those in the past few years. We don't need to spend money anymore. But, my presence is wide. I also have a live talk radio show called DIALOGUE: BETWEEN THE LINES. It's another way to build my platform, to set myself apart from the millions of other great authors out there. I'm very active in my marketing & publicity campaigns. You have to be in this day and age.
8. Do you like to communicate with your readers directly? What channels do you use?
I do. I love it, actually. I notice some authors who block their Facebook walls or the ability for people to contact them via a message on Facebook and I just shake my head. Now, I get it. I do. I mean, I'm sure James Patterson HAS to. Just so he can work. With the millions and millions of readers he has, he just couldn't answer all of the comments. But, I notice authors who are mid-listers like me who won't talk to their readers. It seems off somehow to me. Plus, I love to hear what people think about a story I've written. Did they like it? If so, why? If not, why? I think understanding what our readers want (our consumers!), then we're really not being very business-smart. But, also, I just love to talk to people so it seems natural to me.
9. What advice would you like to give to new writers?
Try to write no fewer than 3 hours a day. Stay focused on your writing when you're writing. Stay focused on your marketing when you're marketing. Stay focused on submissions when you're in the submission mode. And, keep your head down and try to stay positive. Remember, the rejection rate from agents is about 98%. It's a little less if you go directly to publishers but it's still high. If you understand that and keep educating yourself in craft, yes, but also in the publishing business, you'll be able to understand things that the author who isn't watching the business will not get.
Build your online platform: your website, blog, and social sites. Go to writing conferences. Not only will you learn a ton but you'll also make some wonderful contacts. And, if you ever have a question, email me. I'm always open to helping emergent writers. I teach tons of workshops and offer my email address openly. It's firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always available and only hope people will take me up on chatting. I've been in the business for nearly 20 years now and I've gleaned a bunch of information.
And, get onto BookieJar! It's another fabulous way to get your work out to the public. I can only thank them for contacting me before their launch. And, thank you, Rob for this wonderful interview.
I know a lot of us here are self-publishing; some by choice, some by necessity. If you have been searching for an agent, don't let your eagerness and excitement at such a prospect get the best of you. That excitement should not lead you into jumping at the first agent that dangles a contract. Make sure the agent is a good fit, for you and your work. Give the agent the same level of scrutiny that he/she is going to give your manuscript. Once you've done this, don't ignore any warning signs that indicate a particular agent may not be the best for your book. I learned the hard way that all agents and all publishers are not created equal.
I am weeks away from the paperback release of my book and getting increasingly nervous and excited. I woke up early this morning. As has been my habit of late, I rushed to my computer to check e-mail, anxiously awaiting word that the digital proof of my book was ready. It wasn't. But I did find an e-mail about a discussion thread I had been following on Linked In and found a recommendation from a fellow author to check out BookieJar.
Now, six hours later, the eBook of my novel "Harvest of the Heart" is available for purchase! It happened in the blink of an eye, at least in publishing time. My book launch and marketing and all the rest will happen as planned, but now my book is out there, in stealth mode, and I get to start gauging the reaction of the reading public.
This is my first blog here, so let me introduce myself. I write books for a living (a sort of living). In 2010, I published a book on public health (Inside the Outbreaks), and as a follow-up, I concluded that the overarching threat to the world's public health that we face in the coming decades is climate change/peak oil.
In researching that story, I got an Abe Fellowship for Journalists that allowed me to go to Japan to study renewable energy and specifically to visit several so-called Eco-Model Cities in Japan. I already had my plane reservations when the earthquake/tsunami hit. I nearly didn't go, but things had calmed down by May 11, which is when I showed up.
I have just completed and published a short ebook as a result of the trip, called Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World. It is a small book on a huge topic. In the post-Fukushima era, Japan is the "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the world. Can Japan radically shift its energy policy, become greener, more self-sufficient, and avoid catastrophic impacts on the climate?
Japan is at a crucial tipping point and I discovered that I had been naive in thinking that the country was ready to make a massive change. The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities and yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food. That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Maybe. But as I documented, Japan lags far behind Europe, the United States, and even (in some respects) China in terms of renewable energy efforts. And Japan is mired in bureaucracy, political in-fighting, indecision, puffery, public apathy, and cultural attitudes that make rapid change difficult.
Yet Japan is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with friendly, resilient people who can, when motivated, pull together to accomplish incredible things. As an island nation, Japan offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe. And as Japan tips, so may the world.
By the way, I would be glad to send a free review copy of the ebook to anyone who might post a review of it somewhere. You can email me at email@example.com. Otherwise, you can buy it for a whopping $2.99, or the paperback will retail for $10.
In Daily Spiritual Tools, I celebrate the existence of the divine in all human experience. I share a compilation of meditations and simple practices that open our awareness to perfect and Divine order within all things. “As humankind moves from a truth of spirituality “out there” to one of God expressing as each of us and in all things, the tools in this practical book help us accept that Truth and know it as our own. In doing so we help elevate others and our world.”
You can also visit my home page at Daily Spiritual Tools
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