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.
always here for you
Anyone who has dealt with abuse, or has a loved one that has will enjoy Broken Pieces.
They reached the line of breakers less than a half league before the following longships. Bjorne stood at the bow shouting commands while Kendra ignored the spray splashing across her body as she concentrated on the cliffs ahead. It was high tide and the breakers were crashing right beneath them. This was on the northern side of the peninsular for the Northumbrian knights and soldiers were still their maintaining the siege on the monastery from the southern beach. A few moments earlier the army had assembled on the shore waiting for battle. Hav Slange’s sail was still bellowing in the wind, they were riding on the unbroken swirls but within seconds would be caught in the breaking waves and crashed against the cliffs.
Stein was the only person on an oar, an outside one that he used to help steer while Kendra and the other women except Cora held sail ropes in their hands. Though wanting to help, Cora was ordered to lie on the deck beneath the spare sail. She didn't though. Instead she sat near the cliff side of the vessel and helped guide them in. They were too close! The gigantic wave right behind was curling over the ship. In seconds it would break.
Kendra and the others pulled their ropes in a hand over hand movement to lift the bottom of the sail. It didn't look very professional but it folded up, lost the wind and collapsed in on itself. The vessel dropped with a tremendous crash into the wave ready to break.
But Steinn knew his job for his oar turned the whole ship. They were now in the precarious position of being sideways to the wave. If it broke now, they'd be swamped or flipped over and smashed to pieces against the cliff. They continued to turn when the wave finally broke. A mountain of water surged over the deck and swept everything not tied down or holding on into the thumping surf.
The cliff was beside them! Kendra could see the slip they had created when the sheep track was collapsed. The new tunnel Rodmaf had used when he had kidnapped her should be beside them. Kendra wiped water from her eyes. It was! Also two men were there holding out long poles, My God it was Wuffa and Alric! She screamed and waved, reached for one of the poles and found a hook to grab. She held on but it was slippery. Her hands couldn't maintain a grip.
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After four hours, the exhausted refugee came to one more bend and another patch of nothingness. Thoughts turned to her family, husband, father, mother, elder brother and almost everyone else she knew. They were all dead. Her only other friends were those at the army camp. If for no other reason, she owed it to them and the unborn child within her to survive and to tell NATO of the atrocities that had befallen her people. God, she was hungry. Her stomach rumbled while the unborn baby kicked. She staggered as the scene in front became blurred and the trees above began to spin. No, she was not about to give in. Somewhere ahead was her own kind, someone to help.
Niana gritted her teeth and rose once more to her feet. Another bend was ahead, more snow, more trees, the weak sunlight and another bend. She stumbled forward and blinked. There was something else. A farm wagon covered in snow was parked on the roadside as if it had pulled over, perhaps to let an oncoming vehicle pass. Linked to the front of it, looking so bright in the white world, stood a tractor; a red tractor. Hope surged through her. The depression and fatigue of a second before disappeared as she broke into a slithery run.
“Hello,” she screamed. “Is anyone there? Hello.”
But all was quiet. Not a sound returned.
She reached the wagon and grabbed a canvas cover tied to the wooden side. Shaking with anticipation, she lifted the corner of the flap and gazed into the dim interior. Four enormous brown eyes ringed in terror gazed up at her and children's sobbing filled the air
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