This is part 2 of an interview I did recently with Alexandra Wolfe, Publishing Editor of Kissed by Venus based in Canada.
13. What’s your favorite story and why?
My favorite story is usually the one I am working on. It takes 100% commitment. However, every story I’ve written is precious to me and has its own special treasures.
14. What are some of the things you do to improve on your craft? Do you attend conferences? Take workshops? What works best for you to improve how and what you write?
You name it, I’ve probably done it. I’m a little burnt out on going to conferences. I’ve also been in and out of writer’s groups over the years and have a bookcase full of books on writing. Yet I feel that I’ve made the greatest improvement by simply writing—day in and day out. I used to be a professional musician, so I know the discipline involved in becoming good at something. It truly does take daily practice. It also helps to have a literary agent who believes in me and gives me good feedback.
15. As a writer what do you look for in a prospective publisher?
I look for a publishing house that is legitimate and has a track record for successfully promoting their books and their authors. Although, not many writers have a huge choice with their first book. You’re usually happy to get anyone interested in your work.
16. What, from your perspective, are some of the most common mistakes first time authors make when starting out in the business?
We all start out as naïve, I think. If we didn’t we probably wouldn’t want to be writers. I shared a lot of my stories in the beginning with anyone who would read them. I regret that now because I wasn’t very good. I’m much better now because I’ve put in the time to get better. When we start out I think we’re just so proud to get anything on the page. So I think one of the most common mistakes is to not take the time, years if necessary, to develop the craft.
Also, I’ve met many people who want to be writers who don’t even like to read. This doesn’t make sense to me. Reading books—lots of books—is one of the ways you develop the craft.
17. What are some of the things you do to build up interest for your work? What do you think are some of the most effective things an author can do to advertise him or herself?
Have a website and a blog. Post on other blogs that are related to what you write. Participate in interviews. I created a video trailer for Seeking Sara Summers. I am building my community on Amazon.com. There are a lot of different ways to market and the best ways will vary depending on the author, the type of book he or she has written and the subject matter.
Building interest in our work is very hard for many writers. Writing is, after all, a very introverted endeavor and marketing is an extroverted one. I haven’t met many authors who enjoy marketing but it is a requirement in the world we live in. In fact, I’m afraid many very fine authors fail to do this part and don’t get read as a result. I work every day to not be one of those people. I’ve read that 80% of book sales is word of mouth. Marketing is getting enough people to become aware of your book and then selling them the book. Assuming it’s a good book that captures the reader, they will tell others about it. It all starts with writing the very best story or book that you can and then being strategic about how you will market the book and then very consistent with executing your strategies and tactics.
18. How do you feel about e-publishing and e-books? And would you go that route?
I think if you’re absolutely certain that you have a good story and it has been professionally edited and you’ve come close many times but haven’t been able to find a traditional publisher then it is something to consider. Unfortunately a lot of writers put out their first writings into this format because they’re impatient. They’re not really writing things of high quality yet. This gives e-publishing and e-books a bad reputation.
19. What were your best and worst experiences with an editor?
I’ve had the usual nightmares. Executive editors who are very interested in a story, who offer suggestions and request a rewrite and then when I send the manuscript back to them they never respond again, despite follow-up letters. I’ve also had an executive editor get fired and another editor simply disappear. I hope these people are not behind the perfume counter at Saks now. It’s a rough business.
20. And finally, what’s your favorite thing about being a writer? And what, for you, totally sucks about it?
What sucks is struggling to make a living while in the service of stories. It seems we live in an upside-down world, and if it were suddenly right side up, then the storytellers and poets would be the millionaires.
My favorite thing about being a writer is the process. I love having a cast of characters show up, getting to learn their story and then relaying that story. I love that period of time when I’m totally in my imagination with the story, seeing it play out in front of me and then, writing it down.
Also, I love hearing from readers who really liked Seeking Sara Summers, who couldn’t put it down and got swept up into the world of the story and were moved by it. This is very, very special. I think stories have the power to heal and inspire. And if I accomplish even a tiny bit of that then I have done my job.
P.S. If you have a passion, like I do, to document and pass down your family’s stories, check out www.YourFamilyTimeCapsule.com