Today, Romance, She Wrote is pleased to have multi-pubbed author, Patricia Bates, in the interview chair. As a new writer, I’ve been bombarding Patricia with questions about publication, web presence, craft, and whatever else is on a newbie’s mind.
Patricia has graciously accepted my offer to answer questions new writers ask experienced authors. The “advice” posts are part of a series of interviews.
Today, I’m focussing on the first manuscript. If you have questions, please feel free to comment and Patricia will be happy to provide an answer.
1. Let’s begin with where does a new writer start? They have the idea; maybe sketched an outline, but they’re unsure what follows next. What would you recommend for a new writer to get started?
Well, first let me say thank you for having me. I’m honored to be here. Every author does it differently. For me, I do things that will let me get into my characters heads – it’s easier to write a novel about a person I know than to get to know them as we go. Character interviews are awesome for this because it kills two birds with one stone. Once you’ve got your characters fleshed out and feel you know them, got the idea nailed down, the plot worked out…then jump into the hook in chapter one. After that…write. Don’t look back, don’t worry about editing, or spell check or whatever…just write. Get the bare bones of the story down. You can always edit something terrible – can’t edit a blank page.
2. The draft is finished. Now what?
File it for at least a week. Unless you have an editor – or someone you trust to look over your work and give you good feedback – this is key. Now, you’re probably saying well my mom, sister, best friend, husband…looked it over and said it was great…but unless they’re capable of being mean and cruel and looking at your work without seeing you, then their input is nice, but it won’t help you out. Get a beta reader – or critique partner or group – they’re like minded, they’re driven to succeed and they can give you the feedback you need.
Start the next project – immerse yourself in a new story…until that week is up. Once it’s up, take it out and start reading it. You’ll find mistakes you didn’t know were there. This is a great time to start a running list of words you use as fillers or use way too much. Words such as: and, the, that, said etc.
3. There are people who offer editing services. What’s your take on this if a newbie writer has decided to go the publication route instead of indie publishing?
If you’re looking at going the route of securing publication through a reputable press, you will need either a great critique partner or editor. For those who have the money hiring an editor is a good idea – however, you have to be realistic you want it polished to within an inch of its life – but you don’t want to break the bank before you make a sale.
4. How does one go about deciding on a publisher?
Some of the biggest things I look for – beyond the covers I can see…happy authors – and I yes, I’ll email an author or two and ask them how they like working with that publisher. Great communication, if they’re active on Facebook, Twitter, and are out and about and at least trying to communicate with both authors and readers then that’s always a bonus. A clean, well-organized website with reasonable prices. The final deal is if I send an email asking for clarification and get a prompt, friendly, upbeat response that encourages me to send them whatever I’m trying to sell.
5. New writers wonder if they should find an agent. What would you recommend?
Finding an agent is like finding hens teeth in my humble opinion. I firmly believe everyone needs to follow their gut, but myself, I don’t believe an author who is looking to break into publication should have to shell out the 15 or so percentage of their royalties so someone can find them a publisher willing to look at their work. I’ve heard of authors who have agents for years – and not one sale.
When I first started, I was sending out queries to agents left right and center – I think I sent out 32 or so with my first book…not even a nibble. That book became the number one best seller for the publishing house that contracted it for May of 2009…and I didn’t have to put out any money to anyone for it!
6. What’s your take on writing organizations such as RWA (Romance Writers of America), etc.?
It depends on the organization itself. Some organizations for writers aren’t really author friendly. There are those out there who restrict your credibility if you’re not a traditional published author, others say you’re not real if you don’t have x amount of books available. However, there are some out there like RWA is a great organization that is both author friendly and publishing friendly. Also, are they contactable? How fast are their response times?
Before you join, just ask yourself – why you’re joining. If it’s because the neighbour of your best friend’s grandmother told you it was a good idea – maybe you should think it over…if you feel it will help your career grow and you can afford it, then go for it.
7. What should a new writer do about copyright?
Most people don’t realize your work is protected under copyright law as soon as you put it down on paper. However, if you’re concerned about being plagiarized and want to be sure you have legal recourse…register it with your copyright office. If you register it before you get it published – remember you will need to reregister it as published after you’ve gotten the contract – or at least that is my understanding.
8. I don’t know how to label what I write. How can I figure out the differences in genres?
There are a lot of genres out there – to truly understand what genre you write in – ask yourself what you like to read? Most often, you’ll write what you like to read. However, if you like to read and write separate things – get a feel for the genre by reading about it – and ask questions. For example: there’s a huge difference between a sensual romance and erotic romance – beyond the sex. The language is different, more graphic; the purpose is different as well.
9. What if what I write could affect my job?
Most new authors don’t understand the depth of the meaning behind their contracted works. I know I sure didn’t when I sold my first book. For me it was all about getting that story out there; now, however, I’ve learned a few things lol. Pen names are wonderful things if you write something that would make others look at you differently. IE: You write erotic shifter romance and work in a preschool. The children don’t know what it is – but their parents do. Under my pen name I write in genres I wouldn’t normally write in for the very reason there are those around me who would have kittens. As well, it makes it far easier for me to have as much fun as I can when I’m writing. I can explore topics that I wouldn’t normally think of looking at and don’t feel as though my mother is standing over me with her finger wagging.
10. Is there any other advice you’d like to offer?
Don’t stop writing. A true author will write until their fingers are cramping, their behind is numb, and the alarm is going off to say it’s time to start a new day.
Be prepared for the hard part…it isn’t the writing of that novel, nope the work comes after you’ve finished it, contracted it and are faced with editing, marketing, and building your brand around your books.
The Preacher’s Outlaw
Escaped convict Abigail Murphy’s on the run while plotting revenge on the man responsible for her imprisonment and the deaths of her parents. When she gets to Freewill, Wyoming, she gets lost in the bustle until she comes face to face with Daniel Yuleman, a man who could ruin everything.
Daniel is a man wearing two hats. Preacher and lawman, he’s been in Freewill for a couple of months waiting to pick up the trail of two killers when Abigail arrives. Told to watch her, he’s drawn by the shadows in her eyes. The closer he gets to her, the more dangerous it becomes. As her secrets come out, he finds himself fighting to keep her and their burgeoning love alive.
Excerpt: Can an outlaw capture the heart of a preacher turned lawman, or will they both end up on the run?
Abigail cringed at the faint ping of metal on metal as she settled on the edge of a bench before the hotel. Nervous, she scanned the street. Experience was a bitter teacher, and she wasn’t about to be drawn into O’Neill’s game. Smoothing her palms over her skirt, she chewed on her lip. There were two things she needed—a blacksmith and a horse. Somehow she couldn’t see herself finding either one with everyone out on the street.
“Goodness, child, you look lost.” A shorter, plump woman bustled up to her, a big smile on her face. “Can I be of some help?”
Startled, Abigail leapt to her feet, her eyes widening. She stared down at the woman, her head coming up to her chin. “Um, thank you but no. I was to meet my brother, but sadly, he doesn’t seem to be here just yet. I think it best if I just—”
“Nonsense. You’re waiting to meet kinfolk, why not come in and sit and have a cup of tea?”
“Oh, I couldn’t.” Abigail glanced around, desperate for an opening. If this woman found out the truth, she’d get a one-way ticket back to Bucksaw, and she wasn’t in a big hurry to go back. “I spent the few coins I had for my ticket on the stage. I’ll just sit here and wait.”
“You poor child. Come inside this minute. Why, ain’t right a lady being left alone in this cold weather. Come, I’ll get you situated and we’ll wire your brother.”
Thanking the woman, Abigail shuffled inside, her gaze darting through the glass to appraise the street. Across the frozen road, she caught sight of a tall, dark haired man. His hat pulled low over his face, he lounged against a support column next to the marshal’s office. Blue eyes stared through her as he straightened his coat. The weak sunlight flickered and danced over the badge on his chest. Her heart in her throat, she hurried after the still chattering woman, the weight of those blue eyes heavy, almost as heavy as the fire licking through her blood. “Don’t be a fool, Abigail. He’s a federal marshal. He’ll string you up before you’d get a kiss out of him.”
Available at: Decadent Publishing.
Author Bio: Reading has been such a large part of my life. I cut my literary teeth on such authors as Louis L’Amour, Nora Roberts and Janet Dailey. For me it wasn’t such a jump from reading the wonderful tales these authors spun to imagining my own.
Soon I was writing poetry, short stories and by junior high I’d written my first full length romance novel. Since then I’ve taken my love of history and my passion for writing and combined them into what I hope will continue to prove a successful career.
Of course I’ve got a lot more on the go. I’m working on polishing my concepts and plans for upcoming books within the paranormal genres, and keeping up on my writing and being a full time mom, working outside of the house…it’s amazing what one can manage in a 16 hour day.
Web site: http://www.patbatesromances.com you can actually get to my alter ego’s website from here as well. My pen name is Elise Whyles
Social Networking. http://www.facebook.com/#!/PatriciaBatesauthor, http://www.twitter.com/PatBauthor