Today, I’m delighted to welcome Debbie Young as my guest. Author, journalist and blogger, she’s especially keen on short-form writing, such as flash fiction, short stories and blog posts. Commissioning editor of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ (ALLi’s) blog of self-publishing advice at www.selfpublishingadvice.org, she has co-authored ALLi’s groundbreaking new book, “Opening Up To Indie Authors”.
She has a special interest in Type 1 Diabetes, which affects both her husband and her daughter. Her acclaimed ebook, “Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes”, will be released as a paperback, with new material added, in November 2014.
You help independent authors market their books via your Off the Shelf services. So what is the one thing that you think really helps sell most books?
The most essential thing is the right attitude. Too many authors fail because they have a sense of entitlement to sales, simply because they’ve written a book. No matter how good the book, all authors need:
• staying power
• a good understanding of sales strategies and tactics
• time to throw at the challenge (money’s helpful, but not essential)
• a thick skin
Whether they’re trade-published or self-published, authors must be prepared to actively pursue sales, in the flesh or online. They must also discard any rose-tinted spectacles and view their book from the perspective of other players who are critical to their success: bookshop proprietors, librarians, festival organisers, and so on.
These messages are at the heart of both my self-help books for authors, designed to equip them to be more confident and effective in promoting their work:
You are a notable reviewer of long fiction as well as a non-fiction and flash fiction author. Have you ever wanted to write a novel yourself and what would it be about?
Short-form writing is my comfort zone, because I’ve had a long career in journalism and PR in which space has always been at a premium. Until recently I’ve proclaimed that I’d never tackle a novel. My schedule is so busy that I’m not sure where I’d find the time. But I think I’m quietly moving towards that goal without consciously planning to.
You see, I don’t view my short stories as stand-alone pieces, but weave them into themed collections. This approach adds coherence for the reader and, I hope, makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. As writer Denise Barnes recently remarked to me at the Romantic Novelists Association annual conference, where I was a guest speaker, there’s not that big a leap from writing themed collections of short stories to producing a novel. And as Orna Ross, who writes terrific novels, said to me when the subject came up over lunch last week, “Never say never!” So the pressure is on…
I did in fact write a novel many years ago, before self-publishing took off in its modern form. This light romantic comedy about thirty-somethings in crisis was too dull and clunky to be worth querying with publishers, so it’s been left to compost down in a drawer somewhere – best place for it!
Next time I’d go for edgier themes, probably with a little bit of magical realism thrown in, which is great fun to write. I’m quite taken with the idea of a story about a flying carpet. We have lots of exotic rugs in my house, following my husband’s trip to India, which are constantly teasing my imagination.
Alternatively I’d like to write a novel about relationships fostered through online book reviews. As a busy book reviewer, I enjoy reading other people’s reviews, which often say far more about the reviewer than the book, if you read between the lines. I can’t stop myself filling in their back stories in my head. There again, this could be a great theme for a flash fiction collection, each story focusing on a different reviewer of the same book.
I constantly ping back to the short form story as if attached to it with elastic, but watch this space…
Look forward to reading it, Debbie!
Debbie published her latest book, Quick Change – Tiny Tales of Transformation – to mark National Flash Fiction Day. Quick Change comprises 20 very short stories ranging from 100 to 1000 words in length. As its title suggests, it turns the spotlight on moments of change, whether physical, emotional, or psychological. To add shape and order to the collection, the stories are arranged in chronological order by age of a key character in each story, from new-born baby to the newly deceased.
Quick Change is now available as an ebook from Amazon: mybook.to/QuickChange