I’ve been asked many questions since my first book released in June, but there are five of those questions that I hear quite frequently. If you’ve wanted to ask an author any of these questions, read on, however you may learn the answers aren’t as easy as you might imagine.
- How long did it take to write it? The short answer is, about a year, but let me put a few caveats on that statement. I have a full time job (that I really like, btw) but it does necessitate me going to work everyday. Thus, all my writing is done on evenings and weekends, when and if I’m not already mentally spent from my other responsibilities. Writing is fun for me, like a reward. I don’t do it when I don’t want to or feel like it. Some authors will argue with the wisdom of that philosophy, but if I ever reach the point where it’s not fun anymore, I will cease to do it. The work of a writer is too difficult and time consuming to do if I’m not enjoying it. Thus, my writing time is sporadic and comes in spurts. Lots of words sometimes and not so much in others.
- How did you get the idea for the story? This answer is mostly unexplainable, but I’ll try. I am what the industry calls a ‘pantster’, which means I write “by-the-seat of the pants.” A pantster is different from a ‘plotter’ in that a plotter knows how the story will go from Word One and probably has it all outlined before even starting. I usually have one very main idea (like, I want to write a mail-order bride story) and then I put fingers to the keyboard and see what happens. I’m not kidding when I say I have to keep writing so I can find out what happens next. My characters usually get a mind of their own and go places I never would have been able to dream up without their help.
- Are you rich now? Ok, so no one has really been that untactful in asking about the financial aspects of this business, but it amazes me how many people think writing a book entitles me to a big payout. Authors are not rich and most can’t even make a living from writing as their sole occupation. Yes, I will receive royalties from books sold, but only after my publishing company recovers their costs, which include managing editor, copy editor, proofreaders, cover design, printing, copyright and marketing. With many books being sold electronically these days, royalties diminish even further as electronic books generate less income than paper. My ‘paycheck” in this business is getting my name out there, establishing a reader base and having the opportunity to entertain others with my stories. I do it because I love it and not for financial gain.
- How many books have you sold? Short answer, I don’t know. This is far more complicated than most people realize. It is not ‘me’ selling the books, but my publisher. You may have bought a book directly from me, but I had to buy the book you purchased, and I’m NOT making a profit off you, just offering you a quicker way to get the book than ordering it. Online booksellers such as amazon communicate with the publisher, not the author. I will get royalty statements from my publisher that give me some idea of numbers, but it still isn’t a meaningful number because of variables like books sold to stores that will be returned in the future, ARC book that have no sale value, sale of used books through retail outlets, electronic books that are sold via Kindle Unlimited or amazon prime (non-specific income generation). Further, the number of books sold is not even close to the amount of people who read the book. How many times have you loaned a book to a friend or checked one out of the library? A single book is often read by many people. Readers and reviews are what is important, not copies sold.
- Will you write a sequel? That’s the question I hear the most. The answer is simple. That depends – on you. I can (and probably will) decide to write another book and make this a series, but whether I can find a publisher who wants to take it on depends largely on my readers. That’s you! The single most important thing that will determine if a publisher picks up another of my books is the amount of reviews generated by my first book. I can’t stress enough how important it is to authors to have their readers post reviews. Reviews are primarily posted on amazon, but can also be placed on other sources such as Goodreads and Bookbub. A review need only be a sentence or two. It is not what you say that matters, but the number of reviews. Please consider posting a review. Contact me if I can help you through the process. It means so much to the author and all it costs is a minute or two of your time.
And there you have it, the answers to your questions. Now get busy and think of some more questions. I’d also love to hear your ideas for what should happen in the Mail-Order Refuge sequel I just may write. I think a romance is in Mary Jo’s future. Should she fall for one of her uncle’s cowboys or should it be a city boy from her art school back east? What storyline would make your heart flutter?