Ep 4 Get extra money, book trailers, public speaking for authors, should authors blog and Writer in Residence Allison Rushby

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In Episode 4 of So you want to be a writer, JK Rowling puts a new Harry Potter story online, do book trailers really work?, we chat about Joanna Penn’s new book Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and other Introverts, you tell us what gets you to the end of a book,  we chat with Allison Rushby about self publishing, and more.

Click play below to listen to the podcast. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher Radio. Or add the podcast RSS feed manually to your favourite podcast app.

So you want to be a writer is a weekly podcast from Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait. Valerie is an author, journalist and national director of the Australian Writers’ Centre. Allison Tait is an Australian freelance writer, blogger and author, with more than 20 years’ professional writing experience. She is also a presenter at the Australian Writers’ Centre.

Each week, they explore the world of writing, publishing and blogging to bring you news and opportunities, advice on how to succeed in the world of writing, interviews with top writers, and much more.

Show Notes
Time to claim your ELR/PLR before March 31
http://arts.gov.au/literature/lending_rights

JK Rowling puts new Harry Potter story on website
http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/j-k-rowling-surprises-fans-with-new-free-harry-potter-book/

Do book trailers really work?
https://www.writerscentre.com.au/anatomy-of-a-book-trailer/

Tristan Banck’s book trailer for Two Wolves

Tim Ferriss’ book trailer for The Four-Hour Body

Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and other Introverts by Joanna Penn
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

Buy Now
Buy Now

 

Should authors blog? And what should they blog about?
http://janefriedman.com/2013/03/15/its-time-for-many-experienced-writers-to-stop-blogging/

Allison RushbyWriter in Residence – Allison Rushby (pictured)
http://allisonrushby.com/

You told us what gets you to the end of a book
https://www.facebook.com/WritersCentre

Vocabulary app
http://www.vocabulary.com/

Working Writer’s Tip
http://sourcebottle.com/

You’ll find your hosts at:
Allison Tait
http://www.allisontait.com/

Valerie Khoo
http://valeriekhoo.com/

Australian Writers’ Centre
https://www.writerscentre.com.au/

Transcript

Allison

Allison Rushby is the internationally published author of, well, lots of books. She has written for adults, young adults and children, and recently ventured into the world of self-publishing, with the release of her Living Blonde trilogy – and her new YA novel Being Hartley, published on March 1.

Hi, Allison. Welcome to the show.

Allison R
Well, hello, Allison.

Allison
This is going to be like talking to myself, isn’t it?

All right, so why did you self-publish the Living Blonde trilogy?

Allison R 
The move into self-publishing was a bit of a no-brainer for me because I had a lot of backlist reverted to me, which is a sort of different self-publishing experience all together. You’ve already sold that work, so it’s a bit easier, I think, to make that decision to self-publish. I had four books where the rights had been reverted to me and because I was still actively publishing young adult I decided it would be a good move to self-publish those.

Allison
You repackaged them and re-edited them, and did a whole lot of work to those didn’t you before you actually re-released them to Amazon?

Allison R
Yeah, I did. There was quite a few years in between them being published and them being self-published. Also they were originally published in Australia. For self-publishing I wanted to make them just a little bit more Americanized, I suppose. So, they were edited and I had covers professionally made and so on.

Allison
Being Hartley is actually a totally new work, isn’t it, that you’ve chosen to self-publish? Why did you do that?

Allison R
I decided to do that one mainly because my YAs that were originally ones published in the US, my editor had moved houses and I just — it was too difficult to publish it how I wanted to publish it. By this point I had my four backlist YAs out self-published in the States. I thought, “I may as well do this one myself.”

Allison
How does self-publishing compare for you to traditional publishing?

Allison R
It’s very different. I think that you get a lot of control — a lot more control than you do in traditional publishing, but with that extra control there’s a lot that you lose as well. You have to be sort of eternally vigilant with self-publishing, you’re always thinking of strategies, and how you can bounce the books off of each other and things like that.

Allison
How has that worked for you then? That sounds, to me, like a lot of extra work, were you expecting that?

Allison R
I wasn’t expecting that it would prey on my mind as much as it does. You do need to be thinking all the time more strategically, I think, then you do with traditional publishing. And, also because I put out so many books in quick succession — five books probably over the space of maybe eight or nine months.

Allison
Wow.

Allison R
Yeah, that’s a lot. That’s a lot to be going on with for a start, just even things like getting the copy editing and the proofread at the same time, but also how you’re going to market them, not just separately but together, because so much of self-publishing is about promoting one book at a time on things like Book Bible, Book Blast. And then how you’re going to work your promotions — Are you going to do a countdown deal on this one? Are you going to price it at $0.99 for a week? It’s all about the strategy as compared to traditional publishing.

Allison
That leads very neatly into a question that I wanted to ask you about, discoverability, which is a big buzz word in publishing at the moment, not just in self-publishing, but also, I guess, in traditional publishing. Given the number of books that are sort of available and uploaded to Amazon everyday and out there, but it’s this business of basically people being able to find you. I guess you were talking about the different things, some of the different strategies and promotional techniques that you can use, but what are your thoughts on this whole concept of author platforms? Do you think that you need to put a lot of work in there to assist you with the self publishing aspect?

Allison R
I’m not in a big believer in things like needing a blog, or 10,000 Twitter followers, or anything like that. But, when it comes to self-publishing I think your author platform is more about how many books you have to offer than it is about how many Facebook friends you have, and things like that. You really have to have that larger volume of work where you can bounce the books off of each other and lead one book into the next.

Allison
Right so people will find one book and then will go looking for more of your stuff.

Allison R
Yep.

Allison
Rather than being one single lone voice in the millions on Amazon.

Allison R
Yeah, and I think there are some really good — I’ve been reading a lot of self-publishing books as I’ve been doing this sort of experience, and there’s a lot of good tips to be had out there. You know, things like at the end of one book you need to have a lead in, so when a reader gets to the end of that book they know what to do next.

Allison
Right, lead them through the process.

Allison R
Yeah, lead them through the process of finding your next book, or what they need to read from you next.

Allison
What would say is your sort of self-publishing bible? Is there any one book that you would recommend on the subject?

Allison R
There isn’t really, because a lot of them do sort of speak to different people and different publishing experiences. So, I’ve read quite widely. And, there was some that spoke to me more than others. And, certainly some of them I wanted to throw across the room, though I couldn’t do that because they’re on my Kindle.

Allison
Don’t you hate that?

Allison R
Yeah, don’t break the Kindle.

But, I think everybody’s experience is so different that you really do sort of need to be reading widely. And you cannot take what one author says as gospel, you need to look around and see what fits you best, because at the end of the day you will come up with your own formula of what works for your books.

Allison
Do you think that your experience with traditional publishing, and you have worked with several different publishers here and overseas, has helped or hindered your self-publishing efforts?

Allison R
I think it’s helped a lot. It has helped in the way that I’ve seen a lot of different things, and had a lot of different experiences. And, that’s helped me to see what I wanted to do when I had more control over my books.

Allison
Do you think if you were an unpublished author now that you would self-publish first, or would you try for a traditional publisher?

Allison R
I think it all depends what you want and what sort of area you’re publishing in. If I were publishing new adult I would seriously look at self-publishing myself, that’s such a hot self-publishing area, whereas if I were publishing middle grade children’s books I wouldn’t touch self-publishing with a ten foot barge-pole. It’s just not an area where you’re going to sell very many books.

Allison
So you need to basically look at what you’re writing and work out if it’s going to work for you.

Allison R
Yeah, I think so.

Allison
What was the process for you to becoming a published author in the first place?

Allison R
I did journalism at university and unlike you I learnt that I would be a terrible journalist, I should probably do something else. But, I did freelance for a few years for magazines.

Allison
Why did you come to that conclusion? What was it about it that you made you think, “This is not for me.”?

Allison R
I just didn’t enjoy it. Or, maybe it was how they presented it, because I think journalism now offers so many different options as compared to when I went to university in ‘96/’97. It’s just a different world now. There’s probably lots of different aspect of journalism now that I’d enjoy a lot more than writing for a newspaper, which was what was offered back then.

But, I sort of learnt pretty quickly that what they were offering wasn’t probably for me. My mother is an author, so that was already there and visible and within the realms of possibility, I suppose, which it’s not for a lot, let’s be frank. This is when chick-lit was very hot. And, I started writing a chick-lit book and sent a couple of chapters around to a few publishers, not because I think it was a stellar piece of work, but because it was chick-lit they wanted to read it, which made me then finish it quite quickly. And while it wasn’t picked up, it lead me into writing my second chick-lit book, which was picked up and published by Random House in 2000.

Allison
You make that sound really quite easy.

Allison R
Yeah, no, it wasn’t easy. I fluked that second book, it sort of came out the right way, whereas I’ve had other books further down the line have not been so easy to write. So, I think I was slightly lucky in that it was a solid book that came out when I wrote it, you know? It could have been different if it had been a trickier plot or something like that.

Allison
On that note, I’ve read somewhere that you said that everyone writes novels differently, which I would agree with, because I know that everyone I know seems to work in a different way. But, that it took you a few books to work out how you wrote. So, what did you discover about yourself? How do you write now?

Allison R
I think one of the things I discovered was sort of reading more about the process of writing and learning about things like three act structure, and sort of how — deconstructing a lot of books, I suppose, because what you do at school when you deconstruct a book is pretty simplistic, I suppose. But, after you’ve written a few you can sort of go back and look at, “Oh, maybe that does speak to me,” when you read a how-to book. And learning about three act structure was a bit mind-blowing for me. I sort of realized, “Wow, that really works, and works for me, and works for my books, and it makes sense for me.”

And you’ll find all sorts of different theories work for different writers. What speaks to me will not speak to somebody else at all.

Allison
I know that you’re quite a planner and plotter. Did you do that with your first couple of books, or is that something that has developed?

Allison R
No, not at all. I had no idea about how you might do that. I think a lot of it is organic in that if you are writing a novel you’re probably also a reader, you’ve probably read a lot of books and you’re quite familiar with story and how it works. So when you do hear writers like Stephen King who are quite anti-plotting talk about being anti-plotting you think, “Well, I think that is only because he has organically learnt about how to do what he does.”

I think everybody is a plotter really, it’s just that some of us are maybe a little bit more anal about it.

Allison
Really? Do you write everyday?

Allison R
No, and I really despise when other writers say, “You must write everyday and you must write your ten pages.” It’s like, “Well, yeah, I’ve got two kids, a husband, and a cat, you know? I can’t write everyday.” That’s just now how life works. They just had eight weeks off school, didn’t they? And I could not write everyday, and that’s OK. You know? It’s not set in stone and you do not need to write everyday and life happens. You know? I think if you can manage to keep writing and keep squeezing it in where you can, then that’s what really matters.

Allison
So you run across a lot of different markets, as we discussed, is that difficult?

Allison R
I have written for a long time now, I suppose, this is 14 years since my first published novel came out for me, so I’ve simply had to do that to keep things interesting.

Allison
Right.

Allison R
I started younger than a lot of people start. I’m 40 in a few months, and there’s a lot of people who start at over 40.

Allison
Yeah.

Allison R
If I had been writing the same thing all the time I’d be really bored.

Allison
Yeah, fair enough.

Allison R
You know, I just — I couldn’t keep myself interested for that period of time. And also the market changes so much. When I started out I was so much younger and I just lived a very different sort of life and had different experiences and was writing chick-lit, I don’t think I could write chick-lit now, it just doesn’t speak to me.

Allison
What are you working on at the moment?

Allison R
I have obviously regressed in my old age. I have a middle grade book coming out with Allen and Unwin in September. So, I’m working on the edits for that.

Allison
Does that have a title yet?

Allison R
Yes, How to Save the Universe in Ten Easy Steps.

Allison
Fantastic.

Allison R
The title might have changed a few times, so, yes, it’s not rolling off my tongue yet.

Allison
OK.

Allison R
And I’m also working on some edits for another middle grade. Yes, I’m also working on the publicity for Being Hartley, which just came out on the first of March.

Allison
So that’s all keeping you very busy, I would imagine.

Allison R
Yes, but the kids are in school at the moment, so that’s good, isn’t it?

Allison
Yes, that is good, all around that is good.

What are your top three tips for aspiring authors?

Allison R
I think my top three tips would be:

1.) Read. Read and read and read. You really need to know what is out there and what works and the sort of books you like to read really sort of do tell you what you’re most likely to be writing, I think.

It always surprises me to find when people read one thing and write something completely different. I always think that is a bit of worry. Or trying to write in one area and maybe because of the market, you know? So, I think reading what you love and understanding what you love gives a lot to your writing.

2.) Would probably be one for people who are interested in self-publishing. Coming from a traditional background in publishing I think you do see the benefits of a really good structural edit, a really good copy edit, and a really good proofread. And, a professionally designed cover — please have a professionally designed cover.

Allison
Yes, please.

Allison R
Please do.

I think you really can’t underestimate those things when you’re self-publishing your book.

3.) I would say don’t worry too much about Twitter and Facebook, and having a blog, and things like that. Just write a really good book that people cannot put down. At the end of the day that is all that matters is this fantastic book.

Allison
Thank you so much for that, Allison. Thank you so much for talking to us today. Good luck with Being Hartley. I look forward to finding out the ten steps for saving the universe come September.

Allison R
They do come in handy.

Allison
You never know when they’ll come in handy. Thanks a lot.

Allison R
Thank you!


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