Monday Meet-Up for December 7, 2015:
Author & Speaker, Sandy Carlson
1. Please tell us a little about yourself, and how you became an author?
I am a former elementary teacher, and present grandmother of three, mother of two, and wife of one. I’ve been to all but two of these United States, camping or backpacking in most, and have had driver’s licenses in seven states, although not all at the same time. I received my motorcycle license when I was 50, while living in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I was born in Michigan and now reside in Michigan.
I was first a story-teller, and still am one. But writing (so I could entertain strangers) is something I’ve been doing seriously since I was eleven years old. As an adult, I was article-published a couple hundred times. I made it all the way to editorial acquisition groups several times, letting me know my writing was good enough to have made it that far to “almost accepted.” After a heart issue (attack), I decided to self-publish (six books in two years). I have since been traditionally (ebook) published with one book, a second coming out with them next year, and a third and fourth the following year.
2. What do you wish aspiring authors knew about the book industry? (Maybe things you wish you had known, or things you had learned the hard way…)
Being a writer isn’t only about writing. (After signing your first contract, repeat that 27 times each night.) Writing is the fun (and admittedly also hard) part. Very few authors are writing-privileged enough to be able to sit home and write. The other parts are marketing and promoting – and not just your books, either; you must learn to market and promote yourself.
3. What are some of your projects that have been released that you are excited about?
All of them, of course. (Ha.)
I love researching. I spend ten times more time in research for my historical fictions than I do writing them. I learn too much to ever get all that into the books, but learning (for me) is fun. So I stay excited about my historical fiction books.
I also love nearly everything about fantasy. Although I also write tween fantasies (2 published; 2 more published in the next 2 years), I will only write G-rated books. There are still battles and sexual interests, mind you. I just keep it to the G-rated telling.
4. Is having an agent important? Why?
An agent would be (might be) awesome to have. A dear writer friend who is an exceptional writer has had an agent for two years now with a reputable agency, but she still not published. That said, it’s encouraging to have a publishing professional in your corner.
5. Is self-publishing just as good as traditional publishing? What actions should an author take before making this decision?
Being both self- and traditionally-published, I will answer your first question with a 97% NO; self-publishing is not just as good as traditional publishing. Even having my critique group and other independent writers look over my stories for inconsistencies in plot or character or tense, spelling, errors (e.g., their for there, blonde for blond, etc.), and so much more, to a point where I think, “This is best-seller stuff,” then along comes a literary agent and a couple editors who knock you down a few floors (in a totally good-for-the-story, but humbling-to-the-author way).
Before choosing to self-publish, make sure your writing craft is really, really good. A relative test for this is by getting short stories or articles published for pay, winning awards, taking classes, joining national writing groups, going to conferences, attending webinars, and reading up on recently published authors who write similar to you (genre and reader age).
IF you choose to self-publish, be sure to have not only other writers who adore you look over your manuscript, but also published authors who have been through the strainer a few times and know more than you do. Be sure to know your intended market and reader/ buyers. And be sure to have lots of money, because absolutely everything you do will take it.
6. What is the most important piece of advice that you can think of to give to aspiring writers?
If you’re writing, thinking you’ll make a ton of money, it would be more financially secure to go into stand-up comedy.
Keep improving your craft. ß That’s an extra.
7. What is your contact information, website, or where can we purchase your books?
My blog, speaker information, and all my books can be viewed on how to purchase on my website: www.sandycarlson.com
Thank you, Sandy! Your books are fabulous!