The craft and business of writing and self publishing

My Writing Life – Sara Rosett

sara_rosett_headshot (2)When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to read. My mom took me every other weekend to the library when I was a kid. It was my favorite place. Mystery books were my favorite section—and still are. I read all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series books that I could find. I remember going around the corner to the children’s mystery shelves, hoping there would be some new books with yellow spines on the shelf—this was way before ebooks! Later, I devoured Mary Stewart’s early romantic suspense and Elizabeth Peters novels. I loved that they both wrote about smart heroines who—although they were usually swept up in a mystery bigger than themselves—they always managed to work their way out of it…and usually find love, too.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

“Just get it down on paper.” This was the advice that the editor Maxwell Perkins gave to his writers. The full quote is “Just get it down on paper, and then we’ll see what to do with it.” Since Perkins was the editor for Fitzgerald and Hemingway, I figured that it good advice for me. It was a game-changer for my writing. Before I read this quote, I tweaked and fussed over the opening sentence, first paragraph, and first chapter—with the result that I didn’t get much past the first chapter.

When I decided to just get the words down on paper and go back and edit it later, I finished my first manuscript. It needed a lot of work, but it became my first published book, Moving is Murder.

Where do you usually write?

I have tread-desk in the living room, which is where I do most of my writing, but I’ve also written in dentist’s waiting rooms, carpool lines, and road trips.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Not really. There are times when the words come slower than I’d like, but I’ve found that if I keep at it, I eventually find a way into the scene. If I get stuck, it’s often because I need to think through what comes next and work it out in my head before I write it down. Once I know the direction of the story, it usually flows.

What’s your favourite literary genre?

I love classic romantic suspense, and I also enjoy classic crime novels either written or set in the Twenties and Thirties, like Agatha Christie’s books. I’m a sucker for a locked-room mystery or a country house mystery.

What made you decide to self-publish?

In 2011, many of readers of my traditionally published books began asking if my books would be out in ebook. I went to a mystery convention called Murder in the Magic City in Birmingham, Alabama that same year and met several authors who were happily (and profitably) self-publishing. I loved my paper books and wasn’t that interested in ebooks, but I bought an e-reader and became an instant convert when I realized how easy it was to find and purchase new books, not to mention the ability to take hundreds, if not thousands, of books with me.

I published a short story to test the waters and then decided to self-publish the first book in a series that neither my editor nor my agent were very interested in. Elusive wasn’t a straight cozy (the genre I wrote in at the time) and it had thriller and romance elements, but didn’t fit neatly into either of those categories either. It was really a throwback to the classic romantic suspense novels that I loved. I self-published Elusive in 2012, going wide, listing it at all vendors because I didn’t like the idea of exclusivity. My traditionally published books were available everywhere and I wanted my readers to have access to my new book. I published two more books in the series in 2013. I planned those to be the last books in the series, but my quirky blend of mystery, travel, and light romance found a niche with readers and they asked for more books, so I was happy to continue the series with two more books (so far). All the while, I’ve continued to write my traditionally published series and start another self-published cozy series. I think this is the best time ever to be a writer. There are so many opportunities that weren’t available a few years ago and I feel so fortunate to be writing right now.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

It’s always good to write a series. As a reader, I look forward to returning to favorite characters and worlds again and again. A mailing list is essential. It’s never to early to start one.

“Write” always tops my to-do list. I want to get the words down first, then move on to email and social media. I try not to even check my email until after I get my words down for the day, but I don’t always achieve that goal!

I use a timer, setting it for 30 minute sessions. That helps me get going and keep going. I plow through the first draft—just getting it down on paper—knowing that it will need work, but that I can go back and fix it.

I listen to writing podcasts like The Creative Penn, Rocking Self Publishing, and Kobo’s Writing Life Podcast. Listening to podcasts is a really time-efficient and entertaining way to learn what’s working for other writers and keep up with trends. I listen while driving so it makes traffic jams much less stressful!

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A native Texan, Sara writes mysteries (the Ellie Avery series) and suspense (the On The Run series). As a military spouse, Sara has moved around the country (frequently!) and traveled internationally, which inspired her latest suspense novels. Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.”

The first Ellie Avery mystery, MOVING IS MURDER, was a Reader’s Choice Award Nominee in 2007 at the Salt Lake County Library and received a Distinguished Honor Award from the Military Writers Society of America. DEVIOUS is her latest release from the On The Run series.

Sara loves all things bookish, considers dark chocolate a daily requirement, and is on a quest for the best bruschetta. Connect with Sara at www.SaraRosett.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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