Monday, May 19, 2014
Patrice Fitzgerald on how to be a successful author: "Write the best book you can"
My guest today is author Patrice M. Fitzgerlad, a sci-fi, political thriller, and mystery writer who has a past as an intellectual property attorney. Patrice, who is also a professional mezzo-soprano in her spare time, debuted the publishing world with the political thriller Running, and currently has a bestselling series titled Karma of the Silo.
Welcome to CHIMERAS, Patrice!
EEG: Your Silo stories are a great success, congratulations! Tell us about the world these stories are set in and how you got the idea.
PMF: I was so inspired by Hugh Howey's WOOL, like the two million+ people around the world who have read it by now, that I wanted to stay in that scary, challenging, fascinating universe. I started writing the Karma series set in the Silo after I read the first part of his SHIFT, which is the second in Howey's Silo Saga trilogy, and the one that gives us the "how did we get here" piece of the story. That was the part I found most compelling.
As soon as I found out that Hugh was cool with others writing in his world, I started doing just that. I chose a character that was introduced by Hugh but was kind of a "loose end" and I told her story‚ which is now the full novel Karma of the Silo: the Collection. And it has become a bestseller! Which is tremendously exciting.
EEG: What tips do you have for independent writers who are just about to put their books out there?
PMF: It's the best job ever, but one of the most challenging. Definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. More of an "open your own business, work your buns off, and hope for the best" situation. Here are the steps I prescribe for new indie writers:
1. Write the best book you can.
2. Edit it to the standards of traditionally published books.
3. Get a fantastic cover -- it's worth it.
4. Format it so that it looks professional.
But none of that guarantees success, and no success is possible without having a really good book. So write your first one, do all the above, and then put your head down and write the next. And the next. The more books you have out there the better chance you have of getting discovered, and if you are discovered and you have a number of books, you will actually then make money!
EEG: The Karma series is science fiction, yet the first book you published, Running, is a political thriller. Is there a genre that defines your style or do you write just about anything that crosses your mind?
PMF: I've been writing novels since 1992, and have had an agent and a TV offer and a lot of close calls‚ but never got traditionally published. My background includes a law degree, so I was first attracted to legal thrillers, back when John Grisham hit the scene, and I thought, "I can do that!" Running, which is about two women competing to be President, came out of that impulse. I also have a number of funky short stories, and I'm working on another dystopian series, a mystery series, and maybe even some erotica. (Sshh, don't tell anyone!) Who knows which of these will see the light of day?
I wouldn't say that I write about anything that crosses my mind, but I have a lot of interests and a lot of ideas, and if one seems strong enough to carry a story, I give it some attention. Not all of them have gotten published‚ yet.
EEG: Who are your role models when it comes to writing?
PMF: Hmm... Jane Austen. Hugh Howey. Ann Patchett. Michael Chabon. Lots of different influences. I try to read constantly, both in sci-fi and in general fiction, and I'm often inspired by what others write. I just finished reading The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and I loved it but thought it needed some tightening, and suffered from a passive main character. The more I write the more I realize we are all just struggling to get that perfect story that exists in our minds onto the page. And to the readers. The money is nice, but it's the communication from our own fevered little imaginations to another human being that is so satisfying.
What is tremendously cool is that we're now in charge of the process‚ if we want to be. I'm an entrepreneurial type, and I enjoy being able to choose the cover art, write the descriptive blurb, decide when a book is ready, etc. Although it takes a lot of time to be your own publisher, you get to control everything. It's so fast! And if/when you hit pay dirt, you make a lot more money per sale than you do with traditional publishing. Of course, you price the books more cheaply, too.
I'm able to make a living at writing now, though I'm lucky that I have a spouse who works as well. Because of the seasonal swings in book-buying, an indie writer had better have some money saved or a fallback plan if she decides to do this full-time. I'm also a publisher for a few other writers, and those books help with the bottom line as well.
Thanks so much for the interview, Elena! I always love to chat with other indie authors, and share our excitement about this brave new publishing world with potential writers. We are only at the beginning of a revolution as disruptive as the invention of the printing press. Lots more to come!
EEG: I enjoy that too, Patrice! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on writing and publishing with us today!
Find out more about Patrice on her website, on Facebook, Twitter and of course on Amazon.