Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire (http://proseonfire.com) and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (http://proseonfire.com/free-writer-toolkit).
What author has had the biggest influence on your own writing?
C.S. Lewis has had a huge influence on my writing, especially for my Seven Halos series. The way he incorporates his Catholic religion into his children's stories is interesting. I really enjoyed the Voyage of the Dawn Treader as well, and the concept will be the basis for a serialized fiction series I'm doing, tentatively titled The Seven Seas.
For the Socialpunk series, I was heavily influenced by Cory Doctorow, Chris Anderson, Seth Godin, and Kevin Kelly, who talk a lot about copyright and other social and tech-related topics.
What is your writing process like?
I'm a "burst of energy" type of person rather than a "little every day" type of person. So I will write a whole book in a week or two, then go back and edit it all in a week or two. And then I won't write as much for the next few weeks. On an average day I probably write a couple thousand words, during a book writing session I write closer to 5000 words a day.
I'm also a huge outliner. I will outline my entire book by chapter, then by scene, then by paragraph. I think this is essential for writing an addictive book or a "page-turner." It's also essential for writing a ton of words very quickly. When I edit, I have a list of about 20 things I edit for that pertain to marketing psychology. For example, one of the things I edit for is tension, or whether I'm opening and closing plots in every scene. I think most writers would do better in the marketplace if they edited for marketability. Yes, line editing and beautiful prose can help, but really, The Hunger Games isn't exactly great writing. Yet the books are an international phenomenon. Because it's a great story with lots of marketability.
I'm an editor myself (specializing in the marketability of books) but I also run my book by an editor... it's just the right thing to do. You can't rely on self-editing alone.
I'm really big on creating fascinating hooks. If you are a writer you can find out if your first 1000 words are hooking here: http://proseonfire.com/
post/20340477218/prose-on- fire-first-1000-free-email- consultation.
What are your thoughts on the new Indie Publishing craze? Will traditional publishers ever be really eliminated?
There are two types of authors—writers and entrepreneurs. The former flock to traditional publishing and the latter flock to indie publishing. It's silly to think that traditional publishing will ever be eliminated; that's like asking if car washes will ever be eliminated. Yeah, you can wash your car in your garage. That doesn't mean you want to.
I am currently on the fence as to whether I should self-publish, or go the traditional route. What advice would you give someone in my position?
- Are you an entrepreneur or a writer? What I mean by that is, do you want to do the marketing and publishing work yourself? Do you want to build an audience yourself? If you do, going indie will appeal to you.
- Do you prefer to work within systems or do you prefer to make systems? Querying, waiting for an agent, waiting for a publisher—all those are part of a system. If you would rather plow right ahead and do things exactly the way you want, indie publishing is for you.
- Are you patient or impatient to see your book published? The former is traditional publishing while the latter is indie.
- Do you need the money or do you have money to invest? If you need the advance, you should go the traditional publishing route. Though, the advances seem to be getting slimmer anyway. If you're willing to invest the money for a greater payoff in the future, try the indie route.
There's also the small matter of getting accepted to traditional publishing to begin with... indie has no gatekeeper. Though, if you can't get accepted to traditional publishing, you probably won't do as well with indie anyway.
When you're not writing, you are an authority figure in the marketing community. Should writers learn marketing even if they plan to go the traditional route? Won't the publishing companies handle that?
The publishing companies don't typically handle that, unless they've given you a huge advance or you have a track record. Every once in awhile they bet big on author, but not as often as you'd think. So writers should learn marketing because they are either going the indie route or they are under fire to sell through on their advance with a traditional publisher. You can learn more about marketing your writing with my Free Writer Toolkit here: proseonfire.com/the-free-
More importantly, writers should inject their marketing directly into their manuscripts. Writers often think of marketing as this separate thing from writing, but it's not at all. 80-90% of books are sold through word-of-mouth and most of the marketability of a book is right there in the manuscript. So even if you are going the traditional route, if you are serious about getting published you should hire an editor to go through your book and see how marketable it is. Traditional publishers are looking for marketable books. It's a business and they need to make money.
Why should my blog readers buy Socialpunk?
The book is original and fast-paced and like nothing you've ever read before. If you enjoy stuff like The Matrix, Inception, Minority Report, or the Terminator movies, you might like this book too.
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