Debbie Young is the commissioning editor of the Alliance of Independent Authors Author Advice Center and has written several of ALLi’s successful self-publishing guidebooks.
She’s a prolific and successful writer, and is the author of a cozy crime series, Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, which is set in an English village similar to the one in which she lives. The heroine of the series is an aspiring writer and the love interest is a bookseller! This series takes place over a year of time in the village beginning in one summer and continuing to the next. One reviewer described it as “Miss Marple meets Bridget Jones”.
Additionally, Debbie has published three collections of short stories, “Marry in Haste”, “Stocking Fillers” and “Quick Change”, and two collections of the monthly columns she writes for two local magazines about village life. She runs author Meetup groups in Bristol and Cheltenham and is the founder and director of the free Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, which was founded in 2015.
I was honored to have the pleasure of interviewing Debbie for the first in our series of “Author Talk with Richard Lowe” podcasts. I was fascinated by the interesting and useful information that will be viable to all self-published authors regardless of genre or specialty.
Interview Transcript Debbie Young
Richard Lowe 00:00
Good day, I just finished an interview with Debbie young of the alliance of independent authors was a fascinating interview. She’s a very interesting person and has some good things to say. Once you please listen, thank you I’m here with Debbie young, and she’s the administrator for ally, which is the alliance of independent authors. She’s also an author in her own right. And we’re going to interview for fiction masterclass today. Debbie, why don’t you tell me about yourself?
Debbie Young 00:35
Right? It’s okay. Yes, I am now a novelist. I’m writing a series of cozy mystery books, cozy mystery novel set in a little village very much like the English country village that I live in. And part of England called the Cotswolds very rural, about 100 miles from London. This is the first of them the best murder in show, first of the Sophie Sayers village mysteries. So I’m writing a series of seven of those and having great fun doing that. I have plans for other fiction series as well. And I’ve also published short story collections in the past. And I kind of acclimatized myself to self publishing, by starting starting with the short pieces. And now I’m on a roll with the novel. So I’m having great fun. So that’s about my sort of fiction writing life. I also, as you say, I work for the Alliance of independent authors. And my role there is to manage the author advice Center, which is built around a huge resource of material, including about just over 2000 blog posts on there. So we’ve got an enormous archive of material for authors of all kinds, whatever genre you write in, and we also have some reference books that we that we write, I’ve written a couple of those as well. So I write various nonfiction. So we have a couple of these are all under this kind of branding. One about how to get your books into book shops, bookstores, a loved one about the whole concept really, of being an indie author, what it means and how to make the best of it that you possibly can. So I also get involved with other kinds of ad hoc projects, with the Alliance to campaign for indie authors to help share best practice to build moral support. Now, Ally is an online organization. And it’s I love the fact that it’s a truly global group, because I can be chatting to anybody such as you, Richard, where you are in the States, I can talk to people in Africa, Australia, all over. And we can all share as if we’re in the same room. And that’s fantastic. But I also like real life meetings, too. So I run a couple of author groups in the two towns that I’m closest to Bristol, and Cheltenham. They are. Although they’re not officially ally groups, because as I say, we’re online. Almost all of the people who come to those groups are ally members, if they haven’t joined, when they if they haven’t joined ally, when they join my writers groups, they’ll have joined it by the time they finish, because it’s such a good organization to be part of. And pretty much but any indie authors hear about it, they realize it’s a good thing to join.
Richard Lowe 03:25
Well, okay, you certainly are prolific. I’ve looked over your, your Promote your profile, and you’ve done a lot. How do you write so much?
Debbie Young 03:37
By working very hard, there’s there’s no real magic solution, other than to throw hours at the work. And I’m able to do that, because I love what I do so much. I mean, I’ve I’ve also been very fortunate, in many ways. In my previous career before I, I focused full time on my writing, I had worked in all kinds of jobs that required me to write lots of different things, but not fiction. I worked in marketing, I worked in public relations, I worked as a journalist, I worked for a charity that promoted children’s children’s reading. So each time in the different jobs that I worked in a large part of my responsibility was to write a latterly, website copy brochures. Before before websites became very common, or indeed were even invented. I was writing newsletters and, and articles for magazines and press releases and all that sort of thing. So that was a terrific apprenticeship albeit a very long one because I’ve only been writing full time for a few years. It was a terrific apprenticeship to being very good at writing. Fast to order to length to clear specification. And also it was a very good preparation for self editing. And so I’m pretty ruthless at editing my own work, I go through my own drafts, time and time again, to polish the pros as much as I possibly can and to refine the craft, the plot and the characters and so forth. So all of that must have helped, you know, if I’d have been working as a nurse or a doctor or something instead, then I might have found it much harder to sort of really knuckle down and write as prolifically as I do now.
Richard Lowe 05:36
Interesting. And why did you choose the genres that you’ve chosen?
Debbie Young 05:42
I’ve always loved cozy mystery. I have loved one, since I was a teen really, I liked writing. I liked reading classic crime from the Golden Age, you know, I could Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, that kind of thing. And I love those four, their sense of place for the characterization for a certain playfulness and a sense of fun. And as much as for the actual crime. And the crime to me, is more of a riddle. Rather than being an interest in crime. As such, you know, it’s being the intellectual puzzle, is the thing that excites me. And so when I decided that I wanted to start writing novels, that was a genre that I would fall into quite naturally. The other one that I could possibly fall into is writing sort of rural life, stories just about the character sort of. It’s kind of like the cozy crime that I’m writing without the crime. But I have a second series planned. All In fact, I’ve got two more series planned. And the first one, the second one, I was going to make more of a sort of romantic fiction with a with a particular rural setting. And then readers are saying to be well, but they’ve got to be smarter than that. There’s got to be some crime. I’m not persuaded of that yet. But we’ll see what how it works out when I start when I start writing it. But I like whatever I write, it’s going to be fairly light hearted, upbeat, fairly jolly. Lots of jokes. I’ve got lots of author jokes in lots of book joke, bookish jokes, literary jokes, author jokes. And because I spend so much of my of my day, with writers and whether online or in real life, I like humor. If I try to write anything apart from sort of instructive nonfiction, without humor, then it becomes very dull. And I’m not me if I’m lots of larking about a little bit. So I have lots of sort of throwaway lines and sort of gentle gags, and also quite a few sort of bookish jokes without being highbrow, you know, I’m not sort of intellectual or snobbish about about the literary jokes, I just have have a lot of jokes about books and literature. Might I should say also that my cozy mystery series is partly set in a bookshop. So there’s lots of opportunities for joking about books and readers as well. And so I have a lot of fun with that. And having having fun creating those little worlds is part of the joy. But I think part of the motivation if I wasn’t having such fun, sort of going and having little adventures in my little creative world, if I wasn’t having that fun, and I probably wouldn’t write so much.
Richard Lowe 08:37
I understand what he’s partially asked. My next question is, which is why do you write, but maybe you can elaborate on that a little more?
Debbie Young 08:45
Yeah, I, I can’t imagine a life without writing in the I’ve always written from when I was a small child and, and it’s just the way that I have express myself the way I’ve processed events. When I’ve had particular sort of life challenges. I my, my response has been to write it down. That kind of thing would obviously be just for me, primarily. I’ve kept a diary. I think the first diary I kept was when I was about seven, it didn’t last very long, but at least I made of stops. And it’s a great way of processing trauma. I think I’ve been I’ve been very blessed. I’ve had a very happy and fortunate like life, not without the odd sort of tragedy along the way. But writing has always been my way of processing things. And I’ve also been always been quite a chatterbox and liked sort of telling people stories and jokes and sharing experiences with them. So to turn that all into stories and to process it all into to create stories is is something that comes very naturally to me. So when I I’m writing now. And also when I was writing the short stories, a lot of the things in there are inspired by overheard phrases, by events. By circumstances that have been a part of my life, years and years ago, I’ve got three collections of short stories. And, for example, in one of them is about dating, love and marriage, it’s called marry in haste. And one of the stories that springs to mind off the top of my head is it was inspired by a colleague in an office that I worked in, in the 1980s, where a colleague, a lovely, lovely colleague of mine, were still friends. She was a vegan. And she said that we were all young, free and single at that point. And she said that she could never marry somebody who wasn’t a vegan. And that clearly narrows the field down, you know, it reduces your choices somewhat. So I wrote a story about somebody who is looking for a vegan partner. But that is all triggered by something that happened a long time ago. And because I’ve done lots of different jobs and work to lots of different environments, I’ve got no end of store of that kind of little prompt really writing prompts. They are I suppose taken from real life.
Richard Lowe 11:22
Interesting. And what’s your favorite memory about writing? I’ve always been always, I have some memories about writing that customers that I’ve helped or books that I’ve written that are fun, what do you have a memory about?
Debbie Young 11:36
That probably the fondest memory I’ve got is probably the feeling of where it all started, which was back when I was about six years old. And I was in first grade, I guess. And I’d spent some time writing stories about a witch. And the teacher made me go around the whole school, telling the story to each class in turn, including the children who were older than me, which is quite daunting. And I guess that’s where something clicked in my head. And I thought, This is what I’m doing. I’m writing stories, I’m going to be a writer when I grow up. It took me quite a long time after that, actually declaring myself publicly to be a writer and writing and publishing books. But I now feel like I’m that that’s where it started. And I’m now doing finally what that six year old girl wants to do when she
Richard Lowe 12:29
grew up. And how many books have you published?
Debbie Young 12:32
Well, there’s four novels. In the series, I’m writing, editing the fifth one now, which will be out in September, I’ve got three collections of short stories. I’ve written two guidebooks for ally Well, one of which is CO written with Dan Holloway. I’ve written a book called sell your books, which was commissioned by Silverwood books. And that was kind of my transition actually, from writing commercially for for publication for public relations, marketing companies into self publishing, because self publishing services company Silverwood books who are an ally partner member, they asked me to write a book that would help their authors market their books. And that’s really when I started to become aware of just what this whole self publishing business was about, and how it worked. And what a great opportunity there is these days for authors to get their work in front of readers worldwide. I’ve also written a little bit raising awareness for a charity of mine, the juvenile JDRF Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, JDRF global organization, which is benefiting the research into type one diabetes, because my both my daughter and my husband have type one diabetes. So that’s all I can think of, it’s rather something else, but I can’t remember what else. So a range of different things I’ve written. I’ve published some sort of standalone short stories as as ebooks, but I’ve also turned them into little, little teeny tiny paperbacks as well, for like promotional purposes, like stocking fillers for Christmas and that sort of thing.
Richard Lowe 14:20
Well, you kind of went into my next subject, which is why do people want to self publish books? What’s the advantage of that or traditional or other forms of publishing?
Debbie Young 14:31
There’s lots of lots of reasons. Lots of attractions. First of all, is the creative control. So you are self publisher. And self publishing is a it’s not the best terminology in the world. Because it kind of implies you’re going to do everything yourself little turnout looking homemade and bit amateurish. But, but really, what it means is that you are being your publishing company, you’re your publishing director, as well as the actual writer of the book. as being published. And so that gives you the creative control the freedom, and also the responsibility. I mean, you know that it’s a mixed blessing in a way because you are also then your financial director, and you’re the production director and all of the other things fall to you. But this means that you have tremendous freedom. compared to if you have your book published by a big publishing company, the writer is a small part and an enormous machine. The writer is just the trigger who produces the raw material, and has very little say, in how the book is presented to the outside world. So a trade published author would typically not have much of a say in the title, or the cover design or the way it’s presented, the way it’s sold. And also, what what has come, one of the big advantages is that things move much faster, potentially, when you’re when you’re self publishing, because you’re not part of this enormous machine where everything is done by committee, and you have to get the cover approved, for example, you have to wait for the design brief to be agreed than the designer to do the job. And then for the marketing people to look at it. And then for it to go out to perhaps to a test group to see whether it’s really going to sell and you’re all of those things slow down the process in a big publishing company. So you’ve whereas if I got a contract tomorrow to get a novel published by a big company, it would probably not be published until the end of next year. I’m now editing a book that is going to be out there at the end of September. Now, one of the reasons that is going to be out quite quickly, is that I’ve got a really good team in place around me. So I’ve got terrific designer, Rachel Austin, who have lost and design, who does my covers, I’ve got a terrific editor, Alison Jack, who is who I know is very dependable. I’ve got them booked in. So hopefully it will all run like clockwork, and it will be produced and it’ll be out there, I do my own formatting for the interiors. So I’ve got that under control. So the buck stops with me. So it’s, it is hard work. And it is a big responsibility. But the joy of it is you call the shots, you manage the business, and it’s totally under your control. If I decide after I finish going through my edit that I’ve changed my mind, it needs more editing, I can take it back and do that. If I decide that I want to not publish this at all, that’s down to me. If I decide to change the title, I can do that. But I don’t have to nobody else is going to change it, change it if I don’t want them to. So all of those things are good. And the other thing which we shouldn’t be shy about speaking of is the financial factor. Because if you are, if your book is published by a big publishing company, they clearly have a lot of expenses, they’ve got a lot of staff to pay, they will have shareholders to pay, they have probably have a big, have big real estate to manage in in prestigious locations and city centers, they have a lot of costs to cover, which means that the author for an average book trade published book, the author will only end up with about 5% 10% tops of the of the cover price of the book, which is not very much. If you publish if you are self publishing a book for the ebooks, if you publish it between the certain that the most popular price ranges on Amazon, for example, you would get 70% that seven 0% of the cover price of the ebook. The is a little bit more complicated with paperbacks because there are a lot more variables. And clearly there are a lot more fixed costs to produce a paperback than a than an ebook, which is essentially just a digital file. Once your initial setup costs have been paid for design and formatting. So there is potential to make a lot more per book. Now, next big question there that you have to consider is are you in a better position than a big publishing company to sell multiple copies of your book? I’d have to say that depends on the book because if you’ve done it right, if you’ve written a great book, it’s the best book you can possibly make it it’s presented correctly for the genre to fit into into the into the whole sort of book ecology at home, amongst other books in its genre, then you’ve got your chances are optimal. A lot of people think that when you go to a trade pub SingHealth, you will get a lot of marketing support. You know, I’ve heard too many authors say, Oh, well, I just want to write books, I don’t want to do any marketing. So that’s why I’m going for a trade contract. Sadly, that’s a misconception because unless you are a huge celebrity for other reasons, or you’re already a hugely well established author who they know is a safe bet, to sell lots of lots of copies. A publishing house is not going to spend very much time or effort on marketing your book, and they’re not going to give you a marketing team or even a marketing person for very long to market your book. Typically, you might get a day or a day and a half of a PR person’s time to get out a few initial press releases and a little bit of blurb and stuff, but you don’t get a lot of marketing support. The The other disadvantage, the disadvantage that you have is you don’t have as an Indian author, you don’t have the presence or the influence in bricks and mortar bookstores, you know, bookstores and on your main street and your shopping mall and so forth, compared to the big publishing houses who are putting hundreds of books into all these different stores each week. But that’s where this book comes in how to get your self published book into bookstores. There are there are other ways that the Indies can work with bookstores and and most books, most self publish books sell online. Anyway, a lot of a lot of indie authors leave bookstores out of their marketing campaign altogether, because they can do very nicely from online sales. And I have to say most of my sales are online. But it’s still fun to get distribution into bookstores. Luckily, I’ve got a few local bookstores who I’ve got presence in. And that’s very pleasing, because we all love book
Richard Lowe 21:58
shops. Yes, that’s probably the reason why we get into writing I think,
Debbie Young 22:01
yeah, absolutely. Yes. Because I’ve been with that six, six year old little girl, who was me deciding to be a writer, you know, that the internet hadn’t been invented, or you didn’t know any other way of selling books. And then then then in shops, and so that So even for the most developed, self published author, I think having a book in a bookstore is still a bit of a dream, and a bit of a bit of an ideal ambition. And libraries as well. Yeah. libraries to of course, yeah, yes. All Yes, that was the other thing I wanted to be I wanted to be I used to I wanted to be a library lady, because I didn’t even know the word librarian wants to work in the library.
Richard Lowe 22:38
Now, what didn’t you mentioned Ali? What is Ali and what’s the significance to self published authors?
Debbie Young 22:43
Rights is a global, not nonprofit membership organization, which was started by a, an Irish author called Orna. Ross. She had been trade published, she’s got a terrific contract with Penguin. And was had some of her novels published, it was selling very well, but decided that because of the lack of control the control issues that I mentioned just now, she had submitted to certain editorial changes that she wasn’t happy with she, they had retitled her books, they were presenting them less as serious historical novels than sort of women’s fiction, with images on the front of girls in frocks when they were they were books about the troubles in Ireland, very political books in lots of ways, or the novels, historical novels about the impact of the politics on families and individuals. So penguin was kind of racking them up wrong. And putting them into what they wanted to publish, rather than what she wants to write. And she decided that she wanted to take her rights back and republish them her way. She was also she’s also a poet still writes lots of poetry, and decided to test the waters of this new self publishing business that she’d heard about, by self publishing poetry, thinking that if you can self publish poetry and do well, you can self publish anything because poetry is the a pretty nice and not the most popular format of the most popular genre. And so that worked. She then published a novel that was all going well, so she looked around for an organization to join for self published authors. She was a member of what in the UK is called the Society of authors. It’s the British organization. And there’ll be equivalents all over the world. But she couldn’t find one there wasn’t she wants an equivalent for self published authors, and there wasn’t one. So being the sort of determined person that she is she thought, well, I’ll found one then. She, she gathered around her experts in various aspects of writing, production, all the different aspects Self publishing, marketing promotion, writing craft, and set up this organization six years ago and invited people to join, making it very much very affordable. So the membership is, is I think it’s $99 a year for a published author. So it’s enough to resource or to cover the costs of providing all the resources that we now provide. So that there is the, the daily blog, there’s a members forum there, the we have run a partner membership, with partners offering services. Most of them offer a discount to our members. So most members can recoup the cost of their annual membership, sometimes many times over, through the discounts and deals they get from partner members. We have an online conference free online conference twice a year. And we have all kinds of resources, a long list on the website, if anyone wants to go and look at that. And so she set that up. And it quickly took off launched at the London book fair, because she happened to be living in London at the time, but it’s truly global. I think it’s something like 75% membership now in North America about 20%, European. 20%, maybe, about that, and about 10% sort of Australasian and smatterings of people in Africa, Far East and growing all the time that the other territories are growing all the time. So it’s very exciting, bringing them all together. And just that camaraderie, the feeling of not being alone, you know, not being the only writer isolated in your Garrett, typing away is a great reason to join. There’s lots of networking opportunities, there are lots of mutual benefits to find.
Richard Lowe 26:57
Yeah, I enjoy the online forum on Facebook, there’s eroded conversation, what I especially like, is you don’t allow people to promote. And so it doesn’t get spammy. Exactly, yes. That’s the feeling of most organizations that I find that don’t enforce that rule is the forums just deteriorate into this, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book? And that’s not why I’m there. Yeah, I like occasionally helping authors, you know, they usually have the same kind of questions. And I just answered, it turns into a nice discussion. And then if I get if we get into anything detail, we go offline and do it on the message messaging, rather than on the forum.
Debbie Young 27:35
Yeah, it’s great. And I know you’ve helped many people there, and engaged in the discussions, and it’s great fun, it’s very stimulating, makes you think more about your own writing as well, I think. And I think it also makes you aware of just how much you learn by doing a live I’ve really enjoyed because I’ve been involved for for almost all of the six years now that that Ally has been going. And it’s been so pleasurable to see authors join as complete novices with associate membership, because they haven’t published any books, and they get a reduced price membership. And then seeing them go on to publish the first book and their second and the third and the fourth, and to see careers really blossom on there, all fueled by the mutual support that they get from, from each other on the forum. And I think it’s great too, because there are people there from all different countries, but also writing all different kinds of genre. And you don’t have to be writing the same genre to help each other. And I find the same in little my writers groups, you know, I have maybe 12 or 15 people to meeting, and we might all be writing completely different things. But we will all find ways of in the conversation, it just comes out that you can all learn from each other’s experience. And that’s, that’s very enjoyable, it’s very stimulating, stops ever getting boring, I think.
Richard Lowe 28:54
Yeah, that’s the part of ally that I use a lot is the forum, I usually kind of lurk around it. And then once or twice a week, jump into some things and help people out. And that the thing that I’ve noticed is I call it the elephant in the room about self publishing is promoting, you’ve talked about it a lot, is that’s where writers, they can write their book. And of course, there’s problems with that sometimes, and they can go through all the steps. And then they hit the marketing part. And it’s like hitting a wall. And that’s where I’m trying to help authors too. So what do you have to say about promoting your book?
Debbie Young 29:27
Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. A lot of people that passionate about writing their book, and they are so thrilled to get out there and then they just sort of seize up because for a lot of them, it’s marketing anything is an unknown quantity. Because if they’ve spent all their lives or their previous careers have been as a plumber or as a veterinary surgeon or something, you know, why should they know about marketing? And it’s noticeable. There’s a lot of the people who’ve been very successful with self publishing very early on, has come from a business background have been used to marketing all kinds of things. And so for them, it’s natural just to roll into that step. But for most people, it’s not easy. And they have to really brace themselves to even think about marketing, never mind learn the skills. And I think also, it’s difficult because it’s so potentially overwhelming, because there’s so much that you could be doing. And a lot of people try to do things that they don’t like doing or that they’re no good at, or they have no real understanding of, or they try to do everything and ended up failing at everything or spreading themselves too thinly and seeing the real result. Yeah, very common questions for authors who are nervous of marketing is, can I pay somebody else to do the marketing for me, because that’s the easiest, they think that’s the easy way out, you know, just throw money at the problem, and it’ll be sorted. But I always say to that, well, you can, but you’ll be wasting your money. Because although there are some very good companies who will, who will take on marketing contracts, and we have some who have partner members have ally. For a new author who has no prior form, no real sort of awareness of themselves or their books, the best thing that they can do is actually to learn about the marketing environment themselves, to learn some basic skills, to set up some sort of core materials, a sort of basic marketing collateral, they need to have a good website, it doesn’t need to be a fancy one or an expensive one, it can be a free WordPress one. But it needs to be the Bible of them, really all the information sent essential information about them, which readers will expect to be able to find by Googling on online. And then all of that all of the links everywhere else on where their books are placed, should feed back to the website will be directed back to the website, ideally, have an email collection systems as well as you can get people’s email addresses. So you can market to them. When you’ve got a new book out. You can tell them and engage them and involve them. Social media, a lot of people think oh, God, I ought to be doing Instagram, I ought to be doing Twitter, I ought to be doing this, that the other. I always counseled them that if they enjoy a particular social media, and you and I both enjoy Facebook very much, then embrace that one, don’t try and do something that’s alien to you, you know, pick one or two and stick with them. And then if you feel that you’ve mastered those and have time to spare, go and do some other ones. I always say it’s good to network to get your name out there one way or another. And to start out small and local as well, because you can build up your experience and your credentials by doing just a local event in your local town hall or in your local school, some affair or something you have a stand, get chatting to people get known. And I think that that kind of thing also has the advantage of actually making you start to think of yourself as an author. Because a lot of people, especially when they’re starting out, they’re quite apologetic about that they’re either apologetic and almost don’t want to talk about them. Or they go to the opposite, opposite extreme and art in your face. You’re posting everywhere buy my book, I’ve written a book, why don’t you buy my book, going into the local bookstores and saying I’m a local author? why don’t why haven’t you got it on the shelves. And so they go from having a sense of no entitlement to a sense of far too much entitlement. There’s a balance to be had in between that you have to earn your entitlement, you know, you, you need to prove your worth. We have lots of information about different aspects of marketing, on the Allied blog, and we must have about probably about three or 400 posts on different aspects of marketing. For people who know nothing about marketing, a great starting point, is to just follow the LI blog and pick up every blog post that comes up about marketing. It’s being part of and I is the fast track to expertise in all different aspects of self publishing, including the marketing and also you’ll see case studies of other other author success stories that will that you can then sort of assimilate and make and use for your own books too.
Richard Lowe 34:32
Very good. What now you’ve given some promotional tips, what kind of tips would you give that aren’t necessarily ready to promotion for an author to succeed as a writer?
Debbie Young 34:45
Well, one has become a bit of a cliche, really, in indie author circles is to say consider it a long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. But that truly is a good analogy because first of all, it’s it’s takes time and effort and persistence to just complete the first draft of books. So many people will tell you oh, I’ve got a book on me Oh, if only I had time I’d write a book. Well, only a small subset of those people actually complete the book. So first step, write the damn book. It’s no good, no good. Talking about it, and dithering about it and talking about other aspects of it if you haven’t written things, so writes regularly. Don’t try. Don’t be over ambitious. There are lots of schools of thought about whether you should how many words you should write a day when you should write, how you should write whether on screen or on with pen and ink, paper and pencil, find the combination that works for you, where you can regularly produce a certain amount of copy I, I don’t write every single day, because I have a very busy life, but doing all the other associated things I do. But when I am in writing mode, what I do is write a chapter a day, and my books have about 36 chapters in. So I plan it all out, write a chapter a day, and then I know I’m motoring. If I’m writing a chapter a day, this huge amount of editing goes in later. So I do I spend much more time editing than I do writing. But yeah, persistence, consistency. And to help you complete that book, The next piece of advice would be to remember that you write and edit with two different parts of your brain, the writing is the creative part, writing the first draft, the editing is the critical part, you can’t engage the two at the same time successfully. Don’t try and edit as you write, just have your story in mind and write the straight draw the first draft without stopping to look back. Just keep writing if you get to a bit and you think, Oh God, I haven’t faced that very well, doesn’t matter, you’ll edit it when you’ve got the whole picture, when you’ve got the whole story, it’d be much easier to hone it and edit it later on. Just get the thing there. You know, once you’ve got the basic shape, then comes the polishing. You know, it’s like if you if you want to make something out of a piece of wood or something, get the basic shape first, and then whittle it down and polish it and hone it. And and shine it you know to the final finished object. Don’t try and and polish it as you go. That is the most productive route. And also it’ll stop you just getting stuck that points. I’m a great believer in trusting the the unconscious to keep it going for you, once you. But by the same token, I don’t believe in the muse or inspiration or writer’s block or any of that stuff, you just have to sit down and apply yourself and write. So yeah, so just do it really is the main piece of advice, because once you’ve got the book, then you can start doing all the other stuff. It’s great if you can set up your if you know that you’re planning to write a book and you want to publish a book next year, great if you can start setting up your website and networking and talking to other authors and making friends with with key people early on. Great, but none of that is going to be any good. If you haven’t got the book there. I would also say don’t even just write the one book because it’s going to be much more, it’s going to be much easier to be more successful. If you are able to write more books. There’s I’m sure you know about the whole way of thinking 20 books to 50k theory that was that has got quite a following there’s a Facebook group for it. Where it’s considered that if you’ve if you have enough books out there, and each is earning a small amount a day in sales, then you’re on your way to earn a living wage from your writing, which is you know, a lot of people’s dream, that’s absolutely fine. A lot of people misinterpret that as meaning right 20 books a year and they churn out lots of books very, very fast. Without looking at quality, you want both quantity and quality. Now that is a hard thing to do. Every book you’ve put out there should be the best you can possibly make it engage professional services as your budget permits to help you polish it because nobody can do everything themselves. Nobody can do all of the all of the editing, proofreading formatting cover design to a high professional standard. So wherever just as the publishing as a big publishing company word, you should engage expert services to do the things that you can’t so that the toast the end package is as wonderful as you would like it to be as good as it possibly can be. So the first thing before you do any marketing at all, really is to have the best product, because you can market to kingdom come. And if your product is basically unpalatable, you’re not going to get any buyers
Richard Lowe 40:18
are no repeat buyers certainly. Yeah, yeah.
Debbie Young 40:22
And that’s what we want. Really, we want people to love our books, we want them to love our voices. So whatever we write next, they will come back to read more series writing actually, that’s another thing to mention. I have to say that when I decided to start writing novels, I made a commercial decision that it would be in series insects, because if you’re writing a series, and Book One goes down, well, it’s a lot easier to sell Book Two to the people who have enjoyed Book One, than to sell another book one of a completely new concept to a different audience, or even to the same audience. So I’m, I’ve now got a successful series doing very well with this series. And I want to keep that plates spinning, really, while starting another series, that will also then become a spinning plate of several books, and at least three books. And then the third series, so my long term plan, really over the next five years is to have three substantial series of books running, and then hopefully, more and more till I’m too old to write anything. That string sentence together, is
Richard Lowe 41:30
making too much money to worry about it. Right?
Debbie Young 41:32
Yeah. I’ve just been on what I’m counting my money instead of writing little bit.
Richard Lowe 41:37
Yes. Yes. So that was a fascinating interview. Do you have any closing comments? Um, well, I
Debbie Young 41:44
would, I would say to anybody who is thinking of writing who hasn’t started yet, or to anybody who is writing and hasn’t yet looked at self publishing, I would say embrace self publishing the whole technology that’s made self publishing possible. That the the internet the sort of the global village of the if the self publishing community, incredibly helpful, supportive, generous community, it’s all there for you. And I think there has never been a better time to be an author. There is plenty of room for lots more good authors for lots more good books. Books are never gonna go out of style, no matter what happens with technology, whether they’re ebooks or print books, or whatever. People will always love story, they’ve love story for as long as time and equally with nonfiction as well. You know, it’s there’s more than one kind of story. So just go for it. It’s great fun. There’s never been a better time. And I wish you Richard and all of your viewers, enormous success and the fun that I’m having with my books, too. Well, thank
Richard Lowe 42:51
you very much. Thank you for appearing.
Debbie Young 42:54
Pleasure. Thank you very much for having me. It’s been been delightful to speak to you.
Richard Lowe 42:57
Thank you for watching the interview. That was fascinating. I enjoyed every minute. I hope you did too. Remember to comment with any comments you have down below and subscribe to this channel for future interviews. Thank you very much.
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