The Questions Asked of Writers

Earlier this week I gave a talk to a local neighbourhood forum group. They are a mixed bunch of people who meet every couple of months principally to discuss what should be done to improve our locality. But before their business meeting they often have a speaker – hence my visit with my pile of books to speak about my experience of self-publishing.

When I’d finished my spiel there was time for questions. This can be the point when things go awkwardly quiet because no one likes to be the first to speak. But the forum chairman was great at getting things started. He’d been scribbling as I talked and had noted several points to raise with me. His questions got the audience relaxed and soon everyone was asking things.

I’m pleased to report that no one came up with the old chestnut ‘where do you get your ideas’ but here are some of the things I was asked:

  • What do you think of ghost writers? (in relation to books by celebrities)
  • How many words can your write in one hour? (I’d told them about NaNoWriMo)
  • Could your book be made into a film?
  • How many books have you sold?
  • How much did it cost to have the novel professionally edited?
  • Would I consider writing a historical novel?
  • Could I make my book available in Waterstones?
  • Did JK Rowling and EL James find it difficult to get published?
  • Would I be willing to go and talk to two reading groups that a couple of the attendees were members of? (Yes!)

It was great to get people engaged, pass on the message that self-published books can be just as good as traditionally published works and sell some copies of Bedsit Three.

Author copies of Bedsit Three

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  1. #1 by lorraine.hellier1 on July 28, 2016 - 9:43 am

    Hi SallyI have just read your new post with interest. It sounds like you had really good feedback. You sound busy with talks which must help with book sales!I’ve decided to go back to Matador again and just started process of publishing The Elf King. Also working on sequel. I felt if I want to approach schools, libraries etc I needed a new book out. Hoping my book will be published ready for Christmas and will be looking for Christmas fairs.All the best.Lorraine 

    Sent from my Samsung device

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on July 28, 2016 - 12:50 pm

      Lorraine – I wouldn’t describe myself as ‘busy with talks’ – but it’s something I’d be happy to expand. Fingers crossed your new book is out by Christmas – that’s an excellent time for marketing! Best wishes.

  2. #3 by Nick Daws on July 28, 2016 - 9:50 am

    Well done, Sally – it sounds a very enjoyable occasion for all concerned. I enjoy giving talks as well, though I am often quite nervous beforehand. I always remember one Q & A session in Southport, when at the end someone put their hand up and when I invited them to ask their question, they replied, “I just wanted to say I really like your shirt.” I must admit I couldn’t think of any good answer to that one!

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on July 28, 2016 - 12:40 pm

      I agree about the nerves, Nick but once I could see people looking interested at what I was saying I started to enjoy it. Didn’t have any comments about my clothes though!

  3. #5 by juliathorley on July 28, 2016 - 12:19 pm

    It sounds as though you had a good evening? Did you sell any books on the night? And how did you answer the questions?

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on July 28, 2016 - 12:37 pm

      I think it was a good evening, Julia. I did sell some books on the night and a couple of people said they’d get it on Kindle. I should probably have included in the post how I answered the questions but (in brief) here goes:

      What do you think of ghost writers? Fine as long as it’s made clear a book has been ghosted & the celebrity doesn’t pretend to have written it themselves.

      How many words can your write in one hour? 600 approx if going for quantity not quality

      Could your book be made into a film? I think I’d need an agent to sell film rights.

      How many books have you sold? Almost 300 copies of Bedsit Three

      How much did it cost to have the novel professionally edited? £380

      Would I consider writing a historical novel? No – too much research required.

      Could I make my book available in Waterstones? It would be difficult because it’s not available through mainstream bookshop distributors.

      Did JK Rowling and EL James find it difficult to get published? JK Rowling got many rejections. EL James first published on the internet before getting book deal.

  4. #7 by juliathorley on July 28, 2016 - 12:39 pm

    Thanks for the speedy follow-up, Sally. I forgot to say: well done!

  5. #8 by susanjanejones on July 28, 2016 - 2:30 pm

    Well done, Sally, sounds like you had a good time. We have to think of all kinds of ideas don’t we? I’m supposed to be doing a talk in our local library, but they haven’t given me a date yet.

    • #9 by Sally Jenkins on July 28, 2016 - 2:38 pm

      Fingers crossed they come back to you, Susan. There are lots of groups who want speakers it’s just a matter of finding them and, as you say, thinking laterally of new ideas.

      • #10 by susanjanejones on July 31, 2016 - 4:54 pm

        I’d rather be writing of course, but promotion is essential. Well done to you, Sally.

      • #11 by Sally Jenkins on August 1, 2016 - 5:19 pm

        Thanks, Susan. And too often promotion gets in the way of writing time.

  6. #12 by Judy Brulo on August 15, 2016 - 7:31 am

    Hi Sally
    Thanks for your posts and for being so generous with your expertise.
    I wanted to ask if you or anyone else knows how the Children’s e-book market is faring compared to Children’s traditionally printed books? I am looking into Smashwords at the moment, trying to sift through all the information to discover how illustrated books would be formatted, bearing in mind that the illustrations would need to be be in a specific place in the text no matter what e-reading device you are using.
    Thank you
    Judy

    • #13 by Sally Jenkins on August 16, 2016 - 12:51 pm

      Hi Judy, Thanks for dropping by. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about children’s e-books, I only write for adults and have never inserted illustrations. I suggest you try Google – there must be someone somewhere blogging/YouTubing about this! Keeping my fingers crossed and wishing you luck.

      • #14 by Judith Brulo on August 16, 2016 - 1:24 pm

        Hi Sally
        Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’ll try your suggestions.
        Regards

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