The Advice Girl, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Advice Girl?
L.A. SHAW: The Advice Girl is my debut novel. The story came to me after a particularly difficult time in my life. I wrote the rough draft in about a week, not leaving my apartment until I had finished it. It was my way to escape reality at the time. It was a pure fantasy. That was a couple years ago. I never finished or edited it until recently. I’m finally at a point in my life where I am able to write and keep it in balance with a normal daily routine. I also have people around me now that support me. They really pushed me to finish the book and go through with the whole self-publishing process. The book itself is about two young women who are best friends, and one of them mysteriously dies. The other one gets pulled into a world of powerful secret societies. The story has suspense, action, romance, and a touch of paranormal.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
L.A. SHAW: Character development is probably my favorite part of writing a novel. I usually get ideas from people that I know or have met along the course of my life. But those are only starting points. I begin with the common stereotypes. For example in my book there is the best friend, the villain, the lover, and the hero. Those are easy to define. Then I try to give my characters their own lives, their own histories, and personalities. I think that gives them depth. I picture them as real people, human beings, with flaws, strengths, and weaknesses. I am a studier of people in real life, and I think that translates into my writing.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
L.A. SHAW: I imagine my ideal reader as someone with an open mind, and who wants to be entertained. Someone who wants to escape their own lives for a while and my writing would accomplish that for them. Or maybe they just want to pass the time, or read for pure enjoyment. It doesn’t matter. My ideal reader would just simply be someone who received whatever it was they were looking for out of my book.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
L.A. SHAW: I wrote my first poem when I was five. It was about kings, queens, and probably castles. It was silly, but I guess it was something that has always came naturally to me. I’ve always kept journals, and continued to write poetry throughout school. But it was always a personal thing to me and I never really shared any of it. When I was nineteen I had to drop out of college and find a “real” job. This was when I started writing heavily, relying on it to help me deal with everything that was happening in my life. It was my therapy. I started to notice that the more pain I was in, the better I wrote. The positive and negative experiences have given depth to my words, and my writing “voice.” The education I got was not from a college, but from life. Every single thing that happened, even though it made no sense at the time, has truly benefited me greatly with my writing. I know that I’m still not where I want to be with it, but I know I’ll continue to improve with each book.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
L.A. SHAW: I have to be inspired. Usually I’m inspired on a daily basis by people I meet, places I go, things I see or hear. The ideas for the story, and the characters, have to start out as those bits and pieces. They have to come together cohesively in my mind before I will attempt to write. I more or less allow the book to write itself in my mind, and once I think I have enough I can begin the process. I mold it as I go along, adding chapters here and there, developing the characters, and the plot. I prefer to write at night when it is quiet, and I have to be in the right mood and frame of mind.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
L.A. SHAW: Almost every author inspires me in some way. The major ones would be Stephen King, Dan Brown, Kahlil Gibran, Jack Kerouac, Gabriel García Márquez, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Victor Hugo.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
L.A. SHAW: The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R Tolkien.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
L.A. SHAW: The first thing I had to do was make sure I was set up on all of the social networking sites. I think networking is very important in getting your work out there. It’s about meeting new people that can possibly help you in your journey. Then I made sure that my book was available in as many formats and in as many places as possible. It is an ebook but I also have it available in paperback. People have to be able to find it, buy it, and review it. I started a blog, and began writing about the whole process. I found a great blogging community by doing this, and awesome people who were willing to review my book for me and share it with their own readers. I also plan to send out paperback versions to the ones who prefer that over the electronic format.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
L.A. SHAW: Amazon is probably the largest online marketplace. People trust the site, and the Kindle is one of the most popular e-readers. I think if you are going to go the ebook route, then it is obvious to publish on Kindle. Your book needs to be available on Amazon for the Kindle. That is where you are going to reach the most readers who are capable of buying the ebook.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
L.A. SHAW: Just do it, but only if you think you are up to the self-publishing challenge. It takes a lot of work, because you have to do it all yourself. But the Kindle publishing program is easy to use. You just have to make sure the formatting is correct beforehand, and it can be frustrating. If you have questions, the Kindle Boards are a good place to find answers.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
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