We have a special treat for WANA Wednesday this week! Prudence MacLeod, author of romance, science fiction, and fantasy, agreed to stop by and let me pick her brain. Prudence is one prolific lady, and I wanted some insight into how she does it. Okay, enough from me – here’s Prudence!
JMP: Prudence, how long have you been writing? How many books did you write before publishing?
PM: Thanks for inviting me over for a coffee and chat, Jennette. How long? Off and on for close to fifty years, I guess. Seriously for about seventeen.
JMP: That’s a good while! And I thought I’d been at it a long time. Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.
PM: I had a few articles and short stories published in magazines long ago. As for novels, I acquired a box full of rejections and spent a fortune on postage before the internet changed the publishing world. As soon as the option became feasible, I began self-publishing.
JMP: I don’t blame you! Your books tend to cross genres, and I’ve found self publishing to be a perfect fit for that as well. Now that you’ve tasted the control and flexibility that comes with indie publishing, are you still pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or perhaps an agent?
PM: No, once I decided to go it alone I stopped trying to go traditional. If you’re doing self-pub right you don’t have much time left over for writing a synopsis or sending out query letters. You are spending your time on writing, editing, and social media.
JMP: Boy, isn’t that the truth! And that’s on top of creating, or contracting for cover art, formatting, editing, and more. What do you do (or have you done) for a day job? Has this informed or inspired your writing in any way?
PM: I’ve had a number of day jobs over the years, but I have to say the years I spent as a personal trainer give me the fondest memories. Those years, the people I worked with, and the things learned there are a big influence on my writing. A lot of my characters come from those days.
JMP: I’ll bet you met a lot of interesting people as a personal trainer! Most of us have trouble getting to the writing every now and then, if not every day. What keeps you from writing, and how do you handle it? How do you make time for writing?
PM: Finding the time can be an issue some days and I so admire you folks who manage jobs, children, and still find the time. Me? I just make the time. I learned this in powerlifting. When a lifter wants to enter a contest and lift three hundred pounds, she will set up a chart, probably twelve weeks. She starts with week twelve and marks it at 300. Week eleven is marked at 290, week ten at 280 etc. Each day she enters the gym she knows exactly what she has to do. I do the same now with writing. If I want a first draft of 72,000 words in twelve weeks, then week eleven calls for 66,000, week ten is 60,000 etc.
As you can see I’m constantly setting goals for myself. If I don’t I’ll just drift and get nothing done at all.
JMP: That’s so true, Prudence! I know for me, that’s what NaNoWriMo does – it forces us to set goals and divide up that 50,000 word mountain into chunks we can mark off each day. But wow, you have a lot of books out there now! Tell me, what inspired your latest?
PM: Okay, this was fun, actually. Needing a good kick to get my head back into my writing, I dropped what I was working on and contacted one of my most avid fans. I asked her point blank, “What would you love to see in my next book?” She was pretty clear on what she liked so I set out to write a romance with her in mind as the reader. I sent her a small teaser and she loved it. I’m just getting started on it, but I hope to get it ready in time for Christmas.
JMP: And now for the $64,000 question – CDN or US$, either is fine. 🙂 What are some things you did to build your readership? What’s worked? What didn’t?
PM: Well, pushing in social media doesn’t work, running contests and doing giveaways haven’t worked for me, and offering sales and free books hasn’t worked either. What has worked is personal contact. Any reader who reaches out to me via e-mail or through a comment on my blog gets a personal response; not a come on to buy more books, but a response just to them. This can be a bit time consuming some days, but I will keep it up as long as I am able. I love the one on one with the readers.
JMP: Amen to that! Getting email from readers is the best! What are some things your readers have told you they particularly love about your books?
PM: Most of all it is Hope. I try to offer hope in all my book; they always have an upbeat ending. Folks also tell me they find my books informative; they learn things about all sorts of different people and lifestyles.
JMP: Having read and enjoyed some of your books, I couldn’t agree more! What’s up next for you – and where can readers find more about you and your work?
PM: Oh, gosh, I truly wish I knew. I’m hoping to find more ways to get in touch with the readers in more personal ways. I’m just not good at running big promotions; I’m more comfortable chatting over a coffee.
Here’s where you can find me, folks.
Jennette, thanks for the coffee and the chat. Let’s do it again soon.
JMP: You bet, Prudence! It’s been fun – thanks again for stopping by!
Quick ROW80 Update: So far so good for NaNoWriMo! I’ve logged another 5,000 words since our last check in, bringing my total to about 36,000. I’m off of work today through Sunday, so I’m hoping to stay on schedule for that. I say stay on track, rather than get ahead, because I’m hosting Thanksgiving! My family’s great – everyone chips in as far as food goes, and it’s always a good time, so it’s ALL good! Hope you’re doing well if you’re participating in ROW80 and/or NaNoWriMo, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
What is WANA? It stands for We Are Not Alone, a guide to blogging, social media and networking for authors by Kristen Lamb. It’s writers helping writers, whether or not we’ve taken the course, and proving that we really are not alone!