Landis Lain will also be joining us at A Rally of Writers as a speaker. She is no stranger to Rally. She has attended as a student and as a speaker. Landis recently published her second book, Butterfly Arising.
You have now launched book two. How is a writing a second book different from writing and publishing book one?
Book one, I was thrilled to just get published. Then the work began. I did not know how hard sales is. I did not know how much people buy books based on how much they like the author. I didn’t know how many people were trying to get published. Book two, I’m working harder than ever to get people to buy and read it
The second book basically wrote itself because the character was in such pain and wanted to tell her story so badly.
But the marketing is incredibly hard. Lots of people came out and supported with my first book because they were so excited for me but I’ve got to cultivate the relationships for the second book. I feel like they have EXPECTATIONS!
Butterfly Arising came out at the same time as the #MeToo movement even though I wrote it a few years ago. It was a story that I had been keeping inside for years and it came out of a lot of anguish. I’m glad I told the story. I’m thrilled with how well it has been received. I now understand the grind of marketing
How much research goes into your books?
Tons. I write fiction. So I often look things up on line or call up the people in my contacts. If I’m writing about medical or psychological problems I call my friends who work in those fields. Some of the information comes out of my long experience in the legal world and law enforcement. I know lots of cops. I love teenagers so I do research with them, trying to relive their high drama life style in my head.
I try to first write the story and then do research to make certain my facts are correct. I don’t use much slang because it changes…..If I’m writing about the Bible, I look it up to make sure I’m not making it up the way I want it. I am a huge nitpicker as a reader. So, if I’m going to write about a river, I make sure it travels north and south if I’m saying my character is on the south side of the river.
You have a busy career in addition to being an author. How do you find/make time to write?
I write all the time. I keep little notebooks everywhere. My handwriting is tough to decipher. Some of it makes no sense. But I cannot get my characters or stories out of my head unless I write them down. I’m a writer because I think about writing all the time. I write at work on a break, I write at the beach. I have tons of empty notebooks ready to fill and ideas pour out of my head like sweat.
What is the most challenging part of being a published author?
The marketing. Finding the time to go to book clubs and set up book signings. I still work full time. I had to give up my second job so I could find time to write and to get out there and talk about my stories. I’m looking forward to a time when I can focus just on the writing.
I know you are a part of a writing group. How important/why is it important to be a part of a group?
My writing group is everything. We are like sisters. We love each other. We are tough critics. We ply each other with comfort food. When we are critiquing we are fierce friends or foes with a common goal, to write the best story we can and seek out publishers and agents. We bolster each other and give each other encouragement. Validation that there is value in what I’m doing. Knowing that writing has value to others is incredibly important because writing is such a solitary task. It helps to have people who will tell me when I’m not translating what is in my head to paper in the way I viewed it. Sometimes my characters take sharp turns. Example: One of my characters I tried to write as the villain of the piece, but she ended up being the character that most people who read the book loved and vibed with. I was resistant to the idea initially but she ended up being the main character in the second book and her story is incredibly compelling and timely.
What’s the best advice you could give a struggling writer?
Keep your day job. Writing is s tough way to make a living. Writing by itself has value. Tell your story your way. You are the person who knows your story best. Learn the craft and learn the market. If you just want to write. DO IT
Keep writing. Write in your down time. Be alert to people, animals, plants, the weather; they provide so much color and fodder for stories. You cannot make some stuff up, it is so bizarre.
Don’t be afraid to be sappy or emotional or mad, it will come through in your writing and make your characters jump off the page. WRITING OF ITSELF HAS VALUE even when you aren’t getting paid for it.
Malcolm Gladwell states that a person must do something for at least ten thousand hours before they become an expert. Expert does not always mean published……..Becoming is what we do each and every word…..Polishing our writing is essential…Practice makes excellent
Do your research about agents. Send out queries. Don’t get discouraged.
Writing and publishing means you wear all the hats. You have to write, edit, research, find a cover, figure out how to format, figure out how much to price your book for and then do all the marketing. As the writer and publisher, You keep all the profits. It can be costly…… if you are going to try to sell your books yourself. It’s time consuming and hard because you have to maintain a huge level of enthusiasm for your own work, while you try to continue to write something new….Also, as a semi-introvert who enjoys her own company, talking to people and making them want to read and buy my work is quite a grind. It’s a full time job because you want to turn out a quality product that people want to read and hopefully tell their friends about
Writing (which is my first love) is just that. You do have to edit, but you have at least the eyes of the publisher to help find errors and holes in plots. You might have input into a cover depending on the publisher. But the pricing, etc is done by the publisher. You still have to market and talk to people and maintain enthusiasm for your work. It’s a huge undertaking.