MEET: ISOBEL STARLING
Happy Tuesday! Today’s visitor is Isobel Starling, accomplished author and someone who is always willing to share her experiences in the publishing industry with those of us (ME!) less experienced. Before we get too far I want to thank Isobel for taking the time to join us and answer a few questions.
In other (more exciting) news Sweet thing: A Pretty Boys Series m/m novel, the second in the Pretty Boy series, is coming out September 8th! See the pretty cover? Click on over to pre-order today.
Without further ado:
Isobel Answers A Few Questions:
- What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Bad contracts. It’s far too easy to be bowled over by the fact a publisher is interested in your work as an author. Then when you get the contract, it’s like you are on the cusp of becoming a ‘real’ writer. Many authors don’t read the contract or are confused by it, sign and be damned. They miss all of those nasty hidden ‘rights grab’ clauses. It’s so cheeky that publishers get away with bad contract clauses and authors end up out of pocket because they did not know what to look for, or know how to find legal advice. I have written many blog posts on the kinds of red flags to look out for and have walked away from two publishers who offered me deals because their contracts were terrible. Authors don’t have to take the first deal offered, and they can always negotiate.
- What are common traps for aspiring writers, or any writer?
Common traps that I have seen include paying too much for Editorial, Proofreading, Beta reading services. Publishing is a business, and aspiring authors are led to believe they need to spend a lot of money to self-publish a book. They don’t. To start off with an author needs a great story that they are completely happy with. Without a great story, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at it; the book will rarely turn into a literary masterpiece.
Also, there are many Vanity Publishing houses out there who charge exorbitant amounts for ‘publishing packages.’ These are total scams. If you are offered a real publishing deal the money should be flowing in one direction- to the author in royalties. An author should NEVER have to pay to get their book published.
Aspiring writers should do a little bit of research into self-publishing and try and learn new skills to do what they can themselves. Learning skills like basic photoshop will help with future marketing- for graphic teasers, book covers, etc. Learning how to format an ebook is again another skill that may take a few hours but will be invaluable if they want to self-publish.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the amount of money you spend on creating your first book will mean it will sell, it’s just the start, marketing it is a whole other ball game!
- Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’m a series writer. I get very involved with my characters and their stories. I love my boys and hate letting them go. I want to follow them until they get to a nice stopping point. My next release is “Sweet Thing” it is book 2 in my Pretty Boy series, which is about two male models, Pieter and Simeon who have a bromance, but Sim wants more from Pieter than friendship. The first book “Fall Together” is Pieter’s love story, “Sweet Thing” is Simeon love story. It will be the final book in the series, and so it’s been hard to say goodbye.
My Shatterproof Bond series will be six books in total, four of which have been published, two are yet to be completed. The thought of never writing about Sam and Declan after that is troubling, so I will just have to see where my muse leads me.
Readers can also determine whether some books are standalones or series books. My Novelette “Silken” has had such a great response from readers that I will write about those characters again.
- If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
Stop picking; you’ll make it worse!
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
It was the $35 I spent on a Deposit Photos special offer that got me 100 photo credits. They will provide images for my book covers for years to come.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a fantasy novel that I want to be a trilogy, it’s currently at 150,000 words, but it’s been ‘resting’ for nearly three years now.
My next Shatterproof Bond novel “Powder Burns” is at around 30k words.
I have 4k of my next book in the ‘Dick and the Sidekick’ cosy murder mystery series.
I also have a file full of plot bunnies for books I would like to write.
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don’t think the sex of the writer matters, more their skill with language and their imagination. It’s like saying that no one can write about dragons if they are not actually a dragon!
- What do you edit outof your books?
Sex scenes. Thousands upon thousands of words of sex!
I tend to get a *little* bit carried away with sex scenes. I aim to have a good balance between plot and sex, so the sex has to push the story along. I cannot stand gratuitously long sex scenes in books I read, so I pare back my own and try and craft them into scenes with heaps of passion while moving on the character development.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
I use baby name websites, and then I research the names to make sure I haven’t named a romantic lead after a serial killer, etc.
- If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I didn’t start writing full-time until I was 42 so I guess I would have tried to write a book sooner. I never had any confidence when I was younger, so I was far too scared to put my words down for others to see. Turning 40 changed a lot of things, and I just thought, to hell with it, and gave it a go!
More publications and reader reviews:
Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.
Isobel is currently working on her fifteenth book. The Shatterproof Bond series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller and is being translated into French with Juno Publications, German with Deadsoft Verlag, and Italian with Quixote Edizioni. The series is also available as audiobooks, narrated by Gary Furlong.
Isobel can be reached in a variety of places.
Thank you, Isobel for joining me here today on PirateQueenRdzWrites&Chats!!