My next guest in this Authors Helping Authors series is best-selling author Sherry Gloag, a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England. Sherry and I ‘met’ through our mutual involvement in the Internet Writing Workshop. I invited Sherry to share some insights and experiences.
Welcome, Sherry. To give the audience some perspective, tell us how many books you’ve written.
Taking your question literally, I have written about fifteen books, nine of which have been published so far. Five of those books were submitted and rejected. I lost those manuscripts during a PC changeover, and they were never re-worked or submitted again. Of the nine books published so far, one of those, The Brat, was rejected by a big-name publisher of romances here in the UK, but was accepted by The Wild Rose Press a couple of months later.
Have all fifteen been in the same genre?
No. I write contemporary romances with a dash of mystery and, at most, one to three flames. Within that category, I have written both full-length novels and some novellas. Two of my other novels are Regency Romances. One, Vidal’s Honor, enjoyed best-seller status on both Amazon, and Amazon UK, for several weeks.
A great many authors don’t feel they’ve actually made any headway until they’ve subbed to agents or been published. When did you first feel you could call yourself ‘a writer’?
Before I was published I called myself an ‘aspiring author’. That made me feel my goal was more feasible. I’ve had to think back for this one, and don’t know, for sure, that I ever described myself as a writer. Don’t ask me why!
How did you go about get your first book published?
The Wild Rose Press published The Brat in October 2010. I tried a leading UK publisher of category romances early in 2010 without success. I then offered a whole revision of the story to The Wild Rose Press a couple of months later. The editor, who was absolutely charming, declined it too, but offered a host of suggestions, including trying another category within TWRP.
Many writers would’ve taken the rejection and not resubmitted, but you did and were successful?
Yes, I followed the suggestions and met with success, but I didn’t do that the first time it happened to me.
So, there’s advice you would give your ‘younger self’?
Yes, when a leading UK publisher of romance rejected a manuscript with a note offering suggestions for improvement, I should’ve recognized that as an invitation to rework the story and then submit it again. Sadly, I missed out twice on that one for lack of knowledge. So it follows on I would also advise my younger self (and all new writers) not to give up. Even though it wasn’t so much a case of giving up, as lack of knowing the form, at the time. Also my younger self would have benefited from realizing that just because certain members of the family didn’t take me seriously, I should have ignored them and believed in myself.
Where do your story ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. It could be a phrase that pops into my head. A snippet of overheard conversation. Something seen on TV – don’t watch that much so it’s not a big source of ideas. – A picture or a tune may inspire me, but quite often the characters or an ideal title may come to mind and I ‘go from there’.
How has your method of publication and/or writing changed over the years?
In the three years since The Brat was published I think my writing has changed. I’d like to think it has improved. It’s hard to analyse the changes in my writing, but I think it is edgier.
Do you have a favorite among your titles?
My favourite book is usually the one I am writing. That said, The Brat, Duty Calls, From Now Until Forever and Vidal’s Honor are all close to my heart. The first two because they took much more time to write, and I fell totally in love with my characters. The other two, because my heroines were gut-deep strong women. They both constantly surprised me with their actions and solutions to the obstructions I put in their path.
Which of your works has outperformed the others and why do you think this is?
Vidal’s Honor quickly became a best selling book. I’d like to say it’s because of my writing, the story content and the plot, but I have to acknowledge that the stunning book cover plays a great deal in the success of the book. When I take the printed copies on my books to fairs it is always the cover of Vidal’s Honor that draws the most comments and interest and also generates the most sales.
With all this success, one would have to guess that you’re very disciplined about your writing. How much time do you spend writing? Do you plot your stories ahead of time?
I’d like to say I have a set time of day for writing. I used to. But sadly this year has been – on the writing front, at least – disruptive, disjointed, and at times downright disenchanting due to ‘life’ getting in the way and dropping several other issues and commitments into my lap. I seriously hope 2014 reverts back to a more fluent writing routine for me. No, I don’t plot my stories ahead of writing. I do, though, as I write one chapter make a series of notes about events I intend for the nest one.
What would you tell aspiring authors about the best way to reach readers?
Promotion is an essential part of a writer’s life these days, and for me, one of the most traumatic. And yes, I do mean, traumatic! Like many other writers, I am a solitary person and the promotional aspect of writing is more than hard for me to come to terms with. As always, I keep promising myself I will improve, and once again I am looking to 2014 to see major inroads to my attempts to improve on this.
I don’t think you’re alone with those fears, Sherry. Many writers dread the marketing aspect of being an author — myself included. What are you working on now?
At the moment, due to events throughout this year, I have done something new. I have several writing projects on the go, so if I get stuck with one, I can move to another. SO of the eight projects in my files, I am working on two of them more than the others. Born Again is a hard hitting story with a romance woven through it. It has involved a ton of research and is constantly changing direction. So when that becomes a pain, I switch to another project which incorporates a series of stories under an umbrella title based around myths and superstitions. The stories are varied. Some are pure romance; others have romance in the background, while others are downright different. I’m enjoying working with this one.
Considering the amount of books published every year, why should readers buy your books?
Because one reviewer described my writing as ‘having a ‘unique voice while maintaining and upholding the characters and story.’ Others have described my writing as ‘gentle, almost poetic, while handling hard-hitting subjects while upholding the true romance within the tale.’
There is a saying, and I paraphrase it here…”The first chapter sells the book, the last chapter sells the next one.” I’d like to think that my readers like my writing enough to look out for my next book. My latest book, entitled Name The Day, was published by Astraea Press and is available from many online outlets including Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble
Sherry Gloag’s writing resume attests to the success achieved through tenacity. She didn’t let initial rejection stop her from pursuing the career she wanted. Her advice? Listen to those who offer advice and press on. Believe in yourself.
When not writing and being published (and this author is wondering when that is), Sherry escapes to her garden for “thinking time”. There, she works out the plots for her next novel. Though she enjoys “talking to her characters”, she also loves to hear from readers. You can reach Sherry at email@example.com