1) What is the best writing advice you ever got? ...What's the worse?
The best: be persistent and keep practicing!
The worst: self-publishing is for people who couldn’t make it in traditional publishing. This is patently false.
2) What is one mistake you made early on that you wish you hadn't?
I wished I’d started self-publishing earlier. I bought into the mindset that self-publishers were somehow substandard writers. I wasted over ten years trying to find an agent or publisher who would respond to my query letters instead of investing in myself. I gave up writing for awhile because I thought I wasn’t good enough, which was the worst mistake I’ve ever made!
Now I know the truth: self-publishing is a small business where I’m investing in my own talent. Traditional publishing is a business, too, one that’s got a process and formula that works for it. New voices and unique books like I write are not welcome, because they’re financial risks. It’s easier to publish what they know will sell than it is to take a chance on a new writer or a book that’s different.
3) I think one thing that contributes hugely to your success is your ability to produce a full length manuscript in 45 days. My biggest question is how do you write so quickly? Is this a skill that can be developed, or have you always been able to write so fast? If it is a skill, please tell us what has helped you to be able to do this.
I think it’s probably a combination of practice and the behind-the-scenes process I use to develop stories. For the most part, I develop the stories as much as possible mentally. I define the plot, envision the characters and basically, work through a few scenes in my head before I write a word. I started doing this when I was younger and in school, where I couldn’t write because I was sitting in class. I kept doing it when I left school and worked full time. My head was always halfway in the clouds, and when I had down time, I’d work through characters and scenes. I still do it, even though I’m a fulltime writer!
That way, I don’t spend a lot of time staring at blank pages. When I sit down to write, I already have something in my head waiting to be put on paper. That – and typing fast! – seem to be what enables me to finish a manuscript in so short a time!
4) I know that you use a freelance editor for all of your published books. Do you first use a critique partner and then a freelance editor, or just the freelance editor? Are you typically able to revise a book in one round of revisions? What's your process?
I used to use just my editor. Basically, no one would see the book except for her and me before it was published. I had so many readers request to become beta readers for books that I now send the unproofed version to my editor and beta readers at the same time. I experimented with releasing the beta version on Wattpad for my latest book, too.
In general, I do two revisions before I send the final draft to my editor and betas. I usually do one more round of revisions after I receive the edits and feedback.
5) Even bestsellers sometimes write a book that misses the mark. For a traditionally published author, an editor would simply say try again. For a self published author who helps with this (with knowing when a book is ready)?
This is a great question! I think it’s a combination of instinct, practice and feedback from an editor and readers that guides a self-published author like me. The largest hurdle for any writer is seeing one’s writing through an objective perspective. It’s impossible, because our minds will correct mistakes or flaws in our manuscripts. We see and read what we know what we meant as opposed to what we actually wrote!
Writing will always be an evolving skill. I constantly try new things, work to smooth out rough edges, perfect character development and pacing, and so on. I use reader feedback (and my editor’s advice!) to guide the changes I make. When I release a book, I wait to hear from readers what they felt worked and what didn’t, so I can improve for the next. Each book gets better and flows better, because I’m learning, adapting and growing as a writer. I’ve started to get a feel for finding and correcting issues in my writing, issues I wouldn’t have noticed a year ago.
I think this is also an area where my ability to write fast helps me evolve more quickly. I experiment in different subgenres and with different writing styles in my books, so I see on a much wider scale what works and what doesn’t.
My latest book, “Dark Summer,” reflects what I’ve learned over the past year and a half, and my readers so far are completely bowled over by it.
Lizzy has a new YA book out! Info below.
Dark Summer (Book I, Witchling Trilogy)
A girl with a broken past and a dark secret. A boy with a twisted future and no second chances. When they meet, it just might cost them their souls.
Sixteen-year-old Summer doesn’t expect the new boarding school to be any different than the rest: a temporary stay where everyone will turn against her after a few weeks. Until she meets the rest of the students at this special school and realizes she’s not the only one with magic in her blood. Accustomed to the concrete jungle of LA, she gets lost one night in the forests of the Rocky Mountains and meets Decker, the boy who will become the Master of Night and Fire on his eighteenth birthday. Their connection is instant and dangerous, for both will be forced to choose between Light and Dark, life and death, love – and their souls.
One choice. One soul. One price.
Lizzy’s bookstore: http://www.guerrillawordfare.com/shop/