The interview series with members of my Twitter community continues with author Deborah Batterman. Enjoy!
Author Deborah Batterman
Q: What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
DB: I write both fiction and essays. More than once over the years, I’ve come across the suggestion that we’re a storytelling species, and I really think it’s true. In a recent New York Times essay, The Art of Listening, the writer suggests that maybe instead of Homo sapiens we should be called Homo narrans, the storytelling person. A character in one of my stories says it outright — ‘Stories are what we live by’ — a line I used as the title for my book trailer. All of which is to say, writing fiction is a way of making sense of situations — a girl whose mother takes off and leaves her in the hands of a friend, a mother ostracized for being a little offbeat by conventional standards, a man who thinks a trip to Vegas is the antidote, if not the cure, to is father’s dementia — and constructing a story that gets beneath the surface dynamics. When I write essay-type pieces, primarily for my blog, it’s more about reflecting than shaping something into a story.
Q: How many books have you published? Legacy published, self-published, or a combination?
DB: So far just one, originally published in print by a small, independent press. I took over the rights and the remainder of the print run when the publisher when out of business, and did all the self-promotion I could, hitting a new stride when I self-published a digital edition.
Q: SHOES HAIR NAILS is a collection of short stories. What drew you to that format? Is a full-length novel in your future?
DB: I love short stories for the way they cast a kind of ‘close-up’ on a situation. You can pack a lifetime into a short story, but the narrative arc tends to be situation-specific. What draws me to writing short stories is the concentrated format. And yet I would not be the first writer to discover that sometimes a story begs for me. The characters demand more life. As it happens, two stories in my collection have insinuated themselves into the novel I’m now nearly finished with. I don’t know that they were the basis of the novel, but certainly characters who take hold of your consciousness often suggest a more comprehensive story than the one first told.
Q: Do you sell copies of work directly from your website?
DB: No. I tried that but I’m more inclined now to use existing channels.
Q: How much time do you spend on Twitter each week? Do you have a Facebook Fan Page?
DB: I can’t honestly say I’ve quantified the time on spend on Twitter and Facebook. I do check in to both almost every day, for random bits of time, doing my best not to get ‘lost’ in the exchange. What I enjoy most is the give and take of it all — the tweets and news feeds that open me to items of interest I might not otherwise be so readily exposed to and that I then get to share. I’m still relatively new to social networking, but learning the ropes quickly.
Q: Do you blog? How often? Strictly professional or a blend of all things?
DB: My blog — The Things She Thinks About — tends to be exactly that: essay-type pieces on whatever it is that strikes a chord in me. I don’t like too much time to go by between posts, so I do my best to get something new up every two to three weeks.
Q: Do you have a motto or favorite quote you turn to on tough writing days?
DB: “I dwell in possibility. . .”
Q: Have you outsourced editing, cover design, formatting, web design, marketing, etc?
DB: It was unnecessary for the print edition, since I worked with a publisher/editor. With regard to everything I’ve done since — setting up a website/blog, marketing, etc. — I am a one-woman show, indeed, although I do have creative people in my life to bounce ideas off.
Q: Do you work with a writing group?
DB: Not at this point.
Q: When you did you first decide to self-publish? How much time did it take to get from an idea to an ebook on Amazon?
DB: Hard to believe it’s more than a year since I guest-blogged for another writer re: my decision to Self-Publish or Perish(?): The New Digital Imperative, but that pretty much places me squarely in a time frame when the e-book revolution was taking hold. I started with smashwords, for its cross-platform capability. Several months later I opted to go direct with Amazon.
Q: Have you published any of your work for free? Why or why not?
DB: This question could make me lol. Seriously, the question should be: when do I expect to be earn any significant money from my writing? Of course, I wouldn’t be able to answer that either — except to say, perhaps: “If you build it, they will come.” This is not meant as glibness so much as a testament to tenacity and the belief that, yes, doing what I love is its own reward, and the incredibly gratifying reviews and responses to my collection continue to hearten me.
Q: What tips or advice would you offer to writers who are about to join the self-published community?
DB: Don’t be impatient and put your work out there before it’s really ready.
Q: Is there another writer (or two) in the Twitterverse that you would recommend newbies follow?
Q: What is coming up for you in the next few months?
DB: More blog posts; hopefully more reviews/interviews. And, yes, the light at the end of the novel.
Q: Do you have (or are planning) any audio books?
Q: Have you done a blog tour? Any advice or cautions?
DB: I certainly have had waves of exposure, but not a full-scale blog tour.
Q: Do you create an outline before beginning a new book?
DB: The best thing I can say about that is this: Plotter-Pantser
Q: Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
DB: Interesting question. If I draft a story, put it aside, then begin another, I suppose (technically) I’m working on more than one a
t a time. More often than not I draft a story, take a break from writing, then go back to revise.
Q: Do you use specialty software?
DB: My internal sense of what I’m doing is my specialty software.
Q: Tell us about some of the hurdles you’ve cleared on the path to becoming an author. Did you have any idea at the start what the process really entailed?
DB: The biggest hurdle is the inner critic who can get in the way of self-acceptance, as in measuring how you spend your days by what you earn. More writers than not have day jobs, which doesn’t keep us from pursuing that ‘calling’ to write. And, yet, the world we live in too often measures you by what you do, not who you are. At the same time, it’s that very inner critic who keeps me on my toes, as in letting me know when something I’ve written is not quite right, and needs at least another round of revision.
Q: What is the best comment/compliment you have received about your work?
DB: I’ve been told I have an eye for the ‘telling detail’ that conveys so much in a succinct way.
Q: Let’s flip things around for a moment. As a reader, which of the following do you take into consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase a book?
DB: Reader reviews: I’ll certainly take a peek and see what people are saying/writing.
Number of books already sold: Not at all
Book cover: I like an appealing cover, but it doesn’t really factor much
in my decision to buy a book I want to read.
Book summary: Definitely
Author’s blog: What an author writes about on a blog might enhance my
interest in her or him but, more often than not, it’s the book that leads me
to the blog.
Author’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media: If she/he is good at
getting my attention, my curiosity about the book will be heightened.
Book price: If a book sounds worth the read, I don’t care what it costs.
Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your publishing experiences with us. We wish you continued success, and hope you’ll come back and share updates with us in the spring!