Liliana Hart, authors of books such as A Dirty Shame, talks about her approach to writing and her plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
Man, you’re starting out with the tough ones. I write because I absolutely have to. I start going stir crazy in my head with all the character conversations and ideas, so for me, writing isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity. When I go too long without writing I usually end up in a bad mood, so my husband will be like, “I think you need to go write.” Which is usually the truth.
I started writing my first book when I was eighteen, so I’ve been doing it a while now. Which is kind of depressing, because eighteen was a long time ago. Now I feel old.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
Oh, for sure. I admire all writers. Writing isn’t easy, and I think only another writer understands what we go through. The author who’s inspired me the most is probably Sherrilyn Kenyon. Her story is so great, and it gave me such hope when I first started writing and was making no money and struggling with four kids. Another is Diana Gabaldon, just because she’s such a good writer. You can tell she thinks about every word that’s put on the page, and I try to do that to when I’m writing. I’m also inspired by Jenny Crusie. Reading her books is like taking a masterclass in dialogue. Any time I read a book I’m learning something new about the craft.
What’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished a new book? Do you start editing, or do you get someone else’s opinion?
Usually, I’m running pretty close to deadline when I get a book finished. I’ll let it sit for twenty-four hours so the story can roll around in my head and I can think about things I want to tweak. Then I’ll do a complete read through and start making necessary changes. Then it goes out to a couple of readers, and then I turn it in to my agent. She usually has a couple of changes as well.
Do you plot your books carefully in advance, or do you dive in and see what happens?
Ha! I’m not a plotter (which drives my husband absolutely crazy). I let the characters tell the story. It’s theirs as much as mine. I usually see the characters first and then the opening scene, and from there I just sit down and see what happens. Sometimes things the characters say or do can change the course of an entire book, so it’s always an adventure. Usually a stressful one.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I’m actually pretty strict about my writing schedule even though I’m a complete spazz when it comes to other things. I have to get four books out a year, so I can’t have a lot of “off” days. I start early in the morning, about 6:30 or 7:00, and I sit and write until I get at least 1,500 words for the day. Some days are harder than others, but I keep writing. I write seven days a week until the book is finished, and then I take a couple or three weeks vacation time to let my brain relax. Rinse and repeat.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
I always advise other authors against going with the exclusive program because that can’t do anything but hurt authors if we give any one publisher that much power, but I don’t think Amazon will end up with a monopoly. I think iTunes is going to be a solid competitor for Amazon, but I think they’ll probably be the only one. The next couple of years are going to be interesting.
How have you marketed your books? Do you use sites like Facebook and Twitter a lot?
The real question would be what haven’t I tried. I’m really big into social media (Facebook and Twitter~ Hey! Come follow me!). It’s what gave me my initial rush of readers. It’s something I do every day, and I think it’s really important to build that relationship between the author and the reader. I also use Pinterest, Wattpad, Kindleboards and Shelfari. I also have a street team, do book signings and go to as many reader conventions as my schedule will allow. Marketing is all about your name being visible and familiar. So that’s what I try to do.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out self-publishing their first novel?
Be patient, and don’t rush it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone publish their first novel, no matter how great you think it is. My advice would be to wait to publish until you have at least three solid works under your belt (preferably a series), so your one book doesn’t get lost in the millions of other books out there.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m ALWAYS working on something. My next release is A Dirty Shame, the second book in my J.J. Graves Mystery series. It comes out on October 30th, 2012. And then I have another release on December 25th, Shadows and Silk, which is the next book in my MacKenzie series.