This week, I was afforded the opportunity to interview one of Australia’s leading exponents of the independent author movement, the oh-so-lovely Dionne Lister.
Dionne is the author of the young-adult fantasy novel ‘Shadows of the Realm’, first book in the Circle of Talia series, which recently broke the Amazon Top 100 for teenage fiction literature. In between independent publishing, social networking, podcasting and sitting in on panels at writer’s festivals, Dionne is currently completing an Associate Degree of Creative Writing at Southern Cross University.
On top of all this, she somehow managed to make the time to talk to me about her work, and about the indie book scene.
What a lady. 🙂
What first made you want to become a writer/author?
“I’ve always just loved reading and writing. I’m a daydreamer, so I think it’s something that suits who I am. When I’m writing, it feels like that’s what I was born to do.”
How important do you feel the independent author paradigm shift is within the publishing industry?
“The shift that’s occurred means there are more published authors, so it’s a positive thing for authors and readers. The publishing industry was stagnant as a business model for many years, and as we all know, traditional publishers were the gate-keepers—if they didn’t approve a book, no one got to read it. Self-publishing has provided the opportunity for a wide variety of authors to get their work to the public. In turn, the public has more to choose from. Authors also earn more while the reader pays less—win/win. I don’t want to see traditional publishers disappear, but I think you will see more and more well-known, traditionally published authors sneak over to the self-published fold. Can you blame them when they have more freedom to publish what they want (as well as) earn more money? The other thing the shift has done is shine the media spot-light on publishing in general and hopefully it has boosted sales of all books—both indie and traditional.”
How important a role do you believe social-media marketing plays in the independent book market? Any tips for newcomers to the indie scene?
“Without social media, you have virtually no way to tell people you are there. Social media allows an author to meet other like-minded people who will support you when you feel like giving up. The wonderful friends I’ve made from Twitter, Facebook and Google plus are (always) there to answer questions and give advice, and, of course, if they need me I’m there too. Social media is for making connections on a personal level too—don’t make the mistake of spamming links to your books but never talking to anyone or building relationships. It’s like in business—networking is key. You are not only selling your book; you are selling yourself. Authors need to be prepared to spend two to three hours a day working (on) social media if they want their book to get noticed. Just be yourself and be professional and all will be good.”
You’re currently studying Creative Writing at Southern Cross University, what are your thoughts on the role of academic credentials in the independent book market?
“I don’t think you have to have a university degree, but you have to have some knowledge about writing. Writers who have never studied writing need to learn and practice. I have improved tenfold to the writer I was before I started the course, and because I’ve studied the structure of writing (and now work as an editor) I have the ability to not only say “this isn’t working” but I can say why it’s not working. Believe me writers, you have no idea what you don’t know when you’re starting out. Some people may disagree, but personally, I want to be the best writer I can and the only way to do that is (to) learn and grow. Do you want a first-year med-student treating your aneurism? I don’t think so…”
What’s your favourite book/literary-moment?
“I love ‘The Hours’ by Michael Cunningham. Every sentence is divine. The prose and the depth of thought and feeling is exquisite. I also love Roland Barthes ‘A Lovers Discourse: Fragments’. That short piece is some of the best writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to read and, although it requires concentration while reading, his open-minded, logical and wise observations as well as poetic, evocative writing make it one of my favourite texts.”
You’re about to be attacked by a dragon with cheese-graters for fingers, and your only hope is to defend yourself with a short but elaborate narrative escape scenario – GO!
“The moonlight glinted off the metal cheese-grater as it sliced towards me. Diving to the side, I felt the breeze as the dragon’s parmesan-shredding fingers filled the air beside my face with the sharp scent of Italian cheese. I rolled, rocks digging into my hip and pushed up from the ground, standing to face the bolognaise dragon. Its lumpy, red-tinged scales looked like minced meat, and the coils of spaghetti that fell from its head writhed towards me. I knew if the pasta grabbed me, I’d be the dragon’s next meal. There was only one thing to do. Run!
“My army wasn’t far away; if I could only get there in time. My boots crushed the damp grass as I ran. The light from the pregnant moon disappeared as the dragon flew above me, and I cringed at the creature’s boiling call. Then I saw them. My army. My hungry, hungry army. “Get your daggers and forks ready,” I panted, trying to shout as I reached the sentries. “The bolognaise dragon is coming. Archers, quick!””
Dionne’s blog can be viewed here – Dionne Lister – Author
Dionne’s podcast can be found here – Tweep Nation
And Dionne’s awesome book can be found on Amazon here – Shadows of the Realm