Q&A with Author Tracy Gilpin.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
The best thing about being a writer is being able to do a lot a dog walking, stare out the window and call it working, and have the odd nap. I also don't have to wear shoes to work.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Be aware that you're in for the long-haul. For most writers, agents and deals come after decades of dedication, not years. Be prepared for hard work. Writing is one of the few activities that produce quality from quantity. Cultivate the discipline of quashing your ego. Critique is your personal map of where you would like to go with your writing and what should be avoided. Rejection is character-building. Lastly, you will need to grow wise and philosophical. Life is generous, fate can be whimsical and cruel. Know what to take to heart and when to throw off critique and ambition.
What inspires you to write?
I'm observant and open to new ideas. I listen at doors, peek through windows and indulge a love 'literary archaeology' - removing sand, bit by bit with small brushes, to reveal skeletons or hidden treasure. It is important to a writer’s work to never allow part of themselves to grow up or settle down; this is the part that keeps them excited about a particular character, a subject or issue, the next story.
Where did you get your idea for your most recent book?
South Africa is a particularly violent society and I have thought a lot about its causes. Rain of Ashes, through the experiences of two quite different characters, asks some of the questions it has become impolite to ask about the most supported freedom struggle in history. The story is filled with monsters and skeletons, but there is light, too, and hope, in its lead characters who epitomize triumph of the human spirit. Current affairs are shaped by individuals and their beliefs, so Rain of Ashes is a deeply personal story.
What do like about eBooks as an author?
A book is ready for sale in a fraction of the time it takes to produce a hard copy book. There is no chance of your book being out of stock (very frustrating for a new author, trying to establish a sales record that will impact future book deals). Copies are always available for sale. The internet provides a smorgasbord of promotional tools for authors.
What was your experience getting started as an eBook author?
The South African market still does not have many company’s offering a full ebook publishing solution. I was lucky enough to find David Henderson of myebook.co.za who was able to offer a more personalised service, advice and a highly professional conversion of my books into e-format.
What has been your experience promoting eBooks as an author?
This is a real challenge. The market is flooded with eBooks and it is extremely difficult to get your books noticed. You also do not have access to the sort of distribution channels that you would have if going the traditional publishing route. An eBook author needs to be prepared for a lot of time spent promoting their books.
What would you like to see change in the eBook environment?
I would like to see better quality control of published eBooks. It is unfortunate when readers swear off indie or self-published authors because they’ve had to trawl through piles and piles of eBooks with amateur covers, spelling and grammatical errors, and bad writing.
Advice for would-be eBook authors
Be critical of the quality of your book and don’t be tempted to put it out there just because you can – this does lower the standard of the industry and impacts other authors. Rather, have your manuscript professionally edited if you can or keep working at it until it’s up to scratch. Pick a designer who knows what they’re doing to create your cover. Do your homework before choosing an eBook partner to convert your manuscript to an eBook. Research what it takes to promote your eBook and be prepared to spend time on this aspect of the business. It is quite easy to turn your manuscript into an eBook, but far more difficult to actually sell copies.
About the Author
Tracy Gilpin was born in Cape Town, South Africa, a country rife with material for crime writers and a recent past of state-sanctioned violence and personal daring in which truth really was stranger than fiction.
Tracy says, “I have sat in a comfy chair while a man, who a few years before had served jail time as a terrorist, poured tea for me in his parliamentary office. I’ve met a young mother who was a gunrunner, middle-aged couples and newlyweds who ran underground cells from home and plotted sabotage around the kitchen table. One woman looked like everyone’s favourite granny but broke the law regularly and never once caved in under interrogation or in solitary confinement. She also managed to raise several successful, well-adjusted children in the process. Of course I had to write about some of it.”
Tracy’s formal training was in journalism and she has worked mainly in communications. She is the author of a non-fiction book, three novels and dozens of works of short fiction published internationally.
Her novels have been published in the UK and Europe.
Buy Tracy's eBooks from Amazon.
1. Bold-Faced Lie
2. The Slave Tree
3. Rain of Ashes