As an editor, what is the #1 advice you’d give an author?
Write the story you want to write, not the story you think others want to read! So many authors try to go for whatever is niche now or what they think will sell, but writing what is natural to you or what you feel passionate about is the way to write a hit.
Also, have your own writing tribe. Writers who become friends and bounce off each other with their ideas and marketing not only enjoy the writing process WAY more but it’s a really effective way to improve your writing.
What are three things that makes a book a fast, easy read?
I honestly think it depends on the reader: everyone has different preferences and gets caught up in a story for their own reasons. If I had to choose the most common hooks though, I would say a strong opening, compelling characters, and it has to be emotive. You are drawn in by the opening so it’s always good to come out the gate running with an intriguing start to the novel. Strong, compelling characters keep the readers hooked as they often feel connected to them if they are written well. An emotive book engages the readers by making them feel intense emotions; I don’t think that needs any further explanation – who doesn’t want to feel something strongly? It doesn’t matter the emotion; we all just want to feel something.
What is the most common grammar mistakes writers make?
Ha, honestly, there are two small ones I see ALL the time – the misuse of “its” and “casual”. People are familiar with the mistake everyone makes with “its” or “it’s” (if you’re not, basically “it’s” means “it has” or “it is” and “its” is possessive and people mix them up), but casual? I constantly see people mix up “casual” and “causal” and need to look out for it a lot as no spellcheck ever finds it.
What’s your highest recommended book that you’ve read by another author in the last two years and why?
Wow, that’s a ridiculously hard question. I feel like it’s becoming a cliché answer now, but it will always be my favorite – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It’s also relevant to what is going on in Afghanistan today, so it’s definitely a must-read!
But, Zodiac Academy by Caroline Peckham and Suzanne Valenti consumed me. It’s an amazing Fantasy series that you easily become obsessed with (TEAM DARIUS!).
How can you tell a writer’s strengths?
What it is about their writing that you enjoyed or drew you in. Was it the character development? How the story flowed? The plot? Whatever you loved is their strength and what they should use to their advantage.
What’s the best page-length for a book?
I think books are starting to become longer as authors are creating whole new universes for their readers, especially in Fantasy novels. I have some books on my shelf which are well over 100,000 and I never realized when I read it on my kindle and it flew by. Therefore, I don’t think the page-length is as important as answering all of the questions the novel has posed and making sure there are no plot holes.
To give an actual answer though – wouldn’t want to be evasive – I would say between 80,000 to 90,000 words is a good length. 60,000 can sometimes be too short and it’ll be finished before you’re ready and 100,000 and over is quite an extensive read.
Who do you talk to about stories you really enjoy reading?
I tell my best friends about the books I read that they’ll love too as we’re all Romance and Drama fans. I tell my Insta-friends about the ones I’ve read that only they’ll appreciate too. I love Fantasy novels and a mixture of Romance and Fantasy so they hear all about those. I’ve also got a few book clubs on Facebook that are hilarious and full of women who love the same kind of books I do.
Give me a plug of something you’d love all authors to know and why.
You get to create a whole new universe for someone to lose themself in: get creative, get excited, get going!