In our Interview With An Author series, Writer’s Relief asks professional writers to share their tried-and-true secrets for publishing success.
Shelley Noble is the NY Times Bestselling Author of Beach Colors, Stargazey Point, three novellas, and the upcoming novel, Breakwater Bay. As Shelley Freydont, she is the author of the Celebration Bay Festival Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley lives near the New Jersey shore.
CONTEST: Leave a comment or a question for Shelley below by February 19, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her book, Stargazey Point! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner Lorette! Thank you to all who participated!
Every writer has to learn how the publishing business works. How did you do it?
When I decided to write mystery, which was my first genre, I knew that I would have to learn the ropes of the business. And since I didn’t personally know a single novelist, I scanned the bookstores and publishers catalogs, read trade publications, learned which agents took what, and studied format, so that when I at last sent out queries I was offered representation very quickly. I’ve kept up with what’s happening in the industry. It pays to know your territory.
What role does social media play in staying connected to readers and/or building an audience?
I’m not terribly social; I find that I connect to readers more easily through Facebook. And it’s more laid-back and conversational than some of the others. For me, social media is better for keeping readers involved than for gaining hosts of new readers.
What has been the biggest stumbling block or frustration for you so far, and how did you overcome it?
I think the industry itself is the biggest frustration for me, especially now with the lightning-fast changes that are going on. When a line closes when I’ve just started a series. Or to be orphaned when your editor suddenly retires or leaves for another job. Or when your work is turned over to another editor who just doesn’t love it the way your former editor did. Things that are out of your control. You have to learn to roll with the punches. And that’s what you do. Roll with the punches.
How did you get your first literary agent?
I studied agent lists and made my A, B, and C list. I sent out three or four queries and waited for an answer. Then I sent out a few more and waited. Getting frustrated, I sent out over twenty at one time. Within three days I had an offer of representation, which I accepted, and I wrote “thank you very much” to the other twenty or so. It was worth the time it took.
Fill in the blank.
Rejection is… a way of life. Embrace it and move on.
About Stargazey Point:
Devastated by tragedy during her last project, documentarian Abbie Sinclair seeks refuge with three octogenarian siblings at their looming plantation house in Stargazey Point, South Carolina.
Abbie is slowly drawn into the lives of the people around her: Cab Reynolds, determined to refurbish an antique carousel; Ervina, an old Gullah wisewoman with the power to guide Abbie to a new life, if she’d only let her; and a motley crew of children whom Abbie can’t ignore.
Abbie came seeking a safe haven, but what she finds is so much more. For Stargazey Point is a magical place…a place for dreamers …a place that can lead you home.
Connect with Shelley on Facebook and Twitter!
CONTEST: Remember to leave a comment or a question for Shelley below by February 19, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her book, Stargazey Point! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner Lorette! Thank you to all who participated!
How much social media promotion is enough? Is it possible to do too much self promotion?
My discouragement is knowing writer friends who are making their bones, but, don’t help the new guy to get a leg up. Do you offer to help others to get a leg up?
How did you choose your genres?
Bobby, social media is just that social. So if you like to communicate and trade ideas with others go for it as long as it does’t take away from your writing time too much. But no one likes to get promo after promo post from an author. So yes, you can do too much promo on social media sites. Social media should be give and take.
Most writers I know are always helping others. there are writers organizations where the exchange of ideas flow freely and people share experiences. There are parameters and maybe you’re talking about something like this. Authors are counseled not to read unpublished manuscripts for obvious legal reasons. And unless they are familiar with your writing say through a critique group, they are unlikely to offer to recommend you to their agent. It’s just the manners of the business. You don’t say what you write, but there are physical writers groups as well as online groups that can be helpful.
I started out writing mysteries because I read a lot of mysteries and kind of understood how they were put together. But I wanted to branch out and I tried writing some historical fiction, a little romance, and mainstream fiction to see what I felt was right for me. I just naturally started writing about issues that impact women and began publishing in women’s fiction. I still write mysteries and I’ll soon be working on an historical mystery series that I’m really looking forward to, because I love history.
Thanks for sharing how you got started.
It’s encouraging to hear other writers’ success stories. Thanks for sharing…
Writing is such a solitary occupation most of the time, I think it’s really important to keep contact with other writers and readers. There is a pretty strong writers’ community for getting feedback and having someone show you the ropes.
What is so fascinating about life at the seashore?
Thank you for your reply. I share your interest in historical fiction. I look forward to reading your work.
Shelley, good to see you here today 🙂 I love your books and please don’t enter me, I already own Stargazey Point !!
I know as people we aren’t supposed to do what everyone else wants us to do, but is this different when we’re writers? What if everyone loves novels in present tense but I hate it? People decide what’s popular, but don’t we have to stay true to ourselves, as well?
Jencey and Rosanne, I”m always glad to share whatever I think that can be helpful.
Irene, in a sentence, the ocean and shore are endlessly changing and the people have to constantly adapt to life there. So many opportunities for stories. Plus I love it.
Florence, thanks so much.
Katrina, that’s a great question and one that we are always trying to balance between what we want and what others want. I guess just like life. But as writers we have to be true to our voice. and fortunately for us there are so many people who read, there isn’t us tone way to write. Some people love reading first person stories, others prefer third person, some people prefer fiction and others nonfiction, like different genres.
That said, it is also important to be aware of the market and what is selling. Because though there are lots of people reading lots of different kinds of stories, you also need to be able to reach those people.
So I guess what I’m saying is there is no right or wrong way, just the aware way.
Does that help?
Hi Shelley. Thank you for taking the time to do the interview and answer our questions.
My question: Did you always get support? I’ll be in the middle of a paragraph, etc., and my hubby HAS to explain something to me. I’ve asked him to write it down and tell me when I finish for the day. I’ve asked him to remember this is a job for me and please treat it that way including not interrupting while I’m in the computer room. He promises and is ok for a week or so, then goes right back to it! Other than that he is very, very supportive of what I want and even helps me by reading and making suggestions – especially on a man’s POV.
I got what I like to think of as sporadic support and I think most authors who live with other people or even with friends, neighbors, are subject to this. They remember to leave you alone until they need something, or think of something or etc. then they forget. Because I “worked at home” i was always called to do carpool when someone was running late, or drop off cupcakes because someone forgot to do it. And did I mind taking the after school program, etc.
I think people who don’t work at home don’t understand how hard it is.
It’s good if you have a separate room, which of course doesn’t stop texts, phones, emails. but you have to stand firm or you’ll never get anything done.
It’s great that your husband at least has supportive intentions. It shows that he respect your work even if he forgets.
And if you don’t get support? In that case, an author just has to keep plugging away. You are your best support in the long run.
Hi Ms. Freydont,
I like and agree with your comment that rejection is a part of this business.
Writers also know that sometimes poor reviews are received; when the review is obviously intended as fair/constructive it may be easy to deal with. However many authors have dealt with outright nasty reviews that sometimes don’t even mention our stories – how do you suggest writers deal with the mean review?
Thanks for taking the time to read our comments.
We’ve chosen you as the winner. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so you can claim your prize; we’ve also emailed you so please check your spam folder.
-Writer’s Relief Staff
Thank you so much! I am exited to read Stargazey Point. I sent you an email.