Today I’m interviewing Tabitha Short, an author who has had substantial success with self-publishing and runs a thriving blog with many opportunities for upcoming writers. Be sure to scroll to the end to find all the relevant links to Tabitha’s pages where you can discover her work and find out the many ways she can help promote you.
DT: Tell us a little about your work. What are your books about?
TS: Currently I have two full novels and three short stories published. The short stories are horror fiction. I try to release one every year for Halloween.
The first novel I published is titled Her Sister’s Murderer and is a mystery/thriller for young adults. It’s about seventeen-year-old Kate, a girl who visits a psychic with her friend and is taken aback when the psychic mentions the sister she had lost. She’d never actually met her sister because she disappeared before she was born. Through a series of events involving betrayal, forbidden love, and sneaking out of town on a long trip with a boy, she finds herself face to face with the man who kidnapped and killed her sister.
The second title is Arena Games: Legend of Petrova and is a high fantasy genre book for young adults. The arena games are fought with orbs that retain mystical powers. Some orbs turn rain into fire, some cause trolls to appear, and some cause rushing water to come spilling forth from nowhere. Sometimes the objective is to cause the opponent to go unconscious, sometimes the objective is to wear the opponent out until they give up, and sometimes the objective is to kill the opponent. Various circumstances determine the goal and route of the competition. Petrova has been a competitor in the games since a very early age, and she is the best player the imaginary world of the Ship Star Kingdom has ever seen. At the beginning of the story, Petrova is injured in a game and we learn she can no longer compete. Always the fast thinker, Petrova forces the Board of the Arena Games to accept her as a Master, a person who trains students to compete. She’s faced with many other obstacles and meets a few crucial people. One little girl in particular is full of secrets that will change Petrova’s life forever.
DT: What are you currently working on?
TS: I’ve just finished my first contemporary romance. Though it is not in the Young Adult genre, it is definitely young adult friendly. The story’s title is Renewal and is about a woman, Grace Channing, who has lost her husband and must return home to her parent’s house to start again. She has to repair her relationship with the sister she left behind when she went to college some 500 miles away. When she lands a new job, she finds she not only has to deal with an arrogant boss and an overachieving newbie coworker, but she also has to face her old college boyfriend… her first real true love. To add to it all, her childhood best friend, Morris, shows up flaunting his country boy good looks and asking for a date.
DT: Can you tell us about your journey to getting published?
TS: I have to be honest. The beginning of my journey to publication was not in the least bit happy. I was very naïve, very trusting, and very soft-hearted, which led to signing a contract with a very bogus “small publisher” who took my money and did not publish my book. Instead, they “shut down” the company and refused to return what I had already given them. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes blessings come in hard packages and though I was hurt, angry, and felt demolished, I decided I wasn’t going to stop. That’s when I learned I could publish to ebook form on Amazon and then use a Print-On-Demand unit to publish printed paperback books. I worked for several months learning the entire process, and I’m still learning new things every day.
DT: As a self-published author, did you try the traditional route first? Or did you always have a preference for self-publishing?
TS: I went the traditional route at first. Like all the millions of others who try for it, I received a lot of rejection letters and very few acceptance letters. I’ve been published traditionally before, but I didn’t understand how to (or that I even could) negotiate contracts. I ended up receiving only 10% of my sales. I’ve profited triple that entire amount by self-publishing my works.
DT: What would you like people to know about the self-publishing process? Are there any assumptions or misconceptions you’d like to set straight?
TS: If you’re going to self-publish your work, do yourself a favor and hire a couple of editors. Even the best of us grammar Nazis miss things. The more eyes you having looking at your manuscript, the better. Don’t embarrass yourself by publishing something that has too many errors. You lose credibility that way. Also, hire a book cover designer. It’s nice to think that people don’t judge a book by its cover, but unfortunately that isn’t true.
Amazon has made book publication available to everyone. There are a lot of people out there who have no background in writing or literature that are producing books. Are those books inferior? Absolutely not. Why? Every person has a story to tell and a story doesn’t have to be written correctly for it to be a good story. Readers should pause a moment and ask themselves what is they get out of reading. At the same time, indie authors and publishers need to recognize that if the book is too poorly written, it subtracts from the story.
DT: Tell us about the blog you run and what kinds of services you offer.
TS: I run The First Five Pages Blog. When I first started the blog, I posted reviews, hosted giveaways and did something called a First Five Pages Presents. A First Five Pages Presents is when I post the first five pages of a book (mostly written by independent authors) on the site and share with my friends, family, and contacts. The blog has generated a large readership over the years, and I’m happy with our foot traffic.
Because we’ve grown so much (and continue to grow), I’m selling advertisement spots on the site that include trailer ads, side column ads, blog tours, banner ads and announcements. The prices range from $5 to $40, but I also sell $1 ad spots that appear on a certain page of the site. The $1 ad spots are the best seller, though the blog tours are becoming more and more popular.
We also do free services. These include spotlights, guest posts, interviews, and (of course) The First Five Pages Presents.
DT: What’s a typical writing day look like for you? Do you have a set schedule or make personal goals to reach?
TS: I go in spurts according to what else is happening in my life. For example, my husband and I are starting an automotive garage, so I’ve not been able to concentrate on writing for quite some time. When I do, I like to get in a zone and stay there. Sometimes I’ll write all day and all night. Once I get a story in my head, I plot it out from beginning to end, then I fill in the details. I like to utilize events like NaNoWriMo, which is a type of a contest in the literary community. Most of us only use it as a way to encourage others to write. The contest involves writing a full length 50,000+ words novel in the month of November. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.
DT: How do you overcome “writer’s block” or getting stuck?
TS: It happens all the time. What I do is change directions. I do something that does not involve writing or reading. I go on a vacation, take up an intensive exercise routine, hang out with friends, or go shopping. Sometimes the block lasts a few days, and sometimes it lasts a few months. Writers get their stories essentially from their own experiences, and if we’re not out there experiencing life, we certainly can’t write about it.
DT: What advice would you like to give other writers?
TS: Don’t push yourself. Writing is supposed to be fun; it’s therapy. Don’t overextend yourself just to churn out books at a fast rate. Focus on the quality of the story you’re telling.
DT: Anything to add?
TS: Contracts are negotiable! 😀
DT: Do you have a writing soundtrack?
Not really. I did listen to a lot of Enya when I wrote Arena Games: Legend of Petrova.
DT: What do you do outside of writing or in your free time?
TS: I love to cook. J I also like to go for walks with my mom, talk with other independent writers, and post to my blog. I like helping other authors, so I’m always contributing free ebooks to different causes. I also have nieces and a nephew that I adore, so I like to spend time with them.
DT: If you could be any literary character or visit another written world, who would you be and where would you go?
TS: I’d be Alex and go to Where The Wild Things Are. Or I’d be Peter Pan and never grow up in Neverland.
DT: Who are your favorite authors?
TS: I love Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Geoffrey Chauncer, and Michael Crichton plus several others.
DT: Can you name some book recommendations?
TS: Just the classics 😀 Oliver Twist, A Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Canterbury Tales…
I want to give a huge thanks to Tabitha for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope she shed some light on things like self-publishing and contracts that aspiring writers need to know. If you would like to learn more about Tabitha and her books visit her author website at http://www.AuthorTabithaShort.com or her author Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tabitha.short.7
If you’re interested in learning more about the services Tabitha offers on her blog or contacting her for promotional reasons please visit the official site at http://www.TheFirstFivePages.blogspot.com or the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheFirstFivePagesBlog
You can find Tabitha’s Amazon page here. Be sure to leave her a review if you’ve read her work!
You can also visit her Smashwords profile https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tabithashort or follow her on Twitter at @tabithashort2
Do you have any follow-up questions you would like Tabitha to answer or any feedback you’d like to leave for this author? Post below!
And be sure to check out the last Interview with an Author segment I held with author Patrick Donovan! http://wwwdaniellethurby.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/interview-with-an-author-patrick-donovan/