I knew Lindsay J. Pryor before she was a bestselling author when she was a lowly SEN Teacher working at the same school. She has kindly agreed to take a break from her heady schedule to answer a few questions for me. You can read her bio below the interview.
Q1. Can you remember the moment when you started thinking of yourself as a proper author rather than some who writes a bit in their spare time?
I’ve never been someone who writes a bit in their spare time, I’m afraid – I’m more obsessive than that! For over thirty years, I’ve always been working on one project or another in the background. For the vast majority of that time, I had no intention of getting published but I always approached my writing with the same dedication as I would a job.
In terms of me realising I was finally a proper author (I’m guessing you mean as in published author) though, it took a while. In the end it was down to a culmination of things: signing my first contract, being given deadlines, holding my book in my hands, and then receiving messages and emails from readers proving that it was actually out there! It wasn’t until I received my first royalty check that it sunk in that I was now actually being paid to do what I loved. Ultimately, it was when I had to fill out a form and state my profession and I was officially able to write ‘author’.
Q2. What’s the hardest thing about being an author?
Writing is an amazing job and I love every aspect of it – from locking myself away and immersing myself in drafting a story, to trying to improve on it through the various stages of edits, as well as chatting to readers and networking with other writers and industry professionals. Ultimately, there are no limits to what you can create or achieve and that’s so exciting.
The hardest thing (and the only downside) is being in the firing line for other people’s online negativity. Putting a book out there is like standing alone on a stage in your underwear in front of countless strangers and asking them to publicly pass comment on everything from your ability at your job to judging who they think you are as a person – and people do! It’s hard to be prepared for that.
At the end of the day, most fiction books are there primarily to entertain and/or reflect on an aspect of life – they’re not political policies that threaten anyone’s wellbeing. Reading some opinions though, you’d think they were.
Q3. Do you miss anything about teaching?
Writing isn’t actually that dissimilar to teaching. You work long (and unsociable) hours to tight deadlines, put far more preparation in than is ever seen in the end product, have to keep the creativity flowing day after day, remain tempered and professional even in the face of adversity, and much, much more goes on in the background than a lot of people realise.
But, to be honest, I haven’t had time to miss teaching yet. I’ve had a full-on schedule since I left. Besides, I’m just so grateful to finally be able to focus on it full-time that I’m too absorbed in making sure it lasts!
Q4. Since becoming an author do you find yourself being much more critical when you read a book for pleasure?
I can’t help but be an analytical reader on some level because it comes hand-in-hand with having taught English for so many years. If I completely switch off though, I know I’m lost in a well-written story. That’s probably the same for everyone, author or not. If anything, I now appreciate more than ever what goes into getting a book on the shelves.
Q5. What do you look for when choosing a book to read?
I love unique concepts, so I’m drawn to anything that takes a different spin on a subject or an approach. I’m a fairly eclectic reader, so it makes no difference to me whether I find something that grabs my interest in a thriller, a fantasy, a sci-fi, a romance, a horror, or a classic novel; or whether they’re a name known to me or not. I’ll read the blurb and if it snags me, it snags me.
Q6. What’s the most stupid or annoying question you have been asked since becoming an author (not counting mine)?
Haha! Believe it or not, you’ve already brought it up with the “proper” author reference in your first question, Eric!
It’s not stupid or annoying but I’ve been on the receiving end of it numerous times (even from my optician!) and my husband has experienced it even more. Whenever he’s asked what his wife does for a living and he says author, it’s frequently followed by, “A proper one?” He never used to get asked to clarify whether I was a ‘proper’ teacher or not.
Most people mean as in a ‘published’ author though when they say ‘proper’, so when the answer to that is yes, “With a proper publisher?” seems to follow. And it’s at that point that the daft question often appears: “Real books or just eBooks?” Where do you begin with that one?
Q7. Is there a book you really wish you had written?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. That woman was a genius and way beyond her years and her time. To have created something at the age of 19 (21 when published) that wasn’t only so original but now echoes so many issues that we face today, is just incredible. I’m in awe of her.
Q8. Would you have considered the self-publishing route if you hadn’t been offered a publishing contract?
I did consider it at the time but, for me, there were more advantages to signing with a publisher. I’d certainly never rule it out for the future. I’d have to develop a lot of business acumen first though, as well as learning a tad more about areas such as distribution, dealing with retailers, overseas tax etc!
I can understand why a lot of authors, even established big names, opt to self-publish or become hybrids these days. Ultimately, it depends on how an author wants to manage their career. Years ago, the assumption was that if you self-published, it was because you couldn’t write well enough to find a publisher. Thank goodness that judgement is fading and that the door has opened for indie authors to build successful careers in the industry without having to be dependent on hitting the right editor in the right publishing house at exactly the right time before they can even get their career off the ground.
Q9. I think I’m required to ask you this question by law; what are your top tips for an aspiring author?
Be professional at all times! That includes being polite in your interactions, whether with other readers, authors or other industry professionals. Publishing can be a very small world.
If subbing to publishers, don’t rush to submit your book until it’s the best you think it can be. Treat every submission like a job interview you have only one shot at. It also helps if you have more than one project in mind. Submit, and then go straight on to your next book.
Be out there. Don’t think you can get away with writing books and staying offline. Whether intending to become indie published or traditionally published, expect to pull your weight as far as marketing goes. No one is going to be out there doing it all for you.
If you are seeking a publisher (or agent), choose carefully. Do your research. Should you be offered a publishing contract, you could be handing over your rights for up to ten years. That’s a long time to wait to get control of your books again if you’ve chosen the wrong one.
Above all else, write simply because you love the process – whatever the outcome.
Lindsay J. Pryor currently writes dark, intense, multi-layered Gothic Paranormal Romance set in the gritty and dystopian urban world of Blackthorn.
Discovered after being a twice-finalist in an international romance writing competition, Lindsay’s Blackthorn series really captured the imagination of her publisher as a fantastically vivid and complex world, one which readers will utterly lose themselves in.
With six-figure sales and books sold in several countries, Lindsay is one of the UK’s bestselling PNR authors. Her Blackthorn series regularly tops Amazon’s US and UK Gothic Romance charts where it has reached #1 on numerous occasions. Books from her series have also reached #1 in five sub-genres of Paranormal Romance, including being a #1 Vampire Romance bestseller in both the UK and the US. Her debut was a #1 ‘Most Wished For’ Paranormal Romance on Amazon UK. Blackthorn has achieved success in the main kindle charts too, reaching the Top 50 in the US, the Top 20 in Canada, and has skirted the Top 100 on Amazon UK.
Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old, when she quickly decided that fantasy was more interesting than reality. She thought she’d grow out of it but, more than thirty years later, writing remains her passion.
You can find Lindsay via her website www.lindsayjpryor.com and Facebook via lindsayjpryor.author.