Shoba Sadler has been a freelance journalist for 20 years, writing for both secular and Christian press. She is founder of Agape magazine in Malaysia. She is a versatile inspirational author that likes to write in multiple genres. She has pioneered a new genre in inspirational multi-cultural writing with her novel Child of Dust available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.:
“Why do you write in multiple genres and do you think it will dilute your fan base because the market is too broad? I am a versatile writer and I enjoy the challenge of transcending genres and writing on any subject that inspires me no matter what genre it falls under.
I am a publisher’s nightmare as I don’t like limiting myself to genres and categories. I also do not have time frames for myself to come up with a certain number of books a year. I write only when I am inspired to write and I edit and edit until I get my book as close to perfection as possible. I’d rather spend months editing one book than churn out four books a year just to keep a publisher happy.
I get bored writing in the same genre although it makes more marketing sense to do that. I don’t think about marketing when I write. I write for the reader and not for the market .
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?:
As mentioned before I don’t like routine. I juggle a lot of activities and writing is just one of them. So I could pick any time of the day to write where it fits into the other activities planned.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?:
I don’t believe I suffer from writer’s block because I have varied interests. I play the drums. I am an expert on healthy cooking. I promote fresh food and grow my own produce. So I am also an avid gardener. I go to the beach with my dogs. I also speak different languages and therefore like watching movies in languages such as French, Tamil and Indonesian. This break from routine keeps me inspired all the time and thus I don’t suffer from writer’s block.
You will find that the best cure for writer’s block is to step away from writing and do something different.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?:
Don’t be so caught up with marketing trends such as series writing, setting goals such as four books a year and changing large portions of your book to please publishers instead of staying true to yourself and your creative license.
Also, never cut back on the time you need to edit. Possessing talent to write is great but your stories will never see the stamp of ‘EXQUISITE’ on it unless you have mastered the art of editing to perfection.
What are your current/future projects?:
I have a short story I will be publishing as part of an anthology involving several authors. The anticipated release date for this anthology is November 2017. I’m also releasing a new novel by June 2017 which is an inspirational, multi-cultural, romance novel. This will be my second novel after Child Of Dust which was released in September 2016.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?:
As explained above I do write in more than one genre. My first two books fall in the category of inspirational, multi-cultural romance and the third book I have planned to publish will fall under the paranormal genre.
There is no balancing act routine I follow such as planning a certain number of books for each genre. I simply write what I am inspired to write and that means sometimes they don’t balance out. I could have two books under paranormal and five books under multi-cultural, but that would be okay with me.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?:
I cannot stress enough the importance of editing. That is the one thing I find lacking among independent authors. I have been asked by some to review their books and with many I find the editing so bad that I can’t continue reading. I suppose with self-publishing it does become easier for more people to call themselves published authors, but only the quality and excellence of their writing will validate that title of “author”.
Not everyone can craft a story. It takes a great degree of skill. Just having a vivid imagination is not enough. You must also master the English language and be able to use it like a paint brush to conjure up imagery that the readers can see and feel in their soul.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?:
I have been traditionally published, but now I have chosen to follow the path of self-publishing as I prefer to have more control over my work.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?:
No, I haven’t.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..):
I belong to several writers’ groups on Facebook and one in particular that is phenomenal because the founder is active in encouraging writers and always posting helpful articles. As we are also a small group of experienced writers we are able to motivate one another. It is also a great platform to find Critique Partners because a lot of us are of equal strength and maturity in our writing skills. Naturally this brings about some great conversation especially with me living in Australia and some of these other writers from other parts of the world.
I also gave a talk on multi-cultural fiction at the Ulladulla Library in New South Wales Australia. That went so well I was invited to come back and hold a writing workshop. I haven’t actually done book signings yet. I’m very much the introvert. I always felt that a writer should be incognito. We are a conduit to tell the stories of others and not to become the stories ourselves – the proverbial fly on the wall. Hahaha. Nah. I’m sure I’ll turn up at some book signing somewhere. I was just being a Drama Queen. Sorry.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?:
I just published my first novel in September 2016. So I’m still learning about what works best. I’ll tell you after another year and another book under my belt 🙂
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?:
I’m published with Amazon and I’m happy to stick with them as they give me the widest exposure and they are also quick and efficient with any help I need. However, in time, I do plan to explore other platforms.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?:
I write under multiple sub-genres but they usually come under the main genre of “inspirational”. For example, my books could fall under the sub-genre of “suspense drama” or “romance”, but still come under the main genre of “inspirational”. By that I mean they could have a faith-based theme, but not necessarily so.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?:
I capture those moments under the Notes application of my cell phone. I don’t write on anything else as it would only be tedious for me to try and locate where I have placed these bits of information if I scribble them down on anything I can find. I’ll probably forget where I wrote them and then have a hard time trying to find them.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?:
I always have a target so that I can properly pace my story. The intro is very important as it is the hook that draws the reader into the story and makes her want to commit to reading more. Then the ending has to be superb enough to leave the reader thinking about the story after she has put the book down.
So knowing how long a book is going to be helps me plan the middle portion of the book so that there is consistency and good pacing. You would have heard people say, “that author has lost the plot”. I believe this is because there is no target set for the amount of words. I am currently writing a short story for an anthology and the participating authors have been told not to exceed 10,000 words. So writing short stories makes for good practice when it comes to writing within a target amount of words.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?:
As I write inspirational fiction, I write on topics that make people think about issues. For instance the short story I am writing for the anthology deals with the death penalty. My novel Child of Dust, deals with the illegitimate children left behind by the American GIs when they left Vietnam after the war. Many of these children grew up as outcasts as they were considered children of the “enemy”. Even their own Vietnamese mothers cast them away for fear of retribution. I call them the least remembered casualties of the Vietnam war.
So I believe these issues has made people look outside their own communities and think about what others have to endure. As I research to write my story I am not only educating myself and my readers and entertaining them by taking them to different worlds and introducing them to different cultures, but I’m encouraging them, and myself, to have a wider perspective on many things in life.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?:
It’s still too early for me to tell. Give me a few more books to my name and I should be able to comment on this
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?:
No I haven’t used any press release services.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?:
I definitely believe in the value of a review if done genuinely. I don’t like dishonest reviews and even for myself I always stress to bloggers and others I have approached for a review, to please just write the truth concerning how they feel about the book. They are in no way obligated to review it favorably. And if they don’t like it to the point of not wanting to continue reading, they are not obliged to review it at all.
Generally, reviews are good. We all read reviews before we purchase something or even when we go on holiday we may look up a hotel or resort on TripAdvisor before we make a booking. The only problem with this is people manipulating this system to put out fake reviews.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?:
As long as they don’t compromise the honesty of the review. One veteran author and editor said she does not see anything wrong in getting a review in exchange for editing someone’s work. This is a good example of how we can avoid a compromise. It is a little difficult to maintain honesty with a review swap, although not impossible.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?:
I may be naive but I don’t believe that. I, personally, have not experienced this.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?:
I can’t think of anything that stands out
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?:
With Amazon you can read the first few chapters for free. I am a stickler for good grammar and adherence to basic rules of writing. If I see problems just within the first chapter or two I will not buy the book
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?:
That I missed correcting an error during editing
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?:
I don’t. I have one published and another to be published in June this year.
What is the intended audience for you book?:
For the soon-to-be released book called Love’s Treacherous Terrain, my intended audience is Young Adults and Adults
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?:
My upcoming book release in June is a re-release of a book I published with a traditional publisher over ten years ago. It was my debut novel. About a year ago I was contacted by a fan of Love’s Treacherous Terrain to tell me how much she loved the book.
At the time she was a final year medical student, but she is a doctor now. When she had tracked me down through Facebook, she said, “I must have read your book a hundred times” and went on to talk about characters and scenes from the book. I was blown away by how she was intimately acquainted with my characters. Finally she gave me the ultimate compliment. She asked if my story was real.
She made me realize this is what writing is about. To take your readers on a journey so real that they lose themselves in the adventure. She inspired me to pick up my pen again after a ten-year hiatus from writing novels, although I never stopped writing features for newspapers and magazines and short stories.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?:
Be picky about what you read. Insist on good grammar and a high standard of writing. By doing this you are preserving quality and doing justice to the English language. I have nothing against self-published authors. I am one myself, but I believe the quality of a book is more important than quantity and people should not flood the market with poor quality books. If readers were more picky this problem can be tackled to some extent.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?:
Definitely easier. When I first started writing over a decade ago, authors did not have technology on our side. So it was very difficult to connect with readers. I would say Facebook is my favourite platform to connect.
What makes a good story, why?:
A good story is something that seems so real that the reader must not feel as if she is reading the story, but experiencing it. A major part of this is to create characters that are real and stay true to their own “voice” and traits in dialogue and their actions.
I’m also a big fan of a great plot and I find sometimes authors start off well but in the middle of the book, the plot gets convoluted and makes no sense with some loose ends poorly tied up or not at all.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?:
Names are very important. For example with the Harry Potter series, the names play an important role in making the series endearing to so many. I think names are more important in children’s books and romance novels.
However, some romance novels take it too far and I have found myself sniggering at some of the names of the male and female leads characters. Yes, I do choose on how it sounds but more importantly I base it on the context of the story.
As I write multi-cultural stories it will be based on the region, upbringing, culture, etc. For example with my novel Child of Dust, the male lead grew up as a street child and does not know the name his birth mother gave him nor does he know his father. So missionaries in Vietnam gave him the name Bryan and he took on the surname of the man who adopted him which is Nguyen, a very common name in Vietnam. I have many different sources to find names, one being newspaper articles.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?:
Yes, I read my reviews. I respond to every single one, good or bad with sincere thanks for taking the time to leave a review. Time is precious and if someone has taken the time to read your book and comment on it, it deserves a show of gratitude.
Even if the review is bad I say “thank you” because it is their honest comment. I always appreciate honesty. If I get a bad review I study it to see if there is any merit in what the reviewer has said. If there is, I will try to improve in the areas they find lacking. If there is no merit, I will just shrug and say to myself, “Well, you can’t please everyone” and move on to the next writing project.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?:
I would say the Facebook writers’ group that I belong to has the most positive influence on my writing.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…):
Hmm… I don’t actually categorize them this way. So it’s hard to tell.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?:
It’s been seven years since I moved to Australia. I have been living in the Australian countryside most of that time on a farm with my husband. Rural life is so special in Australia and magical. I would love to write a story with rural Australia for a backdrop.
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?:
No, I haven’t experienced that.
Do you have any characters you would like to introduce in other books or a combination of characters from multiple books you would like to write about in one book?:
No, that would appear to come under writing a series. While I know that is very popular, it is not something I have considered.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?:
I made it all up 🙂
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?:
A dictionary and subscribe to newspapers with a high standard of English such as The Telegraph, Guardian, New York Times and Sydney Morning Herald.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?:
Enid Blyton inspired me to begin writing. I love all her books. Since the age of ten I have been writing. I would win many competitions and once in an essay competition for the category of 10 – 12 year olds at my primary school, my essay took the first prize. It was the first time in the history of that school’s annual competition where an 11-year-old, which was me, beat all the seniors to win the first prize.
I also used to win writing contests held by the local newspapers and I did not only receive a cash prize but I also had my articles and stories published. I used to be more thrilled about the by-line than the cash I received. So therein began my love for writing.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?:
I prefer eBooks because they are so much more practical. They save paper, for one thing. While I’m reading my eBook, I can at the same time consult my dictionary, look up locations on the internet or anything else of interest I have discovered in the book. I can’t do all these things with a print book.
I can also turn the pages with one hand while I hold a cup of tea in the other hand. With a print book I would need to put my cup down. I believe others have sung the praises of eBooks with comments such as being able to take several books on holiday on one Kindle device and so on. So I won’t bother reiterating those advantages.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?:
It is a labor of love
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?:
With my novel Child of Dust I had to research thoroughly as I had never been to Vietnam, but the internet makes this easy. As for my most recent novel about to be released, Love’s Treacherous Terrain, I only had to look to my own roots as the setting is Malaysia, my country of birth.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?:
I proofread and edit myself several times until I am satisfied I have a perfect copy. Then I send it out to an editor. When you send an editor a very clean copy they have more time to polish your book to perfection instead of wasting their efforts on issues such as grammar, etc.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?:
I am a control freak. I have been traditionally published and I did not like it. I love self-publishing as it gives me full control over every aspect of publishing my book. I have published an article called When A Book Deal Is Not A Big Deal. It gives a very good answer to this question: http://shobasadler.com/writing-tips/when-a-book-deal-is-not-a-big-deal/
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?:
Erotica. It doesn’t interest me.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?:
It comes from life 🙂 I see stories everwhere. I’m a great listener. My husband Kevin and I can go to the beach and just sit in silence observing nature, animals and people. From observing and listening, stories are constantly forming in my mind.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?:
You’ll be hard pressed to find inspirational novels in the multi-cultural sub-genre anywhere. So that’s one reason my books stand out.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?:
Nope. I don’t have the expertise. I get a professional designer to do it. First impressions always count and it is very important to have a great book cover
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?:
Most favorite: I get to take people on an adventure of living vicariously through my characters and experience exotic locations and different challenges in life
Least favorite: It has to be marketing as it takes away precious time from writing