Interview: Stacey O’Neale

Today we have a terrific interview with Stacey O’Neale, who is (in my opinion) a very well-known, very helpful member of the writing community via Twitter and blogworld. She’s been kind enough to answer my questions on indie publishing (her answers may surprise you!) as well as her favorite upcoming YA authors and the importance of social media.

1.) Tell us a little bit about your background.

I’m a freelance publicist with clients that have included Entangled Publishing and Month9Books. In addition, I’m a YA fantasy writer and book blogger. I have my blog for writing and publicity stuff and the Fantasy Book Addict for book recommendations/reviews, interviews with authors, and contests/giveaways.

I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to attend many conferences/events/courses where I’ve met bestselling authors, editors, publishers, etc. Most of my articles for writers come from those meetings.

2.) Can you explain the importance of query letters? What are the must-haves?

I actually wrote on article on this topic.

3.) What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring writers?

Hone in on your craft! I see so many self-published books where the idea is interesting, but the writing isn’t there. Had they spent their money on writing courses instead of publishing, then they might’ve been traditionally published.

Write what you read! I mean that if you love historical fiction, then you should write historical fiction. Don’t write something because you heard it was popular, and you thought it would be easier to get published. The voice is never right unless you’re passionate about the genre – no exceptions.

4.) Would you recommend indie publishing to authors should they get tired of rejection letters? Why or why not?

I would never recommend indie/self-publishing. If you’re getting nothing but form rejection letters with no comments from agents or publishers, then I believe you either have an issue with your book concept or your writing skill. I wrote about this subject in detail here.

Other Indie Pub Considerations:

1. You have to pay for everything, and it can be expensive if you want to put out a quality book.
2. Most reviewers won’t review self-published authors. Don’t believe me? Go to your favorite book blog and read the book review request section.
3. Once you fail (and 99% of you will), agents/publishers will question working with you in the future.

With all that said, I think you should consider the small boutique publishers. There are some great ones out there, but do your homework first. Both Entangled and Samhain have great reputations and have produced bestsellers.

5.) As someone with a large presence online, could you explain the importance of social media for authors?

There’s no way around social media. It’s become necessary for everyone. I personally love it. It gives me a chance to talk with writers, bloggers, and avid book readers. For authors, it broadens your potential audience. In the past, we relied on costly advertizing and personal appearances. With social media, you can reach out to the world, and you can do it for free.

6.) What are you most excited about right now for YA paranormal fiction?

My favorite part is that it’s gotten so big and so competitive that PNR writers are at an all-time high with their creativity. I’ve read so many quality books within the genre. It excites me to the point that I would struggle to come up with a top ten list.

7.) What kind of story/opener gets you excited? What kind of hook does a writer need to grab your attention?

You need to start where the story begins. I like a beginning with lots of action, but it has to make sense for the story. In other words, don’t implant a car chase on page one unless that’s part of your story. In other words, it has to make sense.

8.) Who are some of your favorite YA writers right now? What is it about their voices or stories that draws you in?

I’m going to try and throw out some names that you may not know. Kim Harrington rocks my world with her characters. Gretchen McNeil scares me, but in a really good way. Melissa West is coming out in October 2012 with a YA sci-fi romance that I think people will devour. Lia Habel made me swoon for a zombie, LOL. I didn’t know that was even possible.

9.) Your favorite YA book not in a movie (yet)—who plays main character(s)?

Anyone who follows me on twitter knows I am a nut for the Mortal Instruments. Two of the main characters are cast, but the 3rd is not. So, for Simon Lewis, I’d like to see that role go to Logan Lerman.

10.) You’re somehow stranded on an island with only 3 books for company—what are they?

LOL, I hate these questions. There’s no way to answer, but I will play along. If I am stranded and get 3 items, I need a solar powered charger, WIFI, and my kindle. 😀

Thank you, thank you so much to Stacey for the interview, as well as all your awesome advice you’re constantly giving out on your website (I took a cue from her Queries Letter page-tons of helpful stuff on there!). Seriously, go check her out. You can go to her website here and make sure to follow her on Twitter (@StaceyONeale)

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