Today, we are interviewing Write Lab Press’ Founder and CEO, D. R. Thorp and her first non fiction book Epitaphs and Epilogues: How to Resurrect Your Dead Novel is due to hit the digital bookshelves August 2, 2018. Let’s find out a little about her and her book.
WLP: Good evening Ms. Thorp, so glad you could take the time to sit with us and share your upcoming book, Epitaphs & Epilogues: How to Resurrect your Dead Novel.
D.R. Thorp: First, you can call me Dawn, second, thank you for the face time. I’ve actually never done an author interview, so this should be compelling. (light laughter)
WLP: It is our chance to grill the boss, so to say. Who wouldn’t take the opportunity to do it? (sorts index cards with questions) Shall we have at it?
DRT: Hit me with your best shot.
WLP: First what qualifies you write a book on “resurrecting a dead novel?”
DRT: Oh, well, straight to the point, I see. (smooths skirt and smiles at interviewer, who’s taking this “grill the boss” thing to literally) In truth nothing, I don’t have awards, or an expensive degree from a prestigious university on my wall. (clears throat) However, I’ve sold books to the public for over 30 years. I’m an author, writer and have a keen insight to readers and what appeals to the public in the form of a book.
WLP: Thirty years is a long time.
DRT: Yes, it is. My family owned several used bookstores, and card and comic shops. From the time I was twelve I was voracious reader, having so many books at my finger tips. Remember this years before e-readers came about. I’m also a closet comic book fan. I love the art work and creativity. I’m also a huge football fan as well. But we need to get back to books, on top of my family owning bookstores, I also owned my own shop for ten years. It went from retail selling, to online selling, and I retired right as ebooks and digital publishing took off in the marketplace.
WLP: What did you think of emergence of digital books, as a bookseller?
DRT: I thought it was amazing. It leveled the playing field for writers. No longer did an author with a great story have to slog through levels of agents, to try and get published. They were able to get their books seen and read. Truthfully, I’ve read more books than I remember, due to the circumstance of my profession.
WLP: How did you chose the books you read?
DRT: Customers recommendation, the book cover itself more than anything. Often than not, I’d take a book off a shelf, and read the first chapter, then put it back.
WLP: You mean you never finished the book?
DRT: No, I would read the first chapter, if it didn’t appeal to me, I’d put it back. I remember one day thinking, I can write better than this…how could Joe Smith get this drivel published, or Jane Jones? Remember these were days where every book on a shelf in a bookstore was traditionally published. There was no such thing as an Indie Author. And a lot of those books were never read. They were published, discarded by the purchaser, and ended up in used bookstores like mine, to take up space on a shelf, desperately wanting someone to take them home and read them. Only no one did.
WLP: Did you always want to be a writer?
DRT: I always had been a writer, I just didn’t realize it. I wrote articles to the newspapers, posted my views on forums, especially political or news forums. I wanted my voice heard…somewhere. (tosses head back with chin up)
WLP: Are you political now?
DRT: No, not in the least (negative shake of the head). But I have many thoughts and opinions on books and writing.
WLP: What prompts you to write?
DRT: It depends on the topic, writer’s have Muses, doesn’t matter if you write poetry, books, songs, or articles, something in your soul has given you a prompt, an inspiration, to write.
WLP: What inspired you to write about authors and dead novels?
DRT: I have spent the past several years as an Indie Author and self publishing. I think, don’t know for certain, but I suspect every Indie author, has a dead novel. Their book is a great story conceptually, but it wasn’t executed well in the process of writing, or editing, or promotion.
WLP: Would you care to highlight that a bit?
DRT: Certainly. When I first started writing, I would attend local writing groups. Everyone there had a goal to get a traditional publisher. Of course my main Muse, has romance in her heart, even though in general I don’t read lots of romance. So imagine my surprise how utterly dismissed I was as a writer to have a story with romance in it. Not a romantic element, but romance. I was even asked not to come back to a writing group.
WLP: Like kicked out of the group?
DRT: yes, exactly, they asked me not come back, until I had some courses in creative writing. They told me I’d never get published, which was their opinion, because less than a year later I had a story published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology.
WLP: So what did you learn from this?
DRT: I learned not to listen to anyone’s opinions on my writing. I’m not a Tolkien, or Dickens, type of writer. I’m a story teller and I personally think the public at large gives more kudos to a story teller, than a literary, grammar/syntax perfect novel.
WLP: How did Epitaph’s and Epilogues come about?
DRT: I was doing a beta read on a manuscript, and some editing. The concept on this novel is fabulous, and the author had not been able to launch this novel out to the public. I’d been involved in author groups off and online, and gleaned a lot of information over the years. How to do this, and how to do that. I was frustrated so many authors, with great conceptual novels, didn’t have a basic grasp on self editing, and weren’t able to assess their manuscript from a readers point of view.
WLP: What do you mean reader’s point of view?
DRT: The goal of ninety nine percent of the authors is to sell their story. If you are actively seeking an agent, to get your novel published, you are wanting to sell it. Plain and simple. If you are self publishing, you are expecting some kind of monetary return from the effort. Even if it is to cover the costs of producing the novel. Such as cover art, editing, formatting, and ordering proofs. If you are writing and publishing, traditionally or as an Indie author, you must, it’s an imperative to taken into account the reader. The reader is the one who is seeking out new material, who can propel through their word of mouth recommendation, their blog, their Facebook friends, bring you new readers. Who coincidentally purchase your book, the thing I think most authors forget is the reader is the ultimate out come. They are the consumer. In my opinion, if you are writing and publishing, to ignore, or discount the reader, in your ego of “I write only for myself” is disastrous.
WLP: You have a lot to say about this topic, it seems.
DRT: I do. I’m a passionate reader. I give some examples in Epitaphs and Epilogues. One thing I tried to do is NOT shame other authors, especially Indie authors, by using their work as an example. Being ignorant of a concept doesn’t translate into lack of intelligence, it just means your unaware. Part of Epitaphs & Epilogues to try and make writers and authors aware, impart knowledge. Knowledge is power, no matter the topic.
WLP: Let’s talk more about the book. Do you use samples of work in the book?
DRT: Yes. I actually used J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter. The editing in the book is lacking, but the voice of the characters over rides the editing. However, the books are wordy, I can say this, because I read the 1st four books of the series out loud to my youngest son. It had LOTS of words. (inhales and exhales loudly) A lot of the written content could have been edited out, and you would still have the definitive voice of Harry Potter and his adventure as well as concise well written novel. I used a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child as well.
WLP: Why did you use such popular novels?
DRT: (laughing) Well, it gives us Indie authors, a bit of an ego boost to know even traditional publishing doesn’t get it right one hundred percent of the time. And it also gives us something to aspire too. To know, as writers and authors, we can create a novel or book, that will surpass our own expectation.
WLP: What is the main purpose of writing Epitaphs & Epilogues?
DRT: The main purpose is to impart knowledge to writers and authors, without insult. I’ve always been, in the course of my life, the person who tries never to offend someone. I wanted to give knowledge and help for writers and authors, without being offensive. I really don’t know how to be blunt. It’s not in my nature. I honestly believe, each person, as a story to tell, whether they are a writer or not, and that there is someone out there who will benefit from their story. Which is why we write in essence, to reach out and touch the soul of someone, even if it is one person.
WLP: Highlight some of the book for us, clearly this isn’t written for a reader.
DRT: No, it’s not written for a reader. it’s written for writers. Lord help us, if readers get a hold of this book. They’ll hold us (writers) to a standard, and start flogging all those write for Huffington Post. (laughs out loud, fanning hand in front of face).
WLP: Is this a bad thing?
DRT: Yes, and no. The important thing, here is make writers and authors aware of the needs and wants of a reader, and assist the author, in how to better create a story, turn to novel, and produce a piece that is very readable.
WLP: So where does a writer or author start to resurrect a dead novel?
DRT: If you are writer and author, who wants to sell a novel, the first thing you need to take a look at is your book cover. It’s the first thing a reader sees, it’s what sets the tone or concept for your story, and directs a reader to pay attention to what you have to say. Your book cover is essentially your novel, wrapped up in an image or images. So, Epitaphs and Epilogues, goes through the first things a reader does in a book purchase. The cover, the title, the blurb. The blurb is your selling, marketing point for a reader, it tells them why they should buy the book and the first chapter. You can’t discount your first chapter because readers can view it online, give you a yes, or no, based upon how much of your novel they can preview on Amazon.
WLP : Is this all the book encompasses, marketing and the reader?
DRT: No, it’s not. I wish I could say I was brilliant at marketing, but I’m not. I do have a keen insight into what will sell or appeal to a reader, but in this day and age of internet, you never know what avenue you are marketing in, will propel your book. But, back to the question, the book does touch upon the reader, it also gives the writer the basics of self editing. Many writers/authors, don’t know how to self edit. It doesn’t matter if you are seeking an agent or going to travel down the Indie road. You have to have the most manicured, self edited manuscript, to present. The upside is once an author has done the basic self editing, and taken up my recommendation of obtaining an excellent Beta Reader. And done the work to bring the manuscript up to the best level it can be, they will save a lot of money in their Indie route, on obtaining professional editing, or if they are seeking an agent/publisher, be able to put forward, the best produce they can for review.
WLP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the audience?
DRT: Yes, write your story, make it the best you can make it. It doesn’t matter if your first one doesn’t sell well, write another. If this is your passion, keep going, for it will produce fruit. Don’t give up. And…get a copy of Epitaphs and Epilogues.
WLP: Thank you, Dawn for all your insight, Thank you readers, for the time you took to read this interview…because without you, writer’s are just scribbling. Check out our Dead Novel Resurrection Limited Special Offer from Write Lab Press. Epitaphs & Epilogues will be available August 2nd for download digitally, on Amazon, and where fine books are sold everywhere. Until then, remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends publish bad books. (audio cut, mic off)