Sunday, June 4, 2017

Interview with Eliza Gordon

 When not lost in a writing project, Eliza is a copy editor, mom, wife, and bibliophile, and proud parent of one very spoiled tuxedo cat. Eliza writes stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After; Jennifer Sommersby, her other self, writes young adult fiction. Both personalities are represented by Daniel Lazar at Writers House.



And onto the interview...




Eliza, what are your ambitions for your writing career?





  • Write good books.
  • Make people laugh (and cry) but mostly laugh.
  • Inspire.
  • Make enough money to write the next book.
  • Repeat.



Which writers inspire you?
Oh man, so many … Because I write across multiple genres, I read everything—Diana Gabaldon is a goddess absolute. But from Liane Moriarty,
Let me stop you right there.  Liana Moriarty.  Girl I love her too.  Just finished watching Big Little Lies on HBO. I don't know how Hollywood managed to get Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Adam Scott, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern to star in the series.

Okay, okay continue. Who else inspires you?
Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes, Cecelia Ahern, and Sophie Kinsella to young adult (YA) superstars Andrew Smith, Jandy Nelson, Jeff Zentner, Laini Taylor, Alexandra Bracken, Patrick Ness, and Rae Carson; fantasy writers Terry Brooks and JRR Tolkien, horror writers Stephen King and Justin Cronin, crime writers Mark Billingham and Tami Hoag; and of course, the classics from Jane Austen and Tolkien and my beloved Shakespeare (I have his signature tattooed on my right forearm). And my favorite book ever is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley—that story had such a significant impact on me. I just finished a terrific YA called The Edge of Everything (Jeff Giles);


I’m reading the Elon Musk (PayPal/Tesla/Space X founder) biography right now but I’m also reading a YA called The Book Jumper (Mechthild Gläser) and P.S. I Love You (Cecelia Ahern). I read everything I can get my hands on—I love to see how other writers make sentences and how they navigate plot and what they do to surprise (or fail to surprise) readers. I love watching how a character is built—every book I read is a learning opportunity, and sometimes it’s a masterclass.
And like I mentioned, I always have a handful of different books on the go because I’m too scattered to focus on just one and I don’t know what mood I’m going to be in when it comes time to relax and read.



I have to say, though—I met and interviewed Marian Keyes in 2006, when I was really trying to find myself as a writer. She was so absolutely delightful, and her books are so much fun, that meeting gave me the confidence going forward to write whatever *I* wanted to write, and not what all the snooty-pants literary types around me were trying to write. She talked about how fiction can be accessible, that we should write what makes us happy instead of trying to impress. That resonated with me on a fundamental level.


Wow lucky you.  I have yet to land such a high stakes author interview.
So, what have you written?
As Eliza Gordon, I have Must Love Otters the sequel Hollie Porter Builds a Raft, and a standalone called Neurotica, all romantic comedies.

I had a chance to read Must Love Otters, it's so fast pace and funny.  Here are some of my favorite lines:(please mind the context).
"This is bad.  If we can't get to his chest, dude's gonna die.  If he's not already floating to the bat cave in the sky."
"If you wuvs me, Keify, then you'll stop talking like you've spent your childhood eating lead paint and find a dogsitter."
"I turn around and slither back to my car so I can go the market to do Mrs. Hubert's relentless bidding, hoping that while I'm gone, Satan will come and claim the prize that's been missing all these years from his wicked collection."

So how about your new stuff?
The NEW book that I am *dying* to tell you about comes out in November from Lake Union—the title is still under wraps due to some legal clearances but it’s my favorite book so far. About a young woman obsessed with a very popular celebrity who challenges herself to overcome personal obstacles so she can meet him in real life. It’s written in an epistolary format, which means it’s not just straight narrative; the story is also told in a combination of blog posts, emails, text messages, faxes, and personal correspondence. It’s really fun, and I can’t wait for readers to meet Danielle Steele with an E.


I love me some unusual narrative structures.  I half expected the novel Fangirl to have bits and pieces of interaction with fans through emails and blog correspondence and was a bit disappointed when their wasn't but what can I say...  I also love books like Anne Frank with long diary entries and real personal stuff coming out of the woodwork.

As Jennifer Sommersby,I have a young adult novel called Sleight coming out April 2018 from Harper Collins Canada and Sky Pony Press in the US.


Okay gotcha, I had to read that last line twice.  Jennifer Sommersby is your other Pen name.  Okay continue...
The first in a duology, Sleight is about a young girl who grows up with a circus and learns she is heir to a magical book that has the power to harness time. This book is very special to me—I’ve been working on it for years. It’s like one of my kids.


I have boxes of short stories and unfinished novels (and probably some terrible poetry) that my children are instructed to burn upon my death. That’s enough about that.


What are you currently working on and what is it about?
A new book with a new heroine to root for. (I never talk about works in progress—superstitious!)


I write in several genres, so in addition to the Eliza Gordon romantic comedies for adult readers, I have a middle grade story in development as well as the sequel to Sleight on deck (called Scheme, for 2019).

What drew you to write in this genre?
Romantic comedies are among my favorite books to read and favorite movies to watch so when I was in between editorial cycles with my young adult project, I thought, why not give something fun and lighthearted a try—and Must Love Otters was born!


These books allow me to address issues and themes for an older audience with characters who are experiencing life differently than a teenager would, simply because they’re older and (not always) wiser. There was a certain freedom in writing Must Love Otters because Hollie Porter is such a foul-mouthed goof at times. She’s a lovable hot mess—such a vibrant character to give life to.
How much research do you do?
So much, and about the smallest details. I love research.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hardback books?
This is embarrassing to admit: my Kindle is one of those early ones with the keyboard on it (stop laughing!)

Oh goodness. Can you believe I only started reading Kindle books on my phone two years ago. How stone age is that?!  But this is coming from someone who bought their first touch phone in 2014.
I tend to read nonfiction on the Kindle and maybe the occasional novel, but I’m super addicted to physical books. I still buy a ton of paperbacks/hardbacks. Getting lost in the bookstore is my #1 favorite thing to do. Plus, it keeps our local bookshops in business!

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely. I LOVE covers and I totally judge books by the art on their front. I often buy books solely because of their covers. Shoddy cover design is probably the biggest reason certain books don’t sell. You can write the next Great Big Thing but if your cover sucks, who’s going to pick it up?

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I’m a hybrid author—the Eliza Gordon books are published through my literary agency, Writers House, so I get support with editorial, marketing, and all the other details that go into putting out new work. With this route, I have a lot more control over the cover art—I work directly with the cover designer—but then it has to pass muster with my agent, etc., before it’s finalized. The traditional deals I have in place—I have very little control over things like editorial and cover art, but I also am cradled in the loving arms of my editors when it comes time to tear the book apart and rework. THIS is invaluable. (The truest piece of advice I will ever dole out to any aspiring author: Writing is rewriting.)


I think the answer to the advantages vs. disadvantages question is as varied as the people who choose to write books for a living. I know a lot of self-published authors who would never dream of going traditional, and vice versa. The royalties for self-published authors are much better than what (most) authors get with traditional deals, but self-published authors don’t see an advance, they also bear the costs of production, and they’re 100 percent on their own in terms of finding an editor, a cover designer, a proofreader, a formatter, etc.


I have some self-published friends who are self-made millionaires; I also have some who hardly sell anything.


Self-made-millionaire-friends...Send them my way! No, let me stop.


Yes well... this question really can only be answered by the person writing the book. What is their short- and long-term objective? What are their goals in the publishing industry? Are they in this for the long haul or are they just trying to make a quick buck because it worked for one of their friends? Have they studied their craft and/or are they willing to do so to improve? Do they want to be tied to an agent or publisher, or do they want to be totally in control of the pathways their books take? Do they work well with others and/or are they able to respond constructively to criticism that can sometimes melt the skin off one’s face?


Once the writer answers these questions, he/she can decide the best route for their career.

Okay so let's say, I'm in it for the long haul and I've studied my craft and work semi-well with others. You think I have a chance to really sell something?  I sure hope so...

As long as we're on the topic of authors selling their books, do you have any advice on marketing?


Write another book. ;) Julie Trelstad is a colleague who is the former digital rights and marketing director at Writers House; she has since opened her own operation dedicated to helping authors achieve their publishing goals and dreams, and she swears by email marketing. She pointed me to a young man named Ryan Zee (www.ryanzee.com); he offers some of the best email list-building promotions I’ve ever seen.


I’ve done a few promos with Ryan, and my email list has grown exponentially. I’m still building, and I only send out quality newsletters quarterly (no spam!), but the buzz around the industry is that email marketing has the best return on investment. Google Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, Joel Friedlander, and Julie Trelstad (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2017/5-questions-with-writers-houses-julie-trelstad/). These folks know the business inside and out. Do your research!

Actual Names and contacts!  You don't know how helpful that is to writers just dipping their feet in the publishing world.  Thank you so much!

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?


More than I’d like. Being an author in the twenty-first century means we wear a lot of different hats, including that of sales rep. I try to engage regularly on the Eliza Gordon Facebook page, though I’m not awesome with Twitter.
  • I have a website,
  • I write newsletters that include news on books, movies, and otters (of course!),
  • I participate in genre-specific promotional activities as they come up,
  • and I do in-person book signings at the local chain bookstore Chapters (Canada’s Barnes & Noble) as often as they’ll have me.
Anytime I have a new book coming, the machine ramps up and the marketing takes up a great deal of space in my daily schedule, but in terms of maintenance between releases, I’m pretty low-key—which isn’t great. I have a hard time constantly slamming people in the face with BUY MY BOOK, especially when the next book is so many months away. Again, the energy spent on marketing really comes down to the author—how much time, money, and creativity they have to expend on this pursuit.


The most important takeaway here, though: Don’t write a book and expect people to find you and make you rich. Write another book. Engage with readers. Find creative ways to show the world who you are. Even the biggest authors with the biggest publishing houses still must actively man the controls of the marketing machine. It’s part of the game.


Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with your readers. I look forward to “meeting” more of you online—find me on Facebook or via my website at www.elizagordon.com. Happy reading!

Thank you Eliza for joining theglobaldig for a chat. Readers, I you have any comments for Eliza please list them in the comments. Below are even more way ways to get a hold of Eliza.


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misselizagordon/
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