Author Interview - Rebecca Kelsey Sampson
For this week's installment of the Author Interview Series, I spoke to Rebecca Kelsey Sampson's about the wonders and struggles of writing and publishing. Check out what she had to say below!
1) Describe your most recently published book and/or your current work in progress.
I have been working on a YA fantasy novel called Ember Dragon Daughter (2019 release date TBA) for two years and am excited to be planning its release. This is a special story for me, as it was written while my husband battled cancer. To quickly summarize it, it follows an orphan named Ember who discovers that not only is she the heir to the dragon throne, but her deceased parents were actually her kidnappers. It shows the struggle of accepting sudden responsibility in uncontrollable circumstances, while also playing in fun fantasy worlds where life (and sanity) is literally hanging in the balance. It is the first in a planned duology.
I have also been quietly writing a personal development book for several months and a group coaching program for new writers. I will be sharing announcements on both projects soon.
2) Which do you prefer: self-publishing or traditional publishing? What factors made you choose one over the other?
I am currently pursuing self-publishing, but for many years wanted to be part of the traditional world. For me, the deciding factor was being able to determine my own deadlines and having ownership of my work. Hearing that some authors have had their work pulled from publication (and then never available for purchase again) saddened me. I love the flexibility of on-demand publishing and being able to keep my story on the market through my own means. I also enjoy learning about the business side of the industry and feel comfortable being my own boss. Choosing self-pub or trad-pub is a career move and something that needs more time and consideration than a pro/con list. I have a podcast all about this topic, which you can listen to here: Happy Write Now podcast for writers. In the future, I would love to have some experience traditional publishing, however, so I can see both sides of the process.
3) Are there any books, movies, music, etc. that influenced your writing?
So many! I love listening to music on Spotify and collecting songs that spark an idea. I usually start a playlist for a feeling before I even know if it is going to become a novel idea. I love dystopian and fantasy novels in particular. You can feel the dystopian undertones in Ember Dragon Daughter, even though it isn’t part of that genre. Some of my biggest inspirations are Divergent by Veronica Roth, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and The Selection by Keira Cass.
4) Which is your favorite genre(s) to write in? Which genre have you never written in but would love to try someday?
Young Adult fantasy is my favorite and has been since I was actually a young adult! In middle school, I was reading about four books a week. I love the tones of YA stories and the discussion over becoming yourself vs finding yourself that is present within them.
A genre that I am currently writing and am so excited about is personal development. Podcasts are my main entertainment medium at the moment, especially in the writing and mindset space, so they have heavily influenced this work-in-progress.
In the past I have written novels told in verse, but I’ve grown so much since those initial writings that I’m really excited to pick up this unique medium when I’m between projects.
Science Fiction novels are exciting to me and I have a few Pinterest boards of YA Sci-Fi ideas, but I haven’t yet jumped in. Maybe next year!
5) Do you prefer reading on an e-reader or actual books? Which do you think is better from a publishing point of view?
I prefer physical books, but I don’t have as much time to read physical. I most often consume my reading through Kindle eBooks and audiobooks while I drive. I believe physical books will always have a place in publishing, but eBooks are becoming a lot more prevalent and I believe have a higher profit margin. I’m excited to see how digital books develop in the industry over the next few years, especially for indie authors, since many people now publish exclusively through digital.
6) How has the online writing community affected your writing career?
The wealth of knowledge I’ve gained from the writing community has completely changed my perspective on where my career can go and the potential of where it can take me. If I wasn’t engaging with people on Instagram and YouTube, I am positive I wouldn’t have continued writing. Accountability and the community are cornerstones of success and I’m excited to now be able to provide that for other newbie writers like I was a few years ago.
7) Describe your typical writing routine.
As a mom with a 9-to-5 job, having a routine is very important. While I’m drafting, I get up at 4:45 AM to get ready for work. Then I write from 5:15 - 5:55 AM and eat breakfast/journal before heading to work. I drive for three hours a day, so during that drive, I listen to personal development content which helps keep me motivated.
Lunch break is my “power hour” where I write like the wind!
After work, I spend time with my family until my toddler goes to bed around 7:30/8 PM. From 8 - 10 PM I work on my business and writing.
It’s about time-blocking and prioritizing. By setting regular times, I know what I should be doing at all times without taking away from my family. On the weekends, I write while my son sleeps.
8) What is your ultimate goal in terms of writing?
That’s a big question! For me, I want to inspire other busy moms and 9-to-5ers that all is possible. By completing my books and publishing my projects, I know I am showing other authors that it is possible for them too. If I can help more people finish and publish books, that is more important to me than sales numbers.
9) What has been your biggest writing struggle? What is your greatest strength?
My biggest struggle is setting too many goals. I’ve gotten a lot better at that this month, understanding how time-blocking helps me, and focusing on a few goals at a time.
My greatest strength is my ability to be raw and share my process and struggles with others online. I feel more empowered when I’m honest and transparent and have had great responses from my audience doing that. We are all real human beings with deep feelings, different priorities, and strengths to flourish. I’m so happy that by working on my writing I get to help other people find their strengths and grow from their flaws.
10) Is there anything about the publishing world that has been very difficult? Has anything been easier than you expected? If you aren’t published yet, what do you anticipate being easy or difficult?
I anticipate having fun formatting the paperback and Kindle version of my books. That is something I’m looking forward too.
Professional editing is something I’m learning a lot about, but am also dreading going into as I know it will challenge me in ways I haven’t done yet. It’ll help me grow, but I know it will be a process.
11) What is your favorite way to market your book and yourself as an author?
Live shows and Instagram Stories - it is a great way to share your vulnerability and gain trust with your audience.
12) Have you taken any writing classes? If yes, would you recommend them? If no, do you want to?
I have purchased publishing-related coaching, eBooks, and other kinds of downloads and have learned a lot from them. I definitely recommend them. I am reading craft books, but have not yet taken a writing class.
13) Is writing your full-time job? If yes, what was your last profession? If no, do you want it to be and what do you do now?
Writing is not my full-time job, but it is something I am working toward in my five-year-plan. I currently work in marketing and social media for a Fortune 200 company and I enjoy it. For now, I’m enjoying finding the balance between the two.
14) What do you think the future will hold for the publishing industry?
I believe the gap between the professionalism of self-published vs traditionally published books will narrow. So many self-pub books stand on their own and that opens up a lot of opportunity for people that have the mindset of business owners. I don’t think either will disappear, but I’m excited to see where the cards fall in a few years.
15) What advice would you give to someone who has just started writing?
Persistence will get you far. I am a much stronger author now than even last year. Every draft gets you closer and improves your craft. It’s wonderful how much your writing and life can change if you don’t give up.
Keep up with Rebecca's writing endeavors by following the links below!
Follow Rebecca on Instagram.
Watch Rebecca's latest videos on YouTube.
Check out Rebecca's official website to get a free chapter planner and sign up for the Happy Write Now newsletter.
Special offer from Rebecca herself! "The Happy Story Bible for novel clarity. It has been a game-changer for me! The price will increase soon as I add planning pages to this download in December 2018, so buying it now will make sure you lock in the value price and all further updates at no additional charge."