We continue our discussion with novelist Lonnie Cruse, author of the "Metropolis" mysteries: Murder in Metropolis (Quiet Storm) and Murder Beyond Metropolis. She is also an officer in the Middle Tennessee chapter of Sisters in Crime.
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Are you a full-time novelist?
Yes, well sort of.
What is your day job?
I edit manuscripts for other authors, running the business from my home. That money helps pay my writing expenses such as attending writer's conferences, etc. That makes it difficult to write every day. Some clients need immediate assistance, so I have to let my writing slide a bit while I work on theirs.
When did you know you had “made it”?
I'm with a small independant publisher, so I haven't "made it" yet in terms of being able to support myself from my novels, even though two have been published, and the third is due out soon. Don't know for certain that I ever will "make it" in that sense. But, the fact that I am published, that my books sell well, that I do have a fan base tells me I've made it as an author, even if not financially. But the reader reaction means more than the money to me. As long as I can get my books published and people want to read them, I'm a success.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don't give up. You have a story to tell, so tell it. No one else can tell it like you. When you've told it, get it professionally edited if at all possible. It's worth the money. However, check around. There are editors out there who charge a fortune. And they aren't worth it. $1-$3 per page is the going rate. Pay more than that, you may get ripped off. Take classes, do your research, learn your craft. Above all, write what you love to read, not what you think is selling. By the time your manuscript is done, it probably isn't selling any more.
What about writing do you wish non-writers understood?
That it's a REAL job. I need time to write -- I can't always drop everything to answer the phone and chat or take off and spend time away from the computer (though I'm willing to do both when I can.)
What one thing about writing do you wish other writers would understand?
Being published by a "traditional publisher" doesn't mean you are any more talented than someone published by a small indy. A lot of dreck is published by the big New York houses every year. And a lot of excellent novels are published by the small guys.
And the reverse is true, of course. But ALL of us are only as good as our next book. Getting signed to a contract by any publisher is fairly hard. Being dropped is easy (for them, not the author, of course.) We all have to be on our toes.
For the writer with a new book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she could do to promote it?
BEST is word of mouth. People will buy books that friends with the same tastes recommend. Second is the Internet for getting the author's
name out there.
Why would you recommend joining an author guild like Sisters in Crime?
Support would be number one. Networking would be second (learning about publishers, agents, where to submit, where not) research information that other authors can give you, friendship, lots of things.
What other writers groups are you a member of?
Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, Guppys (for new and unpublished authors), SINC Mid-Tennessee Chapter (closest chapter to me), Southern Illinois Writer's Guild, Heartland Writer's Guild.
Of all the fine author organizations available, what about Sisters in Crime do you feel sets it apart?
Some of the other writer's organizations are more expensive and I'm on a tight budget. The support sets SINC apart. Networking, etc. And the various SINC chapters often set up writer's conferences and signings, and as a member, I hear about them and get to attend.
BONUS: The Munsters or Addams Family?
Oh, easily The Munsters. I liked the Addams Family, but The Munsters were hilarious. I was sad to see that Grandpa passed away recently. I can still see him hanging upside down. Great show.
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Many thanks to Lonnie for her time! See another new interview with her at Chicago crime writer Beth Anderson's Hot Clue. Keep up with Lonnie online at www.LonnieCruse.com and at her blog, Cruse'n With Lonnie.
Related link: LONNIE CRUSE, PT 1
More Author Q&As:
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THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)