7 Questions With Amazon Sensation, Author Seanan McGuire
In today’s interview, Amazon sensation, Author Seanan McGuire talks about life as an author, setbacks of the craft and gives new authors advice on how to handle negative reviews.
In 2010, she was awarded the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer by the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention. Her novella “Every Heart A Doorway” received the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Novella, the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novella, and the 2017 Locus Award for Best Novella.
We’ll learn about her writing routine and what she hopes to accomplish in the near future.
Follow her advice below and if you’re curious about The How To Of The Journey From Writing To Publishing, you’re only one click away!
Esther Rabbit: Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children) has been named “A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy ― a jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll’s and C. S. Lewis’ classics”. It has won several awards and loyal readers – why do you think readers have enjoyed this book so much?
Honestly, I wish I knew? I tend to put a lot of the credit on the fact that humans are hungry for the opportunity to see ourselves represented in stories—we genuinely yearn for that moment of recognition, that moment of “there I am, there is my avatar, going off into the hero’s journey, and I get to go with them.”
As a bisexual woman, most of the time when I see myself, it’s in the context of a book specifically about “the queer experience.” There’s something really empowering about seeing ourselves in a book that’s about the adventure, and nothing else.
But honestly, I don’t know. If I did, I would do that every single time, because I want to make readers happy—that’s a large part of what drives me to keep doing this job—and because I want to sell books, since that’s what keeps my power on. I enjoy having electricity.
Esther Rabbit: How does a day in your author life look?
I get out of bed, I feed the cats, I sit down, I get to work. I am incredibly fortunate in that I am one of the people who is able to make a living solely from words.
It’s not the best living in the world, but it keeps the power on and puts food in the fridge, and that’s what matters. I generally word from around seven a.m. until noon, break for lunch, and then sit back down to keep on wording until four or five in the afternoon.
I try to stay on top of my inbox, but we all know that’s a losing fight, so I mostly settle for not letting things get too far out of control.
Esther Rabbit: What were some major setbacks of this profession?
For me, the closure of Borders was a big blow. There literally weren’t enough copies of my fourth October Daye novel in circulation, following the loss of such a large chain, to have a shot at the bestseller lists.
But that taught me that a wide, shallow well is better than a narrow, deep one. Every setback can be a positive, if you focus on it the right way.
Esther Rabbit: From writing to publishing, how much time should a new author expect to spend till their book might reach the shelves?
This isn’t really a question that can be answered, because there’s no single length of time it takes to write and refine a novel. Some books take ten years: some take six weeks. Some people write fast, some people write slow.
And there’s the whole question of traditional vs. indie publishing. I can write a short story for my Patreon on the first of the month, put it through internal editorial review, and post in on Patreon on the first of the next month.
If I sold that same short story to a traditional market, it might not see print for two years or more. The work itself will determine the time it takes, and so will the form of publication.
Don’t try to hold yourself to some ideal timeline. The ideal timeline doesn’t exist.
Esther Rabbit: What’s an approximate price authors would pay to get their precious out there into the world of eager readers?
Would pay, I’ve met people who thought nothing of dropping thousands of dollars on getting their work into the world. Should pay, nothing. Money flows toward the author, not away from them.
If you’re an indie author, you are both author and publisher, which obviously changes the equation somewhat, but I feel you need to step back and double-down on that distinction in your mind, making sure that you’re making financial decisions as publisher, not as author.
Ask yourself, every time, “is this a good investment?”, and be prepared for the moment when the answer is “sadly, no.”
Esther Rabbit: How do you deal with negative feedback or negative reviews?
I remind myself that They Are Not For Me, and I let them pass me by. I have an editorial team I trust, I have people who will tell me if I’m screwing up, and I don’t need either the negativity or the artificial ego enhancement of reading too many reviews.
That’s a very privileged thing to be able to say, and I know that, but it’s still where I’m standing.
Never argue with reviewers. It makes you look back, and it doesn’t do any of the things you might be hoping for.
Esther Rabbit: What are the 5 immediate tasks you hope to accomplish in the near future?
Well, immediate tasks, I really hope I can find the focus to get dressed before I have to leave the house. Apart from that…
My website needs revamping. Not the style so much, although I’m told it’s a little quaint: I like my site being simple enough that I can fix it when it breaks.
The content. I’m behind on a whole lot of updates, including the all-important bibliography.
I’d like to finish writing a graphic novel pitch that’s been sitting on the “better do this” list for way too long. I’m doing a lot of comic work right now, so this is an excellent time to finish it.
I need to clean and reorganize my office. It’s borderline unusable right now, because it’s such a mess.
I’ve just started my annual Thirteen Days of Hogswatch (they’ll probably be over by the time this runs), but getting them polished and perfect is very important to me.
And it’s time to update the October Daye wiki/series bible again, since I try to keep that as current as possible, on the theory that if I get eaten by wolves tomorrow, someone else is going to need to know how to finish the series.
Are you in the Writing Industry?
Shoot me an email, I’d love to interview you!
And if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance, check out Lost in Amber:
“A new Interplanetary Alliance ambassador on an earthbound mission.
A handful of genetically altered humans to be rescued.
Meeting her changed everything.“