Author Interview: A. R. Silverberry
The interview series with members of my Twitter community continues with #TeaserTrain author A. R. Silverberry. Enjoy!
Author A. R. Silverberry
Bio: A. R. Silverberry has won a dozen awards, including Gold Medal Winner in the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards, in Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction; Gold Medal Winner in the 2010 Readers Favorite Awards in Preteen Fiction; and Winner, 2010 Books and Authors Books of the Year Award, in Fantasy/Fairy Tale Fiction. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. Silverberry, the pen name for Peter Allan Adler, has been a licensed psychologist since 1991. He continues to balance his clinical practice with writing. Wyndano's Cloak is his first novel.
Twitter ID: @arsilverberry
Facebook: A.R. Silverberry
Goodreads: Wyndano’s Cloak
Books Trailer: Wyndano’s Cloak
Q: Welcome, A. R. Silverberry! Thanks for being here today. What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
Silverberry: An element of fantasy runs through all of my writing. I love creating whole worlds where anything is possible. I find that this opens up wonderful possibilities for creating symbols. For example, Wyndano’s Cloak is a symbol for growth, transformation, and empowerment. The novel is a fantasy adventure for children, ages ten and up. I’m currently working on a survival tale set in a mythic past, and the audience is teens and adults.
Q: How many books have you published? Are they traditionally published, indie-published, or a combination?
Silverberry: Wyndano’s Cloak is the only one out there. It’s an indie.
Q: You wrote a guest blog post for Stacy Eaton, a fellow #TeaserTrain and Women's Literary Cafe member, in which you talked about the importance of the companionship of fellow writers. If a writer is just starting out, just beginning to get their first novel together, and is still shy, still learning the ropes in this online world, what first steps would you recommend to them with regard reaching out to other writers and writing groups?
Silverberry: Join Women’s Literary Cafe! You’ll find support for all your efforts, from beginning to end. Also, look for Facebook groups in your genre. Post questions. Support others. There’s a wonderful community of indie authors out there who understand that we’re stronger if we stand together, and we’re not in competition.
Q: Do you sell copies of your novels, or other works, directly from your website?
Silverberry: There’s a link on to my distributor. However, later this year, I’m pulling out of there. My book has been out almost two years, and a distributor is no longer warranted. I’ll be selling the hardback directly from my website.
Q: How much time do you spend on Twitter each week? Do you have a Facebook Fan Page?
Silverberry: Honestly, the amount of time goes up and down. I’m a psychologist by day. The care of my clients always comes first, so some days and weeks, I have trouble getting to social media. I think (hope!) my writer friends understand my legal and ethical obligations. I believe I spend more time tweeting and posting about others than I do about me or my book, which is as it should be.
Q: Do you have a motto or favorite quote you turn to on tough writing days?
Silverberry: I’ve got two. 1) "What the public criticizes in you, cultivate it. It is you." Jean Cocteau 2) “You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London
Q: Have you outsourced editing, cover design, formatting, web design, marketing, etc?
Silverberry: I worked with two wonderful editors. One did line editing and light content editing. The other did copy editing. I think both are necessary. The more expert eyes on a book, the better. My wife did the cover art. That was awesome, because she knew my MC, Jenren, well, and I was able to whisper a few suggestions in her ear as she went along. Her cover won an award, as did the interior design! We hired folks to do the formatting for both. My web designer, Diane Whiddon, of Novel Website Design, is an angel. She not only captured the feeling of my book, but also my voice as an author. I do my own marketing, which included around 25 book expos, including the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Book Expo America, and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Q: Do you work with a writing group?
Silverberry: I did for the early chapters in Wyndano’s Cloak. The group was most helpful, and I highly recommend that writers do this. But you have to find people who you’re compatible with, who will give you honest feedback sandwiched with praise, and who can leave their egos outside the door. Roughly paraphrasing EB White, writing is bad for your health. I think that what he meant is that there are millions of places where you can go wrong, including simply saying something you don’t mean. The only cure is getting lots of comments from lots of people reading your work. I had a good dozen sets of eyes on my novel, and these folks saw multiple drafts. Some chapters had as many as 29 drafts!
Q: When you did you first decide to become an indie? How much time did it take to get from an idea to a book on Amazon?
Silverberry: I decided around 2007 or 2008 that I wanted Wyndano’s Cloak to be an indie. I wanted maximum control. One of my editors repeatedly urged me to submit it to agents, but I wanted to do this one myself. Everything from the color of the smythe-sewn binding thread to the feel of the pages reflects the fairy-tale statement I wanted to make. I don’t believe that a traditional publisher would have put so much love or attention into it. I started the book in 2004 and it was published 3/15/10. I plan to submit my next novel to agents. If it doesn’t sell, I can always indie it.
Q: Have you published any of your work for free? Why or why not?
Silverberry: I haven’t. I came late to ebook publishing. A big mistake. I didn’t understand where the world was going. So the book wasn’t published as an ebook until last July. At that point, it seemed that .99 was practically giving it away, but the world continues to change rapidly. Giveaways are required to get any kind of recognition. I plan to do the KDP Select program in March, so there will be two days when it will be free. A month prior to my next book coming out, I’ll also drop the price down to free. People want you to give them something. Who am I to argue?!
Q: What tips or advice would you offer to writers who are about to join the self-published community?
Silverberry: Write the best book you can. If anything doesn’t feel right, keep working on it. Have it professionally edited by TWO editors who come highly recommended. See samples of their work, and make sure they understand yours. Find out what qualifies them to edit. I’m going to get hate mail for what I’m about to say. Indie publishing has a huge secondary market of folks who are making money off of our hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, that includes some people who proffer themselves as editors, but are not qualified. I’ve seen the results of their work, and it hurts. At minimum, have they passed some kind of editing test? I’m convinced my copy editor can quote the Chicago Manual of Style chapter and verse. You need that confidence. Any errors in Wyndano’s Cloak are mine, not his. After editing, you need a dynamite title, an eye-grabbing cover that looks good in thumbnail, and a succinct, but compelling synopsis that gets to the heart of your story.
Q: Is there another writer (or two) in the Twitterverse that you would recommend newbies follow?
Silverberry: Many, including quite a few on the Teaser Train. But I’m only going to name one here. Sadly, Howard Hopkins passed away recently. He was a prolific and talented writer, and his work deserves to live on.
Q: What is coming up for you in the next few months?
Silverberry: Starting this week, I’m running a four-part series on my blog about social media. Review copies of Wyndano’s Cloak will be available mid February on the Women’s Literary Cafe. I’m planning a blog tour in a few months, and also some school visits. Somewhere in all of that, I’ll be working on the second draft of my new novel, and I’ve started sketching out the one that follows.
Q: Do you have (or are planning to make) any audio books?
Silverberry: At some point.
Q: Have you done a blog tour? Any advice or cautions?
Silverberry: I’m the newbie on that one! Check back with me.
Q: Do you create an outline before beginning a new book?
Silverberry: Absolutely. Here’s my current process. I start with a statement of the theme. Then I create character’s that grab my attention and are an expression of that theme. Finally, I work out a plot that reflects conflicts between the characters, and still reflects the theme. Any of these three points can and will come under scrutiny as I progress through subsequent drafts. Ten years ago, I wrote more intuitively, and then waited to see what unfolded. This is a creative way to go, but ultimately, I found I had to work too hard to unify.
Q: Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Silverberry: Not while I’m writing the first draft. And anything I do on another book, while I’m still writing the first one, will be very light. I don’t like to dissipate my creativity. I think it’s easy to get pulled into something else when you’re undergoing the creative struggle that is normal to the process. It’s important to fight against that. I was pleased to see that Henry Miller felt the same way!
Q: Do you use specialty software?
Silverberry: No. I’m open to it.
Q: Tell us about some of the hurdles you've cleared on the path to becoming an author. Did you have any idea at the start what the process really entails?
Silverberry: The biggest hurdle has been marketing. After that, the writing process itself can be trying. I agonize over every word; sentence; and comma, those that should be there, and those I know should be there, but take out. I spent six months between drafts just thinking about the theme of the book. I think I drove my wife crazy! She still teases me about it. I’m going through the same problem with my current novel. I call it second draft angst. Does anyone else get that?
Q: What is the best comment/compliment you have received about your work?
Silverberry: Can I share two? This reviewer’s comment was so spot on:
“A powerful coming-of-age story . . . a rich and subtle metaphor for the power of creativity and courage, the function and purpose of artistic inspiration and enrichment, and the role of fantasy and vision in the human psyche.” The US Review of Books
High art, that! And this from a reader:
“One of the best books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of books. I’m keeping it on my shelf.” A Retired Librarian
Q: Let's flip things around for a moment. As a reader, what factors do you consider when deciding whether or not to purchase a book?
Silverberry: In this order: The cover, the title, the synopsis, the first sentence. If you can entice me with a blurb from Dean Koontz, Joan Didion, or a reader in Hoboken, well then, I’m heading to the checkout line.
Q: Thank you for sharing your publishing experiences with us. We wish you continued success. Will you come back and share updates with us later in the year?
Silverberry: Thanks for having me, Ashley! These were wonderful questions. I look forward to talking with you again!
Amazon: Wyndano's Cloak
Nook: Wyndano's Cloak
iTunes: Wyndano's Cloak