I’d like to welcome back author Victoria Zigler, or Tori, if you prefer.
Please recap briefly about your books:
Most of my books are fantasy stories, fairy tales, animal stories, or some combination of those, but I’ve also written books in other genres too. Regardless of genre though, my stories are aimed at children. I happen to know that some adults have really enjoyed them too, however, and I’m not just talking about adults who are family members or friends either.
Not all my books are children’s stories. I also write poetry, which is generally suitable for any age level, and has also been enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Plus, I have a fantasy story published in the “Wyrd Worlds II” anthology.
What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news!
The last time I was interviewed on here, I was about to release the final book in my “Kero’s World” series, and had ”Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” due for release the following month. Since those titles came out, I’ve published another 14 titles. Two are poetry books, four are the books for my “Zeena Dragon Fae” series, and the others are more stand alone stories. My most recent releases are a poetry collection called “The Ocean’s Lullaby And Other Poems” which was released in early July, and my first ever science fiction story “Jeffrey The Orange Alien” which was released in late August.
Also, at the time my last interview went live, I was only doing my books as eBooks, but now I have them all available as paperbacks too. The eBooks are still published via Smashwords, and distributed to all eBook retailers Smashwords distributes to (such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, etc) so are available in multiple formats to work across a variety of eReaders and other devices. The paperbacks are published via CreateSpace, and distributed to all the retailers CreateSpace distributes to (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc).
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?
Yes, I do. For some reason, people got it in to their heads that self-published translated in to “not good enough to be published” – despite the fact that there are many reasons why a traditional publisher might not want to publish something, and most of those reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the work in question. Unfortunately, the fact that some self-published authors put their work out in to the world before it’s really ready (in other words, before it’s been properly edited, proof read, etc) has led to some poor quality work being on the market, which has only served to encourage this view. Opinions are starting to be swayed by some self-published authors who have managed to make it big, and show the world that a self-published book can be as good as a traditionally published one for quality, but I think it’s going to be a while before everyone is willing to accept this new viewpoint – if they ever do.
Do you read work by self-published authors?
Yes, I do. I also accept books from them in exchange for posting a review. Personally, I don’t care how an author has published their work. If it sounds like a book I’ll enjoy, I’ll read it whether it’s self-published or traditionally published. I use the same criteria for deciding if I want to read a book regardless of the publication method, and don’t give the method of publication a single thought when rating or reviewing a book.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?
Reviews are very important. They’re useful for authors sometimes, because some contain helpful information on what an author could have done to improve the story, which can potentially help to improve the author’s next piece of writing. However, reviews are mostly important for other potential readers, since they tell those readers that someone has read the book, and give some insight in to what they thought about it.
Authors can “like” a review, or thank a reviewer for a good review, if they really insist on interacting with reviews. But that’s it. An author should NEVER comment on negative reviews, especially not to disagree with the reviewer. By all means read them, and privately take note of any constructive criticism contained in them, but don’t comment.
What are your views on authors reviewing other authors?
I don’t see anything wrong with author’s reviewing work by other authors. I’m an author, but I was a reader first, and the same is true for all authors, which means there’s no reason an author can’t assume the role of an average reader while enjoying the work of another author. Plus, it’s a bit silly to exclude someone from being allowed to review a book just because they’ve written one of their own. As long as an author leaves an honest review, and isn’t leaving a good review on the work of another author just in hopes of getting one in return, or leaving a bad review because they got a bad review from that author, there’s no problem. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with author’s doing review swaps, as long as they’re done with the understanding that the review should be an honest one based on your opinion of the book in question, rather than one based on how good or bad the review the other author gave you was, if you know what I mean.
I quite often review books, and rate those I don’t review. Whether I’ve just picked up a book randomly, or have been given a copy by the author or publisher (or both, in the case of most self-published books) in exchange for a review, I always try to be honest in my reviews and ratings, whether the author has reviewed my book(s) or not, and regardless of how good or bad any review the author left for me was.
Looking back what do you wish you’d known when you started writing?
Since I started writing as soon as I learned how to, I don’t think there’s anything. Honestly, I don’t remember much from the time before I started writing for pleasure, since I learned to read and write early, and was quick to learn the pleasure of writing. Plus, I think you learn more about writing by actually doing it, and never stop learning.
Although, if you mean before I started writing professionally – in other words, before I started publishing my books back in 2012 – the answer is different. The thing I wish I’d known then was that an already established online presence would help my writing career, rather than hinder it. I’m not really sure why I got it in to my head that continuing to blog would take too much time away from my writing. After all, I’d been blogging regularly – usually at least once a day – for about six years when I published my first book, and had been doing plenty of writing in that time, even if I wasn’t mentioning most of it on my blog. But I became convinced for some reason that if I wanted to make a career out of writing, I should stop blogging publicly. I still kept my blog, and posted a few things on it with it set to “private” just for my own benefit, but I stopped allowing others to see my posts, and stopped visiting the blogs of my friends. Huge mistake! Not only did it cost me several really good friends – friends who I miss, because they were a great group of people – but it also meant I lost several potential opportunities for sales, as well as potential people who might have helped me to spread the word about my books. I only had my blog private for about a year, but that year was enough time for me to lose touch with most of the people who had been regular readers and commenters on my blog, most of whom still don’t appear to realize I’m blogging again, even though I’ve been doing so for around three years, and am doing so on my original blog, which I’ve now made public again. I’m trying to reconnect with as many of the people as I can. Not just for the potential networking opportunities, but also because I miss them. Unfortunately, success on this front has been limited. In short, the choice to stop blogging publicly was a bad one, which I regret, both from a personal and professional point of view, and if I’d known then what I know now, I never would have even considered stepping away from the blogging world.
Do you have any unpublished novels under the bed/in a folder anywhere which you thought were awesome at the time, but now will never see the light of day?
Nope. I mean, I did have some stories that were… Well, let’s just say they needed a lot of work. I also had several poems that needed a little work. But I hated to see them go to waste, so I took the time to rewrite them, and later edited and published them. All I have unpublished now – that I have copies of, anyway – are poems I’ve written since my last poetry collection was published (which will go in my next one) and the stories I’m in the process of writing. There were probably others that I didn’t get to re-write, but no copies of them exist anymore, since they’ve been lost in moves and computer crashes, and I don’t think it counts if the only record of them is a vague memory I have of having written other stories and poems.
How have you progressed as a writer since you started?
Since, as I said when answering a previous question, I was really young when I started writing, I would hope I’ve progressed a lot. I know my grammar skills have improved, I’ve learned more about sentence structure, I’ve learned about different poetry styles and tried a couple of them out, etc… All the stuff you learn as you progress with education. Beyond that, I’ve learned not to assume that because I know something my reader will. In my early stories, I often assumed I didn’t need to describe things because I knew what they were, but I now know descriptions are important, and not everyone will recognize even some everyday items I take for granted, since different places have different names for some of them, and others aren’t actually available in other countries. Luckily, I learned about this before starting to publish, so have done my best to take this in to consideration in my re-writes, as well as in my newer stories.
What aspect of writing do you least enjoy? Why might this be?
When it comes to the actual writing process, there’s nothing I don’t enjoy. I enjoy research too, since I enjoy learning about different things, and if it wasn’t a topic I was interested in I wouldn’t be writing about it, which would mean I wouldn’t be researching it. The only part about being an author I don’t enjoy very much is the marketing. Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with my readers on social media and such, but I hate the part where I have to spend ages doing the posts that are essentially just different ways of saying “please buy my book.” Unfortunately, since I want to be able to share my stories with the world, I have to do that part as well as the writing and research. I try to focus more on finding interesting things to share and post about, as well as interacting with others in places where I might get sales, rather than actually posting “please buy my book” type messages, which makes the marketing stuff a bit more fun. It’s probably more fun for potential readers that way too. At least, I hope it is.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?
The last book I finished reading was a children’s story by a fellow self-published author. The book’s title was “Oh Grandad!” and the author’s name was Stephanie Dagg. It was, as I said in the short review I put up for it on Smashwords, an amusing and fun read. Actually, all the stories I’ve read by Stephanie Dagg have been entertaining and enjoyable reads.
Do you have a favourite movie?
“Practical Magic” and “The Craft” are my favourite movies. However, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the movie “Frozen” since I first saw it towards the end of last year, so I might have to add that one as a third favourite from now on.
What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book? Tell us about it.
I’ve got my first ever historical fiction story due out in October, which is a story based on the Battle Of Hastings. I’ve already written several new poems towards my next poetry collection, so I’ll hopefully have a new poetry collection out next year too. I’m also working on a couple of other stories, one of which is a Christmas story involving a giant, the others I can’t tell you more about just yet, because I don’t know much myself; I’m a pantser, and I’ve not long started working on them, so right now I don’t know exactly where they’re going, nor even exactly which genre they’ll all be in as it stands at the moment. Like I said, I rarely know much at this stage myself. One time, for example, I had a story I thought was going to be a mystery, only for it to turn out to be a fantasy. Anyway, I’m not yet certain what the future holds beyond that.
If you had to pick five books to have on an island which five would you pick?
I’d rather not be limited on my choice of books, but if I had to pick, I’d want “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, “Matilda” by Roald Dahl, “Strings” by David Estes, “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and something that will be useful for telling me how to survive while waiting to be rescued. Either those five books, or just that last one, plus my Kindle and some kind of solar powered charger, that way I could have the time to read all the books waiting on it for me to read them.
How do you think fantasy is portrayed in the media?
Though it’s not always the case, for the most part, from what I’ve read and watched, fantasy is generally portrayed as being a mostly male dominated genre, with vicious dragons and weak women making regular appearances, while mighty men rush in to save the day. I want to see more vegetarian dragons and strong female characters, maybe with some men needing to be the ones rescued for a change. Not just in children’s books and movies, but in general.
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717