Today I’m excited to interview the amazing Betsy Streeter! She’s a woman of many talents and pushes boundaries of form and possibility in publishing. You might call her a creativepreneur or a writerpreneur, but both words feel like they’re just scratching the surface. While her passion is clearly the creative spectacular (woman after my own heart!) her strategies could easily apply to other areas of life (double win!).
Interview with Betsy Streeter
You recently launched a new book – can you tell us about it?
Okay! It’s my second YA-and-up science fiction novel, entitled “Silver Shard.” It’s number two in a three-book series. The first novel, “Silverwood,” came out in April 2015. Now I’m at work on that third one…
I would characterize these stories as The Incredibles meets MacGyver with a hefty dose of Twin Peaks. Plus time travel, hacking, and shape-shifting creatures that hunt humans. And at the center Helen Silverwood, a teen girl who starts out unsure she belongs anywhere and over time has to come of age and get herself together before her whole clan gets destroyed.
In terms of genre the story blends science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. There’s a whiff of Western in there too. And lots of action.
The launch has been all over my feed! For a while, I saw a new event every day! How did you decide what events to have?
With this second book, I’ve taken a different approach. With the first, I tried to do signings in a traditional book-store-y way and it was VERY hit and miss. One store didn’t bother to get copies of the book and I had to sell what I randomly had in my bag.
This time I don’t think of it as a “book” launch as much as an “idea” launch or a visit with people. I’m more selfish about doing things that I enjoy. I’m having my launch party at a friend’s design firm/gallery in San Francisco, for example, because it’s a great spot and I can see some excellent people. I may have my son’s metal-punk band play an event. No sitting bored at a little table in a corner! That’s just not me.
My publisher, Light Messages, does a great job getting me on NetGalley, promoting me with iBooks and getting me Kirkus reviews. Both books so far have gotten a Kirkus review, and they’ve been pretty groovy. Kirkus is known for not pulling any punches, so as a debut author I expected to be stomped on pretty bad. But that didn’t happen.
Did you have a launch plan or timeline?
My publisher definitely does, because you have to hit certain deadlines to be up on NetGalley at the right time or to run a free promotion of the first book on Amazon. They have a new ebook distributor and that’s worked out well. Silver Shard popped up #2 on iBooks under YA as a feature when it came out.
In my own case, I think about sharing my work every day. I put out concept art, talk about themes, let people in. That goes on all the time, not just when there’s a book.
I also attend cons and indie publishing shows. I get a table, meet people. Give workshops. Those are my people. The people in the costumes. Who love imagination. And have their kid in a Supergirl outfit in the stroller.
How have your strategies impacted your sales, reviews, and reach?
To be honest I don’t read reviews – I stopped the day someone gave me a bad review because they didn’t like something in my Acknowledgements… I realized reviews are for other readers. I do think that being featured on iBooks and NetGalley has really helped. A second book is much easier to promote than the first. First novels are kind of hanging out there by themselves.
What I have found is that more people are going to the first book right now than the second! A reviewer recommended people read the books in order so that’s how it’s playing out. Really interesting. I wrote the second so you could just pick it up but I can see how it’s more enjoyable if you read the first. So that’s cool by me.
How was this launch different than previous launches?
Like I said, I’m being more creative about what I do. I’d rather have one event with great energy than a bunch of them with crickets or no book copies. I’m also intersecting more with my other work – the serial I write on Wattpad, my illustration and comics. Letting it all overlap. And I’m not going to put an “expiration date” on the launch either – conventional wisdom says you have to do everything within a timeframe, but I find if you are generous with your work, you never know when someone will connect. YOU may be into the release date, but for THEM, the day they learn about it is their “release,” technically. Could be years after you publish. So I’m not worrying about timing so much. There’s stuff out there I still hear about from years ago!
You have a number of different services and products you offer, including illustration and cover design. You even had a syndicated comic! Do you find one is more revenue and another is more passion? If so, how do you balance this?
I find they all feed off of each other. I’m a big fan of doing project work to connect with others, and then the “make one sell many” model of publishing for passive income. I license cartoons through my agency in the UK every month and have since the 90’s. Those puppies just chug along and help pay for other things.
Do you have goals for these areas? How do you know when you’ve achieved them?
I want to expand Neptune Road and other stories into graphic novels and comics, and even animation or live action, and employ/collaborate with a lot of great creative people with them. That’s my dream. I take it a day at a time. If I connect with someone or reach a new reader, that’s a good day. I think the intermediate step will be to launch a Patreon and expand merchandising and branding (Drooly Dog Studios!) to advance the cause.
My original goal was everything paying for itself, which I achieved some time ago, now it’s about growth and new people.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in writing, comics, or publishing?
First: Your ideas are powerful.
Second: Get stuff in front of people all the time. There was a period where I had a spreadsheet and a goal to have 10-15 pieces of writing “in play” at all times (that tapered off when I got into novels but I still circulate a LOT of stuff). Make, publish. Share. Don’t be too precious about it. Your style is going to emerge by you doing the thing, not thinking about it. So churn, keep that pencil or keyboard or mouse going. Every day.
Third: Promote people who make stuff you like. Not just in your genre, but anything. Indie bands. Painters. Lift people up.
Bonus: Flash fiction! Join a flash fiction group or contest that forces you to write to a prompt regularly. Wow, those improve your writing. And connect you to really nice people.
How can we find you online?
I am so grateful to have Betsy here! Be sure to check out her work! She’s got some cool projects going on Instagram that are really fun to watch unfold!
There are a few things that stand out to me about Betsy’s strategies – she likes to try things and looks at every project from a larger perspective. Whenever I read about what she’s doing I can almost see how she pulls pieces from different places and puts them together in different configurations. This, folks, is a great way to approach life. If it doesn’t work one way, try it another. Pick the things you like, put them together into something magical and wonderful. Go and do the things that bring joy to your life and relish them.
How are you putting things together in new and exciting ways? Are you going after things? Practicing daily? Leave a comment below!
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