I have always been a big proponent of ebooks, so I’m happy about the increase in sales. It affects me as a writer in the way I market. There used to be a bigger divide between ebook readers and those who prefer paper books. That gap is narrowing as people get more used to reading electronically. It’s not so much an “either, or” situation anymore. This is a good thing for writers who have had to divide their marketing energies and resources to cater to both types.
As for personal appearances, that’s an evolving animal. At a signing or a book fair, we are selling an intangible that people can’t hold in their hands. We are, essentially, asking them to take an active role, seek out the book online—if they can remember it—and buy/download it there. Over the years, some authors/publishers have tried selling ebooks on diskettes, CDs and DVDs, but to my knowledge it hasn’t been particularly successful.
Many authors have success with book clubs and even include questions on their web pages or in the books for these clubs to consider. What’s one question you’d like to ask readers to consider while reading your books?
Honestly, it’s something I’ve never thought about. On the fly, I think I’d want readers to be aware of the lighthouse-as-character aspect. What role does the lighthouse play? If the lighthouse has a personality, is it benign, helpful, safe, or is it antagonistic, dangerous, etc. The answer, of course, might lie with the POV of the character experiencing the lighthouse.
Social Media is such a big deal now. How much time do you spend on it, and what platform works for you?
I tried several at first, on the advice of my publisher. Like many, I use Facebook to stay in touch with fans as well as family, friends and fellow authors. I enjoy participating in Goodreads, both as an author and a reader. As for how much time I spend, it varies. Overall, I think people in general spend way too much time on social media. All one has to do is ignore it for a few days to discover how much of life passes by while sitting at the keyboard. There is a healthy medium that many exceed.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
Getting books into the hands of readers. It’s a resounding issue. There is tremendous competition for the public’s attention and their dwindling disposable cash. We, as authors and publishers, spend a lot of time thinking up innovative ways to market books.
You write under two names. Why? And could you explain the differences in the books? And has it been confusing for readers at all?
My first romance novel was written 20 years ago. At the time, it was a very different and scary thing for me, but also exciting. Most romance authors I knew of had pseudonyms, so I thought I should, too. When I was finally published, my father had just passed away, and it meant something to me to use his (my maiden) name as a kind of homage. Hence, Carter.
After I’d written a few romances, I wrote a middle grade mystery. It seemed inappropriate to have both genres under the Carter name, since theoretically the younger readers could mistake one of my more “mature audience” books for another middle grade. It hasn’t caused any confusion that I know of.
Tell us what’s next for you?
As mentioned, I’m already at work on the next lighthouse book. I plan to offer more lecture dates in 2012, as I find more and more people are interested in lighthouses and literature. I enjoy the festival circuit and will likely turn up at the Ventura Author Festival and L.A. Times Festival of Books, where I participate with a group of mystery authors we call “Murder We Wrote.”
Thanks, Jackie, as always, for a stimulating and interesting interview!