Welcome to Day 8 of #NJ12DaysOfAuthors June Series! @EmptySeatsNovel #EmptySeats @RRBC_Org #RRBC @NonnieJules
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On the 8th day of the June “12 Days of Authors” Series… Nonnie’s gift to you…
AUTHOR, WANDA FISCHER!
Born in Kingsport, Tennessee yet raised in the Boston area (one parent from each area), I developed a love of folk and traditional music at an early age, making my singing debut at the age of four at a family reunion. Following a 40-year-plus career in public relations/marketing/media relations, as well as dabbling in broadcasting, I decided to do something I’d always aspired to: write novel. In the 1960s, I’d always wanted to be a sportswriter; however, during those days, that career was a difficult reach for women. After college, I became involved in social justice causes such as civil rights, womens’ rights and anti-Vietnam war activities and left sportswriting behind. I still loved sports, especially baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox. They’re still my team, even though I live in upstate New York (Yankee-land). While my husband was in medical school, I learned how to become a radio broadcaster and have have a folk music show on non-commerical and public radio for more than 45 years. Folk Alliance International inducted me into the Folk DJ Hall of Fame in 2019. I have also recorded a CD, “Singing Along with the Radio,” and do a fair amount of singing. I’ve also been a photographer for many years and have had my photos published in books and magazine.
NJ: Hi, Wanda! We’re running behind so we’ve no time to waste. Let’s get to it! Is your author name a pen name or your birth name?
Wanda: It’s my maiden name and my married name combined.
NJ: What genre or genres do you write under and are you Indie or traditionally published?
Wanda: My first novel straddles a couple of fences: Young Adult and General Fiction. The one I’m working on now is a sequel to the first, and I’d say it’s more General Fiction than YA. I’m an Indie. I tried to go the traditional publishing route. One of my good friends in publishing introduced me to an agent, who–may I be frank here?–strung me along for a while. I decided that at my age, I didn’t have time to send out thousands of query letters and sit and wait. The indie route has worked well for me.
Inspired by some of the young men I’ve observed in minor-league baseball–especially those who will never fulfill their dreams of playing in the big leagues, Empty Seats follows three very different young men who think it will be an easy ride from their local stardom in their hometowns. Little do they know that they’ll be competing with every other talented kid who has the same dream. Set in 1972, this is not a happy-ending, everyone-wins book; rather, these three face serious challenges as they seek to find their photos on Major League baseball cards–not always on the baseball diamond.
NJ: Where can readers purchase your book and how much is it?
Wanda: It’s available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as directly from me (www.wandafischer.com) in hardcover form ($15.99). Amazon has the ebook as well for $2.99. It’s also available as an audiobook on Audible.com. Despite my background in broadcasting, I did not narrate the audiobook. I felt the audiobook required the services of a male voice, so I auditioned a number of actors and chose the one I thought was the most appropriate.
NJ: Wanda, I have been in this business long enough to know that quite a few readers have a purchase price point and will only spend so much on an e-book. How do you price your books and what is your logic behind the pricing?
Wanda: Well…This is tricky. Initially, I had a distributor who priced my ebook at $5.99! I fought and fought with them to reduce the price. Then I took over control of the price myself. It’s at $2.99 now and I think that’s fair. It also means that I can run specials or sales. I expect that when I finally get the sequel finished, I can run a sale or a free offer for the original book. I am in control now. When Empty Seats first came out, the distributor was in control. No more.
NJ: Good for you! Now, I got on Twitter many years ago because my social media manager at the time, told me that I needed to be on Twitter. He did not give me an actual reason as to why (I had to learn my “why” on my own), just that I needed to be there. What was your main reason for getting on Twitter? For support? For fun?
Wanda: I was on Twitter prior to writing my book. I actually have three accounts–one for my social justice causes, one for my radio station and one for my novel. I have to be careful about my political views on the one for my radio show. It’s on public radio, and I don’t post that much on that Twitter feed. I usually save that for my main feed. For my Empty Seats Twitter feed, I concentrate on books and baseball. Every now and then, someone will sneak in a social justice issue. I try to steer them away from that unless it’s book-related, or unless it’s got something to do with social justice in sports (e.g., “Should LeBron James use his huge celebrity platform to speak out against [fill in the blank]…, or on Jackie Robinson Day, I might speak out about racism and why there aren’t more African-Americans in Major League Baseball as players or managers). I also like to use the Empty Seats Twitter to make connections with other authors, especially to support the work of fellow authors and cheer them on if they’re experiencing writer’s block or otherwise discouraged.
NJ: What other social media platforms do you use to market your book, and have you found them to be beneficial?
Wanda: I use Facebook to market my book, but I haven’t found it to be particularly fruitful. It was when the book first came out but not now. I am trying to come up with new angles on FB. I have an Instagram account and am trying to discover ways to sneak in a word or two about the book. Instagram requires photos and specific tie-ins. I’m learning. I have a LinkedIn account, but since I retired from my “day” job, I rarely visit that page.
NJ: Supporting others is a huge part of my identity. I believe that when you invest your time and support in others, you find that your circle grows by leaps and bounds of others giving the same to you. When I first got involved heavily on Twitter, I was pushing others more than I was pushing myself – I continue to do so. Do you support others on social media? If so, how?
Wanda: I do support others on social media. When I was working full-time, I did media relations. In order to interest a reporter in doing a story about something going on in my agency (I worked exclusively at not-for-profits and/or governmental agencies), I had to come up with new angles or new approaches to stories. It’s not enough, for example, to say, “It’s national [whatever] week, and I have an expert on that.” You have to say something to the effect of “My director’s available because [and come up with something no one else has that’s related to national whatever week].” It takes a lot of thought. I try to do the same for other authors when they’re writing about things appropriate to today’s news, even if it’s fiction. I think it’s crucial to stay current with news so that even if there’s just a paragraph in your fiction story that discusses, for example, the life of a butler in the White House and there’s a butler in the White House is retiring after serving 44 years, you can make a connection to someone’s book on Twitter to pique interest.
NJ: Wanda, do you actually take the time to read tweets from others before you retweet them, or do you just hit “retweet” without ever engaging in the tweet?
Wanda: No, I read them. You can get into trouble if you just hit the RT button. Your own name and reputation goes along with that RT. Don’t forget that.
NJ: That’s the smart thing to do, Wanda, and you are correct! Your reputation is tied to every tweet and retweet you send out. If you could map out the perfect way that you would want others to support you on social media, how would you ask your followers to support you? Just imagine that everyone who reads this interview will run out and follow you. How could they best support you? What would you have them do?
Wanda: I think the best way to support me personally as a writer is to offer constructive criticism. I can take criticism as long as it’s done in a way in which I can learn something. I’m still a neophyte when it comes to writing fiction. I wrote for a living for 40-plus years in feature and news writing. I need honesty from my fellow writers, and I have received this from several of the RRBC people whom I’ve “met” since having joined. I want to meet some of these same people in person one day. That’s my goal. I hope that people feel the same way about me. I want support to be a two-way street. That’s the best way to support me.
NJ: Of course, we all feel the very same way about you! You are adored at RRBC! Wanda, we all learn something new almost every day while on social media and I like sharing what I have learned with other authors, in hopes that it will benefit them in some way. Have you come across any writing resources that might benefit other authors? If so, share 2 or 3 of them with us, please.
Wanda: I subscribe to the Writers’ Center in Albany, NY. They do interviews of incredible writers (e.g., Margaret Atwood, Ta-na-hishi Coates, William Kennedy, etc.). The interviews are available online. Also, I would encourage people to listen to The Book Show on WAMC (the radio station where I work). The host, Joe Donahue, does superb author interviews. These are available at www.wamc.org. I have been reading James Baldwin’s novels over the past couple of weeks. The latest is “Go Tell It on The Mountain.” Reading great books helps me more than anything else.
NJ: OK, now can you share with our audience 2 or 3 of the top methods you use to market your books?
Wanda: I had success in getting newspaper articles and one national radio interview about my book. Again, I used the “find a different angle” to be successful to gain these pieces. I was on a now-defunct national show called “Only a Game” by telling them that in the 1960s I wanted to be a sportswriter, so instead, 50 years later, I wrote a book about baseball. I tapped into a local TV show focusing on women doing the same thing. I also did a lot of appearances at independent bookstores. I understand they’re going virtual now. I’m going to start tapping into that.
NJ: What is the one bit of writing advice you would give to any author, experienced or newbie?
Wanda: READ. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read classics, read genres you would never thing you would like, read short stories, read poetry. But READ.
NJ: Is your reputation as a writer important to you, OR might we look up one day and find that you are in a Twitter brawl with someone?
Wanda: I don’t do Twitter brawls. I choose my words carefully because my reputation as a writer is crucial to me. I want people to regard me as honest and true to my mission as a writer, and still able to handle criticism.
NJ: Those last four words, Wanda, tugged at my heart. And my response to them… as every professional author should be able to do. Kudos to you, Wanda! In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the writers you see today around social media, versus the writers of old?
Wanda: Sometimes the writers I see today don’t do enough research, especially when doing historical writing. Hemingway’s style was so specific to him and his stories. Some of the “classics” tend to be “flowery,” perhaps with too much over-the-top descriptive language. Each writer, however, has his/her own style. I don’t want to read someone who’s trying to imitate Faulkner or Toni Morrison. I want someone to find his/her own voice.
NJ: I look for the same when I’m searching for a new favorite author. I don’t want someone trying to do it like someone else; I want someone with their own flair and style. Wanda, do you value professionalism in the literary arena and worry that the lack thereof makes it harder for those of us who wish to be taken seriously in this business? Or, does the unprofessional behavior of some around social media not bother you at all?
Wanda: Perhaps what bothers me the most about professionalism–or lack thereof–is that some of the lesser talented people gain more notoriety than their more talented counterparts. What is sometimes mistaken for professionalism turns out to be the squeaky wheel getting the grease. We’re also seeing a spate of celebrity writers who seem to get the spotlight when they use ghost writers or don’t admit to having used a ghost writer. Is this professionalism? Do we confuse commercialism with professionalism? This is one of the things that drives me crazy. Some of the books I’ve read by RRBC writers have impressed me so much more than some of the New York Times best sellers. Is that the result of commercialism just because those NYT best seller authors can afford big-time PR/media relations people (such as I was for so many years), or are they REALLY better writers than those of us who work so hard to be professional? I’d rather read a professionally written book by someone who takes his/her writing seriously than some of the slick things I see in some book stores. And yes, the unprofessional behavior of some around social media bothers me a great deal. I just haven’t figured out how to do anything about it.
NJ: You haven’t? Oh, I can help you with that, Wanda. Block them and turn and walk the other way. Run, if you have to – just get away from the lot of them – those whose behavior mimics that of children on a playground throwing tantrums. If you have ever received any, how do you handle not-so-flattering reviews of your book(s)?
Wanda: The worst review I ever received was “Not a compelling story.” That was it. I can handle criticism, but I’d like a little more than four words. If someone wants to give my book a not-so-flattering review, please leave me some constructive criticism so that when I’m working on my next book, I may have some words of wisdom I can take into account. I may be in my eighth decade on this earth, but I can still learn. The not-so-flattering reviews from other authors have said some things that have been helpful.
NJ: I’ve learned that every review posted isn’t posted by someone who actually knows how to review. Do you appreciate honesty regarding your writing because you know that only honest feedback allows you to grow as a writer, or are you one of those who would prefer that others lie to you and tell you only what they know you want to hear?
Wanda: I expect some people I know personally (especially some of my baseball friends, who aren’t avide readers) to write flattering things. However, I would prefer that readers give me an honest opinion. You can give me an honest opinion without daggers, of course, but I still want to know what you think.
NJ: Great answer! Great interview! Thanks for joining me today, Wanda!
OTHER QUICK FACTS ABOUT WANDA…
- Writing since 2nd grade
- Writes full-time
- Random topic blogger
- Does a radio show weekly and plays tennis competitively
- One book published to date – EMPTY SEATS
- “Empty Seats is my favorite because it’s finished. I have the sequel I’m working on, and I have ideas for two more, but so far, the first-born remains the favorite.”
FOLLOW WANDA ON…
Guests, thank you so much for dropping by to support Wanda on Day 8 of the June “12 DAYS OF AUTHORS” Series! It would be awesome if you would pick up a copy of her book above, and after reading, share your review to Amazon. Ensure that you leave her a comment below, and also LIKE her feature before you leave, for your chance to win the grand prize package listed above! We’d both appreciate it if you would share this feature to Twitter and Facebook, as well.
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