Monday, November 7, 2011

Indie Insider - Ann Werner

How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish on average?

It usually takes a year, more or less. I’ve got novels sitting on the back burner that I‘ve written over the years and I’m planning to update them. Right now I’m working on doing just that. Sometimes the rewrite process is more difficult than starting from scratch.

How many hours a day do you spend writing? Editing? Procrastinating?

I’m GREAT at procrastinating. Then I feel guilty and get down to it. It depends on what I’ve got on tap for the day. When I’m writing a brand new novel, I spend about three to four hours writing. After that, I feel almost physically exhausted, so I go away from the computer but I continue to think about the story and more often than not, will jot down notes on scraps of paper that I have strategically located throughout the house. Now that I think of it, I follow the same process for editing. Sometimes I’ve awakened in the middle of the night because I’ve dreamed of something about the project I’m currently working on. I have a pen and paper handy in the nightstand next to my bed for such occasions.

How are your book covers designed?

I have used a gentleman by the name of Ralph Faust. I’ll tell him what I envision and he comes back with something wonderful. He never ceases to amaze me. Like me, he’s very nitpicky and pays attention to detail. I love that!

What do you do when you get writers block?

Walk around in circles and talk to myself. I’m not kidding. I really do. I ask myself what I would do in whatever situation is causing me to freeze. Sometimes it’s not so much a block as how to put something into words. When that happens, I go to my bookshelf and pull down a few of my favorite authors and flip through their books and get ideas from the way they’ve opened chapters or paragraphs.

Which narrative form and tense do you use and why?

I’ve run the gamut. I’ve got a couple of stories that are told from the protagonist’s point of view, using the first person, past tense and others that are observational and use the third person, past tense. However, the novel I’m working on now is using both. The villain is an unknown factor for a large portion of the book but the reader is inside the villain’s head, hearing the first person present tense thoughts as they play out. I think if you use different techniques, and use them judiciously, it makes a story more interesting and involving for the reader.

Where do you get your ebooks formatted?

I’ve utilized Create Space to format for Kindle but I’ve also got a friend in the industry, Julie Ricks, who has formatted Dreams and Nightmares for NOOK and Smashwords. She’s working on a project right now for a non-fiction my daughter and I have produced.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.

Once I finish a manuscript, I pick out ten people who I know are readers and will give me an unvarnished opinion and give them a copy of the manuscript. The understanding is they will finish reading it and give me a critique within two weeks. At that point, my primary concern is mistakes in spelling, grammar and mistakes or holes in the plot. I don’t always use what they tell me but if more than two people mention something, I know it needs attention. Actually, if two people point out the same thing, it’ll warrant attention.

In Dreams and Nightmares one of my readers, a woman I’ve known since grade school and a good, Catholic lady, thought the language from my less than savory characters wasn’t strong enough. I was worried the nasty language might offend her but she pointed out that these were criminals and weren’t going to be speaking the King’s English. Point well taken! After I get all that feedback and make whatever changes I feel are necessary, then I’ll go to a professional editor.

Which is the most important social media platform and why? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other one you use.

I think they all have their uses. Twitter is great because you can reach so many people but you’re on a feed that blips by at sometimes lightning speed. I utilize all of them to one extent or another. Facebook allows you a lot more leeway in what you communicate to your followers and it’s great to be able to put up a graphic of your book to make an imprint on the brains of the people seeing your post. Same thing goes for Goodreads. I’ve used LinkedIn more to gather information than to promote myself. I participate in a few groups there and also on Goodreads. There’s a very supportive community out there and you never know where your next tip or cheerleader is going to come from.

What are three unique web sites or blogs that you follow on a regular basis? (related to writing etc.)

I am subscribed to A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and I check in with Preditors and Editors, which is a great resource for finding out who is on the up and up and who is out for your money. It covers everything having to do with writing, from publishers to agents to contests etc. I’m also subscribed to several discussions on Goodreads and LinkedIn and have been a member of Born2Write in Yahoo Groups for at least a decade.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love to read and I love to write. I know not everyone will be my demographic but for those who are, it is my sincere hope that I will deliver a satisfying experience each and every time. I once went to a three-day writer’s conference where there were several well-known guest speakers. One was a man who wrote biographies of famous people and he advised the audience to make sure that what they wrote was IMPORTANT. I was very new to writing for public consumption back then and just getting my feet wet. I had a novel I’d finished and was sending around titled The People Next Door.

After hearing him speak, I went back to my room and cried because I felt like what I had written wasn’t important. But then I started to think: what does that mean? I thought about the times in my life when I was going through hard times: when I was a young woman and my new husband was sent off to war and I was pregnant, when I was going through a wrenching divorce, when I lost people I loved, when I didn’t know if I could pay the rent or put food on the table.

To get away from the stress of those problems I would turn to a book. Not a big, “important” tome, but something that would rescue me from reality for a brief time: make me cry, make me scared, make me laugh and yes, sometimes educate me. But most of all, entertain me. THAT is important. And that is what I wish to do. Entertain you.


  1. I have Dreams and Nightmares on my Amazon Xmas wishlist for my boyfriend to buy. I can't wait to read it!!Awesome interview!!

  2. This is a terrific interview. You make a lot of good points, especially about what's 'important' in a book. I also walk in circles and talk to myself when I'm plotting. :)