Greetings and welcome to The Indie Spot. It is my privilege and honor to introduce to you author and RWISA member Peggy Hattendorf — in her own words! Take it away, Peggy…
1) How long have you been writing?
My professional writing started in the mid-1970’s, when I created volunteer and staff handbooks for a number of agencies in the non-profit field.
I entertained the idea of writing a novel about 10 years ago but purposely shelved the plan for nearly two years due to other commitments. The notion of writing fiction still gnawed at me and I would jot down potential characters, ideas and storylines during this hiatus. When I finally dusted off my old notes, scribbles and research and read over the material, I realized I had the makings for a good story. With new found enthusiasm, I set about writing my first novel. My background with upscale and luxury travel products served a cornerstones in the character development and storyline.
2) How many books have you authored?
At present, I have one novel Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty.
3) Do you have a writing schedule?
Yes. Currently I am working on my second book in the family dynasty series. This one still focuses on the wealthy Barrington family, and I utilize some of my travel destination research for the magazine to add new locations and settings for the book.
4) You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?
I was honored and humbled to have been selected by personal invitation from Nonnie as one of the first 10 people to join RWISA. I believe I was invited into this organization because I am a strong and focused writer with a distinct voice and style. I take writing very seriously and continue to strive to be the best in all I produce. With my debut novel, I’ve been able to create a captivating story with well defined characters in exquisite settings and locations; appropriately interrupting the narrative with savvy and funny dialogue while maintaining suspense with plot twists and turns to keep the reader engaged until the very end.
5) Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?
I am a serious writer who continues to advance my professional endeavors, hone my skills and strive for excellence. I write with passion and want to translate that deep purpose to the reader. As a character driven writer, I use that passion to create a compelling and richly developed cast. I write in my head and start assembling this small grouping around a central theme and the storyline develops. I use logic, structure and organization in developing clear ideas and how to express them in a solid story. I’m grounded in data, research and fact-checking for credibility and authenticity. For example, in certain instances, it’s more appropriate for character and life-style to use more formal language in dialogue. I deliver a readable story with good content, a strong storyline, an intriguing plot, crackling dialogue from well crafted characters presented in elegant settings around the world.
6) If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?
I was fortunate years ago to have had this experience. My husband and I had dinner with the late Allen Reed Folsom and his wife Karen at their home in Malibu. He was a screenwriter for years but his big break came with his thriller, The Day After Tomorrow, about a Neo-Nazi cult. We were with them shortly after he sold this debut novel in 1993 for $2 million dollars, a record at that time. As elated as he was to have sold his novel, he said it took him decades to get to that point. He was diligently working on his second book at the time of our visit. Had I known then, I would someday venture into this whelm, I would have been armed with a list of questions to ask him over dinner.
There is another author, Patricia Cornwall that I would find most interesting to involve in conversation. She is a seasoned serial writer and I am writing my second book in my family dynasty series. Her Scarpetta Series is one of my favorites as she uses a strong female lead, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner by training. I too have a strong female lead, also a career woman, Christiana Lynn Barrington. If I could “pick” Ms. Cornwall’s brain, I would inquire as to how she keeps a series “fresh” and interesting writing a total of 35 books in 27 years. As she also writes children’s books and cookbooks, I would be curious as to what prompted her move into other genres. In addition, I would ask if she found her work as a journalist an asset in writing fiction.
7) Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?
I do love being an INDIE writer and am not looking for outside representation. But with that said, if I was offered a publishing contract today, from a recognized publishing house, it would warrant my time and attention to understand the facts and terms of the contract. My desire is to have Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty adapted into a television movie or mini-series and that might be one of the major advantages of having an agent.
8) As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to have the third and final book in my family dynasty series complete. In so doing, this will require more travel for my inspirations, settings and research.
9) What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?
I joined a very supportive network – Rave Reviews Book Club. I would tell any new author to commence the overall marketing process well before completion of the book and go online and immediately join Rave Reviews Book Club.
10) Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?
I would suggest Rebecca Reilly. I believe she is a gifted writer as demonstrated in her book Haunting Megan.
11) What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?
Enjoy each and every step of this “creative journey” and don’t be in a rush to publish.
12) Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?
There are certainly a number of prominent authors who publish several books per year to satisfy contractual terms of their publishers and keep their readership engaged through new releases. Some writers are co-authoring books possibly to keep ahead of the competition. It is hard to place a chronological time period on quality work. I believe each body of work should be judged on the quality alone without regard to the amount of time it took to produce the manuscript.
13) If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?
I would absolutely halt the release date if the book was not deemed ready for publication. At the same time, I would issue a statement that the release date had to be pushed back and add the new publication date to keep up the interest from my fan and readership base. In the interim, I would continue to have contact with my readership via blogs etc.
14) In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”
In my opinion, a “great book” is based on a number of key elements and I use the broad categories of fiction and non-fiction works. For a fiction book, I look for the following: *interesting storyline, * intriguing plot, * proper pace and flow, * well-defined characters, *crisp dialogue and * above all it must be a readable story! In a non-fiction book you also need an interesting storyline and proper pace and flow. Moreover, a non-fiction book must: * present an engaging topic, subject or person, * deliver insight or knowledge – possibly not known prior to reading the book and * be well researched with verifiable data and first-hand documentation, if possible. No matter the type of book or genre, it must be well written and hold the reader’s attention.
15) If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?
I take my writing career very seriously and strive to deliver quality and excellence in all my work. Unfortunately, some editing issues have been brought to my attention and I have engaged Nonnie Jules and her team at 4Wills Publishing to address the items not identified and corrected by the former contracted editors.
The Importance of your Author Brand and Reputation
By Peggy Hattendorf
Improper branding or a tarnished reputation can sink your career.
Proper messaging and a solid reputation, on the other hand, add both tangible and intangible benefits. A recognized brand is a strategic tool and important business asset which can determine your success as an author – as much as quality or price. Branding is imperative to commercializing your business, advancing product exposure and leading to increased demand for your books and products.
The American Marketing Association defines brand as, “a name, term, sign, symbol or combination of these, intended to identify the goods and services of the seller and to differentiate it from competitors.” Branding is all activities that raise awareness for your business and helps shape consumers’ perceptions, awareness, associations and loyalty.
Professional reputation is defined as the “public” opinion about your business determined in part by the image and quality of products and services and further conditioned by consumer understanding, knowledge and intuition. A “good” reputation helps build brand loyalty. The terms brand and reputation are interrelated and sometimes a strong brand image can combat some reputation issues.
- Improves recognition.
- Assists in promotion of products/books/services.
- Attributes quality, value and reliability.
- Associates an image – “luxury” or “mass-market” as examples.
- Creates trust, credibility, legitimacy and loyalty.
- Supports advertising.
- Differentiates from the competition.
- Generates customer sales.
- Builds financial value and resources.
- Defines public beliefs or opinions generally held about a person or business.
- Harder to build than to destroy.
- Requires effort, patience and time to build.
- Needs consistency and constant attention.
- Represents your value in the marketplace.
The establishment of a solid brand, positive image and a good reputation are key elements for creating success in the literary world.
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