Spotlight 18: Elaine Bateman
Mark Dawson: I’m Mark Dawson from the Self-Publishing Show and this is Self-Publishing Spotlight, where we shine a light on the indie authors who are changing the world of publishing one book at a time.
Tom Ashford: Hello, and welcome to the Self-Publishing Spotlight. We meet indie authors at all stages of their careers and ask them a series of five questions. Five questions about their process, their mistakes, and their successes. Five answers that will help you level-up your own author career.
My name’s Tom Ashford and I’m part of the Self-Publishing Formula. Don’t forget that you can get your Self-Publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
This week’s guest is Elaine Bateman. She’s written four books in the urban fantasy genre and she lives in the UK. Welcome Elaine.
Elaine Bateman: Hi, Tom.
Tom Ashford: How are you doing?
Elaine Bateman: I’m great, thank you. How are you?
Tom Ashford: I’m pretty good.
Do you want to talk a little bit about your books before we start?
Elaine Bateman: Sure. I’ve written a trilogy, plus a little reader magnet, and it’s about a girl who gains powers and loses her only parent in the space of 24 hours. Then she goes to an academy where she learns that her father was murdered by faders, creatures who are invisible. But the powers that she’s developed allow her to track those faders. After an attack, she’s transferred to another academy in Colorado and hilarity ensues.
Tom Ashford: Sounds interesting. And you’ve got a new book.
Have you got some sort of collaboration deal with someone at the moment?
Elaine Bateman: Yes. I’ve just finished my first book with Michael Anderle, and that’s an urban fantasy as well. It’s about an assassin who’s on the run from her former employers and she teams up with a vampire detective and a sorcerer, and they go solving crimes, as you do.
Tom Ashford: Amazing.
Let’s jump into the five questions. The first one is why do you write?
Elaine Bateman: Well, people who know how much I talk would be surprised to hear that writing is actually my preferred method of communication all around. And I think it’s probably because I think about the same speed as I type, but my mouth goes way faster than my brain and gets me into a lot of trouble.
I write because I’ve always preferred to write in any kind of communication, and I’ve got a bit of an imagination so put it to use.
Tom Ashford: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Elaine Bateman: No. I’ve said it over the years since I was a little girl, but never really made any attempts towards it until I started … I’ve worked in offices a few times and written weekly serials on the people that I work with, except I give them all different identities and stuff. I’ve always done that, which has always been fun. Yeah, it’s only recently that, in the last few years, that I thought, “You know what? If I’m going to do it, I should do it.”
Tom Ashford: Yeah, absolutely.
Why was that the particular story and genre that you chose to write in?
Elaine Bateman: It could have been any. I read crime fiction, high fantasy, urban fantasy. I’ll read anything. I don’t often read horror, but I’m quite tempted to have a go at a comedy horror, which would be fun. But, yeah, it could have been anything. That was just what I was into at the time, Twilight stuff.
Tom Ashford: Yeah, fair enough.
And are you self-published or traditionally published?
Elaine Bateman: Up until joining up with LMBPN, I was just independent. But now I guess I’m hybrid.
Tom Ashford: Yeah, that’s fantastic. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with Anderle, isn’t it?
Elaine Bateman: Massive. Huge.
Tom Ashford: That’s awesome.
Question number two is a slightly easier one. How do you write? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?
Elaine Bateman: Up to now, all my books have been pantsed. I know you hear the same thing over and over again, don’t you? People saying, “Oh, I started as a pantser,” and that’s really the case.
My first four books, including the one that I’ve just finished for Michael, have been pantsed. But I’m quite disorganized, and the fact that there was a word for that approach attracted me. It was like a good excuse. I’ve come to realize that it’s not really helping me move forward.
Michael’s been very understanding of the fact that I’m a bit slow, but at the same time his readers have certain expectations, and I don’t want to let him or them down. So, I’ve been learning to structure my work and make better use of my time. I’m learning to outline at the moment.
Tom Ashford: How did your deal with Michael Anderle come about?
Elaine Bateman: I went to 20Books Bali, primarily with one purpose, with something like four chapters of a work in progress in my sweaty little hand. I walked up to him and gave him that. It was the only way I could talk my husband into going to Bali. I was like, “Oh no, it’s really important for my career.”
Tom Ashford: Is it that hard to make a person go to Bali? It seems like a very nice place to go.
Elaine Bateman: It was a big investment, a huge investment for us. But I had faith in my own ability, and I really felt that it would fit in well with what Michael does. So, yeah. Went and gave him the few chapters, and he said he’d read it when he got back. Which was fantastic, because I didn’t have to worry or hide for the rest of the week. Then he contacted me a couple of weeks later and said he’d like to work with me.
Tom Ashford: Fantastic.
Elaine Bateman: I did a little dance, and then I got on with it.
Tom Ashford: It obviously paid off.
Elaine Bateman: Yep.
Tom Ashford: Okay. Well, in terms of the, go back to how you write.
What sort of software do you use to create your manuscripts? You use Scrivener or Word or…?
Elaine Bateman: I use both. I use Scrivener up until the point of finishing it enough to send to the editor. I compile it into Word and send it off. And then when it comes back after that, I just work in Word.
Tom Ashford: And is there a particular time and place that you prefer writing?
Elaine Bateman: I’ve tried to be a grown up and work normal human British hours, but quite often, even if I start at 8:00 in the morning or whatever, I might not finish until 6:00 the next morning, because I do tend to naturally work better at night, so I do tend to work overnight. But then I’m sleeping half the day and it’s not great, and when it’s been nice weather like this.
Tom Ashford: Aye.
That leads us into question number three which is, are you a full time author? If you are, how did you get that? And if you aren’t, what steps are you taking to make it happen?
Elaine Bateman: Well, you know how they say, “Oh, you should always make sure you’re consistently earning enough to survive before you go full time?”
Tom Ashford: Yeah.
Elaine Bateman: I didn’t do that. I’ve got a small pension that gives me a few hundred a month, and some savings. Really, I decided it was just time, when I got back from Bali, and realized I was going to be working with Michael. I knew that my time was more valuable and better spent working, so working on the books. I gave up my day job and now I’m frantically trying to finish books for Michael so I can earn some money.
Tom Ashford: That’s fantastic.
Question number four is what mistakes do you think you’ve made, and what have you got right?
Elaine Bateman: Oh, god. Loads.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. I think we all have,
Elaine Bateman: Oh, god. Most of mine, I’ll be honest, have been financial. I have blown through so much cash. Oh my god. A lot of it could have been avoided.
I joined organizations I didn’t need to, bought every bit of software that anyone suggested, I threw money at advertising without knowing what I was doing. My first editor was on Fiverr, I think English was maybe his ninth language. That was a huge mistake. But I joined the Society of Authors before I needed to, and that was pure vanity. That was just, I don’t know, throwing a bit of money away for no purpose.
The first designer I used was awful. They were expensive, but they just did what I asked. And honestly, I didn’t know anything and they had all the knowledge, so really they should have just slapped me around and told me what I was supposed to be doing, instead of just doing the stupid things that I was asking them to do. That was a mistake. But I’ve had good designers since.
What else? Really, the business side of it. I still don’t know what to do about my taxes.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. I think taxes confuses everyone. You can see that in the SPF Facebook groups.
Elaine Bateman: Oh yeah. You’re not wrong. There were some expenses that I felt were worthwhile, like Publisher Rocket, Vellum. Oh my god, Vellum is fantastic. Mark’s courses. Absolutely. And of course the huge expense to go to 20Books Bali.
Tom Ashford: A good investment though.
Elaine Bateman: Oh, absolutely. That was a good one. But it’s been mostly financial, if I’m honest. Just because I had a lot of money when I started, I was just throwing it around. It was ridiculous.
Tom Ashford: Well, I think that’s an issue for a lot of people when they first start out, is either they spend a lot of money because they don’t know where to direct, or they haven’t got a lot of money, and therefore it’s a struggle to invest in the businesses as they try to get it off the ground.
Question number five, the fifth and the final one, is what’s your final piece of advice for authors starting out in indie publishing?
Elaine Bateman: Oh, don’t do anything I did.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. Except go to Bali and talk to Michael Anderle.
Elaine Bateman: Well, yeah, there is that. Yeah, that was probably number one.
But, realistically, you don’t need to do it alone, I think. There are so many great resources and communities out there. There’s local groups and podcasts and YouTube videos, and online groups like SPF and 20Books, and the Alliance of Independent Authors. All those fantastic resources are out there. You don’t need to do it alone, and you do not need to throw your money at every shiny thing, I think, really, is one of my number ones.
Tom Ashford: We met at the London Book Fair in March.
Elaine Bateman: We did.
Tom Ashford: Would you recommend that to a budding author?
Elaine Bateman: Oh god, yes. It was fantastic. The first time I went, I didn’t really know anyone. I was a member of ALLi, and I hung around their stand quite a lot, getting in the way.
But when I went to walk around the fair, I felt very disconnected and didn’t really know what I was doing there. But then when I got back into the indie area, I felt so much more comfortable, and the talks were great.
There is a risk not knowing people, that that you might not really know the best things to do. But the second time I went when, when I was sitting with with you guys, I really enjoyed it. I knew so many more people, and the people who came up to talk to you, when they couldn’t get to talk to you were talking to me, so it’s fantastic.
Tom Ashford: Great. I’m glad that it was worth going to, and hopefully we’ll see you again next time.
Elaine Bateman: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
Tom Ashford: Awesome. Well thank you very much for coming on. That’s the five questions up.
Elaine Bateman: Wow. That was fast.
Tom Ashford: That’s it for this week’s Self-Publishing Spotlight.
Don’t forget that you can get your free self-publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
And if you want to appear as a guest on this show, send us brief details about yourself and your writing, at selfpublishingformula.com/spotlight-guest. I’m Tom Ashford, and I’ll see you again next week.
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