Thursday, 30 April 2015

A visit from womagwriter Samantha Tonge

Today's guest is Samantha Tonge.
My fourth romantic comedy, Game of Scones, has just been released by CarinaUK Harlequin. I signed my first ever novel publishing contract with them in September 2013 and it has been a whirlwind of reviews, rankings and blog tours ever since. Before that, I wrote short stories and have sold over fifty to The People’s Friend. So what, in my opinion, are the differences, between being an earning short story writer and novelist? 
Writing time is limited, once you become a published author, especially if you write for a digital-first imprint. The turnaround is very quick and you are expected to do a lot of promotion yourself. When I was a short story writer, I just had a website and belonged to Facebook.  Then my agent advised me to join Twitter, whilst we were subbing my debut novel Doubting Abbey. Next my new publisher suggested I set up profiles with Pinterest , Tumblr and GoodReads as well. It was a huge shock, those first few months, realising just how much of my time would go into tweeting and blogging about my novels to get word ‘out there’. Whereas all I had to do when writing short stories was, well write. That was it. Paid and done. 
For the first couple of books, I’d say earnings were much the same, but then with novels, as your back catalogue grows, so does each royalty cheque, as each new book encourages sales of the ones before. Whereas with short stories, really all you are being paid for is the latest work. So whilst at first you feel you are putting in lots more time for not much more profit as an author, gradually that situation is reversed.
Also, as a short story writer, I felt more like an employee, sending off my work, having it accepted, getting paid... Whereas as a digital-first novelist, I now empathise with anyone who is self-employed. I work long hours, especially around book launches, as I know a lot of my income is dependent on spreading word of my books. This is not the case with writing short stories, which for me was much more of a nine til five job.

So if your dream is to become a published author, just realise your writing day will change – unless you land a deal with a big publisher who allocates you your own publicist! And if you reach the dizzy heights of some authors (not me!), there will also be real-world, not virtual, book tours, public speaking and lots of events. That prospect is rather exciting and I wouldn’t change a thing about the path my career has so far taken. However I look back on my short story days with great fondness. Hopefully, at some point, I may find time to write shorts again – although I’m not holding my breath!

16 comments:

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Great post, Sam and Patsy.

Sam, I'm hugely impressed by your output. Do you mind if I ask, do you miss short story writing? And do you think you might go back to it at some point?

Kath McGurl said...

Your heights look pretty dizzy to me, Sam! Thanks for sharing this.

Julie Day said...

Great post. I'm pleased I am staying an indie author where I can control my own input and marketing.

Wendy's Writing said...

You've done so well, Sam. As you know I am juggling novel and short stories because I just can't give them up but I suppose if I was published, I might have to think again.

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks Suzanne! Yes, I do miss writing shorts - I loved writing for the PF and I loved the variety of stories. But having said that, I think my first love now is the chicklit. Ideally though, I would like to do both and haven't ruled that out for the future...x

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks so much, Kath!

Thanks Julie! I think with my publisher - for me - I have the best of both worlds. I do the Social Media which i love, and they do the big stuff like getting my books into Amazon promotions. I am not at all techie either, so hugely admire authors who take on new marketing tools and do formatting etc themselves.. x

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks so much, Wendy. Yes, you might, certainly if you go digital first! But forewarned is best prepared and you are already tweeting and fbking... I think readers would miss your stories! x

Patsy said...

I can't imagine I'll ever stop short stories myself, but I do see how the books might take over.

Sandra Cox said...

Many congrats on this, Samantha.
Love the cover.

Hello to Patsy.

Samantha Tonge said...

Never say never, Patsy!
Thank you so much, Sandra!

Sue Blackburn said...

Fabulous post. Thank you Sam and Patsy. It sounds exhausting, Sam, but very rewarding. I like writing short stories cos of the time element. Finished product in - well hopefully in! - a relatively short time. I don't think I'd have the patience to write a novel. But hey, never say never! :-) x

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks Sue! Hmm, you might find the desire to write a novel creep up on you, you never know!! xx

Patsy said...

I had no plans to write a novel until I realised the short story I was working on was 40,000 words and nowhere near finished.

Colette McCormick said...

Great post and well done Sam you deserve your success. I started off writing short stories, had a dozen or so published and "wrote" a novel at the same time. These days though I seem to barely have tome to write a shopping list never mind anything else.

Samantha Tonge said...

LOL, aw thank you Colette! I am lucky enough to write full-time, I know it can be a real juggling hat for some people. Best of luck with it :)

Molly Wishlade said...

Hey honey, you've worked really hard to get where you are and your success is well deserved. Love your novels and know you have even more success coming your way. Hugs gorgeous girlie! Xxxxx