Posted by Susan Jean Ricci on Saturday, September 10, 2011
SR: Sarah, aside from the success of your current book, Life Was Cool Until You Got Popular, one of the most impressive creations I see on your site are your technical abilities. What was the motivating factor that spurred you into designing your own ebooks, and putting yourself out there to help others accomplish the same, while you continue your own writing?
SB: Something I love about small publishing and indie publishing is that you’re not put into a niche. You’re not just a writer or an editor or a marketer or cover designer. You get variety, you get to try your hand at a whole range of jobs and, though you’ll be better at some than others, you get to gain skills in them all.
I like building up my skill base, I like learning new things. And if I have the skills to say, format my own ebook or design my own cover art as well as write the novel then it not only gives me more control over my project, but saves me money.
As a part of the writing world, particularly children’s and Young Adult writing, I appreciate the generosity of spirit, the way we’re all working together with common goals, how a success for one is a success for all. I have skills I can contribute to that, I have skills such as editing and and designing book covers that I love to utilise to help other authors achieve their dreams. Helping others succeed is such a gift to me.
SR: Though I'm not looking have us stuck in the niche of your awesome techie stuff, I'm wondering if you learned these skills during your college/university years, or were you interested while you were attending school prior? I'm so curious because I had to utilize these same skills to make my website go live, using a young man of 15, because I didn't possess them and am learning still. Tell us where to go to utilize your talent, because, I for one may just be seeking your experise at some point with my ebook when it's ready.
SB: I did in fact learn these skills during university (I’m currently part time at university and sometimes it feels like I’ll never leave) but most of the skills I taught myself in my own time. I designed my first ever website in 2008 through trial and error with Photoshop for the images, and Microsoft Publisher for the layout. I love online tutorials that you can find on Youtube and websites. I learnt a bit about html and CSS for website design through online tutorials. I like playing with images when it comes to cover design, and find a bunch of images and different fonts and make a plethora of covers for the same title because the next one might say more about the book than the one before. And the next one I come up with might have the same tone as the book itself. Sometimes I create covers and use the feel of the cover to plot a new story. Images really do tell a thousand words, don’t they?
In April this year, I did use a class assignment to introduce me to the epublishing world. I needed to do a major assignment on some form of digital publishing and I decided to make an ebook. So I scoured the web for information, meticulously followed the Smashwords Style Guide until I got it right, designed covers, edited stories. I was going to produce a single ebook as my assessment (plus a report, of course) but I discovered skills I didn’t knew I had, and instead I produced 5.
SR: I had the pleasure of visiting Edwina Ray on Amazon/Smashwords, and since we, as writers, do have a tendency to have alter egos, I'm sure we'd all like to learn more about what made you decide to delve into this darker side of Sarah Billington and those child-eating Zombie creatures of yours.
SB: It’s actually the funny books that are the new side to me. When I was younger I used to write a lot of horror and thrillers, my sister hates my thrillers because I can do a mean cliffhanger when I want to. Writing comedy is actually the newer side to me. I really enjoy doing both, they fulfill different needs I guess, but if I was to write both under the same name I’m sure it would confuse readers. Readers of Life Was Cool Until You Got Popular for instance, are probably not the same readers as my gory short, I, Zombie. I mean, I like both genres but I wouldn’t want readers looking for something light and funny (as opposed to I, Zombie’s dark and funny) to read one of my darker, scarier works without knowing what they were getting. I want my readers to ENJOY it, after all. ☺ Especially as Life Was Cool Until You Got Popular is an upper-middle grade story, I, Zombie isn’t really appropriate reading for them. I chose the name Edwina Ray for my darker works because, well, it has more of an off-kilter feel to it than Sarah Billington, don’t you think? It has a better feel to it for scary works than Sarah Billington does. And why Edwina Ray, you ask? I have two middle names. My name is Sarah Edwina Ray Billington. ‘Nuff said?
SR: Yep! Your great sense of humor shines through on every post I've seen in your blogs, your websites, and your information page on Facebook as well. I especially gravitated towards your statement, that Sarah Billington dislikes talking about herself in the third person. (Do you know any of us that do?) So, here's you're opportunity to speak, in the first person, and embellish on whatever you'd like to share that makes Sarah Billington unique in her craft, so please do so. I'm eager to know more about you, and I'm sure your peers in the IWU do as well.
SB: Regardless of whether I am writing a comedy or a horror, I like to write the funny. Almost everything I write is going to have some sort of wry sense of humour to it, maybe a little sarcasm because…well…it’s what I like. And I can’t help doing it. I don’t take the world too seriously and it comes across in my writing, I don’t want my works to be too serious. If they are? I’ve probably done it wrong. Except for The Runaway, an Edwina Ray short story – and my best seller! – it’s a thriller and there’s no funny about it.
SR: What's next for Sarah Billington, when you've finished your studies? Please share your long term goals and aspirations with us.
SB: If I wasn’t in the publishing industry in some respect, I honestly don’t know what I’d be doing. Long term goals would be to make a comfortable living from writing – but isn’t that everyone’s goal? And to not have to work a day job, but I’ll probably choose to work part time somewhere so I don’t become a crazy dog lady hermit thing. I currently run my own media empire (lol) Billington Media through which I do editing of manuscripts, business, sales and academic documents, copy writing, cover design and ebook formatting. I would like to increase Billington Media’s services in the future, maybe even become an epublisher and I do have a dream of my own stationery line. It’ll happen. Working for yourself is nerve-wracking, though. It’s like job hunting for the rest of your life. I may choose to move into a traditional publishing house somewhere in the future – there’s something to be said for stability and holidays. We’ll see where the road takes me, hmm?
Thanks for having me, Sue!
You can find Sarah Billington’s works on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Billington/e/B004WQVGTC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
And Edwina Ray’s at http://www.amazon.com/Edwina-Ray/e/B00516Q5AW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2
Find out about Sarah’s editing work at www.billingtonmedia.com or www.sarahbillington.weebly.com
Connect with Sarah (cos she’d love you to) at:
The Blogosphere: The Sarah Billington Blog: http://sarahbillington.blogspot.com
Her newest ebook, Life Was Cool Until You Got Popular is an upper-middle grade comedy in the vein of Louise Rennison’s “Confessions of Georgia Nicolson” series, about best friends, worst friends, unwanted first crushes, “that talk” with your parents and doing everything wrong until you do it right. It is now available through all good edistributors.