Self-professed ‘comedy geek’ author R.S. Grey begun her first novel four years ago. Now a USA-Today Bestselling author with 11 books to her name, we sit her down to talk about her love of reading, staying inspired and how she copes with writer’s isolation.
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
I am a USA-TODAY bestselling author of 11 books. I currently live in Houston, Texas with my husband and two dogs. When I’m not writing, I’m usually practicing yoga, binge-watching TV, or reading in bed.
What made you want to be a writer?
As with most authors, I have always been an avid reader. I would spend my summers devouring book after book. Through college, I kept a journal, though I never thought anything would come from it. While finishing up my undergraduate degree, a friend challenged me to write a novel. It was an off-hand remark, and I could have easily brushed it aside and kept on going with my life plan at the time—which was to pursue a career in the medical field—but her challenge stuck with me. I started to write my first novel four years ago and haven’t looked back.
What inspires you to write?
I find most of my inspiration comes from other forms of media: music, books, television or film. As a romantic comedy writer, there is nothing quite like digesting the comedic perfection in an episode of The Office. I also find myself incredibly inspired after finishing a good book. There’s a spark that comes with wanting to become a better, funnier writer.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Never give up. My first book was an absolute flop. I had no clue how to market or build a brand. I simply wrote a book and put it out there for the world, thinking that was all I had to do. It would have been so easy to give up after that first book, but I didn’t. So please, don’t give up.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Make sure you want a publisher in the first place. Today, there are so many routes authors can take whether it be self-published, hybrid, or traditionally published. Do your research and make sure that going the traditionally published route is the right decision for you.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
Rejection is best met with a healthy dose of perspective. I let myself delve into the feelings for a day or two, really roll around in self-pity, and then it’s time to get some perspective on the situation. I never compare myself to others, but I compare myself to other versions of what my life could have been. If I’m disappointed in how a book release went or if a publisher passed on a book, I pinch myself and am quick to remember that four years ago, I never thought I would be a full-time writer in the first place.
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
This is the most difficult part of the job for me. I’ve walked by clothing stores hiring seasonal employees and had fleeting thoughts of walking in an applying simply to have co-workers for a little while. Writing is the loneliest professional and the way I’ve learned to handle it over the years is to get out of my house. I like to write from coffee shops around my neighbourhood. For me, there’s comfort in being surrounded by people, even if I’m in my own world, crafting a scene. I think I would go crazy is I wrote from home. The almond milk lattes help too.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Name recognition is a big part of selling books. It’s taken me four years to build the audience that I have. Starting out, it can be difficult to find readers willing to take a chance on a new author. However, I think working with book bloggers and building relationships with them is a great way to get your foot in the door in those early days.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
I know it can be tempting in those early days to skip over pricier cover designers or editors, but I urge aspiring indie authors to invest in these critical steps. You have one chance to make a mark on a reader and you don’t want to disappoint them with silly grammar mistakes. Give your writing every chance to shine and hire the help when you need it!