(As a reminder, this is a question I received in my first blog-style Ask Me Anything.)
Jess Hutton asks….
This is a long one, Jess, so let’s do this rapid fire style, one by one.
What kind of stuff do you read?
I go through phases. Right now I’m reading lots of classic sci-fi novels like Arthur C Clarke, but also contemporary sci-fi books like The Atlantis Gene and Nomad. I always seem to have a writing book open, too. Right now it’s Immediate Fiction.
Have you felt like your reading improves or inspires your work?
100%. I love reading. After I finish writing a book, the first thing I want to do is read something good to recharge. Good books inspire me, and make me kind of jealous. Bad books teach me things.
Who’s your favorite author? Why?
Hard to say, I have so many… Stephen King, Norman Mailer, Ursula K Leguin, Patrick Rothfuss, John Scalzi, Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov, Brandon Sanderson, Franz Kafka… an incomplete list.
I don’t believe anyone has a single favorite author. Readers read LOTS of books.
Were you a reader growing up or more into other things?
Oh yeah. I devoured fantasy and scifi books growing up, too. No wonder I end up writing them. In college I got turned onto the classics, and philosophy. I even like literary books, sometimes. But SFF is in my blood.
How has content strategy (that order, planning, high-level amazeballs work that we do) changed or affected your approach to fiction writing?”
For those that don’t know this about me, in addition to being a science fiction author, I’m a freelance content strategist, which means I help tech startups tell their stories—write articles and documents and advertising copy for their businesses, and implement strategies that help grow their audience or customer base.
It’s made me more organized, that’s for sure. And more able to see the big picture. Small things add up over time, details matter, and data needs to be analyzed in different ways to glean new insights. Content strategy teaches you to test assumptions, to experiment, and that’s helped me in self-publishing.
Knowing all the web stuff, like WordPress and SEO, has certainly been a boon. Being tech savvy has made it a bit easier than it might have been to master all the tools necessary to produce professional quality ebooks and paperbacks.
On the other hand, publishing books is SUCH a different business than offering content strategy services to my clients as a freelancer. You’re dealing with intellectual property and retail sales instead of offering hourly or per-project services. It’s a very different business and I’ve had to change how I think. Four books in, I’ve had some success but I’m definitely still learning and trying something new every day.