Well it’s a huge pleasure to have Shelia M. Goss here today! I’m a big fan of her work so it’s an honor to be able to pick her brain about her career!
First tell us a bit about Shelia. What attracted you to become a writer?
I’ve been in love with the written word since I was a little baby. Let my great-aunt tell it, I’ve been reading since I was 4 years old. I started writing around age 9 and the love for writing has been there ever since.
I used to be shy (and sometimes still is) so writing was an outlet for me to express myself.
I love creating new worlds with new characters and entertaining people with my words.
What does the M stand for in your name?
M stands for Marie.
Tell us about your latest novel, Sade’s Secret. Why did you decide to use a pen name?
I wrote under a pen name because I write in multiple genres. I wanted to keep my books for adults and young adults separate. Although the Lip Gloss Chronicles was published under Shelia M Goss, my new YA book, Sade Secret and others in the YA series will be published under Sparkle.
Fifteen-year-old Sade Washington has been harboring a secret from her two best friends, Crystal and Dena. Her secret is threatened to be revealed when she discovers she’s pregnant. Once Sade’s secret is out, it causes a wedge between her and her mother Joyce. Distraught at her mother’s reactions, Sade toils with a love/hate relationship with her.
Joyce struggles with keeping peace in her household. The relationship between her daughter and live-in boyfriend, Calvin has her in an emotional turmoil. Joyce is determined to make their home a happy one by any means necessary.
Sade attempts to have a normal teen life, but as she turns sixteen, reality hits her head on. She must make choices that will not only affect her future, but that of her unborn child. Sade’s Secret takes the reader on an emotional ride as it deals with a strong subject matter and the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships.
You began your career as a self-published author. What challenges did you face because of this?
I won’t say there were any challenges because the milestones I made when I was self published led to me getting a publishing deal.
The bible is one of my favorite books to read. I write in several genres but I wanted to be able to use my God given gift to reach people on another level. My goal with my Christian fiction books is to take biblical stories and adapt them into modern day tales. I want readers, after reading my Christian fiction books to be sparked with an interest to read the real stories. No one is perfect and we all fall short, but even with our imperfections, God gives us grace and shows us mercy.
I wrote DELILAH because I kept hearing people trying to blame others for their transgressions instead of taking responsibilities for their own actions. I decided to take a tragic love story from the Bible, Samson and Delilah, and I gave it a modern day twist.
I also adapted the story of David and Bathsheba in my latest Christian fiction book, RUTHLESS. Although readers may know the biblical story, my adaption is cleverly done and its filled with twists that readers won’t see coming. I’m currently working on a third book in the “notorious women” of the bible series.
What different genres have you written?
Romance, Women’s fiction, Christian Fiction, Suspense and Young Adult. In addition to the genres under my name, I’ve written under pen names: Chick lit, Urban/Street Lit and YA Fantasy.
You’ve been in the writing game a long time. Are you content with the way your career has been so far?
Yes and no. If I had known then what I know now, there are several things I would have done differently.
You’ve interviewed celebrities, you edit and format books and you write screenplays. Is there anything in the writing business you haven’t conquered but plan to get into?
I don’t think I’ve conquered the screenplay aspect yet. I won’t be satisfied in that area until one of my screenplays has been produced and on film for others to enjoy. Right now, that’s what I want to conquer.
What do you like and dislike the most about the writing industry?
This is a good time to be in publishing if you’re an author. There are so many opportunities available that weren’t there when I first started in this business. I like the fact that writers have “options.”
What I dislike is, unfortunately, like with any business, you may run into people with unscrupulous business practices.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned concerning the industry?
Be careful who you trust.
You’ve released many commercial titles and you self-publish ebooks on the side. What made you try your hand at self-publishing again? Do you find it different this time around?
Several reasons. I decided to self publish my ebooks so that I could get a better sense of how my book sales were doing and to also have a steady income from doing what I love to do and that’s write.
It’s different this time around because of ebooks. Back when I first started, ebooks was new and there weren’t any affordable ebook devices such as the Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader. It was also very expensive to print trade paperback books.
What advice do you have for someone looking to self-publish?
If the person is going to self-publish, they must look at it as a business, not a hobby. It’s not for the faint at heart. You will wear multiple hats: author, CEO, bill collector, etc.
What’s more important to you, the storytelling or the writing? Or is it both?
Both. If you’re doing written word, you can’t have one without the other. I’m from Louisiana and we have great storytellers here but not all of them were writers. They were stories told verbally and passed down from generation to generation. Along the way, stories got mixed up or even forgotten. With the written word, you don’t have to worry about that, because it’s right there in black and white or in cyberspace (ebooks…smile).
What’s your favorite genre to read and why?
I actually write the same type of books I like to read. I enjoy reading in the Romance, Christian fiction, Suspense, young adult and Urban genres. Why? Because I like reading a variety of stories. One day I might be in the mood for a good romance story. The next, I might want to put on my detective hat and read a good suspense and see if I can figure out who did what before it’s revealed. Reading never gets boring to me because I mix it up.
You appear at a lot of events. Is this something you just enjoy to do or do you do it solely to reach your audience?
I enjoy doing it. I enjoy meeting the readers. If I could afford to, I would do it more often. Unfortunately, going to events is expensive so I’m very limited on the places I can go.
Do you find that online promotion is better than more old-fashioned methods in reaching readers these days?
The best form of promotion is word of mouth. I learned that when my book DELILAH took off. Yes, I did a lot of online promotions but when readers caught wind of DELILAH, word of mouth about the book had the book flying off the shelves.
At one point, I used to do a lot of contests, but I’ve found that although they work, it’s not a guarantee that it will increase your sales. Now, I basically just try to keep people informed that the book is available. I try to give interesting tidbits about the book, hoping that it will entice the audience to want to read more.
Do you use a different method of promotion with your ebooks that you do when promoting your commercial work?
I primarily promote my ebooks in groups where I know readers have Kindles and Nooks. I also promote on my own website, Facebook page and twitter.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned when it comes to promotion?
Just because you pay for promotions/advertisement, it does not mean your sales will increase. Those things however will bring awareness about your book. Keep in mind that although a person might not buy today, they may buy the next time they have money to use for purchasing books. Some sales are not immediate, so writers shouldn’t get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results after a promotions.
As a black writer, do you feel it’s difficult to reach audiences of other races? Do you strive to crossover with your work?
Yes, only because my book covers may cause them to overlook my story.
I do strive to crossover because my stories are universal. When people of all races read my books, like Her Invisible Husband or The Commitment Plan, readers don’t mention the race of the characters, they mention the story.
What can your fans expect from you next?
I plan on releasing a few more romance stories as ebooks. I have several new stories in the works and I’m very excited about them. I can’t reveal more right now because they aren’t under contract but as soon as I can, I will make announcements on my blog (http://www.sheliagoss.com/blog). Expect more young adult books from Sparkle.
Do you think the digital age is a hindrance or blessing for authors?
I think it’s a blessing. I’ve been fortunate to benefit from being a part of the digital age.
If Sade’s Secret was made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character and why?
If Sade’s Secret was being made into a movie, three actresses come to mind for the role of the mother Joyce: Queen Latifah, Sanaa Lathan or Nia Long. I’m still thinking about who I envision to play Sade. I think KeKe Palmer could do the role of Sade justice.
Your books seem to have a big impact on readers. Are you surprised that you’ve received such support?
Yes, I am, but I’m very grateful that they have made an impact on readers.
Have you had to deal with a lot of jealous in the industry? If so, how did you handle it?
If there were anybody jealous, I wouldn’t know it because I’ve been too busy trying to build my career. Right now I’m trying to take my career to a different level.
What words of wisdom do you have for newbies starting in the industry today?
Learn the craft, research (Google is a writer’s best friend) and last but not least, write.
Thanks for stopping by, Shelia!
Thanks Stacy for having me be a part of your exciting new blog.