Interview with FictionTerrifica.com’s Dana Schaff

Bec: Tell us a little about yourself:

Dana: I’m just a working stiff who has always dreamed of being a great writer. I grew up in a family of readers and as far back as I can remember I have always loved the written word and the escapism that books provide. I grew up in small town with not a lot to do so a lot time was spent on the weekends watching Creature Feature movies and exploring my father’s extensive collection of books. The old black and white horror movies had a big influence on me and when I discovered a copy of Dracula stashed away on one of the upper shelves of a book case I was overjoyed. I plunged right in. This was my first horror novel. It was an education indeed. I quickly learned that what Hollywood had created was nothing like what was between the covers of Mr. Stoker’s book. It was rich and layered and complex. That was it. I had found a genre that I could—pardon the pun—sink my teeth into. Over the years I began to write, mostly for myself and then for my daughter, but it was just a hobby. Then I decided to step it up. Somewhere I had read that one is not truly a writer until one has received a rejection letter. Very true. So I began writing short stories and submitting them and sure enough—my grammar had much to be desired—I experienced my first rejection. Hooray! This led to a short-lived career as a small press writer of short stories. I still write but not as much as I’d like. I never experienced much commercial success but I keep trying. Since writing my only novel Skull Feeder with my good friend Pam Chillemi-Yeager I have mostly concentrated on other aspects of the publishing life.

Bec: Why did you start FictionTerrifica.com?

Dana: My one and only novel published by Terradan Press was never a commercial success and we never made any money so to speak and I was saddened by this. We had put a lot of time and effort into writing that book and only, in the end, for the satisfaction of writing a book. I was disappointed in the lack of sales. It occurred to me that lots of writers must experience this same feeling. Toiling for weeks, months, years only to make little or nothing from their effort. One of the problems is that the world is now flooded with books of every genre and it’s difficult to reach a wide readership without the help of say a big publishing house. So my idea was to create a site that might in some modest way help writers reach a bigger audience and consequently sell more books thus Fiction Terrifica was born.

Bec: How has Fiction Terrifica been received so far?

Dana: So far so good. We have experienced peaks and valleys in traffic but our Twitter followers have grown as has the number of likes we receive on Facebook. All the authors we have hosted so far seem to be happy about the venture. So we must be doing something right but I know we can do better and we work every day to come up with new strategies to reach more people.

Bec: Are you currently looking for contributors or interview victims?

Dana: We are always looking for authors who would like to submit their stories and gain a little exposure. As I am new to interviewing folks I have stepped timidly into those waters and am learning to be a better interviewer but yes, I am always looking for some new victims.

Bec: Is there anything special want-to-be contributors need to know before they contact you?

Dana: We cater to the horror writers so as long as the writing falls within that genre we will be happy to have a read. That being said, writers of other genres might do well to keep an eye on what we are doing. We plan on running more sites that will cater to other genres. Horror writers are not the only writers out there struggling to make a buck and we know that.

Bec: What’s your favorite genre?

Dana: Horror by far but I don’t limit myself. I love good literature and nothing is more satisfying than reading a well-crafted sentence. I might read Stephen King one day and Hemmingway the next. I contain multitudes. There is no doubt that if faced with a choice: A mainstream novel in one hand and a horror novel in the other, I would set aside the mainstream until I devoured the horror novel. There is just something about horror that gets my blood flowing and my adrenaline pumping.

Bec: What is your favorite part of the publishing industry?

Dana:  For me it is the reading of the submissions. I love to read what writers come up with and then also I like when the moment arrives that the work has made it into print or online and available for the world to see. That is exciting.

Bec: What is your least favorite part of the publishing industry?

Dana: That’s a very good question and not one I have given much thought to but, if again I have to choose, I would say it is the submission process with all its guidelines and having to have an agent and it’s all too much like rules and quite frankly I am rule breaker more than a rule follower.

Bec: What do you think would improve an author’s exposure in marketing?

Dana: This is what we are learning at Fiction Terrifica. Promotion is a fulltime job and requires a lot of work. It’s not enough for the indie writer just to get published because there are so many writers out there and with all the small presses and self-publishing it’s easier than ever to get “published.” The writer who wants to have success has to first have something other people want to read. Content is KING. If they have something others want to read the writer would do well to start with the social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Next, every author needs a web page or blog to connect with people. A viable web presence is very important in reaching new readers. Blog tours have become a very good tool for promotion and an important part of any marketing strategy. I am not a fan of banners but creating a banner for one’s book and approaching related websites to place those banners is also a very good idea. Banners are sort of like roadside advertising. Not everyone likes them but they are there for a reason and that’s because they work. Our approach at Fiction Terrifica is to work within a very constrained budget and I think most indie and small press writers are very budget conscious. Hopefully our budget will grow and we can start to purchase ad space on Facebook, Google, and Bing. It’s not expensive but it does require a budget. The bottom line is the author that wants exposure has to do some leg work

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share/talk about that I haven’t asked you about?

Dana: Well, I have to give credit to my partner, Jeremy Horst, who is also our webmaster and without him Fiction Terrifica would not exist. Together we have big plans and our next step is to offer professional website creation at prices that a budget-minded author will find very appealing. We believe that a professionally created website will make a big difference for aspiring writers. Fiction Terrifica is just the first step in what we hope will be a successful venture aimed at helping struggling writers make the most from their hard work.

Bec: Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us, Dana!

Want to know more about Fiction Terrifica? Stop by their website and check them out. My story, “Memories,” is in The Crpyt, in case you’re interested. I’ll also be a reviewer on the site soon!

http://www.fictionterrifica.com

©Rebecca Besser & Dana Schaff, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

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