Teri M. Bethel
It's our pleasure to introduce our author Teri M. Bethel to you. Teri is the author of 12 published books of varied genres. Please scroll below to join the interview.
- Where are you from originally?
I was born and pretty much raised in New Providence, Bahamas with the exception of my ten year stint pursuing my education in the U.K. and the U.S.A.
- Do you have a history of writers or authors in your family?
I’m not aware of there being writers or authors in my family, however, my husband and our youngest son are also published authors. Our oldest son in my opinion is a brilliant writer, but he’s not yet published.
- Did you excel in writing while in school?
Not until I was in University did I realize I had the potential to write but it was far from excelling.
- How important is reading to you? Does it affect your writing?
Reading has always been important to me. I loved reading novels in my youthful years. My reading now is mostly developmental or tutorials reading materials, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t pick up other books occasionally. I do think that reading does affect my writing. It helps me to refine my style as well as broaden my knowledge base.
- What works have you written?
I’ve had the pleasure of writing a number of books which include:
- Love On Maruba Island(Bahama Romance Series)
- My Marriage Matters(Simple Keys To Enriching Or Restoring Your Marriage…)
- Before We Say, I Do(Marriage Preparation)
- Saving Elianna(Supernatural Fiction)
- When My Spirit Sings... He heals my hurting soul(Inspirational Poetry)
- Native Talk(Poetry in Bahamian Dialect)
- Trapped On Kooky Island(Children’s Bahama Island Adventures) Book 1
- The Case of The Missing Boat People(Children’s Bahama Island Adventures) Book 2
- What’s In Your Handbag, Girl?(Materials & resources for making structured handbags)
- Flower Painting Basics(How to paint textured flowers)
- Shoe Painting Secrets(How to paint designer shoes)
- Easy Beaded Purse Handles(Secrets to upgrading purse handles)
- Are you currently writing another book now?
Yes I am. I have several works in progress with a few more percolating.
- How long have you been writing books?
I self-published my first book “Call Me, Good…” (now out of print) around 1987. I’ve been writing on and off ever since.
- What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’d like to use my books to bring solutions to the fore. Since many people grasp concepts in story form, I would like to focus on writing books that meet needs and speak to the heart. I sometimes reflect on the movie classic The Sound of Music—there was a song that never left me; the chorus was: just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way. We know sugar is not good for us but the point is well taken; information or things that are beneficial do not have to be tedious and distasteful, they can be valuable and enjoyable.
- Why do you write?
I believe it’s a part of my purpose—at least for this season of my life.
- What is your process for writing books; do you create an outline before writing?
I do like order but I’m not rigid in my approach to writing. Depending on what I am writing about, I generally ponder a thought and develop it one chapter at a time. I may begin with a table of contents—but that’s only a guide which often changes before the book is complete. With novels I tend to flow with the characters and scenes; it’s very important that my books flow naturally. I’m prayerful in what I write and have learned to wait on a download which invariably comes.
- Do you have a daily writing regimen?
I would love to be able to write (books) daily but alas, I have numerous responsibilities that won’t permit it at this time.
- Do you consider yourself a full-time or part-time writer?
I guess you can say that I’m a full time writer but part-time author.
- For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I do most of my reading online or with ebooks but I do like paperbacks. Hardbacks look good but I find them cumbersome and impractical for my lifestyle.
- How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
I was so intrigued and taken aback with my ability to write poetry that I simply had to put it into print. I then began writing children’s books for our kids as a positive alternative to the books that were on the market at that time. The story line was great but the quality of writing, punctuation, sentence structure etc. was awful. After having several honest editors scream red ink over my manuscript I decided to study their comments and read articles and books that would help me to develop my skill. The books I write today are generally for a specific reason.
- How many hours daily do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper, at a keyboard or from an audio recording of yourself?
I don’t have a set time. However, if I’ve run out of time in the day, I would take a nap and write through the night to redeem the time when possible. Writing on paper for me is double work unless I need to jot down a concept or thought when I’m away from my computer.
- Do you write every single day?
I write in some form most days.
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It really does both. When I’m flowing and spiritually full, it energizes. When I fail to top up my natural and spiritual energy it becomes exhausting.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I’ve sat on a book for years waiting on the right time to flow with it. Other books I’ve written pour out like honey, in about a month.
- What genre are your books?
I’ve written Kid’s Adventure, Marriage Enrichment & Pre-Marital Preparation, Romance, Supernatural Fiction, Poetry and How-To Art & Fashion books.
- What draws you to these genres?
A variety of reasons but the predominant one would be to fill a need. When you find yourself addressing the same issues, questions or concerns repeatedly, then you want to create responses in a way that more people can benefit from them.
- How much research do you do when you’re about to write a book?
Quite a bit. In some of my books I’ve written about places I’ve never been to before but because I did the research I was able to immerse myself and write as though I was in the terrain. It is also important for me to research the topics I address in my books and not just write based on my current knowledge.
- If your book were to make it to the big screen, which actor/actress would you like to have as your main character?
I’m not sure. For me it’s not just about the names, I’m not impressed with names on or off the screen. People are people; I would want people who were skilled, have character and are able to capture the spirit of the main characters and represent them effectively.
- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
One is thinking you can write and publish without having your work vetted or edited. Another is thinking as long as your work is in print, it will automatically sell.
- How important is it for you to receive book reviews?
Book reviews are essential.
- How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Fairly good, but could be much better. Readers call, write in and stop me on the street at times to tell how much they enjoyed or were impacted by my books. Unfortunately, the majority do not write their reviews on Amazon where it is really helpful to writers.
- Do you have a strategy for finding people to review your books?
A basic one, I simply ask. At times I offer my kindle books for free to make the books more accessible to readers. Amazon changes their review policy from time to time, making it more challenging for authors to get reviews but we manage to get some in spite of this.
- Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
In an indirect way. I went to a traditional Vanity Press publisher for my first two professionally published books. The cost was so high to produce that it made marketing and selling difficult. Additionally, I was unable to access my Amazon account to effectively market my books which is key. As an independent publisher I have more control over my prices as well as marketing options and the books remain my property. I would avoid high priced publishers that restrict my selling and marketing capabilities.
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
You have to get involved in the process. Don’t just publish and let your books sit; they won’t sell by themselves. It’s not easy selling your own products but we must, so you link up with sites such as booksbybethel.com who make it easier for you to circulate your book information on social media. It’s a place where you can let your book page speak for you. but we must also work together as a community to talk about each other’s books. We can be stronger together rather than just thinking of oneself.
- Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
Chances are they are not being marketed. Just placing them in a bookstore is not enough. You have to drive traffic to them.
- What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
They are both beneficial if they are honest. Good reviews make you feel good and help to sell your books. Bad reviews (if they are accurate) can help you to refine your work. For people who publish ebooks or print on demand books, you can easily amend the valid issues readers comment on. The challenge comes when you get excited and order hundreds of books without first testing the market and are stuck with books that need adjustments but the cost of pulling them in is high.
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did with my very first self published book in the 80’s. It didn’t work for me.
- Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I am original and creative in what I produce but because the books fill a need, I believe some readers are getting what they want…even if they don’t know it.
- What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
A book cover is the window to the content of your book. If it is dismal then readers will think it reflects what is on the inside. Your cover should be comfortable on the shelf next to an high profile, top selling book; it shouldn’t look like a mom and pop amateur gig. The book’s title should also be compelling and if it’s being marketed on Amazon or online, thought should be given to it being optimized for search engines.
- Have you ever designed your own book cover?
Yes I have.
- Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Absolutely! People are attracted to books with a professional and international flare.
- What is the secret to becoming a successful author?
Success is a journey that can be looked at in a number of ways depending on your goals. That being said my simple answer is: Write about things that matter. Never give up on learning, apply what you’ve learned, learn from your mistakes, have an attitude of excellence and gratitude. implement an effective marketing strategy.
- How do you feel when people recognize you in public and appreciate your work?
I’m quite private and prefer to fly under the radar but I’m grateful that readers took the time to read my books and vocalize their appreciation; they really didn’t have to do either. The heartfelt comments by some who claim their lives will never be the same is encouraging. It makes me feel as though writing was worth the effort if it was just to touch that one life.
- Have you received any awards for your literary works?
- If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Pay attention to life. Celebrate on my skills, gifts and abilities rather than lament over what I could not do.
- Where can we buy or see your books?
All of my books can be found on Amazon.com in Kindle and paperbacks as well as in several of our local stores such as: Logos Bookstore (Harbour Bay Shopping Center), Nassau Stationers (Rosetta St. Palmdale), The Linen Shop (Bay Street), Bible Book & Gift Centre (Palmdale Shopping Plaza) and the Hallmark Store (Mall at Marathon). You can also check my author page to preview them for free.
- How easy/difficult has it been getting your books in local store shelves?
Getting them in local stores has been quite easy. Most bookstores want to support local authors. Their concern is the cost as well as the quality of books produced. The books should be free from typos in particular, and reflect content that is appropriate for their stores. If not, they may decline.
- What advice would you give aspiring authors on publishing and marketing their books?
Do your research on publishers, check out their work and what they offer—ask questions. Check out how well they present their books on amazon, will you have access to your account, will all sales revenues be directed to you? Be prepared to promote your books.
- What is something most people don’t know about you?
I cook, paint and write pretty much the same way…no measuring, no fixed recipes, but I enjoy delicious, original outcomes.
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