085: Betty Bolte – The Daily Life of a Full-Time Fiction Writer

Betty Bolte a bestselling, award-winning author known for authentic and accurately researched historical fiction with heart and supernatural romance novels, including The Haunting of the Fury Falls Inn.

She’s been published in essays, newspaper articles/columns, magazine articles, and nonfiction books. Betty now enjoys crafting entertaining and informative fiction, especially stories that bring American history to life.

Betty earned a Master’s Degree in English in 2008, emphasizing the study of literature and storytelling. She has judged numerous writing contests for both fiction and nonfiction.

What We Discuss with Betty Bolte:

  • Where she gets ideas from and how they turn into a book
  • The beginning of her writing journey
  • Her experience writing her first book and why she chose to self-publish it
  • How to interact with your audience and keep connecting with them
  • How to get started with writing fictional books
  • The challenges in writing and marketing her book
  • The power of hiring an editor for your book
  • How you can get reviews for your book
  • Some reasons for getting a book review can be challenging
  • Strategies for developing the depth of your characters
  • Seeing the trends in the market
  • How to know you’re on the right path with your book writing journey

[00:55] Where Ideas Come From

With her book The Haunting of theFury Falls Inn, she wanted to do a haunted location that talks about the past. Her inspiration was an 1800’s resort spring in her local area which she turned into a fictional location off a highway in Alabama.

Betty started writing stories back in elementary and middle school. She has been writing all her life since she learned how to read.

Writing fiction is harder than writing nonfiction. Writing a nonfiction book is more cut-and-dry because you don’t have the moving pieces in developing the character.

[04:45] The Writing Process

Knowing the beginning and the end: Betty plots her story. She doesn’t know exactly how it’s going to get there but she already has a road map before she puts the words on the page.

Then she refines the story by breaking them down into six books. She focuses on each of the books so that each one has its own satisfying ending. She wraps up things in the story then looks forward to the next book and what needs to be resolved in the next book.

Reviews and revisions: It takes around four months for her to write the first draft and another month or two to refine it. She’d then do the revisions and then send them off to beta readers to help her figure out what’s working and what’s not. Then she does another once-over for some final touches.

[06:40] Publishing Her First Book

The first book she published in 2001 was a unique combination of historical fiction, short stories, and biographical facts. She fictionalized the event that made them famous and then provided the factual biographical details, location, and landmarks.

Publishers didn’t know how to label it so Betty ended up self-publishing it. She re-issued it in 2012 when the eBooks became available. Subsequently, it got re-released as an eBook and paperback.

The book won a gold medal for Children’s Literary Classics Organization for Best Young Adult Book in 2015.

[08:55] How to Connect with Your Audience

Consistency is key. Betty connects with her fans through social media and newsletters. She went from being sporadic to being more consistent. Betty interacts with her readers through her blog as well as doing book talks and book signing in local libraries.

[10:05] How to Get Started with Writing Fiction Books

Find your tribe. Craft books that feature your genre. Connect with other writers that write something similar that you can get together with and learn from. Many authors are very willing to help those coming behind them.

Join some writers’ associations. They may have classes on how to write better and the business of being an author. Get together with a local or online group you can get together with periodically.

Utilize the right platform. Even if you go down the traditional publication route, you’re still required by your publisher to help market your own work. It’s important to have a community behind you to help you.

Amazon Ads is a great way to increase your following. But it could be difficult to understand what’s working and what’s not. The same goes for Facebook Ads.

Get featured on a podcast. Do some sort of outreach every week where you can make connections with somebody else’s audience.

[15:50] The Power of Hiring an Editor for Your Book

Having somebody else look at your work is very vital because you can’t see your own errors when you’re too close to the manuscript. What Betty does is set aside her manuscript for weeks or a month and comes back to it with fresh eyes.

Make a good first impression on your readers. It’s important to hire an editor before you release your work, especially if it’s your first book.

[17:55] The Power of Getting Reviews

You can get beta readers to provide reviews when your book is released. Check out Book Review Buzz, a third party company that can help you make your book available for review on different sites.

Many people are hesitant about giving reviews. Firstly, it’s not top-of-mind. Secondly, they’re afraid they’re going to make a mistake. Hence, it’s important to coach your reviewers and tell them you can edit their reviews.

[23:05] Developing the Depth of Your Characters and Spotting the Trend

Pull different traits from different people and meld them together to make a new character.

Readers are looking for books they can recommend to their grandmother or daughter. There seems to be a trend away from explicit sex stories and more into wholesome romance.

[27:11] Final Words of Wisdom

Just sit down and write your story. Put the words on the page and you can always edit it later. It doesn’t have to be perfect as you put it down. Don’t be afraid to sit down and write down sentences. You can’t fix something you haven’t written.

Episode Resources:

Get to know Betty at www.bettybolte.com

Book Review Buzz