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  • Writer's pictureElira Barnes

Interview with author Bethany Atazadeh

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

I'm so excited to have author Bethany Atazadeh here today!

She is the bestselling author of Evalene's Number and Pearl's Number and bestselling co-author of the "Marketing for Authors" series.

Oh, and she's an amazing authortuber!

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Elira: Hello Bethany, thanks for being here. Welcome to my blog! First of all, congratulations on your latest release, How Your Book Sells Itself, which is already an Amazon bestseller. That's just amazing! How excited were you when you found out and how did you celebrate?

Bethany: Thank you so much! Total honesty time: I think I was too busy trying to resolve the issue with the paperback for it to totally sink in lol. Pretty sure I celebrated with my hubby a day or two later, I remember wanting chocolate cake, but it’s all kind of a haze now... I may have to just go and celebrate again ha!

Elira: How was co-writing a book different from writing on your own? Did you and Mandi Lynn face any challenges?

Bethany: It was super different in some ways, but I think part of that might’ve also been because it was my first time writing non-fiction. It kind of felt like working with a CP/beta reader except that instead that we not only suggested changes, caught typos, and the like, but we also added directly in—it was so fun!

I think the most challenging thing was figuring out the releases for the series as a whole, because we had to strategize way into the future and eventually we decided we didn’t need to know ALL the release dates (like through 2020 lol), we could figure it out as we went.

Elira: What do you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Bethany: I don’t know about interesting, but my BEST time of the day to write by far is after midnight. Usually 12am-2am or even later, if I get super into it or have a deadline. There’s something peaceful about the middle of the night. Probably because there are much fewer distractions considering most of the people I talk to are asleep haha!

Elira: What is one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Bethany: Hmm, maybe that it’s possible to be both an over-writer and an under-writer. I’ve written far too many words and deleted like crazy, but also not written enough and had to flesh my stories out. As time goes on, I tend to be an under-writer more and more, but the length of each book is always different and it always surprises me. 

Elira: I am one of the many fans of your books, The Number Series. Do your readers reach out to you, and what do they say?

Bethany: Thank you so much! Every once and a while I get messages about the series, usually about the characters or the ending (especially the ending in Pearl’s Number). I think my favorites are the shock at the plot twists and also the people who love Sol (short for Solomon) and Olive. That pair was a total accident so I really love hearing people say they belong together because it feels more like real life where it just “happened”... That sounds cheesy writing it out lol, hope that makes sense.

Elira: What was your favourite and least favourite thing about writing those books?

Bethany: You ask tough questions haha! Just kidding, I love it. I’d say my favorite thing might’ve been holding the final product and having that “shock and awe” feeling of “wait... I made this?” It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel real.

And my least favorite, funny enough, was how long they took. Because no matter how much you like a story, if you have to re-read it dozens of times within the span of a single year or two, it doesn’t capture your attention so much anymore, if you know what I mean! I usually love/hate the first, second, and third drafts with their mixture of good and bad... start to truly love them around the fourth, fifth, and sixth draft where they’re starting to shine...and then fall out of love by the seventh or eighth and on, because it feels like just a bunch of letters on a page at that point.

Elira: Was there any scene from your drafts that didn't make it to the final product?

Bethany: Absolutely. More than one. More than a dozen probably. For Evalene’s Number, I scrapped the entire first three tries at writing the story. At some point I also scrapped a couple full chapters and the prologue as well. For Pearl’s Number, I threw out the entire ending, probably something around 30k. That was rough.

Even now as I’m editing my fantasy series, I threw out the first chapter, so I think it’s just part of editing, like that saying that says “Kill your darlings.”

Elira: Does writing energise you or exhaust you?

Bethany: Depends on the day. Most days it’s work, fun in the middle, then work again. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s exhausting, but in the way that an amazing day would be, where you’re so thankful for every bit of it, you know?

Elira: Are any of your characters a reflection of yourself or someone you know? Does that make it easier to create them or is it still a challenge?

Bethany: Lol yes... I know it’s a newbie writing mistake, but I totally did it. Evalene from EN is like me in a lot of ways, but once I started learning that was a no-no, I did try to rewrite her a bit differently. Not sure if I succeeded. That said, I feel like there’s a teeny bit of me in almost every character, even the ones I don’t like, because it’s me writing them after all.

Elira: When did you know you wanted to be a writer, and what advice would you give to your younger self and aspiring writers?

Bethany: When I was laid off of work back in 2016. It was this weird moment of starting NaNoWriMo as we were told layoffs were coming around Christmas, and I had three month’s of severance pay, so I was like, “What if I can make this work? What if this could be my new job?” And I dove in head first. (Side note: I was a writing major in college as well, with an English degree, but that was with the intentions of being an editor... which maybe will still happen someday!)

As far as advice, I’d say read as much as possible and write as much as possible. Stop worrying about getting it “right” and getting hung up on that, because no one gets it right the first time, but if you’re reading and writing frequently, you WILL get better, without a doubt!

Elira: Bethany, not only do you write, but you also have your own business and a joint business with your husband. In one of your most recent Youtube videos, you demonstrated how you use Google Calendars to plan your days. What are your top time management tips for writers who are in school, or working, or both?

Bethany: Time management is my favorite! First of all, try not to feel guilty because no one manages their time perfectly. (I don’t know if that advice is for everyone, but I certainly need to hear it now and then!)  I’ll suggest a few things that help me:  

  1. name your time so you know what each hour is going toward,

  2. remember to plan realistically, which includes down time and buffer time for when things take longer than expected, and

  3. find a reminder system that works for you, whether that be alarms that go off every so often or post it notes or lists or a mix of things, something that can keep you on track, and

  4. personally I’d recommend turning off notifications and even being radical enough to put your phone in another room entirely (IF you’re like 90% of the world that is physically attached to their phone lol)... that one especially tends to make a huge difference in my productivity.

Elira: If you could remove one thing from your daily schedule what would it be?

Bethany: I kind of want to start asking myself this every month, this is a genius question. Truthfully, I’d say cooking. I LOATHE cooking. I use pre-made mixes and canned things and frozen things, but even just needing to plan out a meal and go to the store drives me crazy, I just hate it. I hope someday to either be able to afford a cook (I’ll keep dreaming haha) or have a kid that adores cooking. 

Elira: How much can you tell us about your current work in progress, "Princesses and Castles"?

Bethany: Oooh okay! I’d love to share a few things! As of April 5th, I’ve announced the official title for book 1 (the Aladdin retelling), which is The Stolen Kingdom. That’s also the series title: The Stolen Kingdom Series. :D 

The series is a young adult fantasy series of retelling, all set in the same world with the same characters (and more added along the way of course) and one main character’s overarching journey. The first is an Aladdin retelling like I mentioned. The second book is a Little Mermaid retelling, the third is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and the fourth is a Sleeping Beauty retelling. 

As I’m writing this, the covers for the entire series are in the works (AHH!) so I hope to share a reveal very soon, most likely in a book trailer format that will also include the release date and more on what the first book is about! Definitely recommend following me on social media or on YouTube (or both) to stay in the loop for that! 

Elira: Let's get to know you better... ready?

If a genie could grant you three wishes (and you can't ask for more wishes!), what would they be?

Bethany: Never gaining weight from chocolate, all the chocolate in the world, and dying before anyone else I love goes so I don’t have to be sad. (Sorry if that’s morbid, but it’s true!)

Elira: If you could be a Disney character, who would you be and why?

Bethany: I would be Belle, hands down! She’s my fave Disney princess for sure! <3

Elira: Why is your dog Penny so cute?

Bethany: Hahaha we made sure to look her up in the “cute puppies only” section... but for real, she’s the cutest, I have way too many pictures lol!

Elira: What book is currently on your bedside table?

Bethany: Hehe I’m cheating because I don’t have any books there, but the next book I want to read is book 2 in the Throne of Glass series, if I can figure out which one it is (accidentally started reading the third one instead before the move lol, oops!)

Elira: In your opinion, what is the best way to market a book?  

Bethany: I really want to be snarky and say “The Book Itself!” Aka what my latest book is about haha, and while that’s true that the cover, blurb, title, etc all play a massive role, I know you’re talking more about outside of those aspects, so I’d say reverse engineering what you want. I talk about this a lot in HYBSI, but book sales come from word of mouth, searches, and reviews. So if I want reviews (also word of mouth, because reviews get people talking), I’d ask myself the best way to do that, which in the past has led to reaching out to bookstagrammers and offering copies of my book in exchange for a review. I would definitely recommend doing that, and if you’re not comfortable, I believe you can hire PR companies to do this for you! But there are so many free ways to get people talking about your book and reviewing it as well, it’s all about putting the work in to get people excited. :) That was a super long answer, I’m sorry haha! I could talk about marketing forever obviously, but I’ll leave it at that. :) 


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