I first interviewed Elle Casey back in Episode #16, where we talked about perma-free, read-through rates, and her incredible prolific output. This week I am honored to welcome Elle back to discuss her latest foray into a new genre, the psychology of success, and the benefits of hiring an assistant.
Under Elle Casey’s “Books” tab on her website, you’ll find the following categories: Romance, Chicklit, Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Dystopian, and Action Adventure. You read that right. Elle writes in seven different genres at the moment, science fiction being her newest offering. And with over 30 books under her belt, she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. This year alone she has 17 projects planned, and she shares her enviable publishing schedule on her website so fans can track when the next release in their favorite series is due out.
How Elle Writes a Book a Month
Elle writes fast — 3,000-words-an-hour fast — to keep up with her ambitious plans and clamoring fan base, but it’s clear she writes out of sheer joy. If a smoking hot idea comes along that lights her fire, she’s more than happy to pause her current WIP in order to write that story while it’s fresh and her excitement is high.
She’s also more than happy to make changes in her production schedule based on reader feedback. Her action adventure Wreckedwas written as a stand-alone book, but when fans wrote to ask for more, she delivered a sequel entitled Reckless. Readers responded by posting 91 reviews to date with a 4.7-out-of-5.0-star average rating.
Elle also will make changes in her production schedule based on her own feedback. If a book starts to feel like work, it may be because she’s not quite ready to write it and she’ll move that particular title back in the schedule in favor of something she feels more excitement for at the moment. However, sometimes it’s just her mindset, she admits, and at that point, she just buckles down and gets it done.
Finally, she tries her best to avoid trolls and squirrels. Like most writers — if not all! — Elle’s productivity is affected by her emotional state. To that end, she has made a conscious decision to stick with online venues that yield positivity in her day and avoid situations that attract negativity. As for squirrels, they are a breed of pest that plague all artists, and she deals with them the only way one can — by ignoring them one at a time.
Pros and Cons of Keeping Several Genres Under (Mostly) One Pen Name
All of Elle’s books, with the exception of one chick lit title (Full Measure by Kat Lee) and an unnamed pen name, are listed under Elle Casey. She says this is mostly out of laziness, as she discovered maintaining two websites, two Facebook pages, and engaging with two different audiences felt like double the work. She engages the varied readers of her large fan base by rotating through her various genres/series and posting a mix of new releases in her email newsletter. She says that readers can simply pick and choose what new titles they are interested in and the leave the rest…and it seems to work just fine.
She notes, however, there isn’t much cross-over between romance and non-romance readers. While her non-romance readers will cross between fantasy, science fiction, and action adventure, those particular readers don’t generally read romance; and most hardcore romance readers will stick with the romance genre and rarely delve into science fiction, though, Elle hastens to add, most have read Hunger Games.
Given that Elle is able to write fast enough to keep all her fans happy, the lack of cross-over between the romance and non-romance readers seems negligible.
Science Fiction: A New Frontier
Elle loved the movie Interstellar. She thought it offered a great explanation of astrophysics and found herself fascinated — and frustrated that she wasn’t able to find another story that was similar. So she decided to write one herself.
Her first foray into Space Opera was no easy feat. From the beginning, she realized she had to create a whole new world from scratch, new technologies, a new lexicon for her characters. She organized her research and writing in Scrivener, creating character sketches and glossaries. It was slow-going at first, and a definite challenge, but all that hard work has paid off. Her brand-new science fiction series Drifters’ Alliance is set to launch any day now.
The Benefits of a Trusted Assistant
Earlier this year, Elle hired an assistant to help her run the back-end and administrative side of her business, and she says it’s made a big difference in her writing life, allowing Elle to focus on the most important aspect of her business: writing.
“If I spend six hours doing back-end work versus six hours of writing, that back-end work is not money I’m making — it’s money I’m spending. You know, six hours of writing could make me $10-, $15-, $100,000 in the next year or two, so it’s ridiculous for me to spend that time dinking around on the KDP dashboard when I should be putting words on paper.”
Elle met her assistant Noelle through a book club. Noelle is a huge bookworm, she says, very organized, conscientious, and kind. When she mentioned she was looking for some part-time work, Elle invited her to work with her for a 90-day trial period. Twice a week, Noelle came over, and Elle trained her in running her business. Now Noelle is transitioning to full-time with Elle.
“We’re a team,” Elle says. “We’re invested in one another. She respects my work, and she really respects my readers.”
On listening to your readers: “I have often made changes to my schedule in response to reader requests.”
On writing in different genres: “So every genre has its formula, has its reader expectations — whatever you want to call it — and they’re different, you know, depending on the genre. So what’s fun for me is I can step outside of one set of expectations and jump into another that’s quite different. And because I read in all the genres that I write — I like to read in different genres — it’s comfortable for me.”
On the psychology of success: “Some people are so comfortable with failure that the idea of success is actually kind of frightening.”
- “Get your organizational flow set up before you start working inside of it,” Elle recommends. She says she herself didn’t do this and ended up with inconsistencies in various back-end and admin tasks that has required time spent by her assistant in cleaning up.
- Create a step-by-step training manual as you learn things. It will help you remember how you did something without having to go back and re-learn it, and later on, when your business grows large enough to need an assistant, it will make training that person much easier and help keep things consistent.
- Avoid activities that bring about negative emotions. If you’re finding yourself tearing up over the news each morning, stop reading them! If interaction on a particular site is bringing you more grief than joy, disappear from it. Instead, get back to writing and spend more time in the worlds you love. Your readers will thank you.
- Don’t give the squirrels the satisfaction. They are the appealing little minions of Resistance designed to tempt you from your work via text, news feeds, and click-bait headlines. Remember, you can always watch that cat video after you get your work done. If your squirrels are too muscley and pushy, consider keeping them at bay with an app like StayFocusd.
- Hire an assistant. If business is booming, do yourself a favor and hire good help. Elle recommends looking for an assistant who is intuitive with the computer and a bookworm.
Do you use a virtual assistant? If so, how did you find your assistant, and what tasks do you delegate to them?
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