A writer like you: Elizabeth Chatsworth
Meet Elizabeth Chatsworth, a British author and actor based in Connecticut.
She writes of rogues, rebels, and renegades across time and space. From Victorian sensibilities to interstellar travel, her fiction takes you on an adventure like no other!
Elizabeth is the author of THE BRASS QUEEN, an award-winning sci-fi comedy set in an alternate Victorian age. Her LGBT time travel romance “Ten Minutes After Teatime” is a finalist for the New England Readers’ Choice Award. Currently, Elizabeth is working on a sequel to THE BRASS QUEEN, a comic space opera, and a contemporary romcom.
You’ll love Elizabeth’s advice on where to start as a beginner writer, how to land a literary agent, and how to build a successful author platform.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
What has shaped you into the writer you are today?
I’ve always loved escaping into fantastical worlds bursting with adventure, action, humor, and romance. My writing influences include Diana Wynne Jones, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and Neil Gaiman, with a dash of Doctor Who, Blakes Seven, and Firefly. Wise-cracking heroes caught in a no-win situation with a galaxy on the line? Sign me up, please!
What have you learned about writing so far?
It’s never too late to start. Do you want to visit Mars, ride a dragon, or steal the Mona Lisa? You can do it today, on paper, right now! Once you’ve got into the habit of jotting down your ideas, you can develop your craft and connect with other writers, but everything grows from taking the first step into your own inner world.
What strategies could a beginner writer use to improve their skills?
Once you’ve developed the habit of creative writing, read your favorite authors and consider how they create a world you want to explore. For instance, are there broad descriptions of a lush landscape, peppered with sounds and scents that make it feel real? Take your study a step further by reading craft books and signing up for in-person or online writing classes. Most importantly, keep writing – the world needs to hear your voice!
What was your process to find an agent like?
I signed with my agent the old-fashioned way, through a cold query. However, before sending out my query letter, I’d polished my manuscript and pitch to a professional level with my Pitch Wars mentors. My advice is to take your time, hone your craft, and once you begin sending out query letters, start working on your next manuscript. You will usually only get one chance to present your manuscript to an agent or publisher, so make sure it’s a knockout.
What strategies are you using to build an author platform?
First, I set up my website. My social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) all link to this website. One of the benefits of creating your own site is that you can brand it to reflect your personal style. I love the retro-futuristic vibe of steampunk, so vintage colors and designs accent my site. The gold/green/brown color palette and Victorian scripts of my site carry over to my business cards, my social media headers, and other marketing materials. Owning my domain name has allowed me to create a personalized email address versus a standard Gmail/Outlook address. This looks a little more professional on your correspondence to agents, editors, etc.
My website currently hosts my commercial voice-over demo, plus my events calendar, press kit, news updates, biography, and publications. Visitors can sign up for my VIP newsletter for new release details, giveaways, and a welcome gift. I use a service called BookFunnel to deliver my gift book in a format the reader prefers (EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc.). I also use Canva to create properly sized graphics for social media posts.
Maintaining a presence across the main social media sites is a time-consuming process. It helps to focus on those sites that allow you to connect on a deeper level with potential readers and fellow writers. As sites evolve, you may find a former favorite site no longer suits your needs, so it’s best not to place all your proverbial social media eggs into one basket. Sign up for a variety of accounts and see which speaks to your personal interests and preferred communication method. But make sure you turn off notifications (or put away your phone) before you sit down to write, or you may find you spend your precious writing time interacting rather than creating your next piece of fiction.
Tell us about THE BRASS QUEEN. What inspired the novel, and how soon can we read it?
THE BRASS QUEEN was inspired by a minor character in The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells; a mysterious American tourist in an English pub draws a six-shooter and wings the invisible man. Upon reading this, I wondered, who is this U. S. interloper with the less-than-deadly aim? Thus began the adventures of J. F. Trusdale, an inept spy in an alternative world where nothing is exactly as it seems, starting with Trusdale himself. As our story begins he (literally) runs into Constance Haltwhistle, the last in a line of blue-blooded rogues who runs an arms empire under her alias, the “Brass Queen.”
Intrigued? You’ll be able to follow the madcap adventures of Constance and Trusdale in 2020. Sign up for my newsletter for exclusive updates and sneak previews here.
Where else can we connect with you?
Thank you, Elizabeth.
To free the writer today, let’s apply Elizabeth’s author platform strategies. If you don’t have a website, start there. Get a social media account (or multiple accounts) and figure out what works for you. Or post on social media more consistently. But make sure your writing is still the priority.
Feel free to share your website and social media accounts in the comments below so we can all connect with one another.
And above all, keep writing!