Dana Stabenow interview with David Alan Binder

posted May 28, 2016, 8:55 AM by David Alan Binder

Dana Stabenow interview with David Alan Binder

Her bio (shortened) from her website [the long one is very interesting reading I assure you]:  She writes:  I was born in Anchorage, Alaska on March 27, 1952, and raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. When I wasn’t seasick I wrote stories about NORMAL children who lived on SHORE, and made my mother read them.

I received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Alaska in 1973. I worked for Alyeska Pipeline at Galbraith Lake and later for British Petroleum for six years at Prudhoe Bay. I made an obscene amount of money and went to Hawaii a lot.

I enrolled in UAA’s MFA program, from which I graduated in 1985. My goal was to sell a book before I went broke and I just barely made it: Second Star was published by Ace Science Fiction in 1991. The first Kate Shugak novel, A Cold Day for Murder was published in 1992 and won an Edgar award in 1993.

There are now three Star Svensdotter novels, four Liam Campbell novels, twenty Kate Shugak novels, two thrillers set on USCG cutters, and the first in an historical trilogy featuring Marco Polo’s granddaughter traveling the Silk Road west, with the second due out in October 2014 and the third in April 2015.


Website:      https://stabenow.com/


Amazon:     http://www.amazon.com/Dana-Stabenow/e/B000AQ3BA0


Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/158170.Dana_Stabenow


1.     How do you pronounce your name? 


STAB eh know (also, DAY nuh)


2.     Where are you currently?

Homer, Alaska, USA   

[My first author from Alaska-37 states now. DABinder]


3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

To write every day. Even if it’s only a sentence a day, that is one more sentence than you had the day before. By the end of the month you might have a chapter and by the end of the year a book, but the only way you’ll have either is to write every day.


4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I don’t have an answer for this.


5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I began in traditional publishing in the early 90s with Ace Science Fiction. To date I have been traditionally published at Ace, Berkley, Putnam, Dutton, and St. Martin’s Minotaur.


Four years ago I moved in to self-publishing. Read the story here, https://stabenow.com/2016/05/01/going-independent/. Pull any quotes you like and by all means link to the post.  [NOTE TO MY DEAR READERS: This is extremely interesting reading. DABinder]


6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

E-books are where the money is, unless, and it’s a big unless, you’re a blockbuster seller/perennial lister like James Patterson or Diana Gabaldon or Stephen King. They can live on their advances. Those authors a rung down like myself can’t, and so more of us are turning to self-publishing. It’s an economic decision, nothing more. Unless and until publishers see their way clear to sharing the wealth more equitably, the migration of mid-listers from traditional publishing to self publishing will continue. I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t be long before we see blockbuster authors doing the same. See J.K. Rowling.


7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?      

There is no magic button or secret handshake. Write a good book. A good book will get published, and more importantly a good book will sell more books by that author. Mickey Spillane said, “The first line sells the rest of the book. The last line sells the next book.” What he said.


8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?


If you traditionally publish, you definitely need an agent. Find one at writers conferences or here, http://aaronline.org/. Do. Not, EVER, agree to pay a fee upfront. Agents earn their commission on the money you make, that’s when they get paid.


If you self-publish, you don’t need an agent, you need an editor. Go to writers conferences; they always import agents and editors to be on panels. Join a writer’s organization (I recommend SinC and RWA) and talk to other indie writers for recommendations. Many editors at traditional houses are so underpaid they edit freelance.


9.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Finish your book. One of the best writers I ever met was the last time I saw him still rewriting his first four chapters. You can always rewrite, and you definitely should, but first you have to finish.


10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

How insane the business model is. When I saw my first royalty statement it showed only 80+ books sold out of every hundred printed. I called my editor in a panic and she told me that was an excellent sell-through percentage that they would have been happy with a 50 percent sell-through, as in 50 books sold for every 100 printed.  I had to have her explain it to me a second time before I really believed it. All I can say is that when I worked for BP on Alaska’s North Slope, we never ever pumped 100 BBLs. of oil in anticipation of selling only 50. When I worked for Whitney-Fidalgo to put myself through college, we never ever canned 100,000 cases of salmon in anticipation of selling only 50,000. This is just nuts, and comes from an archaic business model in serious need of revision to more sensibly reflect modern realities, not least of which is the consumption of trees.


11.                        How many books have you written? 



12.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? 


Rewrite. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Rewriting is your friend.


13.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

Follow the news. Fact provides better plot twists than fiction any day.

14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

 The voice.


15.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

Social media, as in Facebook, Twitter, www.stabenow.com, and the Danamaniacs, but mostly through a newsletter, the Roadhouse Report. We passed 10,000 subscribers as of last October. It took twenty years to accumulate that many subscribers, but it is by far and away the best means of getting the news of a new book out there.


16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?


I wouldn’t have killed off Abel at the end of the first Kate Shugak novel if I’d known there were going to be 21 of them, that’s for sure. I had to write in a new character, Old Sam, to take up that Alaska old fart slack.



17.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?


Tend to your loved ones first, even when you’re on deadline. There will always be another book. (Learned that one the hard way.)


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Please contact me at dalanbinder at gmail dot com or ab3ring at juno dot com

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