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Interview with indie author Beth Labonte

What Stays in Vegas cover

Beth Labonte is the author of chick lit novel What Stays in Vegas, and Coffee Breath, a story for children aged 9 – 12.

She lives in Massachusetts, USA.

Occupation: “bored Admin Assistant”

I’m the worst best secretary you’ll ever have the pleasure of reluctantly doing business with.

In this interview she talks about her writing and her experiences as a self-published author.

Please tell us a little about you as a person, and you as a writer.

Beth LabonteI’m a very quiet person who hates being the center of attention. I go to work, mind my own business, and get my work done – all the while observing and storing away the funny situations and absurdities that I come across. A few coworkers get to hear my thoughts via emails throughout the day, but for the most part I save that stuff for my blog or my books. I find it much easier to get my sense of humor across through my writing.


Where did you get your ideas for your book?

Eight years of secretarial work and a few trips to Vegas gave me plenty of material.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the world of indie publishing?

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how successful some indie authors are able to become on their own. Amanda Hocking is a good example. It used to be that if you didn’t find a publisher, nobody would ever get to read your book. But now, if you’ve got the talent and the motivation to do some marketing, you can have yourself a nice little side business.

Do you actively market your book? If so, which platforms or methods work best?

The only thing I’ve done that has gotten me any results, was to make my book free on Smashwords and then wait for Amazon to price match it. I ending up giving away thousands of copies and found myself at the top of the ranks in the Kindle store. I earned over 100 reviews and was introduced to readers who are now waiting for my second book to come out. Sure I didn’t make any money, but it was worth it just to get my name out there.

Would you consider becoming a full-time self-publishing writer?

If I started making enough money that I could quit my job, of course! It is my dream to work from inside a Starbucks.

Do you think there is still a stigma associated with self-publishing?

Yes. You can see it when someone reviews a book that they didn’t like and they say, “It’s obvious why this person is self-published,” or if they really liked a book and they say “I was surprised to find that it was self-published.” There seems to still be the feeling that only lousy writers are self-publishing, and it’s just not true. There are plenty of terrific self-published authors who went that route simply because they didn’t feel like waiting around for a traditional publisher to give them a chance.

What type of writer are you?

I am, unfortunately, a very slow writer. I’m in awe of people who are able to pump out book after book like it’s the easiest thing in the world. It’s so hard for me to not spend an entire morning obsessing over the same two paragraphs. It’s even worse because I have such limited time to write. I’m hoping that in the long run it at least shaves some time off of my second drafts.

Do you have a favourite writing tip?

“Write what you know.”

What do you think makes a good story?

I like a story with plenty of humor and a smart main character. Not only smart, but also a genuinely good person, which is why I love John Green. Of course everybody is going to have their own opinion of what makes a good story, which is why as a writer you can never make everybody happy!

What would you say to an author who’s just received a bad review?

First, go and read all the one star reviews of Harry Potter. Feel better? Even the most successful writers get bad reviews, and like I said before, you can’t make everybody happy. I try not to obsess over them, but I also like to look at the other reviews that person has written. If your book is PG rated, and they’ve given five star reviews to romance novels with shirtless cowboys all over the covers, then you have a pretty good idea of why they may have been bored with your story. But if reviewers are complaining about grammar or typos, you should probably tuck that information away so that you don’t make the same mistakes with your next book.

What are you reading at the moment? And who is your favourite author?

I am currently reading The Man With Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse, who is also one of my favorite authors. Some of my other favorites are John Green, Sophie Kinsella, Tolkien, and J.D. Salinger – who wrote my all-time favorite book The Catcher in the Rye.

Did you write your book for fun, money, fame, or something else? In other words, what was your biggest motivator for you to write your book?

I’ve never been very fond of my secretarial jobs, and I spent years after college trying to think up a new career for myself. Finally I looked back at what I enjoyed doing as a kid, which turned out to be writing funny stories. I decided to put all my observations about work into a book that other secretaries might enjoy, and it gave me something positive to do rather than complain to my husband. I would get up early in the morning to work on it, and found that it was much easier to get out of bed to write than it had been to get out of bed for work. So what started out as a fun side project, kind of turned into the thing I’d been looking for for so many years.

How do you find the time to combine writing with your job and your family?

There’s a great quote that goes “You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” If I waited to have some “spare time,” I would never write anything! Instead I get up at 5:00 a.m. and write for an hour before getting ready for work, and I try to write a few times a week during my lunch hour. It’s difficult writing in one hour chunks, because you’ll just be getting into a scene and the next thing you know your time is up. But for now it’s the best that I can do.

Thank you very much, Beth 🙂


Are you a self-published author, or thinking about becoming one?

What are your experiences of the world of self-publishing?


Angela Boothroyd

I'm a teacher and linguist who specializes in helping non-native English speakers speak English more fluently. I review books and interview authors for the Birds on the Blog Book Club - if you have any suggestions for reviews or interviews please let us know 🙂