Today at the Ferret blog, we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing one of our own! Rebekah has just published her first book: The A-Zs of Worldbuilding, based on a blog series that she did back in 2014.
You can already get the ebook (currently on sale for 99 cents!), but the fancy paperback copy will be coming out on September 30!
What is The A-Zs of Worldbuilding, you ask? From Rebekah herself:
Worldbuilding is the ultimate act of creation for speculative fiction writers, but how exactly do you worldbuild? You ask ‘what if’ and use each answer as a springboard to more questions and answers about your fictional world.
In The A-Zs of Worldbuilding, that ‘what if’ process is broken down into 26 themed chapters, covering topics ranging from architecture to zoology. Each chapter includes a corresponding set of guided exercises to help you find the ‘what if’ questions relevant to your story’s world.
Fair warning, though: worldbuilding is addictive. Once you get started, you might never put your pen down again.
So, for such an amazing and wonderfully auspicious occasion, Ferrets Michelle, Serena, and Eris sat down to put together a few questions to
pester ask Rebekah, and she very graciously allowed us to do so.
Without further ado, here’s the interview!
Michelle: How would you sell this book to someone like me, who’s a very sparse worldbuilder?
It’s a pick-and-choose workbook at its minimum, and while I think writers will get the greatest benefit from completing the whole thing before they start on a story, it absolutely can be worked on during a story, or even through revisions as a way to flesh the world out more. Each chapter is stand-alone, and you only have to use the exercises that feel most helpful for your story. When necessary, any of the exercises that tie in with other sections are referred to them directly.
M: Any advice for people looking to go the self-publishing route?
Unless you can outsource the more complicated aspects (such as formatting the interior and cover, and proofreading/copy-editing) it is going to take you 5 times longer than you expect, and will cost at least twice as much as you anticipate, even with most of the process being DIY.
M: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known about self-publishing before you started this?
I knew that self-publishing was going to be hard beforehand, but I didn’t anticipate how hard. Some of it is because I’m a perfectionist, and I’d definitely say the hardest part of self-publishing is knowing when to stop. You have so much control over every aspect of the process that it’s sometimes too easy to keep coming up with ways to improve it instead of simply calling it done. I still keep thinking of things I could add, tweak, or say better!
M: What was the most frustrating/most interesting thing you learned about self-publishing?
Every Print-On-Demand source gives a different finished product. Theoretically, I knew this would be the case, but I didn’t realize how much of a difference I would notice. I’ve split my book between CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and while the text, the cover design, etc, was all the same, looking at the two products side by side you can definitely see and feel a difference. I like the cover better on the IngramSpark book, but I prefer the interior paper on the CreateSpace copy. If only I could combine them!
Serena: What’s the best thing you think this book could do for someone like me, who worldbuilds very heavily, but sometimes haphazardly?
It can offer structure to the process, while also helping to keep the big picture in mind, and also helping to keep your notes organized. I think the exercise portions will be most important for this – even if you jump around, it’s already organized. Everything stays in its place.
S: What was the single most exciting moment as you wrote/worked on publishing this book?
I really enjoyed expanding the P is for Plants chapter in my last round of revisions. When I first wrote the blog series that this workbook is based off, I was interested in gardening and botany and herbalism but hadn’t done much to pursue those interests yet. I’ve learned a lot since then, and while (like most of the book) I didn’t go as in-depth as I could have, that chapter was definitely improved from my experiences.
S: Is there a topic you wish you could have covered in the book, but didn’t fit, or one that is in the book but that you would liked to have more room to explore?
Magic systems and religion. I barely even talk about magic systems – it’s tacked on to the end of the S is for Science chapter. And, well… religion could be a whole ‘nother book. 😉
S: What’s the first thing you think about when you’re worldbuilding something new? Is it A in this book, or something else, or a different starting point each time?
For me, it’s a different starting point each time. My story ideas come from the characters popping into my head and introducing themselves. I get to know the world through the characters, and learning why they think the way they do. Surprisingly, I’ve actually done very little with Architecture as a major worldbuilding focus. That usually comes in during my revision stages.
Eris: Do you have any worldbuilding heroes that inspire you? Not even necessarily people you think are good writers (although that sometimes goes hand in hand) but people who just…worldbuild in a way that really grabs you.
A lot of my favorite worldbuilding stories are by authors who I haven’t really looked up their worldbuilding process. However, the one I’ve read who has briefly described her process as being most similar to how I worldbuild is Kathy Tyers—she’s talked about asking ‘what if’ before, and that’s pretty much where I start all of my worldbuilding.
Get the ebook of The A-Zs of Worldbuilding for only 99 cents (USD) now through September 30! (Regularly $3.99)
Here’s where else you can buy it:
Got more questions for Rebekah? Ask them in the comments below, or on social media!