How did you get published? Interview with non-fiction author, Julie Wise

Today, I’m talking to motivational coach, mentor and now non-fiction author, Julie Wise. Julie recently published her book, Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease through iUniverse.com.

Dream Bigger, by Julie Wise

The cover for Julie's new book

Julie, why did you decide to write this book? How does it slot in with your work as a motivational coach and mentor?
Actually, Cathryn, I didn’t decide to write the book. The book itself made the decision! I was busy writing another book (about my three-month journey through Ireland) when the idea for this book came to me and wouldn’t let go. It showed me the title, gave me the outline and insisted on being written. So I set aside the time, and the content revealed itself, section by section.

The message is perfectly suited to the work I do as a coach because I help people navigate change in their lives and achieve their dreams. In the book, I write about what to do when the plan you had for your life falls apart and you’re faced with unexpected change. I also provide tips and tools for identifying your life dream and making it a reality.

How long did the process take, from planning, research and writing to holding a freshly-printed copy in your hands?
It was exactly nine months from inception to ‘birth’, just like having a baby! The writing came first, followed by a month of doing interviews with people I call Dreammakers in the book (inspiring people whose dreams took on a life of their own and had a community or global impact), and then the editing, cover design, final proofing and printing.

Tell me about your writing process. What obstacles did you encounter and how did you solve them?
Once I had the outline, I spent time filling in ideas for the content in each section. I knew I wanted simple exercises plus real life examples. I committed to writing at least 1000 words a day. I wrote 2–4 hours a day nearly every day for three months and the first draft was complete. There were days when I didn’t want to write, or didn’t feel inspired, but I sat down at my laptop anyway, and the words would come.

I also kept a writer’s journal – a file on my computer where I’d make short entries each day before I began to write. I’d put down ideas for that day’s writing, or mention that I felt tired and uninspired. It helped to be able to reread previous entries and realise that even on slow days, I was able to write 1000 words and feel energised by the end.

When I finished writing the first draft, I realised it was shorter than I wanted, so I needed to find something else to fill the space. That’s when I decided to interview the Dreammakers. I sent an email to six people whose stories I found inspiring (I didn’t know any of them personally), and asked for an interview. Even though they are all very busy people, they said ‘yes’ right away. I think their stories add a great deal to the book.

Why did you decide to publish with iUniverse.com? Did you approach any traditional publishers?
I didn’t approach any traditional publishers with this book because I wanted to get the book published and in readers’ hands as quickly as possible. With traditional publishing, there can be quite a time lapse. I published with iUniverse on a referral from a colleague who had previously published with them.

Did you get any assistance from an editor, proofreader or other book publishing professional?
After doing a thorough editing of the draft myself, and formatting it according to the required standards set by my publisher, I submitted it to an iUniverse editor for further editing. I did the final proofreading myself. I’m a professional translator, so I have a good grasp of language, punctuation and grammar.

How did you work out pricing for the paperback and Kindle versions of the book?
The prices for paperback, hardcover and Kindle were set by the publisher.

Tell me about your book promotion. You seem to have devoted a huge amount of time and energy to promoting Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease. Did you make the book your number one priority?
Dream BIGGER became a full-time job for about a year, from writing to printing and marketing. I set aside three months last fall to focus solely on promotion. I hired a publicist for television, radio and print media promotion and a social media consultant to handle internet marketing. It was a very busy and demanding time, but I felt it was essential to getting the book out there and known.

Did you sit down and plan your promotional tactics? How did you decide what to do and what not to do?
My publisher required that I create a marketing plan. I was given a template to work with, but I developed my own and tailored it to my own needs and objectives. When I began to work with the publicist, we discussed a three-month plan based on my long-term vision for the book.

I’ll be posting the second part of Julie’s interview in a few days. In it, Julie explains how she’s been promoting her book.

Click here to visit Julie’s website, and here for her blog.

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The business of writing: Part 2 of an interview with novelist and travel writer, Cameron Rogers

Today author Cameron Rogers talks about working with publishers, using a pen-name, having an agent, and what promotions support emerging writers can expect from publishers.

Cam, with your novels, what do your publishers expect from you in terms of rewrites?
It varies from publisher to publisher, editor to editor. A good editor understands what you’re attempting to do with a given manuscript and helps you work in that direction. Another editor may have a more commercial mindset and ask that the main character of your period drama be more like Starscream from Transformers. I wish I was making that last bit up.

But generally, I have to say, I’ve rarely come across an editor I had a hard time working with. The key, for me, is understanding that the end quality of the manuscript is more important than anything else, including your ego. You need to be okay with amputating whole chapters – months of work, maybe your best work – if the end result for the reader is greatly improved.

How do you find switching between novel writing and travel writing? Does one style of writing help with the other?
I think so. I think travel writing has made me a better novelist. I think it’s accentuated my grasp of texture, of experience, of immediacy, and how people can work. I can’t overstate the value of travel for any kind of writer.

Why did you decide to use a pen-name for Nicholas and the Chronoporter?
It seemed prudent. An established genre writer – like Cliver Barker or Neil Gaiman – can write a book for kids and people find that interesting. They seek it out. It’s almost as if they’ve descended from Olympus to impart some small gift to the people of the lowlands.

But if someone who is perceived to be a children’s writer publishes a conventional novel … that doesn’t seem to work. R.L. Stine – who started the bestselling Goosebumps line – did that. The book rotted on the shelves. So I decided to go with a pseudonym because I didn’t know which way my career was going to go, and I liked the idea of writing a book as a character. I’m hoping I can do more with Rowley Monkfish. I kinda like him.

I wonder why companies don’t make a more concerted effort to promote up-and-comers … I mean, Bryce Courtenay isn’t going to be around forever

Do you have an agent?
I’m represented by Howard Morhaim in New York. He’s had 30 years or more experience, is respected, and I like him as a person. I trust him, and it means I can spend less time sweating the fine print and more time writing. It just makes sense to have an agent like that onside. You not only get their experience, but you get their network of connections as well.

How do you go about negotiating your contracts with your publishers?
Again, that’s the value of an agent. Howard deals with them, gets back to me, we kick it around, and if need be there’s some back and forth. The idea of having to talk business with a publisher over the future of the current book … eurgh. Just, no.

Can people buy ebook versions of your novels?
The Music of Razors can be bought for the Kindle, via Amazon, if you’re in the US.  I’d very much like to get everything happening digitally, globally, eventually.

What’s happened in the past with publicity and promotions for your books? Have you had much assistance from your publishers or have you organised everything?
Somewhat oddly, it’s the popular and established authors who get the bulk of the publicity budget. First-timers, mid- and back-listers get practically zip. So it’s up to them to generate their own publicity however they can.

Since the financial meltdown pretty much every publishing house on Earth is fighting for its life, and they’re doing that via their front-list, so you can’t blame them for focusing squarely on the writers who pay the bills. But, that said, the front-listers have always had 95% of the budget. That’s not a new thing.

Partly out of self-interest and partly out of genuine curiosity I wonder why companies don’t make a more concerted effort to promote up-and-comers, if only to protect the future of their corporation. I mean, Bryce Courtenay isn’t going to be around forever.

Have you done a book trailer? Is this something you’d consider doing?
No I haven’t, but I definitely would. Anything that helps keep people aware that you’re still here doing your thing is valuable. Whether or not it’s cost-effective is something else entirely. But yeah, I’d definitely do it.

An editor may ask that the main character of your period drama be more like Starscream from Transformers. I wish I was making that last bit up.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
Brian K. Vaughan said that writer’s block is just another word for computer games. The time lost playing just one of those things to completion, if you add it up, is shocking. Furthermore I find the repetition of action and visuals blunts the mind and makes it harder to work afterwards.

It pains me to say it, because I love the escapism of gaming, but I’d advise throwing out all of them, then travelling for three weeks to flush my head and reset. Then returning and getting started on something fresh.

And to remember that everything will take three times longer than I expect.

Cam’s bio

In 2001, Cam was the first author to be nominated simultaneously for three separate Aurealis Awards (Best Horror, Best Fantasy, Best Young Adult). This was for the Australian edition of The Music of Razors, which Neil Gaiman described as “A nightmarishly imaginative debut from a writer of real assurance and vision.”

Cam’s YA novella, Nicholas and the Chronoporter, is in print with Penguin Australia. It was written under the pen-name of Rowley Monkfish. His first published work, a YA novella entitled The Vampires, has been in print with Lothian since 1997.

Cam is currently travelling and working on his next novel. His most recent sales were articles on Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig and Sun Studio, Memphis, for The Age.

Weblinks

Click here for Cameron’s website/blog.

And here for paperback edition of the Music of Razors on Amazon.

Here is the link for The Music of Razors on Kindle.

How did you get published? Pt 2 of an interview with m a miller

This is part 2 of an interview with SF author m a miller. miller’s first novel, Mis’ka – The Rite of Ascension is coming out at the end of April.

Did you do anything to build your profile as a writer prior to getting published?

I have a website and joined Authors Den. AuthorsDen is a way of advertising your books and it links to your website.  It works best if you have a lot of books – so with only one so far it isn’t as useful as it could be.

Will you sell or promote your book via any non-mainstream outlets?

Online through Author’s Den and my website plus my publisher’s website.  Maybe Amazon.com.

m a miller

Author m a miller

 

Are there niche groups that you plan to approach?

I am hoping to get together with the other SF writers that alto books publish and have a booth at the AussieCon 4, 2010 (the World SF convention) in September, here in Melbourne – lots of SF fans attend and between us we have about 6 books to promote.

Do you or publisher have any plans to sell your books overseas?

Yes, apparently SF books are big in the US – and here is the irony – if my book sells overseas there are booksellers here in Australia who will then pick it up for sale!  The distributor has specialist SF booksellers in America who are interested and (I believe) have preordered Mis’ka.

Tell me about the ebook you’re writing.

The ebook came about because a friend asked me to read and comment on a short story she’d written – although it was a great idea there was very little ‘technique’ – the POV was all over the place, no main character to focus on, and it was written in a way that kept emotional distance from the reader.  I started writing her some notes and realised at the end that I had the makings of an ebook to help with all that technical stuff – but told in a simple way.

How do you plan to sell your ebook?  

With elibrary and also through my websites.

Will you or your publisher do an ebook version of Mis’ka: Rite of Ascension? 

Hopefully, yes.  I think that Kindle and the new Apple iPad are the way that some people want their books – personally, I love a-hold-in-your-hand paper version but for travel I think the electronic way is great.

How did you decide what content to put on your website?

I have always loved the back story – bits about character, where they’re from etc – so I wrote my website with that in mind and I am currently working on more to add. Of course, it also has a bit about me. Plus the downloadable ebook.

You’re a member of many writers groups. How has this helped you with your career?

They all have excellent resources (including access to lawyers to help with contracts) and the Victorian Writers’ Centre has fantastic events that are useful for learning and interacting with other authors.

Do you view your writing as a business?

Yes!  Since leaving a full-time, non-writing job, writing is the way I earn a living. 

How do you structure your writing days?

Depends.  Some days – especially when I have a looming deadline – I work from very early (even 4.30am) until lunch then have a break then get back into it.  Other days, I do a lot of thinking and not much writing. Currently I’m very busy so more writing, less thinking!

What do you find difficult or pleasurable about working as a full-time writer? 

Difficult can be always trying to find the angle – that’s in copywriting – as you need to come up with different ideas for the same thing – currently I’m writing 12 brochures for the same company that need to say the same thing about different subjects.  Phew!  Also, I do like to ‘think’ about my writing but when you’ve got that deadline often there isn’t the time for that indulgence.  But the most fantastic thing about writing full time is that I get to do what I love – writing.  And when I’m writing creatively – well that’s just a joy!

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author?

I’m not sure that I have a brand but I recently received feedback from my publisher who said that I am a ‘storyteller’ who keeps the story moving forward – as opposed to someone who writes a lot of descriptions and forgets to tell the story.  I think this skill comes from my training as a screenwriter (through RMIT’s Professional Screenwriting course).  So I guess that is how I would describe myself – a storyteller (although to be honest, I don’t know if that differentiates me from anyone!)

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Believe that you can do it!

m a miller, thank you.

Biography

m a miller writes for the screen and theatre. She has assisted in the development of an animated children’s television series as well as a live action kid’s show. She won a Melbourne University writing competition, a Women’s Weekly short story competition and has worked in the script department for the long running police drama Blue Heelers.  She has also had a number of her short stories awarded or commended. In her spare time, miller finds time to swim, walk her dogs and eat (lots) of chocolate – not necessarily at the same time!

Mis’ka – The Rite of Ascension will be released at the end of April.

Click here to visit m a miller’s website.