1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? and 2. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember in one way or another—especially letters to people back home whenever I traveled and articles for newspapers. After two road trips across America in 2013 & 2014 to follow the Trail of Lewis and Clark, I realized that I wanted to share my discoveries about their incredible journey and our amazing country with a larger audience.
I approached a media group that publishes weekly regional newspapers covering nearly 60 municipalities in northern NJ and suggested I write a monthly column, Road Trip of Discovery. After 2 ½ years of writing the monthly column, I decided to expand on the information and write a book, Adventures Across America, On and Off the Trail of Lewis and Clark.
It’s not only a guide for a fantastic road trip, but also a peek into American history, illustrated with over 150 of my photographs. I weave the thrilling story of Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the West in the early 1800s into my story of discoveries throughout America in the 21st century including national and state parks, museums, state capitols, natural wonders and more.
Currently, I’m working on my second book. This one is about traveling through the Heartland and Southwest. I plan to again publish with Gatekeeper Press.
3. What made you want to self-publish?
I chose self-publishing because I didn’t want to take time to find an agent and/or a publisher, and I wanted to have complete control over the content.
4. Would you recommend new authors self-publish, and would you recommend Gatekeeper Press?
I would recommend new authors self-publish unless they have an “in” with a publisher or a lot of time to seek out an agent and/or a publisher. Gatekeeper did a fine job for me. My Author Manager, Sarah Spencer, guided me every step of the way from assigning an experienced editor, Maria, to helping with the placement of photographs and everything in-between.
5. What do you do marketing-wise to help announce and sell your books?
Marketing the book has been the biggest challenge. At first I sent complimentary copies to targeted publications to see if they would like to review the book. Then I figured the more economical route would be to send e-mails asking if they would like a review copy. Fortunately, I received nice reviews in American Road Magazine and Healthy Living Magazine.
I soon realized that to get my name in the reader’s eye, I needed to write articles which I’m now doing. The bio always includes info about the book. I also created a website with the help of our grandson. I was to begin giving talks at local libraries the very day our state shut down gatherings due to Covid19. As soon as we are able to have indoor gatherings I have a dynamite presentation about Lewis and Clark which I will present to libraries and clubs.
6. What advice do you have for a new or fledgling author?
Join a writing group if possible to receive feedback about your writing. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t write every day. After all, life happens when you’re making other plans. Engage a professional editor.
Be careful of pushy publishers. One night I was browsing the internet looking for a publisher. The next morning I received two phone calls from publishers who talked a great plan, and they loved my ideas. I looked on Alliance of Independent Publishers to see if they were rated. One wasn’t rated, and the other had a red flag warning. Gatekeeper Press never pressured me to sign up quickly or contacted me with annoying emails. They let me ask the questions and answered me promptly.
7. What social media platforms are you on?
I’m only on FB with a very small presence. I’m not a technical person, so avoid most social media. However, I do have an author page on Amazon and my own website.
8. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had known when you first started out?
Choose a standard size for your book. I began with a slightly larger book, and when it was all proofed and formatted, we realized it would be too expensive for the distributors. Amazon charges non-Amazon authors prohibitive prices to print color editions. They are very reasonable for black and white. I would have like to have understood the pricing structures better.
9. What do you feel is the biggest challenge authors are facing going into 2021 (and beyond)?
So many books are being written, it’s difficult to rise above the crowd.
10. Have you won any awards or contests that you would like to mention?
No awards or prizes. (yet)
Please share your website and/or social media links.
My author website: Jenniferwhitefischer.com