- When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I always loved writing – from songs and poems, to school papers. However, I never imagined I’d ever actual write a novel. That changed over 30 years ago when stores traded in their cash registers for scanning machines and products were labeled with bar codes. Then came Dolly the first cloned sheep. Number of Man was born in my mind like a flash and never left. But life was busy and it wasn’t until disabled from two failed back surgeries which led to depression, that I wrote the first rough draft. Then I struggled with how to end my novel and became overwhelmed with the myriad of publishing options. But God always knows the best way and best timing. In 2016, the manuscript was pulled off the shelf, dusted off and with a renewed mind that was no longer clouded with dust and cobwebs from tons of medication, God enabled me to finish it and to choose the self-publishing option for a variety of reasons. This opportunity opened up in late 2019 with the aid of Vocational Rehabilitation.
- How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?
I feel like I have been writing in one way or another my whole life, which included a poem I published in my early twenties. But this novel was an endeavor that was different from all other forms of writing. It has been an exciting, sometimes frustrating and challenging journey. But it has also become a great passion. The sequel to Number of Man, The Beginning is almost complete. I have had two beta readers read the second novel’s work in progress and am so pleased to hear that they loved it as much as the first one. I am anxious to start the editing process on this second novel very soon. Outside of this Number of Man series, I am also working on a non-fictional piece entitled Suffering in Silence that will be discussing various mental illnesses. Not sure exactly what it will look like yet, but I plan on having Joey McClain as a co-author as she too, at the young age of 13, has had struggles with this illness.
- What made you want to self-publish?
After researching traditional and self-publishing options, three key factors led me to choose the self-publishing route. First factor took into consideration the time-consuming process of finding a good literary agent and a traditional publisher. It wasn’t that I was afraid that I’d never find a traditional publisher or literary agent to eventually publish my novel, but the process itself was daunting to me. The second factor was the result of researching the royalties writers receive from traditional publishing versus self-publishing. But there was factor three. I wasn’t sure that a traditional publisher wouldn’t want me to alter some standards in my writing that I wanted to hold to. I had a strong conviction to write a story that was a good read without the numerous swear words and graphic love scenes that, in my opinion, are often overused. So far, no one who has read my book has complained about the absence of these explicit descriptions.
- Would you recommend new authors self-publish, and would you recommend GKP?
I absolutely would recommend self-publishing. I would also strongly recommend Gatekeeper Press. My experience was so wonderful and seamless. But it is important for each author to research these options. I found Gatekeeper Press on the website of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) which gives authors a great review of various self-publishers, marketers, and then some. I valued that information greatly. After contacting several on their list with good ratings, I just really felt most comfortable with Gatekeeper Press. I was not let down in my choice and have been thrilled with the outcome.
- What do you do marketing-wise to help announce and sell your books?
I really felt it necessary to do some publicity to announce my book. But with little money, the options seemed slim. However, I ended up investing in a few niche promotions that involved a book review, a social media campaign blitz, an author profile, and a book giveaway at a very reasonable cost. Building on those initial promotions, graphics were created and I was able to develop my own on-going book trailer and social media campaigns. Promotional items are also great tools, so a Number of Man bookmarker that displays my website and other social media platforms has been printed for this purpose. I believe word of mouth from happy readers will build on what I have done so far. I am continually looking for new ways to promote and get the word out to avid readers.
- What advice do you have for a new or fledgling author?
My biggest advice is to just do it. Even if you don’t know how you will publish yet, or have questions about the process, just write that story that you have in your head. The one that won’t go away. When it is completed and the other questions get answered and opened up, it will be well worth it. It is okay to work on a book for as long as it takes; everyone has different writing styles. I encourage people to keep notes of story ideas even if it is in a shoe box. One day you may open that shoe box, pull out all of your ideas and notes and the whole story just…well, starts writing itself.
- What social media platforms are you on?
Currently I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I focus though mostly on Facebook. Twitter is my second focus where I talk to others in the writing community, and hope to soon develop my Instagram platform. YouTube is another avenue that I will be using shortly as well. I try to target different audiences with each platform. But it is truly all a learning process and just like my book, a work in progress.
- What is the one piece of advice you wish you had known when you first started out?
To not be so afraid to put myself out there. It will be okay. Fear can become an overwhelming factor in many areas of life, including that of how others will perceive us and our work. We usually find that the things we were afraid of do not happen. And if they do? Well, hang on and turn that roller coaster into a fun ride! After all, there will be that upside.
- What do you feel is the biggest challenge authors are facing going into 2020 (and beyond)?
I see two huge challenges. The first is with the changing in our society due to the COVID conditioning taking place. It has prevented authors from connecting with readers through live book events and signings. Will this be a continued theme? I believe, unfortunately it will. So, if you haven’t looked at how to do live events to reach your audience and do a book reading/signing, start researching and learn them. It is a bit daunting, but you can do it. I plan to. The second challenge is something I learned from my Mentee, Joey, a 14-year-old neighbor’s daughter, who is wanting to become an author herself. She told me that very few of her friends actually want to read. The competition of dramatic movies and dramatic gaming seems to be stealing a generation away from reading. This said, it is good to learn your audience. I am sure there will be other challenges but those are the two big ones at the moment. Do NOT let this deter you as an author. It hasn’t Joey. But she said, “My friends think I’m odd.” Aren’t we all in one way or another? Though I prefer the term “uniquely designed.”
- Have you won any awards or contests that you would like to mention?
I have not yet entered any contests, though I hope to at some point in the future. But the one big award I get is from my readers when they actually reach out to me and tell me, “I read your book and I really liked it. So, when is the next one coming out?” That right there is a huge Award and Reward.
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