What Was Your Catalyst To Start Writing Professionally?

As writers, we are often seen as having this pie in the sky dream and ambition. We believe we can sell 1,000 copies of our book in the first year. We believe we can build a tribe of fanatical, dedicated readers. We believe that someday we will make the New York Times bestseller list. And we can accomplish all these things. However, for some of us it hasn’t always been this way.  For many of us, we have been dreaming of being a published author for years, but it took that one catalyst to get us to actually sit down and start.

What Was Your Catalyst To Start Writing Professionally?

I have wanted to be an author since I was nine years old.  I grew up with a lot of naysayers on my Dad’s side of the family, but I pretty much let it go in one ear and out the other. As I got older, I had to figure out how I was going to do this. Not so much write, but get published. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go the traditional route, but I also didn’t have money to pay a vanity publisher either. I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to have 100+ copies of my books  that may or may not sell. So I kept writing and sat on it for awhile.

It wasn’t until January 1, 2014 that I saw this segment on CBS This Morning and it totally changed my life.

Did I want to write steamy romances like Jasinda Wilder? No, not at all. It was the inspiration of her story and the realization that I could self-publish on my own that blew me away. I wasn’t even familiar with self-publishing or knew what Smashwords (an e-book publishing platform) was. I made up my mind that day that in a year I would publish my first book. Like with most things, there was a learning curve, but a year and three months later I published my first book of poetry. Lithium Dreams And Melancholy Sunrise was published on March 21, 2015. It was a proud and humbling moment for me to see my first book go out in the world. Still, I think ‘What if I never saw that story?…” Would I still have published a book eventually or would I still be sitting on my laurels and dreaming? I would like to think not, but who knows?

 

So, what is/was your catalyst to start writing professionally? I would love to hear your stories in the comments.

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Interview with the Illustrator: Jeanine Henning

Interview with the Illustrator: Today I am featuring illustrator and book cover designer, Jeanine Henning. Jeanine is the amazing talent behind my book Don’t Eat Your Boogers (You’ll Turn Green). Aside from being talented, she is a true professional with lots of personality and is so much fun to work with. I look forward to collaborating with her in the very near future for my next children’s book. Take it away Jeanine. 🙂

1. How did you get started illustrating and doing book covers?

I’ve always been busy drawing. From as early as I remember. One of my first jobs was as a Conceptual Designer at a gaming company. I worked my way up to Creative Art Lead where I was in charge of creating worlds, characters, and storyline. When I left the industry I made a very smooth transition to books – where my job is to create worlds, characters, and storyline.

2. Did you have to have any formal education to learn how to do it?

No. I’m self-taught. I was accepted into art schools and colleges but I didn’t like the ‘strictness’ they were imposing on CREATIVITY. So I taught myself and to this day I’m still learning. The experience I’ve gained throughout the years is a million times more valuable than the formal education I was considering.

 

3. How long have you been illustrating books? How long have you been designing book covers?

I’ve been illustrating books for 13 years and doing book covers for the same amount of time.

Interview with the Illustrator: Jeanine Henning

 

4. What is your process for finding out exactly what a client wants in an illustration or book cover?

I have a very specifically designed questionnaire. I get to know ‘who’ my client is first. Then we progress to his or her vision, their tastes and of course their ideas. From there a ‘picture’ stars forming in my head and, well, the characters sort of just pop on out of my pencil!

 

5. What software do you use to draw your illustrations?

I start with traditional pencil on paper (shock, horror, I know!). I then go on to inks (again, traditional), then I scan the final line art and color with Photoshop. No apps are used in the making of my art 

6. Have you always been creative?

Yep, from as far back as I can remember!

7. When you got started, how did you advertise and gain clients? What is your favorite way to advertise your business?

I began by advertising on Indie Author News and writing articles for them. Eventually, interest trickled in and soon we had lift off! And as I began working with clients, the word of mouth spread. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are also great tools. But word of mouth is still powerful.

8. Do you have any tips for those who want to set up their own illustration business online?

You have to become your own brand. You’re in competition with sites like Fiverr. That’s huge. So get your brand out there, as well as considering what can you offer your clients above and beyond just the art. This industry has something very special – team work. A successful author-illustrator team can achieve amazing things.

9. What projects are the most fun for you to work on?

That’s hard to say… The books I work on are so diverse that each and every author and book bring something really special to it. I really am very lucky when it comes to my clients and the wonderful characters they entrust to me.

10. What do your clients mean to you?

A lot. More than just the income. I learned through my clients, I make dreams come true with them, I get to touch kids’ lives all across the globe with my art. So yes, my clients mean a lot to me.

Interview With The Illustrator: Jeanine Henning

11. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Bringing dreams to life. And touching lives. I worked on a very touching project not too long ago. An aunt created this character and wrote this story for her very ill niece in the hospital. The book’s intent is to be distributed throughout children’s hospitals. But when I saw a photo of that little girl’s face when she saw her beloved character come to life – it made my year!

Do you want to get more info or hire Jeanine?

Then check out her web site at: https://jhillustration.wordpress.com/

Thank you Jeanine, for answering my questions. I look forward to working with you again soon. 🙂

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Can Your Library Be Your Publicist?

As indie authors, we are always looking for ways to market and put ourselves out there. Many of us schedule our own appearances at local bookstores or show up in groups for author events. It’s easy to get focused on the bookstore and online opportunities. However, there is one other place that can be a gold mine for authors if they use it right. What is this place? Your local library. Can your library be your publicist? In a sense, yes. There are two things libraries want from their local authors-donations and time. Here are some tips to help make both things work to your advantage.

Donations

Libraries are a great way to get your work out there without spending any money, not to mention they love donations.

1. Donations help get your work in circulation and help you gain readers.

2. Donating copies of your book to be sold at a library sale helps guarantee that they will find a permanent home. This also shows that the reader is genuinely interested in your book by buying it and taking it home.

3. Donations help your library in that they don’t have to spend extra money to help keep their shelves full of current reads.

Can Your Library Be Your Publicist?

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Time.

Libraries are looking to gain new patrons and by donating your time, you are helping draw people in.

  1. Offer to teach a seminar about publishing a book.
  2. Offer to give a speech about your writing journey.
  3. If you are a children’s author, sign up to read to children during story time.
  4. Contact your local author friends and set up an author event where people can come and buy your books as well as ask questions.
  5. Participate in Indie Author Day. (Every year in October.)
  6. Teach a writing class for the afternoon. Make sure you give each participant a copy of one of your books as a thank you for coming.

 

By donating your books and your time, not only are you bound to create a great partnership with your library, you are also bound to bring in new readership for both of you.

 

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Don’t Compare Your Beginning To Someone Else’s Middle

One of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff, made a very good point in his book START. He said, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” I absolutely love this quote and agree wholeheartedly with it.

Don’t Compare Your Beginning To Someone Else’s Middle.

On any journey, it is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to other people. Whether it’s your first job, starting your own business, writing your first book, or going to work for a really big company, it is easy to feel insignificant to others further along the journey than you. You may feel like you’re not good enough because you work in a lower paying job. You may feel like just because your friend got their business up and running full speed ahead in a year, you’re a failure because you are still struggling at six months. You may feel like you will never learn all the things that go along with writing, publishing, and marketing your first book. You may feel like a peon at the big company you just started with because everyone else is further along than you. Don’t do this. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s’ middle. Why?

Don't Compare Your Beginning To Someone Else's Middle

Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

They have had much more time to learn and grow and work the kinks out. Your beginning is exactly where you are supposed to be. Take pride in your lower paying job, people need your service. Hold your head up and enjoy the journey of building your business. Enjoy the process of writing, publishing, and marketing your book-step by step. There is a lot to learn, but you’ve got this. Think of your entry level position at this big company as a platform for you to grow, not that you are everyone else’s peon. Embrace the journey and the road ahead, for you are exactly where you need to be and on the way to your best life.

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