On Saturday, May 21 (2022 if you’re reading this years from now, if that’s the case sorry you missed it) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. I’ll be participating in an author’s fair at Plymouth Public Library in Plymouth, Indiana. If you can stop by that would be awesome. There’s going to be a lot of authors from around my area. We’ll be selling some books, interacting with some readers, and then there’s going to be a questions and answers session.
Being in the newspaper business, I’m used to asking questions. However, I’m not really that used to being asked questions. So, in preparation for the type of questions I might be asked, I thought I’d answer some here. That way if you can’t make it to the author’s fair (or you’re reading this in the future), you can still know the answers. Of course, this’ll be the quick version. Also, I found these questions at 50 Brilliant, Original Questions to ask an Author – Bookfox (thejohnfox.com).
1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
If you’re a lesser-known writer like me, you’ll know the importance of spending your money. Stuff like editing, design and layout, and book covers don’t come cheap if you’re looking to self-publish. Computers aren’t cheap either unless you get one on special or if it’s already out-of-date. But, the best money I’ve ever spent as a writer is the $70 I pay every year for my subscription to Microsoft 365. Not only does it allow me to use Microsoft Publisher, but it also allows me to access my documents on multiple devices using their cloud service OneDrive. It keeps Microsoft Word updated. I have 60 minutes of Skype time if I ever choose to use it.
Really, it’s lovely and convenient. I can be typing this rant at home, and then go to work where I can work on it some more, and then I can sit in a doctor’s waiting room and bang out a couple more paragraphs on my smartphone. A few years ago, I was on vacation when my laptop was stolen. I would’ve lost so much content if I didn’t have this service.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Sure, I could use Google Drive and other stuff to work around that $70/year charge. Realistically, it’s only $5.83 per month. That’s one cup of coffee from Starbucks. Don’t judge me though because I know all of you have multiple streaming services you pay for more than $70/year.
2. What does literary success look like to you?
We all look at the Amazon rankings for our books. When a new book of mine comes out, I check multiple times every hour. When my publisher sends out quarterly earnings, I get excited if I get some money. To me, literary success isn’t about how high your book reaches on the New York Times bestseller list or whether or not you can pay your rent with your book’s earnings. Sure, that stuff would be nice.
Literary success, to me, is when someone comes up to me or messages me and tells me that they enjoyed reading my book. It sounds corny I know, but I’m from Indiana… everything is corny here.
3. How many hours of the day do you write?
Well, there’s a reason why I only have three books completed and published (two of which are soon to be re-published). I don’t write a lot every day. That’s something I need to get back into the habit of. It’s tough to work in the newspaper business writing articles and sitting in front of a computer and then going home and doing the exact same thing.
4. Do you Google yourself?
Yes, and I always see James Marsters from the Buffy show. About half a page down you’ll find my Amazon page.
5. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I quit my path as a computer science major in the late-2000’s. My best friend also quit his college path at that time, so we rented an apartment together. I went back to work at my hometown gas station. It was quite a devastating defeat because when I left there, I thought I’d never go back. The assistant manager there eventually turned out to be my wife (now ex-wife) and it was her idea that I should go back to college and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in English.
So, if I hadn’t taken her advice, I’d probably still be working at a gas station. I’d probably be the manager of the place. I sort of liked working at gas stations because you meet interesting, and sometimes weird, people.
6. What did you do with your first advance?
I’ll let you know when I actually get one, haha. That might be something that people don’t understand about book publishing. Unless you get picked up by a major publishing house, don’t expect to get paid automatically. Even if you self-publish on Amazon, you have to wait until your commissions reach a certain level before they release the funds to you. Remember, people don’t become writers in order to make money. They become writers because they have a story to tell.
7. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Edd Sowder is probably the best guy to have in your corner when you’re a writer. He and Kindra ran a publishing company called Burning Willow Press. They picked up my books and I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for them. Edd will tell you if your book sucks or if it’s good. He doesn’t mince words. When they ran the business, Edd pushed his authors to get out there and market the heck out of ourselves and our books. Even after BWP closed its door, Edd will ask me my opinions on his books, and he’ll send me the link to some author and say “you need to friend this guy and get on his podcast.” In short, Edd’s a great champion of the written word.
That’s seven questions so I think I’ll save some of them for Saturday, May 21. I hope to see you all there. I’ll try to livestream some of it on my Facebook page, @JamesMaster.Author.
Also, if you have other questions, you’d like to ask me about writing and/or books, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do another one of these Q&A columns.
Categories: Mastering the Craft