JL Rothstein is being highlighted this month in my author interview. She has the most realistic and helpful words of wisdom in this blog, so make sure to take it in, sit on it, and use it for your future endeavors. New writers will especially benefit from her answers.
What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?
I thought I was prepared for self-publishing. I have a business background and manage an accounting department for a privately held company. I went into the project with the understanding that publishing is a business, that your book is a product.
You have two jobs as an author; finish the manuscript and get it into the best polished form you are capable of. The second is to pitch its worthiness, either to agents/publishers or directly to clients if you are self-publishing. The latter is so much harder than it sounds. I think there is a misnomer out there that since Amazon has knocked down all the barriers to publication, that you can just reach this mass of readers and sell, sell, sell. Nothing could be further from the truth. Understanding who you are writing for, who that audience is, and what they are willing to pay for it, is so important. I wish I had understood that more and that I had spent more time researching it.
I believe more than 1.5M manuscripts are self-published each year in the U.S.A alone. If you add in the other markets, it climbs to over 2M. That makes every unknown, previously unpublished author, a very tiny fish in a giant ocean of authors. Not to mention that the reader market is still in flux. They say not as many people are reading anymore, but you do have a growing audio book audience, so you need to acclimate to an ever changing publishing environment. Understanding this ahead of time helps to set realistic expectations.
I don’t write this to discourage young writers from entering the market, please enter the market. The more the merrier, truly. It is important however to understand what you are getting yourself into and to know the chances of getting some big publishing contract or replacing your current salary with the income from writing may not happen.
Those in the industry often say, “you don’t write books to make money.” Those who have written books roll their eyes and smirk. It’s true, you should write for the love of it, but we’d all like to make enough money to earn a living and there’s nothing wrong with that desire. Don’t give up, reach for those goals, but do it with the understanding that it’s an uphill battle and there will be a lot of mistakes and frustrations along the way. Knowledge is power. Do your research, be patient, and keep writing. That is the best advice I could have given my younger self.
What gives you energy and joy?
I think if you are not getting joy from writing, then you shouldn’t do it. It’s simple, but it holds true no matter what you are doing. If you turn your love for baking into a business and then you lose your passion for baking, then it wasn’t meant to be a business.
When I want to reconnect to my inner creative self, I like to walk in a beautiful garden or visit the ocean. One of my favorite places near our home is a small art museum I like visiting a couple of times a year. When COVID happened, most of us lost all of that, our creative wells dried up.
Being around family and connecting with friends gives me energy. Being in nature sparks creativity and writing brings me joy. I think everyone should answer those questions. Understanding what brings you joy is necessary to living your best life.
Talk about a life lesson you have learned while on the path to publishing your book(s).
You need a support structure. No matter how confident you are, no matter how much experience you have, you will need support. If you don’t have a partner or a big family, then create a different kind of support system, one that works for you. Join a writing group or volunteer to help others. Support comes in so many forms.
I am so grateful that I have my husband, Alan, who has been an amazing partner on this journey. I have a large family and a group of friends who have been very encouraging. I am blessed to have that in my life. I do what I can to help others who do not have what I have. Being grateful is something I focus on and I find that staying in that state of mind is in itself its own reward.
Thank you, JL, for taking the time to help our writing community, as well as all who want to reach for the stars and dream big.
JL’s biography and how to connect:
I am a published author, my debut novel Atonement: Heaven Sent Book One launched June 2020. I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts USA. I come from a large Irish Catholic family and spent twelve years in Catholic School where the concept of Heaven and Hell were deeply ingrained. I write in the Fantasy genre with an affinity for the supernatural.
I have a BS from Suffolk University and I’m currently pursuing an MBA in Creative Writing. I live in the central part of the state with my husband Alan, & two cats, Brady, and Mr. Thumbs. Book Three in the Heaven Sent series, Vengeance released in July 2022.
You can visit me at my website for more information about my upcoming projects http://www.JLRothstein.com or on social media; Instagram & Twitter @jlrothstein1 or via Facebook @authorjlrothstein.
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