When did you first start writing?
I seem to recall that even as a child I was always scribbling stories. The first work I can really remember was a play that I wrote for a friend and I to perform for her parents. Fortunately they were very indulgent. We were only about ten at the time though. I’ve always loved writing but stuck to short stories for a long while until a chance encounter encouraged me to develop a story into a novel. That was the beginning of ‘Jenna’s Journey.’
Are you a structured writer or a see-what happens?
I wish I could be super organised and plot out my novel chapter by chapter, It would certainly save me a lot of headaches. However, I just can’t write like that. Instead I begin with a couple of characters and only a rough idea of where I want the story to go. By the end of the novel, the plot and characters have changed beyond all recognition. I love it when characters go off on a tangent even if it is frustrating sometimes. Sometimes they really surprise me and I think ‘How on earth did that happen? I could never have imagined that!’- that’s when I know they’ve got a life of their own.
Your debut novel Jenna’s Journey was inspired for your love Greece, is that right? I understand it’s a bit of a ‘sliding doors’ story … can you tell us a bit more?
I spent a couple of years in Greece straight after University when I got a job as an English teacher in a private language crammer or frontisterion. I thought at the time what a wonderful backdrop it would make to a novel, never believing that I would actually write it one day. It was almost thirty years before that dream happened but I got there in the end.
“Jenna’s Journey’ is a romantic mystery but it’s far more than that. I like playing with the idea of ‘What if…?’ That’s where the Sliding Doors part comes into play. We see one version of what happens to Jenna but there is an alternative ending where the reader gets to see how her life would have turned out if she’d made different choices. I don’t want to give too much away but it makes the story a bit different. Along the way there are lots of twists and turns, artefact smuggling, hidden identities – not your typical romance although there is plenty of that too.
When you first put Jenna’s Journey out there, did you get the response you hoped for?
You mean did it jump to Number 1 in the Bestseller list and make a million? Joking aside, I am new to this game and had no idea how it would be received. I knew from author friends that it would involve a lot of hard work to get my book known and that has been very true. My greatest fears were that either nobody would like it or even worse nobody would buy it. So far, it’s slow as far as sales go but ‘Jenna’s Journey’ has, on the whole, been very well received. For that I thank everybody who has tweeted about it, hosted me on their blogs or bought a copy. I am truly grateful. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter I’ve also made some good ‘friends’ who have been incredibly supportive.
So as you’ve admitted and most authors would agree (including myself) that a lot of work is needed to get your book known, do you think anything in particular has worked for you?
As I’m totally new to this it’s really a question of trial and error. I’m not sure what works but it’s worth giving anything a go. I’ve built up my Facebook and Twitter profiles and actively engaging with people has to be a move in the right direction. I know that it’s not going to work if you ‘friend’ people and then instantly send them the link to your book. For a start that annoys me when other people do it and is likely to have the opposite effect to that intended.
Since starting my own blog site where I review other author’s work, I’ve built up a rapport with some of them who will return the favour and have reciprocated with a guest interview on their site. That is always welcome and much appreciated. For my next book I’m going to go for a book launch with a short tour organised by Shaz at Fiction Addiction. Hopefully that will bring in a few more readers.
I’ve just done a book tour with Shaz from Fiction Addiction, and I loved it. I’d definitely recommend the tours to other authors wanting to get their work out there.
So, I know you’ve said it’s trial and error, but do you have a mini marketing process?
To be honest I don’t have any process but I know that you need to organise any promotion well in advance. This time because I want to capture the ‘holiday’ market for my next book, I actually organised it when it was only a third finished. If you don’t plan early the best sites are often fully booked.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m desperately trying to finish my second book in the Greek Island Mystery series. Each book is a standalone, set on the same Greek island but with different characters. I’ve got another 20,000 words to write before sending it to my Beta readers and then trying to market it.
What motivated/inspired you to become an Indie Author?
I never thought of sending it to a publisher once I realised that I could publish it myself on Amazon. Partly it was wanting to keep control as I’m a bit of a control freak! Also, at bottom maybe just a slight tinge of not wanting to risk being rejected. I thought I’d publish it myself and see what happened. So far I’m quite pleased with the results as most people who have read my first book, Jenna’s Journey, have enjoyed it.
What advice would you give to any writer wanting to do it the ‘Indie Way’.
You need to get the book into the best state you can. That means proofreading it again and again. That’s after you’ve taken on board the advice from your Beta readers. It will be a better book as a result and spending time at this stage is well worth it. That’s when the hard work really begins because marketing the book is entirely up to you. You need to devote a lot of time to publicity although I guess the same is true whichever route to publication that you choose.
Tell us what you are reading at the moment.
At the moment I’ve just started ‘A Jersey Affair’, the second book by author Georgina Troy. So far I’m really enjoying it. A lovely book from a lovely author.
Anything else you would like to add to your readers or to other writers.
Believe in yourself! There will be moments when you feel like giving up but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and carry on. Being able to call yourself a writer is well worth the struggle.
To find out more about Julie Ryan, Jenna’s Journey and her own book reviews,
visit her website: www.allthingsbookie.com