Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview with author, J.L. Campbell

It’s my pleasure to host a good friend and fabulous author, J.L. Campbell. I know her as Joy, so that’s how I’ll refer to this prolific writer and generous woman. Joy’s the author of several books and has just recently decided to take things into her own hands and self-publish. She’s here to discuss her experiences in the publishing world as well as to discuss her novels.
Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer. 
I’m a Jamaican, Catholic, wife, mother and devoted learner. I believe in learning something new everyday, and I usually do. My writing career began in high school with self-manufactured romance novels – read that as exercise books taped together and filled with bad handwriting. My school mates enjoyed the stories, and they made the rounds in the classroom. I stopped making up stories for over two decades before I remembered that I used to write. I started off writing craft articles, moved to short stories and then novels.
What have you had published to-date? And where can readers find your books?

Contraband, which is action/adventure/romance was my debut novel. Dissolution came out in May. A third novel, Hardware is at the proofreading stage at Wild Child Publishing. Both books are on Amazon and Smashwords.

What are you working on right now? Tell us a little about it.

I’m editing Distraction for the gazillionth time. It’s a novel about three female friends, whose choices have dire consequences, including blackmail, infidelity, and rape. The women triumph mostly, but the book is a study of relationships, communication and how the choices we make affect our lives. I hope to have Distraction out by year end.

You’re a traditionally published author who is now seriously contemplating self-publishing. Will you tell us the reasons behind this decision? 

My main reason is to have control of my work. When you’re published by a small press, you’re pretty much on staff everyday pushing your work and feeling like a prostitute every time you try to do any form of promotion. Many of us don’t realize that marketing is going to be a full time job on top of whatever else we have going on. Also, there are things that I’m willing to do to try to get my book in front of readers that a publisher won’t be gung-ho about.

Another thing is the wait time. I had a full request for a YA manuscript from a local publisher over nine months ago. They can’t give me a definitive answer on whether they will say yes or no until they hear from the education ministry. I figure I can get that manuscript fine-tuned and edited in the next year and I’ll still be waiting to hear from that publisher. Having read that YA book years ago, some writers still ask me about the main character and whether the book has been sold. All of these different things have given me the confidence I need to move toward self-publishing.

Have I ever told you that I’m morbidly preoccupied with death? I can keel over and die at any minute. I’d like to achieve as much as I can before that happens. The greatest tragedy for me as a writer would be to rest six feet underground with so many manuscripts sitting in my hard drive. So while I’m learning about the business, I’ve gone ahead and committed by publishing a story at Smashwords called Giving up the Dream. An aside here, make sure you download GutD after you leave here. Reviews are always welcome. On Monday, I will be launching a collection of  stories on Smashwords entitled Don’t Get Mad…Get Even. These should filter over to Amazon with the week.

How do you market your books and what has brought the most success?

Regrettably, I don’t do a lot of marketing. I have my book covers on my blog and from time to time, I may reference a character/book while I’m writing a blog post. I’m part of the Romantic Friday Writers Group, where I post snippets of my work on yet another blog. At some point, people begin to realize that I’m published and go looking for my books.

The one thing I do know is that the writing/blogging community is like being part of a supportive family. I’ve never put out a cry for help and not received assistance. I think that a fair portion of my sales to date have come from other bloggers and writers. It’s impossible for a self-published writer or one published by a small house to promote solo. We need a support network to help get the word out. As they say, word of mouth is the best form of advertising. For me, a recommendation by a writer I trust is good enough for me to put down my money on a book by a new author.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I’m visualizing the half-dozen completed manuscripts I own out in the world and being read. By then, I’m sure I will be finished with the other half-dozen or so that are in various stages of completion. I’m also seeing a local writing workshop and by then, if I’m working for someone else it won’t be by choice.

Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?

Yes, both my traditionally published books are available as eBooks on Amazon and Smashwords. I know my limitations and so I got a blogging buddy to format Giving up the Dream and Don’t Get Mad for the Internet. I think I’d tear my hair out in clumps if I had to do the formatting myself, but knowing myself as I do, I’ll probably take on that challenge at some point.

Where can readers find you?

I’m on my blog daily at The Character Depot 
The Readers’ Suite is my book review blog
My website is at http://joylcampbell.com/
Tweet me @JL_Campbell
Link with me on Goodreads 
Jeanne, thanks very much for having me. You’re a great friend and excellent critique partner. Wishing you all the best with Invisible.

Joy, it was an absolute pleasure to have you visit on my blog. Best of luck to you too, my friend :)

21 comments:

  1. I appreciate your friendship and support, Jeanne. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely treat to read an interview about one of my favorite bloggers on the site of one of another fave author/blogger. :)

    Joy, your motto "I believe in learning something new everyday, and I usually do." is so evidently the foundation of your writing and networking success. You have no idea how much your posts inspire me; thank you!

    A book that is a study of relationships, communication and how the choices we make affect our lives--with a pitch like that I know Distraction is right for me. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for featuring Joy on here, Jeanne! Very interesting to learn more about her! I wish you best of luck in your 5-year plan!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great interview! I loved hearing more about a published author's take on self publishing. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. J.C. and Michelle, thanks for dropping in on us. Thanks for the good wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm considering self-publishing in the spring. Too much to do between now and then. I'm the same about the formatting. And the cover.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Michelle, somehow I managed to miss your comment. Thanks so much for your support and your kindness.

    The small steps do add up, so go for it, Carol.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love seeing your pictures of Jamaica. Did I spell it right this time? I reverse the letters constantly.

    It makes me want to go there and I hate to travel.

    I recommend your book series to a friend looking for something new to read---she was tired of everyone...so I said--Hah I've got a new author for you.

    TIrz

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love your blog and I'm now following you!
    Fellow M-G/YA Campaigner

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's nice to know what drove your decisions. Thanks for giving us some insight.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks everyone for stopping by for a read and taking the time to comment.

    Thank you to Joy for agreeing to an interview. It was such a pleasure to host you :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good for you for taking matters into your own hands and self publishing! I hear you about the fear of death thing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks, Tirz, I appreciate that! Hope you told her you did my fab cover! And yes, you got the spelling right. :)

    I'm thinking if this effort falls flat then at least I know that I tried and did the very best I could. I'll be satisfied with that. Thanks to all of you for taking time to come over and thanks so much for having me, Jeanne.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "feeling like a prostitute every time you try to do any form of promotion."

    Oh, J.L., that's what I worry about even with self-publishing. I wonder if it will feel differently. I've never really been that keen on sales, yet it's kind of the ultimate goal in writing books. What a dichotomy!

    "I can keel over and die at any minute. I’d like to achieve as much as I can before that happens."

    I hear ya! And you're young. But it's still the truth. My daughter-in-law's 24 year old brother dropped dead from a brain aneurism. So go for it! I'm going to.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Donna, thanks for dropping in here. It might sound weird, but as a writer you'll know what I mean. The readership is lots more important than the sales. Just knowing people are reading my work is wondeful even if I never make scads of money.

    Making a move to do something, even if it isn't successful moneywise is worth it just knowing I got off my tush and did something towards making my dream a reality. Wishing you success with your adventure. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for featuring Joy, It was lovely reading about her some more!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Jeanne, thanks for having Joy in today.

    Hi Joy, control and wait time are two big reasons for a lot of writers to self publish. I know those are the reasons I've been considering it. I'm surprised you say you don't do a lot of marketing.... as you say, you're part of the blogging community, and I think publishers consider that one of the best marketing tools there is.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for dropping in, Nas.

    DL, though I know writers buy a lot of books, I'm not sure I'm convinced that it's such a wonderful tool unless you find a way to reach scads of people, like maybe through a blog that's not focused so much on writing. I'm learning new things everyday, so we'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lydia, Donna, Nas and Doralynn, thanks for stopping by! It was such a pleasure to host Joy. She's an amazing and talented lady who gives so much of herself. It's truly an honor to know her. :D

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nice interview, with great questions and answers. :) Very informative about your experiences in both fields of publishing.

    Good luck with both of your new releases!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for stopping in for a read, Tina :D

    ReplyDelete