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 :)