J.A. Newman began writing later in life and is cultivating her marketing strategy. She discusses how her former career influenced her first novel, which came out in September.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
Where There’s A Will is my début novel. Jess wants to find her perfect partner. Struggling to pay the bills and unsure of her future, Jess thinks all her dreams have come true when wealthy lawyer Giles Morgan stumbles in front of her motionless car one Monday morning. Eddie, Jess’s former boyfriend, has never stopped loving her or given up hope of them getting back together but he can’t hope to give her the lifestyle she craves. Will Jess choose a life of luxury or listen to her heart?
When I joined a creative writing course in 2008 little did I know that one evening I would create the protagonist and write the first page of my first novel.
2. How have your sales been?
The sales of my first book, No One Comes Close, a memoir, have been better than those of the novel. I have some wonderful reviews on Amazon for No One Comes Close which tells the story of young love, lost, then found again twenty years later. I published it in September 2017. I published Where There’s A Will in September 2018
3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Have you sought an agent or any work with traditional publishers? If not, why not? If so, what has been your experience with traditional publishing?
I have tried approaching agents and publishers but they seem to take so long in getting back to you. I am nearly 70 and time is running out!
4. What are some of the pros and cons of self-publishing?
I think the worst part of self-publishing is trying to get yourself noticed. Marketing and promotion is very difficult, for me, anyway.
5. You came into writing later in life, as a second career. What was your first career and how did you get into writing?
When I left school I wanted to do something creative. My first choice was to be a window dresser but after drawing blanks on that route I decided to go into hairdressing. I was a hairstylist for over 40 years. “Write what you know,” we are often told, so it comes as no surprise that at the beginning of Where There’s A Will Jess works in a hair and beauty salon!
6. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I have met other authors at writers’ days and exchanged details. (The part of Norfolk, England where I live is very rural.) Apart from that I have networked mainly on social media. Again this is time-consuming and hard graft for little return, I find.
7. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
Mostly social media. I have given two author talks and book signings over the Christmas period, neither of which have been very productive.
8. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I can’t think of any.
9. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
That there are a huge amount of authors doing the same thing! It’s a dog-eat-dog world. I am but a small fish in a very large pond.
10. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I would employ an artist to create my covers. I used the templates on CreateSpace for financial reasons.
11. New authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books, whether they go the indie or traditional publishing route. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Hang in there! One day you will rise to the top of the marketing pool.
12. What other projects are you currently working on?
I am writing another article for a magazine, one of many, for which I have had much success. I am always thinking of other projects and find it difficult to focus on just one. After hearing how readers have enjoyed my novel, I would like to write a sequel to Where There’s A Will, and I want to write a historical novel set in the English Civil War. I also have another novel in the pipeline that started life as a NaNoWriMo in 2014 which I am currently editing.
13. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
“Writing from the heart.” This is the slogan on my business cards.
14. How can readers learn more about your books?