Thursday, July 14, 2011

Author Interview - Lori Pollard-Johnson

This week I had the privilege of interviewing Lori Pollard-Johnson author of both children’s and mystery novels. She has published her works in two methods: the traditional publishing house route as well as the newly popular epublishing. In her interview she discusses how she got started writing, her experiences in publishing her works, and the advice she’d give to aspiring authors.

Can you tell me what got you starting writing fiction?I got started in writing fiction after several years of nonfiction (freelancing). I had characters I'd met through my food and wine industry freelancing that needed expansion and their own story. Interestingly, the book I started during that time, TOXIC TORTE, has been my best seller, as well as most profitable.

What was your first published project and what was the process you took to get published?
My first published project was a freelancing article entitled "Is It White or Red With Wild Boar?" It was a look at wine pairings with rare meats, featuring such odd fare as rattlesnake, wild boar, zebra (only legal usages, of course), and even squirrel. For fiction, my first published fiction was THE TRUTH TEST. I sold it in a very round-about way. I'd sent multiple and simultaneous submissions on two stories: WORRYWART and MY WINTER IN AMERICA (both unpublished at present), and one publisher called and said she liked my style, and could I adapt one or both to a twelve-year-old boy level. I told her I had a book in me that fit that perfectly. I wrote the first three chapters the next week, submitted them to her, and that cinched the deal.

You’ve published some work independently as an ebook, can you take a moment to tell me how you decided to take this route instead of the traditional route of finding a publishing house?
I decided to epublish TOXIC TORTE last year after my local writing convention (PNWA). I heard the word "kindle" so many times, it truly lit a fire (ha!) under me. I decided to experiment. I wasn't even sure I was going to use my own name, and there were several times I considered pulling the plug on the whole project. But now, I'm very glad I did. It is so wonderful to have people from other countries "liking" your book on facebook. It's also been wonderful to turn an extensive project into a profitable project. Kindle, as well as Nook and Smashwords, has been very, very good to me, and I plan to upload my new YA, THE LIE, within the next month.

How would you rate your experiences in independent publishing?
My experiences have been excellent--I'm both excited about the prospect of selling my work in new venues, as well as having a new smorgasboard of others' writing to choose from. Up until now, there hasn't been a lot of availability of unique voices--I would criticize publishers, but the truth is, they have to think of the bottom line. That process precludes a lot of distinct and interesting writers.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are considering the route of independent publishing?
My advice: First, get an excellent cover. It's worth it. Second, make really good use of your search words. Identify your topic and anything remotely or interestingly or tangentially related to it. Third, ask family and friends to read and review your book. Fourth, be patient; esales grow in a very different arc than traditional sales. We peak at six months, rather than right away like an Evanovich novel. Fifth, consider having your book produced in paperback form, too. Many of your friends and family members don't have a Kindle or are reluctant to read on a computer. These paperbacks also make good marketing opportunities when "accidentally" left in hotels, busses, et al. I call this guerilla marketing.

Can you tell me about the project you’re currently working on?
Right now I have two projects that I'm working on directly. The first is a new cozy mystery tentatively entitled CORPSE IN THE COTTAGE CUTIE." It's about two recently divorced best friends who decide flipping houses is the best way to make money, even in this economy. On the first day of demolition, however, they discover a long-ago entombed body floating in a homemade aquarium, just behind the faux cedar closet paneling. Of course there's a love interest, and there's also a real solid look at friendship between women. The other project is the epublishing of THE LIE. THE LIE features a seventeen-year-old young man who lies about his age and joins the army in an attempt to avoid problems at home and provide for his pregnant girlfriend and their future baby. I'll let you know when it's uploaded to Kindle!

Is there any advice you can give to aspiring writers who may be struggling to finish their novels?
The best advice I have comes from two sources. The first is from Michael Arnzen, Instructor Extraordinaire at Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program. He said, "You can't fix a blank page." What that means to me is it's okay to write poorly, you can fix it later. It's very freeing. The other advice I especially like, and repeat often to my English 101ers is "The cure to writer's block is BIC--Butt In Chair time." Truly, that's what it's all about. Once there, see Arnzen's quote.
I would like to extend a thank you to Lori for participating so willingly in my first blog interview. Lori’s recent novel, TOXIC TORTE, is available in the following locations:

When Lori's next novels are available, I will post them for all to enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this terrific interview with Lori. I've read TOXIC TORTE and thoroughly enjoyed that culinary mystery. Her background in writing for the food and wine industry shines through in the book, most notably in the caustic interviews attributed to the murdered restaurant critic. Lori has a lively sense of humor and unique voice.
    I'll be watching for the publication of THE LIE as well as the completion of CORPSE IN THE COTTAGE CUTIE. I'm sure they'll both be winners.