Welcome to an another edition of my ongoing interview series,"8 Questions with.....". I started this waaaay back when on another social media site and have re-started it here. The series features people from all over who in one or another have perked my interest. So I ask to do a interview where they answer the questions themselves,in their own words.
Some of you already know this but for the new readers here....I grew up in California,lived for my first 35 years. 10 of those years I spent in the music business in San Jose,Calif. I started in a small 150 seat room called Marsugi's where many local acts played our tiny stage in front of friends and family. The local music scene,while small,was pretty supportive of one another while chasing that elusive rock and roll dream. Some had great success (Smash Mouth),some had strong regional followings (The Kingpins,The Frontier Wives) while some just were aiming to play a headline gig and put out a quality record that was going to be their legacy. Bands did this despite not having a "major record deal" or radio play. Musicians who made it happen on their own had their own code...DIY,meaning "Do It Yourself" without any corporate help. It was a badge of honor to proudly show off your 45 record,a cassette and later on,a CD.
Flash forward to today and there is a whole new DIY movement afloat...writers who are now publishing their own novels without HarperCollins,Del Rey,Tor or any other publishing houses. These artists do their research,type at their own deadlines,hunt for cover art,price their work and look to put it online without having to suffer the many rejection letters. The market for e-books is a rapidly growing one as Kindle,Amazon along with tablets are slowly eroding the brick and mortar bookstores. Just as it is for a local bands,competition is rugged as despite selling e-books for as little as .99,you have to not going fight for that customer but also be a GOOD writer!
Like Jan Romes. Jan is a writer who genre requires a very special talent,the romance novel. Just like the blues and jazz,romance writers are too often boxed in by tired plot lines and sappy dialogue. But you can't always blame the writer who tries to create some original ideas (like maybe its okay for there NOT to have a happy ending). So you can imagine how cool and refreshing it was to actually find that Jan is a very creative writer with those fresh and modern storylines that are so often overlooked.
I discovered Jan via Twitter because someone who I respect,Chis Petersen,recommended her to his followers. And since this often how I found about great bands before anyone did,I simply took a chance and followed Jan. And when I got a chance to start reading her writing,I knew this was someone I really wanted to interview. And after a brief exchange of email,you are now reading our interview.
As a added bonus,if you have a Amazon account and drop a comment below,we have three free copies of Jan's novel "Stay Close,Novac!" to give away.
And now......8 Questions with.......Jan Romes!
TIC: You grew up in
What a great question, Michael! Growing up with six sisters and two brothers, in a house with one bathroom, was utter chaos. Mostly, it was a good chaos. (emphasis on ‘mostly’ - *grins*) Those of you who grew up in big families know what I’m talking about. Ohhh the stories I could tell… (but probably shouldn’t) Seriously, living with so many different personalities was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. Drama. Hormones. Laughter. Fighting over clothes. And lots of love.
TIC: What writers inspired you growing up? What three stick out the most and what makes them so special?
I loved books as a kid. I would go to the library and come back with as many as they would allow me to borrow at one time. The three writers that stick out the most: Hans Christian Andersen – fairy tales (because of the wonderment). Franklin Dixon – The Hardy Boys mysteries (easy intrigue). Erich Segal – Love Story (because of the simplicity of his writing style, but the depth of emotion).
TIC: Describe the day where you decided you wanted to be published and what three steps helped you the most to do just that.
Truthfully, I think the desire to be published had been lurking for a long time. I’ve always been writing stories, but in September 2006 I decided to take things seriously. I started taking online writing classes to perfect structure and to get a realistic grasp as to where my writing needed to be. I sent out query letters to publishing houses and agents, received some rejections and went back to the drawing board, so to speak. I think you have to go through those steps in order to appreciate when you finally get a ‘yes’ from a publisher.
TIC: Walk us through a day of Jan Romes when she is writing, what is the process like?
Coffee. Bed-head. Barefeet. And my computer. (did I mention coffee? Hehe!) My day is pretty much the same as most writers. Throw in a load of laundry. Open up my current work-in-progress, type a few paragraphs. Let the distraction of social media take over. Go back to my W.I.P. and fight the urge to go back into Facebook and Twitter. I write until it’s time to make supper. It’s not a glamorous life but it works for me.
TIC: It seems like anyone can self-publish these days. What is the most important factor to make ones work stand out above the rest?
If I had to pick one thing – cover art. It’s the first thing that will draw a reader. After that, story content will keep the reader.
TIC: I notice that it seems like everyone who self-publishes always seems to get nothing but “5 star” reviews. Does this type of hype undercut the writer’s work? What are the pros and cons of too many slam bang reviews?
Actually, I don’t know how to answer this question. I guess I would have to admit that I don’t know any authors who get all 5-star reviews. If they do, it might be on one of their books, not all of them. I feel that reviews can make or break a books’ success. Hopefully, if a reader gave the author 5-stars it means that they enjoyed the book.
TIC: How does one get their work out into the public eye? Were you nervous when you put your first book out?
The most common venue to get our work out there is through social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, our websites, blogs, and word of mouth. And yes, I was definitely nervous when my first book came out. Since I’m not a nail biter, I drank lots of coffee and ate a lot of chocolate instead.
TIC: If an established publishing house approached you for a book deal, would you take it and give up the freedoms you have as a DIY (do it yourself) writer?
Actually, my first four books are with established publishing houses. My last four have been self-published. I love both ways to publish. I’m lucky to have tasted both security and freedom with my writing.
TIC: What are the pros and cons of writing just online content? Doesn’t publishing just online hurt your sales?
Readers now have more of an online presence with e-readers so I don’t think it matters as much about having books on line today as it did a few years ago. Some readers prefer holding a print book in their hands versus an e-reader, so it’s good to still have a choice. I actually think print books and digital books can co-exist and be profitable for publishers/authors.
TIC: What was the most important advice you have ever gotten in regards to your writing and how does it affect your writing today?
The most important advice would be to be yourself with your writing. Find your own writing voice and be true to it. And of course, if you decide to make writing your career, then put your butt in the chair and write.
To learn more about Jan and her work,please feel free to visit her on her website here: