Here's the second installment of my interview with Chronicles of Soone: Heir to the King author James Somers.
Sarah: My son started a Soone club. No pressure here... but we are expecting great things from book number two.
James: I'm hoping and praying for great things, too. And I really appreciate the support of young people like your son. Kids really are some of the most supportive fans an author can have...I'd like to join that club, I'll bring the foam lightsabers!
Sarah: Can't do too much damage with foam. You're in! OK... best moment as a published author:
James: The best moment beyond actually having the finished book in my hand, is hearing the wonderful fan reviews of the book. It was written in hopes that others would love the story--that's a true blessing to me as a writer.
Sarah: Worst moment as a published author.
James: As far as publishing is concerned, I haven't really had bad moments, although going through the submission and rejection process is never fun. I'm going through it right now and it's hard to see your work being rejected by certain publishers and such, but it's simply part of the process. I try to just walk by faith and hope the Lord will find a home for each book.
Sarah: I think the author of Gone with the Wind... Margaret Mitchell... got about 40 rejection letters. Someone even said "NO one wants to read a book about the Civil War!" And the rest is history, as they say.
James: Well, I've heard that as well, along with stories like John Grisham not being able to find a home for his first novel and so forth. The industry is increasingly harder to break into and the plain truth is, the many a good story will be passed on because industry pros don't feel the market is right and the risk is worth it. I've read a number of self-published or small press books that I'd take over the big names in a heartbeat as far as the story goes, though.
Sarah: Now that I've recovered from my initial introduction to Simon Cowell, I'm thinking about the "kindness" of honesty. I've been contacted by people who want help getting a publisher. Usually the book's not written. It's just an idea. Some of those ideas are awesome! But getting a royalty publisher to grab an idea... or even a finished proposal... can be a challenge. And people going the self-publishing route need to have their eyes wide open. A top buyer for a bookselling chain once told me that self-publishing can be a path of heartache. "There are lots of garages out there filled with books," is what he said.
James: A little Simon Cowell honesty isn't really a bad thing. The old saying you can be anything you want to be isn't always true. There is such a thing as talent. Some things you can study and work your way into and others you just have a knack for. Being able to lay down beautiful prose, doesn't mean you necessarily have a great story to tell. Personally, I'd rather have the great story and work on the writing chops than the other way around.
Sarah: Yeah, I agree with that. The story has to be there. There are editors at the publishing houses who can polish the prose. Potential authors also need to be able to demonstrate that they have a platform to sell those books. Anymore, that's probably the single-most important consideration, particularly for non-fiction. It's a business...
OK... moving past this little dose of reality... people do get books published. And, as you said, it usually starts with a great idea. So, James, let's say someone's got that idea. Three tips you would give them...
James: First... be sure that you flesh out the idea very well in your mind or on paper before you decide to write a full length novel. You don't want to lose your steam in the middle by running out of ideas and a place to go with it.
Second... be passionate about the story.
Third... something that has helped me, as far as writing, is to see the story in scenes like you were directing a movie. This has helped me to write action fairly well and keep my stories moving along, because I want each scene to have something important happening and driving toward the next scene.
Sarah: OK. This isn't your full-time job. How do you juggle, family, work, ministry, books...
James: It seems like juggling sometimes! I work during the day to evening as a Surgical Tech and then go home to my family to spend time with them. I serve as the Assistant Pastor of our church at the moment, which is a great blessing, and I'm hoping to Pastor when the Lord is ready. Writing is all done in my spare time...yeah, what spare time. Think, very late at night when everyone else goes to bed--there I am pecking away at my laptop.
Sarah: OK, then. You better get back to writing. Me, too!
James: You're right! I've got a manuscript I'm finishing right now for my next series, Perditions Gate: Escape from New Eden. Thanks for inviting me and to everyone interested in the Chronicles of Soone series, I think you'll find the best is yet to come.
Sarah: Can't wait! Thanks, James.