Author Interview – Pamela Harju

Hi Pamela! You are most welcome.

  • Please tell something about yourself.

Hi Prakash ! My name is Pamela Harju. I was born and bred in Finland but have lived in Ireland since 2002. I’m a free spirit, independent and passionate and enjoy solitude – some would say too much. Apart from writing, the great loves in my life are dogs and rock music; I have no musical talent myself, but I’m a huge fan!

Me

  • When you decided to write and what inspired you?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Before I even learned to read, I’d browse through children’s picture books and come up with my own story to match the pictures. As soon as I was able to string words together, I was always writing something. In my early days, I was usually inspired by what I was reading at the time, so books were my biggest influence.

 

  • Tell us a little bit about your books.

I currently have two books out. I self-published a novel in Finland in early 2016 and have recently re-released it, including a paperback version. I’m working on the English version of this at the moment. The Truth about Tomorrow is my English language debut. I wrote another two novels when I was a teenager, and I have another three in different stages of the process that will be released at some point in the not too distant future.

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  • What are your future projects?

I have a first draft of a fantasy novel – not overly fantastical, but there are fantasy elements in it – which I need to return to and re-work before it can be released. I have just finished a mystery novel and am currently writing a romance novella that is increasingly starting to look like a full-length novel…

 

  • How do you involve in promoting your book? Any marketing technique you want to share?

This is something that I still struggle with. Because I chose to self-publish, I haven’t got a huge budget for promoting, but I do try. Word of mouth is by far the best method, so my advice is to write a good book that people enjoy so that they write positive reviews and tell their friends about it. It’s a slow method, but I’d rather build it up over time than become an overnight success and quickly fade away.

 

  • How you made your first book published? Share your experiences and strategies of promotion and marketing.

I chose to self-publish, and I love the freedom of it. It’s a lot of work, but more rewarding than I imagine being published by a publishing house would be. I’m in charge of everything, which means that I can write what I want, as fast or as slowly as I want, and I also do my own marketing. I studied marketing in college, so it’s something that I have an interest in although I still have tons to learn when it comes to marketing books. I have done some paid promotions and advertising, which helps a lot, but word of mouth is still the best way forward.

 

  • Give your thoughts about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? Which are the publishing platforms you use to publish your books?

Before I stumbled upon Mark Dawson’s excellent self-publishing course on a Facebook ad, I was going to try to get my debut novel published traditionally. The course completely changed my view, and I love the independence of self-publishing. I have to put more money into the project initially, but any money I make comes back to me, and I don’t have to share my earnings with publishers and agents. It’s hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. The Truth about Tomorrow is available from Amazon only as an e-book and as a paperback, but because it’s exclusive to Amazon, it’s also available in Kindle Unlimited, which is sort of Amazon’s library service. My Finnish-language novel is available from most major bookstores as I published through Books on Demand. Trying to distribute on my own in Finland, especially when I don’t live there, would have been a nightmare as the book market in Finland is quite a different kettle of fish from the international market, so I’m glad to have someone do all that work for me.

 

8) Personally, I would like to know about social and political issues of your country? Have you ever thought to write about those or something which may be beneficial for the society or nation? 

Politics is something I’m not interested in at all, so I’m clueless about politics in both Finland and Ireland. My view is that any book set in the real world, i.e. not fantasy, will provide an insight into social issues in the country that it’s set in. The Truth about Tomorrow is by all means not a look at political or social issues in Ireland, but many of my concerns about the country, especially as it was at the time of writing, are still there, particularly the impacts of recession.

 

9) What advice would you want to give to an aspiring writer?

Keep writing! Write, write, write and write, and in between, read and watch TV. Anything with a story in it will teach you something; even if it’s how not to do it!

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Random Chit Chat

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  1. When I have written my short story books, I thought that there may be number of styles in presenting the stories, like novel, story, memoir etc, so that everyone may get something as per interest. But sometimes I had negative reviews, people want elaboration while I avoid adding extra words. Have you ever faced negative reviews? How you handle those?

Thankfully not yet, but I realise that the day will come. No matter what you do and what you write about and how well you write it, you’re never going to please everybody. I don’t have thick skin, so it’s going to hurt, but it’s important to remind yourself of the good feedback you have received and try to focus on that.

 

  1. I am a management professional with hectic schedule of working for ten hours every day. Usually I write during travel to distant places to utilise those forty hours of journey by train. I use table only to format my manuscript. How you manage your time to write your books? What is your writing process and place of writing?

I feel your pain as writing is something I too must squeeze into my daily schedule along with a full-time job – at least so far! I work in software licensing which allows me to finance my writing and self-publishing. It’s hard to find the time to write, but I have learned to make the most of the time I have. I work from home three days a week, and I write on my breaks on those days. Evenings and weekends are another good time to write unless I have something else on. I train and compete in dog agility and often travel to see bands, so those passions sometimes eat into my writing time, but I need to live life in order to have something to write about.

 

  1. I think a personal Facebook profile and book pages are useful to get well connected with readers. How effective you found social media to get words of mouth and how you use it?

I completely agree. I’m quieter on my Facebook profile as I’m still trying to figure out what to share with my audience and what not, but I’m active on Twitter and find that I’m more myself on that platform. Using relevant hashtags can really help to gain the right followers on Twitter, and that’s how you can start to build an audience.

 

  1. What do you do when someone follow you on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon or Facebook? How actively you are involved with your readers and followers? I usually follow back and start reading them to learn something new or creative. I have seen some people like or follow someone and unfollow later. 

I try to follow back on Twitter and to stick with them as long as it’s a genuine account with a human being behind it. I love to interact with readers as much as possible. That’s how to build loyalty in the fan base.

 

  1. I think Indie authors may get advantage of mutual help rather than unknown reviewer, critique or blogger and it may be a great promotional tool to interview, to have guest posts or to review each other. Adding books to Goodreads shelf and review or discussion may be a free promo tool for Indies. I think Indie authors must be in regular touch with each other through e-mail or social media. What do you think?

I agree although I realise that review swapping is generally frowned upon. I read indie authors whose work appeals to me, the same as I would from traditionally published authors, but I realise that indie authors need my reviews more, so if I write a review, it’s usually for an indie book rather than for a traditionally published book. As such, I’m not a huge believer in reviews as they’re always one person’s opinion, but at the same time, it’s the name of the game, and I know many readers swear by them.

 

  1. I never used any paid service for cover design, formatting, editing, marketing or even web designing. What about you? 

I designed my own cover for my English-language debut, and I have got compliments for it, which is a relief as I did it to save money. Going forward, I’ll probably use pre-made book covers as they are reasonably priced and there are many beautiful covers out there. I use professional editors and proof-readers as they can make a huge difference to how the text flows; I know I like to ramble on and overwrite. I have some experience in HTML and web design from before, so I look after my own website, and I use Reedsy’s free service for book formatting.

 

  1. Pamela! Do you think that readers prefer traditionally published books over self-published? What may be negative or harmful for the image of an Indie author?

It depends on the reader, I guess. Most readers probably don’t mind either way as long as they enjoy the story and it’s well-written with minimum grammar errors and typos – this is where the editing and proof-reading comes in. The problem is that it’s harder for readers to find indie authors as we can’t afford big billboard ads for our new books and don’t get the same visibility as traditionally published writers. I do think that the market is changing though, and more people are starting to read indies. I have come across some pretty awful indie books where the writing has been atrocious and the cover etc. has not been professional. It’s expensive to do it properly, but I want to do this for a living one day, so I am prepared to put my money into it and put out the best product I can.

 

  • I have got some good friends on Goodreads and I love to get in touch with them frequently. I learned a lot from them. What would you like to share about your experiences with fellow authors?

I have very little! Where I live, there’s no writers’ groups that I’m aware of, so I’m pretty much on my own. Then again, I like to go my own way and make my own decisions, so I like it this way. There are some very helpful groups on Facebook and Goodreads that I follow, and that’s enough support for me at the moment.

 

  • How you get your books reviewed? 

I ask very kindly. Most people just don’t bother writing reviews, and I get that. Because my book is exclusive to Amazon at the moment, I have access to some free days, and I try to push the book as much as I can on those free days to get people to download it and read it, in the hope that this will result in some reviews. I find that people are more likely to read books from indie authors if the book is cheap or free because of the reduced risk.

 

8) How can readers discover more about you and your works?

On my website, pamelaharju.com,

on Twitter using @pamelaharju

on Facebook at http://www.facebook/pamelaharju.

 

I’m always delighted to hear from my readers!

 

 

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