Hi everyone there !
It was an honor for me to have an interview with such a great author. Meet my today’s guest, a canadian author Ms Sandra J. Jackson.
- Welcome Sandra ! Would you please tell a little bit about yourself.
My name is Sandra J. Jackson. I live in Eastern Ontario, Canada with my husband and young adult children. I work full time and write whenever I can.
- When you decided to write and what inspired you?
I began writing in 2005 but only took it seriously in 2010 when I decided to stick with one manuscript. Two years later, I finally finished it and three years after that it was published.
I was inspired to write through the works of other authors. I think I always wanted to write but it just took me a while to get to that point.
- Tell us a little bit about your books, your favorite genres etc.?
Presently, I only have one book published; however, my second novel is due out some time in September.
I am pretty eclectic and enjoy both reading and writing in a variety of genres.
- What was the hardest part of writing your first book ?
I think the hardest part was the editing. I spent a great deal of time researching how to write a book and what to do and not do in the process of writing. I learned many things but have learned so much more since my first book.
- What are your future projects?
I am currently working on the final book of my first trilogy. The first book is due out this fall. I also have another book completed and when I finish with my trilogy, I plan on editing that one, which may or may not be a series.
- How do you involve in promoting your book? Any marketing technique you want to share?
I use a great deal of social media to promote my book. I also have business cards which I occasionally leave behind here and there. I participate in craft shows where I sign and sell my books.
- How you made your first book published? Share your experiences and strategies of promotion and marketing.
I was lucky. I only submitted to three publishers and was picked up by the third one. I didn’t have to go through any rejection letters as the first two publishers I submitted to did notrespond to my query. If I ever decided to look for a new publisher, I don’t know that I’ll be as lucky the next time around.
There’s a lot of hard work in promotion and marketing and new authors have to be prepared to spend a lot of time doing those things. I have used such tools as Thunderclap to help promote to a wide range of people on both Facebook and Twitter. New authors should do their research, there are many avenues for promoting and marketing, some free, some you have to pay for.
- Give your thoughts about traditional publishing Vs. self-publishing? Which are the publishing platforms you use to publish your books?
I feel that there is a big difference between traditional and self-publishing. They both have their pros and cons. One main difference, however, is the quality of writing. I have found that while there are many well written self-published books there are just as many poorly written ones. Not all authors spend the money to get their manuscripts edited by an actual editor. This can be costly and some choose to use family members or friends. Unfortunately, they aren’t always the best choice and don’t necessarily know proper grammar. With traditionally published books, the works are generally edited by an editor. While I have read some traditionally published books that aren’t great when it comes to storyline, it is still for the most part, properly written.
At the moment, I am a traditionally published author, however, I may decide at some time to self-publish. If I do, I will use an editor.
- 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?
I have never thought to write about social or political issues as while they are important, it’s not something I feel I would be adept at or comfortable writing.
- What advice would you want to give to an aspiring writer?
First, before any aspiring writer becomes published, they should begin building an author platform (something I had no idea about until after I became published). Write a blog; see if you can get a short-story published in a magazine (online or print) and use social media. Second, do your research. Learn how to write properly. Understand the difference between “show don’t tell”. Also, when you begin to edit your finished manuscript, read it out loud. That’s very important. You’ll be amazed that some things don’t sound quite as good when read out loud as they do in your head.
Before I even began to write, I decided to take an online college grammar course. I wanted to make sure I knew my grammar (and when I’m not sure or have forgotten, I look it up). Poor grammar is one of my pet peeves. If you want people to take your writing seriously, you have to take it seriously. While mistakes happen, make sure posts on social media are also grammatically correct with no spelling mistakes.
Random Chit Chat
- 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?
So far, I have been lucky and have not received anything too negative. As an author you have to understand that not everyone is going to like what you write, just like you don’t like everything you read. You also have to know that there are people out there who will give you a bad review just because they can. Ignore those reviews. Take the constructive criticism and use it to improve your writing. I have also seen authors respond to negative reviews, as tempting as it might be, I don’t think it’s a good idea.
- 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 work full time and so I’m pretty bad at managing my time to write. Instead of writing every day like an author should, I write in spurts. I might have a week where I will write every day and then I might not write for a couple of weeks. When I write, it’s usually in the evening before bed or on the weekends.
There are two types of writers, a plotter and a pantser.
A plotter is an author who writes with an outline. They usually have a good idea how their story is going to go from beginning to end. They keep many notes and have a rough plan for each chapter.
A pantser is an author who writes “by the seat of their pants”. In other words a pantser doesn’t plan what they are going to write. A pantser may have an idea for a beginning and an end but has no real plan, no outline. I am a pantser. I usually know how my story is going to end and then I work on the beginning. The middle of the story is up to my characters. I like to see where they take me. I keep some notes, especially when things get complicated, but I don’t have a rough for each chapter.
I have a desk in room off of my bedroom (it’s a storage room but I have made part of it like an office). You can find me in there when I’m editing my work because I need complete focus and no distraction when I edit. I also need a place where I can read out loud without disturbing anyone else. When I write, however, it can be anywhere. If I’m focused, I can even write while sitting in front of the TV with others in the room. I also write everything by hand and then type it up. For me, writing by hand makes the ideas flow much better than typing. Plus, when I do start typing it up, I generally edit it a little.
- 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 find social media very effective in promoting my writing. I can reach people everywhere and find an audience all over the world in a matter of seconds. I signed up to as many platforms as I could. Over time I have found which ones have worked for me and which haven’t. Those that don’t work, I get rid of.
- 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 for their own purpose and unfollow later thinking of no use.
I am active with my followers to a certain extent and I don’t always follow them back. I usually research the person who has followed me by checking out their Facebook page or Twitter page. If they look legitimate I will accept their friend request or follow them back. I have blocked some on Facebook because you can tell by their profile that they aren’t real. I accept friend requests on Goodreads more readily.
- 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 like to support other authors. I share their content, have them post on my blog, and read and review their books. I think it’s important to help other authors. Only another author can possibly understand the ups and downs of writing.
- I never used any paid service for cover design, formatting, editing, marketing or even web designing. What about you?
As of yet I have not used any paid services for editing and cover design. However, if I ever decide to self-publish, I will use an editor and may use a cover designer, though I can do it myself as I do have a background in graphic design. The only problem is that I don’t have the software to design covers properly, especially for print.
I have enrolled in a platform called Novel Finds and you pay when you first put your book on their site. After that it stays on their site; however it you want more advertising you have to pay another fee. That’s about all I have paid for (that I can remember) for marketing. I designed my website through Wix so I only pay a yearly membership for that but design and maintain the site myself.
- 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?
I think many readers will read Indie authors. The only thing is that there is a risk of paying for something that might not be well written. For example, an Indie author asked me to review her book and she would review mine. I only made it through the first three chapters. I found 20 grammatical errors in those three chapters (and those were the ones I caught). I could no longer read it without giving her a terrible review. I sent the author a message and explained why I couldn’t finish it and suggested that it be edited professionally (in reading the acknowledgements I found out the author’s father and husband had edited the book). The author understood and was very understanding. She still provided me with a very good review for my book.
A few months later this same author approached to review another book. While I tried to get through it I couldn’t, there were still far too many grammatical errors and other things wrong (despite the actual story being a good story) and I found it too distracting. The worst thing was that this author actually had four and five star reviews for thesebooks. And some of these reviews came from other Indie authors. I feel by giving these four and five star reviews that they did not do this author any favours. This is one thing that can definitely give Indie authors a bad image.
- Anything you like to share about your writing process or reading habits?
I think I have covered my writing habits. As far as reading habits, I try to read as much as I can, when I can. Reading makes you a better writer.
- How can readers discover more about you and your works?
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sandrajjackson.author
Google +: http://google.com/+Sandrajjacksonauthor
Sandra ! I really enjoyed your answers. Thanks a lot for being here.
Wish you all the best.