With her second book released later this year, I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fab author Jodi Gallegos to the blog today. She has some great insight on publishing with a small press as well as awesome advice for new writers. Enjoy!
1. Who are you and what do you write?
My name (pen and real) is Jodi Gallegos. I write contemporary fiction, historical fiction and light fantasy for the young adult and new adult/adult markets. I’m currently published as an adult/new adult romance author.
2. When did this all start for you? (your writing that is, not the interview!)
I’ve been a story-teller for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had an endless stream of story lines, dialogues and made-up scenarios running through my head.
In the third grade I was fired from my first writing job: play write. The group project was to prepare a play for the class. While the other girls fought over who would be cast as Cinderella and the wicked stepsisters, I set about writing the play. Sixteen pages in, and with character introductions barely done, I was relived of my duties.
In the tenth grade I made the bold decision to declare that, while I didn’t know the exact details, I wanted to work in literature when I grew up. My English teacher killed that dream with the words “you’ll never earn a living in literature.”
I spent the rest of my teenage years writing angsty poems, character sketches, situational scenes, and love letters between imaginary people. It never crossed my mind to write a book until I was an adult. (Note to adults: do NOT trash the dreams of children, no matter how unreasonable they seem to you!
Note to children: If an adult tries to kill your dreams, let me know. I'll have words with them!)
3. How long had you been writing, how many books had you written before deciding to become a published author? Can you tell us a little about your journey?
Sure, as I mentioned, I’ve always written “things”, indefinable bits of fiction on scrap paper and napkins, which I’d inevitably cast into forgotten drawers or the trash.
I was in my thirties before I first entertained the thought of writing a book. I experimented with picture and chapter books before finding my voice in young adult and adult genres. My natural tendency is to tackle every project as if it’s something to be conquered, and I did the same with writing. I studied the business as well as the art of writing and took every opportunity to learn more. I started—and discarded—a handful of picture books, chapter books, short stories, and novels before I completed my first novel.
My first completed novel was a four-year endeavor. I’m still revising and perfecting it.
I wrote my second novel during NaNoWriMo. After revisions I was fortunate to be selected as an alternate for a writing contest and received help editing it. That novel became my debut, A Shine That Defies the Dark.
My journey to publication was a mix of hard work, determination, and the connections I’d made with people online and in the publishing world. It took over fifteen years, but all the pieces finally snapped into place.
4. You're published with a small press - can you tell us about your experience so far?
I love the opportunity that I’ve had with my publisher. It’s a small press, but well-established. I’d known about them for quite a while, had read several of their books and found their covers to be amazing.
My debut novel was initially rejected by them (a very kind rejection, with a reasoning that I completely understood). When CTP launched a new imprint for romance I was approached with an offer to re-submit. A Shine That Defies the Dark became the third novel published by Changing Tides Publishing.
The benefit of working with a small press is that I feel like I’m known by my publisher rather than being an anonymous cog in the wheel. There is a camaraderie between the publishers, editors and authors which has helped me navigate the reality of being a published author. As a smaller group we share information, tricks and tips about marketing and the business of being authors. I find that kind of interaction and support to be invaluable as I’m learning to navigate this new world.
5. You also work for a small press. Can you tell us, with your experience on both sides as an editor and author, what the small press experience is like?
First, I should admit that my original intentions in going to work for a small press were entirely selfish. As an author I felt that the querying process was a beast I didn’t completely understand. I volunteered to read submissions to better understand what makes a query effective, and thereby improve my own querying skills.
When I joined Lakewater Press I was given so much more. I learned what happens on the publishing side, the side most authors don’t get a direct glimpse of. Everything I’ve learned about editing, marketing, and publishing has given me a greater appreciation for the business. As I mentioned before, I have a “conquer it” mentality, so I’m constantly striving to better understand and to learn more. The opportunities I’ve been given at Lakewater Press are amazing, I’ve been allowed to stretch my wings and take on new projects. I work with a team of people who are always willing to share their thoughts and guide me as I learn how—and why—things are done as they are. Each thing I’ve learned from the publisher’s side has only enriched my experience as an author.
As an author the things I want other authors to know about publishers are:
6. For anyone unsure about publishing with a small press, what would you say to them?
I absolutely encourage writers to consider submitting to a small press. For me, having a more personal relationship is a benefit. I see it as an author and as a team member for a small press. I think the connection is vitally important. I love to feel as though I’m on a team and that each of us has the same goal: to make each book/author a success.
That said, there are predatory presses/agents and it’s important to do your research before submitting to them. Before you submit to a small press check their website, their submission policy, look at their books and the quality of their covers. Read some of their books, follow their authors on social media, you can even contact small press authors to ask if they recommend their publisher.
I researched both the publisher I submitted to and the one I work for before becoming involved with either. But keep in mind, just because a publisher is new, it doesn’t mean they're not reputable. I joined Lakewater Press just before their first birthday and went in fully confident because of the research I’d done on everyone involved.
7. For new writers, what advice might you have for them that you've learned along the way? What are the main things writers should be doing with their work and careers, in your opinion?
First, I’d say that it is never too early to work on your social media platform. Don’t wait until you have a book deal to establish your online presence. Marketing begins with who you are as a person, not just an author. Take the time to make connections with people and establish relationships with others. I see too many authors who use social media solely as a means of marketing themselves and their books, which is a one-way street to self-promotion. Engage in conversations, ask questions, share the good news of others, ask your followers about their own projects, promote others more than you promote yourself!
Second, don’t underestimate how much effort you need to put towards marketing yourself and your books (that’s right, plural, always keep your eye on the big picture!). Marketing can be an exhausting task, but you’re as responsible for spreading the word as your publisher. The dream is yours though, so I’d argue that you’re more responsible for putting in the work.
Third, be professional. As you interact on social media and submit to agents and publishers you’ll be leaving your footprint in the industry. Sloppy queries, angry responses to rejections, and social media trashing of agents/publishers who reject you won’t get you anywhere.
8. What does the future have in store for you?
Well, a New York Times best-selling world-wide phenomenon is always the goal, right?
My more short-term plans include the release of the sequel to A Shine That Defies the Dark. The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2) comes out November 5, 2018, with Changing Tides Publishing.
I’m hoping to complete final revisions on my first book, The High Crown Chronicles, by the end of the year. I’ve also begun research and plotting for Book 3 in the Rum Runners series and a new romance set in Alaska.
I’m also always on the lookout for the next query to Lakewater Press that will spark my passion.
Jodi is a YA and NA/Adult author, black belt, and registered nurse. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.
Find out more about Jodi here!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JodiLGallegos/
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!