Meet Author Julia Blake
In this first installment of The Book Talk blog I reached out to author Julia Blake to talk about her life as an author and her current projects.
Julia was born and raised in the lovely historic market town of Bury St Edmunds, where she still lives with her daughter. She has been writing ever since she was old enough to pick up a pen, writing plays for my friends to act out at break time. She attempted her first novel at age thirteen. Of course, due to her age and lack of experience, it was complete rubbish, although she believes the plot wasn't half bad.
Before we get into her life as an author I want you to check out some of her books here. Also below is a cover of her most recent book that was released.
At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to become a full time author?
I’ve always wanted to be a full-time author, that’s the dream. Sadly, I’m still having to work elsewhere to pay for boring stuff such as the mortgage and food. But, I’m ever hopeful that one day soon, it will be within my grasp.
Tell me about your first book you published. How nervous were you when you decided to publish?
It was more a wonderful, terrifying mix of excitement, anticipation, nerves and nausea. To be a published author was all I’d ever wanted to be, yet, on the very cusp of it happening, I just had the mad desire to cancel it, to stop it from happening, because that way I wouldn’t be able to fail. But, I pushed those feelings away and published, and it was the best thing to ever happen to me, because, win or lose, at least I can tell myself I tried, I gave it my best shot.
Tell us some of the difficulties in being an independent author?
Self-promoting and marketing. Ask any indie author what is the worst thing about our job, and they’ll probably say the same. I’m not a marketing expert, I’m an author, and sometimes trying to promote your books takes up so much time, it leaves none for actual writing. It’s all a bit of a juggling act, trying to time manage so you get your name out there, letting people know all about you as an author, and about your books – without overdoing it so everyone gets sick of hearing about you.
Being an independent author is a lot more than just writing. Can you tell us some steps you use for launching one of your books?
Well, I ensure it’s as perfect as it can be, before it goes to my amazing team of beta readers. These fantastic people do a sterling job of catching any typos or plot holes, and I trust their judgement completely. When it comes back, I make any amendments, and consider any adjustments they’re suggesting. Then I put it away for a couple of weeks, after which transfer it to my kindle and read it as if it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it, and tweak it until it’s perfect. For my latest book, I needed a photo of a treehouse on the front cover, so ran a competition in my local paper to find one. My photographer and I paid a visit to the owners of the winning entry, took tons of pictures, which were then adjusted into the perfect cover image. Then, my cover editor and I insert all the text and it’s all ready to be uploaded for publishing.
Prior to the launch, I try to post as much as I can about it on social media to raise interest, I post teasers, a book cover and title reveal, non-spoiler quotes, and other such things, to raise as much interest as I can. For the launch of Fixtures & Fittings, which is book two in a series, book one was available for three days for 99c/99p to hopefully entice people to buy it, read it, then want to read the next one.
Lastly you have a new book out. Can you tell us about this new project?
Fixtures & Fittings is a very important book to me. I have been battling a long-term illness, and all the books published prior to this were ones that were written before I got sick. My illness affected higher brain functioning, and I was unable to write a single word for many years. But, surgery and medication have begun to bring me back from a very dark place, leaving me healthier, but very afraid my ability to write had been lost along the way. I needn’t have worried, during a two-week break between jobs, I sat down and wrote an entire 50,000 word novel, which my beta readers assured me was some of the best stuff I’d ever written. Fixtures & Fittings is the sequel to Lost & Found, and continues the tale of the Blackwood family. They are both very fast-paced, edge of your seat novels, and people seem to enjoy them very much.
Do you have any advice for people who wanted to go into indie publishing?
Grow a thick hide, you’re going to need it. Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked before, and to do without as much sleep as you’re used to. Help and support other authors, we’re all in this together and, hopefully, they will help and support you in return. Being independent authors, we don’t have a team of editors and proof readers to ensure our manuscript is perfect, so it’s doubly important that we make sure it is the finest piece of writing we can possibly produce. Don’t let yourself down with silly typos and formatting problems. If you can’t proof your own work, and very few of us can, enlist the help of people who can do it for you. It doesn’t have to cost you anything, I operate on a bartering system of skills with fellow authors, for example, I’m an ace editor so I swap skills with another author who’s a technical wizard. Social media is full of amazing, talented, generous people, who are only too happy to help you with advice and time.
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Alex Owumi is a professional basketball player and bestselling author of Qaddafi's Point Guard and The Fire Raven series. You can view his website here.