So today, I had the pleasure of having the beautiful and wickedly funny Jessica McHugh over for margaritas and some author chat. She wanted me to mention that she has an amazing rack, but I didn’t feel that was appropriate. True, but not appropriate.
E: Jessica, welcome to Erindipity. Pull up a…Dammit, Charlie! How many times have I told you “No corpses on the furniture!?” Ever since Charlie started getting fresh with interviewees, we’ve had a “no corpses on the furniture” policy. Just shove him on the floor, Jess. He won’t mind. Care for a margarita?
J: You read my mind—but make sure to cut me off after a few, or I might end up violating that new policy, too. It’s embarrassing, but I get really careless with my corpses when I’ve been drinking.
E: I almost don’t know where to start. You have a lot of work out there. You’re currently working on a re-release, right? What can you tell us about that?
J: Song of Eidolons is my favorite story I’ve written. Not my favorite all over book or favorite writing, per say, but it’s remained my favorite storyline since 2008. When eTreasures Publishing offered to renew my contract, we decided to give it a better cover and a new revision. It’s been a bit of a tough process, but it will be worth it in the end.
E: What made you decide to re-release it?
J: Call me crazy, but I think “Song of Eidolons” needs to be more popular. And there were a few issues that I believe prevented that. 1, it wasn’t available on Kindle before. 2, the cover was terrible. There was some miscommunication there, and I don’t think it turned out how either of us intended. I think people didn’t give it a chance because of that, and I don’t blame them. When I got reviews, the book was always very highly rated. It received 9.5 out of 10 from Indie Author Book Reviews, and I was so proud. But the book still didn’t sell. 3, In spite of the reviews, I think the prose needed some tightening. I divided a lot of run-ons and deleted a LOT of adverbs. It’s going to be a much better book for the re-release, and I’m so excited to reintroduce Delaney Lortal, Dags, and the Orisanima to the world.
E: Like I said earlier, you have a lot of work out there in a relatively short period of time. Tell us about that process. Did you have several books saved up, or did you write them and send them out when they were finished?
J: Except for the first three books in the “Tales of Dominhydor” series and my novella “A Touch of Scarlet,” my books were written post-2008, after my first publication “Camelot Lost” was released. I used to write and edit a lot of faster, and I used to work on 2 or 3 projects at a time back then—compared to the 5-7 nowadays. Writing and editing a novel took me 5 months at the most in my mid-twenties. But the editing was terrible, so there’s that. It’s probably better that it takes me forfuckingever now.
E: You handwrite all of your manuscripts. I don’t know if that makes you a genius or insane, or if there’s really a difference between them. What do you get out of handwriting your manuscripts that you don’t get working off of a word processor?
J: A few people have mentioned my handwritten first drafts like they’re an oddity. I didn’t realize so few people still wrote by hand! I wish I could write on the computer, but it just doesn’t work well for me. With ink in hand, the words come easier—as if the pen knows them before I do. Writing by hand is more visceral, and for me, more enjoyable. I write faster than I type and make fewer mistakes. Plus, a blank page never pressures me like a computer screen.
I really admire folks who can type their first drafts, but this wacky writer chick will always think in (pen) ink!
E: You have another project you’re working on that you’ve been taking fan submissions for. Can you tell us about that?
J: With pleasure. By the way, thank you for keeping my drink filled. You should be a professional maid-of-honor. J
For the past few years, I’ve posted Facebook updates on my author page tagged #DeepThoughtsy. My fans really seemed to dig them, so I decided to compile them into a collection called “Virtuoso at Masturbation, and More McHughmorous Musings.” But it’s not just funny one-liners. There will also be writing prompts based on the DeepThoughtsys, and most important, there will be fan illustrations. There are still spots open, so your rad readers can visit for more info or email me to get the list of available DeepThoughtsys. I’m not looking for great artists. Hell, I’m not even looking for good artists. I’m looking for fans, friends, family, and fun to fill this collection, no matter the stage of artistic talent.
E: You’ve worked with a lot of different people over the years, publishers, editors, etc. What has that experience been like?
J: It’s been a wild ride, for sure, but I think I’d made a decent go at it. Sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with an editor or publisher, but I’ve learned what and when to compromise. Being flexible and having a good attitude is so important in this business—and in life. Without positivity and confidence, no one wants to listen to you, let alone buy what you’re selling. And in this age of social media, I think it’s important to be vocal about how much you love what you do. Publishers nowadays check up on your social media sites—to get a taste of your personality, sure, but also to see your willingness to market your work and what kind of fan base you’ve already established.
Throughout this inky journey, you’re bound to clash with certain people. Just remember that your book is what’s important, not being right. If you have to stand your ground against editors, have good reasons for “your way” and present those reasons with cool confidence. Despite the head butting, you might just earn their respect.
E: You’re not currently working with an agent. There’s a lot out there about the pros and cons of having one. Is that something you’ve ever considered doing?
J: I’ve submitted to agents before and haven’t gotten any nibbles. Publishers seem to respond to me better than agents do, so for now, I think I’ll just stick with what works.
Unless an agent is reading this right now and wants to play the Represent Jessica McHugh game. In that case, I’ve always thought agents were awesome people and snappy dressers. Hit me up.
E: One last thing before we get back to the serious business of fishing the worm out of the tequila bottle. What advice can you give about marketing your work and what has worked for you in the past?
J: Like I said before, positivity and confidence are key to marketing, as well as recognizing when to stop pushing your product and show your personality instead. I’m doing a webinar for Promo Day 2013 called “Hooker with a Heart of Ink” which outlines my “rules” for marketing on social media. It’s free to sign-up here and there will plenty of other awesome authors sharing their experiences with the indie author community. But I’ll give your readers a little teaser for my INKTIPS.
Immerse (Engage your audience)
Noteworthy (What makes you different?)
Knowledgeable (Know what you’re talking about)
Transparent (You’re a person, just like them.)
Informative (Promote your work, but know when to stop)
Positive (Good attitude is key)
Share the Love (We are a community)
I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up for the webinar for elaboration. 😉
Gee, I hope my mouth is free of the tequila worm taste by then.