I’m so excited to share my first interview here with you all. It is with indie author, DJ Miller. I’ve got a little bragging to do, too. She’s my husband’s cousin and such a sweet soul! Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and take a peek inside the mind of a writer below with a few “q and a’s.”
1. When did you get started writing and how?
I actually started writing when I was very young. I remember sitting outside in my backyard with an old manual typewriter when I was so young that I can’t remember how old I was. I typed out a short poem about the leaves in the trees blowing around in the wind; I think I still have that poem somewhere. Since then I have never stopped writing. I submitted some poems to contests in elementary school and submitted some short stories in college. After I started working as a librarian, I discovered ghostwriting which for me meant easy-to-get, anonymous, very low paying jobs writing for magazines and blogs. It wasn’t until last year, though, that I published my first book.
2. Where do you find your ideas?
My story ideas come from all over the place. Sometimes I dream them and sometimes I hear an interesting story or idea from the news or social media, and sometimes my imagination just goes wild. If something happens to me that is especially scary, emotional, or heartwarming, I make a quick note in one of the notebooks I keep scattered around so I can use it later. Everything and everyone is fair game.
3. What genre of books are your favorite to write and why?
That is a good question. When I figure it out, I will tell you! I really enjoy writing the picture books but not being able to draw is frustrating. I had a great time writing my last chapter book for young readers but I am really enjoying the longer novel that I am working on now. If I had to choose right now, I would probably say chapter-length fiction; to narrow it down farther than that may take a little longer. Ask me again in a couple of years.
4. Tell us about your books you have published?
The first book that I published was a picture book, One More Stuffed Animal! It was inspired by my daughter who has way too many stuffed animals. It seemed like every time I turned around she got another one. I am a bit of a camera and computer geek and so I really enjoyed taking the pictures of her stuffed animals as we acted out the story. Then I was able to take the pictures and “cartoonize” them using some free software on my computer. The next book that I wrote was, Why Would God Want Me? My church was having an event and asking for items to give away as prizes so I volunteered to write a book. There was a lot of prayer involved in that book and I really and truly hope that it touched someone. The last book that I wrote was Penguins in the Basement. It has been the best-received so far and I really, really had fun writing it. It seems to be very popular with elementary school students – most of the fan mail that I have received has come from 3rd to 5th graders.
5. What made you decide to self-publish?
Well, I actually sent my first picture book to three literary agents but received either rejections or no response at all. I did some research online and found that it would have been unusual to have gotten any other response because it is rare that someone without any special connections or previous publishing experience would get picked up. It seems that the only other common reaction was to get a scam invitation from some pseudo-publishing company trying to get you to give them some money to publish your book. I just didn’t see the point of spending all of my time trying to get someone to accept my work when self-publishing was available for free. I’m really glad that I am doing it this way too because I am learning so much about publishing that I wouldn’t understand if someone else was doing it for me. Someday I would like to be picked up by a traditional publisher but when it happens, I will be ready and much more knowledgeable about the entire process.
6. Could you tell us about the process of self-publishing?
There are several companies that will help you to self-publish a book. I did a bit of research and decided that CreateSpace was the best for me because it was so user-friendly. After you complete your book (including numerous edits), you have to format it to fit the printing specifications. That takes some effort. You also have to create covers for the book, including writing a blurb for the back. Designing the cover is a big challenge for me since I don’t think of myself as being artistic in that way. I ended up using a lot of pictures that were in the public domain. If you don’t want to have to pay someone to edit and format your book, then you will have to do a lot of work.
7. How long did it take to write your first book?
That is a funny story. I actually wrote that first picture book while I was monitoring students taking the high school exit exam. It did not take me very long to write at all, maybe a couple of hours. The story just sort of poured out of my head. I wrote it on a legal pad and then typed it up later. The next two books took more time. It probably took about 3 months to do the last chapter book but I did a LOT of editing. I am estimating that it will take 6-9 months to finish the young adult novel that I will be working on soon.
8. Do you have any advice you would like to share for budding writers?
Don’t be discouraged! Keep writing no matter what people say. Make a plan so that you will stay on track. The more you write, the more you will want to write. It is addictive, so try to pace yourself. Also, befriend other writers; it is always good to rally together! On that note, you can follow my blog at http://www.djmillerbooks.com and like my fan page at http://www.facebook.com/djmillerbooks If you made it this far, thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise to respond!
I’d like to thank DJ for taking the time to answer these questions and let me share her answers with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Be sure to check her out on social media as well as her website. You will not be disappointed!
Blessings to you all,
Pictured below: Indie Author, DJ Miller