Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Giving Hope to Those with Disabilities: Author Interview with Jaimie Hope
I originally started out started writing my autobiography first. After I gave it some thought, I realized that it wasn’t the best book. Who would buy the life story of an author they’d never heard of? So, I decided to write out the story of my childhood in children’s books.
The first book being a children’s book just worked out that way. I was working on a young adult historical romance at the same time I was working on the first Baby Jaimie book. Actually, I had the first Baby Jaimie book written and then began work on the novel while figuring out what my next step in publishing Baby Jaimie would be.
You’ve now published several books in your Baby Jamie series. How did it begin and evolve?
Well, the first Baby Jaimie book was in the planning stages when I was still in high school, probably around 1993. I didn’t actually start writing it until 2005. It didn’t take me any time at all to write out my first draft. I had the first draft written in less than a night. It was less than three pages long and it stunk.
Who encouraged you along the way?
Everyone I know encouraged me. Family and friends I hadn’t seen for a while weren’t at all surprised when they found out I published my book. Everyone who ever really knew me understood becoming a published author was my dream and that I’d do whatever I had to do to make it happen.
Prior to writing these children’s books, what was your publishing and writing background? Are you active in any writer critique groups?
Prior to releasing the first Baby Jaimie book I was a volunteer at a local library and an arts and historical center in Florida where I lived at the time. I was constantly surrounded by creative people and books but hadn’t written a word yet.
After I had become published, I did join a critiquing group on Writing.com, but I only stayed in it for a few months. There have been others along the way, but I don’t currently belong to one due to time constraints. Besides writing children’s books, I also write in other genres, have a publishing and author services business (Back To Basics) and host an internet radio talk show.
Since the main character’s name is the same as yours, how much of the stories are autobiographical or based on your own experiences?
There are parts of me in most of my works. However, all of the books in the Baby Jaimie series are based on my experiences.
Your books are indie published. Did you try the traditional route and send out to publishers and agents? What type of feedback did you receive?
I have worked with companies before but have found that publishing on my own (through Back To Basics) is the way to go for me, especially when it comes to the Baby Jaimie series. Others just don’t see my vision and made changes I just couldn’t go along with.
How did you go about finding an illustrator?
I had no clue what I was doing after the first book in the Baby Jaimie series book was written. I basically shelved it and worked on something else until I moved back to New York. That was when I had lunch with an old friend, who just so happened to know a self-published author. She went through the steps I would have to take to proceed and put me in contact with the author.
I found my first illustrator through Guru.com. I had a phone conference with him and told him what I needed. I followed up with a list of illustrations that I wanted. A month or so later, he emailed them to me and sent me back up disc a week or so later.
The next illustrator, the one I use most often, was found while I was doing something else. I was looking for a pen pal on the other side of the world but found an illustrator in my own state. The process is the same as it was for my first book. All others were found on Elance using the same method of sending a list of illustrations to get what I want.
What are some of the promotions that you’ve done for your books that have been the most successful?
I have giveaways, launch parties, taken part in author take overs and done virtual book tours for a few of my books. The parties are my favorite ways to promote because they give me the opportunity to connect with readers.
The second book of the Baby Jaimie series, Baby Jaimie Goes to School, has just released in audiobook format. I am currently giving away copies to the first 25 people who claim them.
To claim: send me an email at Back2BasicsPublishg@gmail.com. Must be willing to review.
The takeovers are author takeover parties on Facebook. Basically, it's when one person creates a party and claims the hosting spot, but they're more like an emcee for other authors who play games for books and/or swag. They're a lot of fun because as the author, I get to interact with the readers.
Since you've written a series and have learned a lot about marketing in the process, could you tell me about your first book sales n comparison to your last book in the series?
Sales from my last Baby Jaimie book have been hundreds time better than sales from my first book. When I first started out I had no clue what I was doing. Frankly, after I finished writing my first book I thought I was done. I had no idea that the real work was just getting started. I had a couple interviews in the newspaper, but I never even thought about seeking out other avenues, other than a signing. Well, actually I had two signings for my first book.
How did those signings go?
The first signing was in the fall of 2006. It went really well, too well. I asked the manager if I could come back on Black Friday, she readily agreed. That was a big mistake since the store was located at the end of the mall. Nobody came down that far, they were all with Santa Claus in the middle of the mall. It was a learning experience, but it was also when I decided to stop pursuing attention for my first Baby Jaimie book, so sales stalled out.
How have your romance books done in comparison to your children's books?
Honestly, I expected the Romance books to be more popular, but that's not so. Oh sure, I have had messages in my box asking me when Book 2 in the Sara Rhea Chronicles was going to be released and asking if Blessed The Broken Road was going to have a Book 2 because they wanted to know how the characters were doing (it's not).
What has frustrated you the most in putting these books together?
At one point or other all aspects of putting books together has frustrated me. It was frustrating trying to read guides that used jargon that didn’t make much sense to me. I never realized how much math was involved in putting a book together. Math is definitely not my strong suit.
What has pleasantly surprised you in the process?
The surprise came when I switched my focus from writing for children to writing for young adults and adults. I didn’t really know if I was going to go back to the series or not, I seriously considered ending it. I hadn’t even told anyone I was ending it, but then I started getting messages asking me when I was going to write another Baby Jaimie book.
What do you know now about publishing you wish you had known sooner?
What I wish I had known sooner was that I got this. Yes, there are hard parts of this job, but this is the job I love and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Anything worth doing is going to be hard; persevering in spite of it proves just how much it matters to you.
What advice would you give someone who wants to write children’s stories.
My advice to them (and to writers of any genre and target audience group) is to know your genre and target audience. Research books similar in theme to what you’re planning to write. Check out reviews of those books, see what readers like and don’t like about them.
What is the writing best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve ever been given was to write what I know.
How much time daily do you have for writing?
I spend most of my waking hours involved in some aspect of publishing (editing, marketing, formatting, coloring illustrations, etc.). As for actually writing, I don’t specifically have a set time to write. I make the time if I am working on a story or have one in my head ready to come out. If not, I focus on the tasks at hand.
I don’t really like to tell readers (parents and children alike) what they should take away from my books. I prefer to hear or read what they read into it. I am happy to report, I have read some messages from children that got my intended message. That message is, Baby Jaimie is just like the other children even though she is disabled.
What future plans do you have for writing?
I will be releasing the seventh book in the Baby Jaimie series in November. I’m also working on Book 2 of my adult romance trilogy, The Sara Rhea Chronicles.
If you would like to connect with Jamie and learn more about her books, here's a way to do that.