Christine Anderson, author of Life of the Party, talks about her approach to writing and her plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I have always loved writing. My friend and I used to write mysteries together in elementary, and my first solo epic was a story about mutated, vampire badgers. I’m still surprised that one wasn’t a hit. But I’ve always had a story on the go, even if it’s just in my head. To sit and stare into space, thinking and creating (though I imagine it’s somewhat creepy to see) is one of my favourite things to do.
Tell me a little about Life of the Party.
Life of the Party is the first novel I’ve published, though not the first I’ve written. I wanted to write something coming-of-agey, something based on my teenage years, something that would send a positive message to teenagers about drugs, alcohol, and the choices they make.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
Anyone with the ability to string together normal, everyday words and create vivid imagery, real dialogue, a gripping, original plot and an emotional connection. J.R.R Tolkien is probably one of the most inspiring to me. He took imagination to a whole ‘nother level. Phillipa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon are also favourites of mine. And Laura Ingalls Wilder.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
No. I write when I write, whenever the mood strikes me or whenever I’m feeling particularly inspired. I find if I force myself to sit down and write, it gets kind of stunted and boring. When I do write though, I usually blast my tunes and drink a ton of coffee.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
A little. I wrote some letters to literary agents. When it came down to it though, I was way too impatient to see my book in printed form to wait for that nonsense. One of the letters I had sent came back to me with a single scribble down the margin “sorry, our list is full.” At least, I think that’s what it said. The writing was so messy it took me awhile to interpret, and I think that soured me towards traditional publishing a little. After so much effort and so much time spent perfecting my query letter, mailing my letter and waiting with bated breath every time I checked the mail, the anti-climatic response was really disappointing. Like I wasn’t even worth a printed rejection on letterhead.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
My goal is just to keep writing. If I measure success on the number of books I sell…well I wouldn’t be very successful, lol. Whenever someone tells me how much they enjoyed the novel or that it touched them in a special way, that’s success to me right there. That was the whole point of writing for me, not to make millions, but to tell a story that will entertain, and maybe even make a difference.
How have you marketed your book(s)? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
I’ve done it a bit. It wasn’t overly successful, because I’m not really comfortable with marketing myself. I’ve gotten better at it out of necessity, for sure, but constantly ‘pimping’ out my book to people and ramming my website down their throats just made me squirm. I love Goodreads though. I’ve found so many great people on that website willing to help out Indie Authors with reviews, and self-promotion is encouraged and expected there. Also, I started a blog to keep me writing while promoting the book as well.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
Yes, a sequel to Life of the Party, starring Mackenzie’s friend Charlie. I really hope to have it finished by the end of the summer…so maybe by late fall