It amazes me when a reader of mine tells me I have helped make a difference in his or her life. It makes me happy and gives me warm fuzzies inside.
When I got an email one day from this lovely lady, I was floored. She published her book before I did! (Although I was a bit envious, I’m super-thrilled for her!)
How did she get published so fast?
I asked her this, plus a few other questions. We decided to put our conversation together into a blog post, to give her some exposure for her book – even though I have not read it yet – and to share our personal successes with you.
Chances are, if you have been following my posts for a while, you’ll recognize her name and her face.
Yes, it’s Ms. Write4Yu2 herself : Jo Ann Plante!
She is the proud indie author of Everyone Evelon, an e-book published in May 2014. (YAY, Jo Ann!)
Jo Ann has been a reader and a follower of my blog practically from Day 1 and has guest posted before (her true story of her health problems with Lupus). She’s been wanting to publish a book for a while, and claims that I have been a huge help to her, offering her the inspiration she needed to complete it! (She makes me blush.) 🙂
Her book is a work of fiction with a sub-category of Christian and romance.
Let’s dive in!
My “Jo Ann Plante Chat”
Tell me something about your background and how you came to be a writer.
I’ve always liked to write. I live in Rhode Island and my Dad used to work in Connecticut. He got up very early and came home later than most Dads, so I didn’t get to see him much during the week. I used to write little notes or poems and put them in his lunch box, so he could read them during his break.
My Mom had her second heart attack when I was 9 years old. There was a lot of responsibility put on me and by the time I was 12, frankly, I was getting hard to handle. It was suggested that I go away to boarding school for a few years to get back to being a young girl. I had matured very quickly. The boarding school was run by the nuns and was very strict and quite honestly, it was the best thing for me at that time. I used to write home every weekend so I got a lot of practice writing letters.
I went to college and majored in French and German, so there were a lot of grammar and writing classes. Believe it or not, this reinforced my English grammar and made me a better writer. The summer of my junior year I decided to take a Short Story course at the local community college. I thought it would be an easy course to take. It was, but the catch was, for our final exam, we had to write a short story.
For the first few weeks, I couldn’t think of what to write about, and then, while I was sitting under a huge tree in my yard, I decided to write a story through the eyes of that tree. I got an A+ and was told to pursue a career in writing. I should have taken the professor’s advice.
Instead I went on to work as an administrative assistant, but I took advantage of every opportunity to write. I wrote training manuals, product descriptions, and customer correspondence.
While working at the local hospital, I was asked to write an essay about how the hospital was a great place for women to work. I wrote the essay and the hospital won the Spotlight Award from the Rhode Island Commission on Women.
In my next job, I worked for an internet gaming company. They created gambling websites for European countries. My job was to write “test scripts” and test the components of the website. In other words, all day every day, I had to keep playing the game to make sure that everything worked and I had to document not only the player components, but the behind-the-scenes activity of the game. Here I learned to do some technical writing.
Finally, in 2005, I decided to try a writing career, so I took a course in freelance writing. I became certified and then started writing a few articles for my local newspaper. I continued to write for anyone every chance I had.
In 2009, I joined the International Association of Administrative Professionals – Providence Chapter and wrote press releases and articles about the events and activities of the chapter. These articles were also published on the IAAP website and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce website.
During this time I worked as a temp. Sometimes temps are not included with the permanent employees, so I spent many lunch hours with a notebook and pen in hand. It is here that I created Everyone Evelon, a story about 2 people falling in love, the choices they make, their wishes and dreams, and how they actually achieved what they wanted. It came to them in another way.
Because I lack self-confidence, I just put the notebook aside for a few years. Finally, I decided to try and get my novel published. I couldn’t find a literary agent that wanted to work with me, so I took matters into my own hands.
I have to stop here and say that reading your posts and newsletters actually got me to the point where I said to myself, “You know, I can do this.”
I had been writing a blog for my virtual assistant business and I enjoyed writing about different ideas and getting feedback from my readers. I wanted that same feeling as a true author, so I started a second blog post and website for my author work.
Wow. You sure have done a lot, Jo Ann! Thanks for your kind words, too. 🙂
Next question: What prompted you to write this kind of story?
This story contains snippets from my own life and from others around me that have inspired me. Some of it’s just plain creative work and I’m not going to tell you which parts are which. Aside from the creative aspect of writing, I pulled ideas from people I’ve met that have impressed me and I used names I heard or saw that intrigued me.
I try to be as real as possible with my characters, because life is real. There’s a time and place for other genres, but most readers want to read about reality and how to get around problems and obstacles. Once I started writing, the ideas just flowed and I just went from one scene to the next.
Now, I know you self-published Everyone Evelon, but I’d like to know which service did you choose to publish your e-book, and why?
I started to research various book offers. Print books are great, but I don’t have that kind of money to shell out and where would I put all of them? I checked out e-books. This was affordable and doable, but which company to choose?
Again, research, calling them, asking questions, comparing notes led me to select BookBaby. I’m not saying this is the best, but…it is the best option for me. I had no confidence in myself, so I needed someone to hold my hand.
BookBaby always answered my calls by the third ring and an actual person spoke to me. If I emailed them, I would have an answer by the next morning. They let authors choose which services they want instead of one-plan-fits-all.
- I chose the Premium Package for $249.00, because I wanted to make money from this e-book and with this package, BookBaby doesn’t take any fees. I charge $1.99 for my e-book.
- I chose the Basic eBook Cover Design for $149.00. Next time I will make my own. I will have the book cover created from Fiverr or another website.
- I selected BookBaby to get the ISBN number for me for $19.00.
The total came to $417.00, but they only charged me $407.00.
- I was nervous about converting my document myself, so they did that for me as well. I gave it to them in .doc form and they converted it to .mobi and then sent it to me to review and approve.
- They set up a dashboard, so I can keep track of how many e-books are sold and how much money is coming to me. I have my money direct deposited, so I don’t have to worry about check-cashing fees.
- They walked me through the process and I was on my way. They asked me the date I wanted my e-book to go live and they sent me a proof to show me what it will look like on an e-reader. I called several times and they were always happy to talk to me and assure me or advise me on my questions. They really made me calm down and enjoy the process.
It sounds like you’ve had a positive experience with BookBaby. That’s great! Now tell me, what do you want your readers to take away from your e-book?
First of all, let me say that it is classified as Christian fiction, because I mention God. It’s not “Amen, Alleluia” on every page, but it does mention Divine intervention from time to time in the story. I disagree with the genre and category, but that’s where it falls. It is listed as Christian fiction, sub-category – romance.
I prefer to think of it as just a darn good story. It is life, and problems, and give-and-take in a relationship. It is hopes and dreams, and seeing two sides of a problem. I’ve been criticized for the ending, but I may make a sequel, so I wanted to leave the door open.
I want to give my readers a good story to show them that they’re not alone. Life is full of problems and issues, and faith in yourself, others, maybe even God, can give you the strength to persevere and finally have your dream fulfilled. This is a feel-good story, so realistic, you think you know these people. The story takes place in Canada, in the province of Quebec, but it could be anywhere in the world.
What advice do you have for future authors?
Write something every day. I write a weekly diary where I take every day and say what I did or what happened on that day. I do that to make sure that I write something every day. I email this diary once a week to all my friends and pen friends throughout the world. It’s a great way to keep in touch.
I also have 2 blogs. One is for my virtual assistant business. This comes out once a week and it discusses my services, problem-solving solutions, and other current information in that industry.
I just started a new site – “A Good Read, Indeed!” – which focuses on me as an author and my e-book. In my blog, I discuss certain aspects of the book, like where that town is actually located in Quebec and how I arrived at some of the character names.
Read anything and everything. Reading not only introduces you to new words and phrases, it also helps improve your memory and helps you to read faster, so you can get more done in a day.
Have Faith, Hope, and Love. Have Faith in yourself that you have a message to bring to readers and you are the only one that can do it your way in your time. Hope that you will be successful. Notice I said “successful” not “famous.” Success is reaching your readers and making a difference in their lives. “Famous” is all about recognition and making money, but not necessarily about giving back to those who’ve supported you. Love yourself enough to want the best for you and that best is your writing. Push yourself. Give yourself “tough love,” but keep on loving yourself, even if you seem to be alone. Your day will come and when it does, all the love and support you gave yourself will make it that much sweeter!
Always have another story written. If someone asks you what you’ve been doing since your e-book was published, you can start talking about your next book!
That’s good advice, Jo Ann. I agree with all of it, too. 🙂 There’s not much of a segue here, but: Who are your favorite authors?
I really don’t have favorites, because I enjoy any story that’s well-written with memorable characters, a page turner, and has a good ending. If I’m forced to name some, they are Cathy Pelletier, Sarah Rayner, and Joanna Trollope.
Do you have any regrets about anything?
Yes, that I didn’t take that professor’s advice sooner in life.
What are your future plans?
The best thing about being an author is that there is no age limit, so I have several ideas for other novels. I hope to write and publish one a year for as long as I can.
I wish you much success, Jo Ann, thank you for your complete openness and honesty, and wish you much success! I think I might even have to read your book, too, as soon as my reading schedule opens up again! 😉
Places where you can buy Everyone Evelon:
Your eBook Portal/e-sentral
Before I end, my dear readers, please don’t forget to thank Joanne with a Tweet!
And feel free to ask more questions and share your own self-publishing fears in the comment section!