This month I’m talking to A.J. Flowers, a fantasy author from Detroit. She has written five books and countless shorts and recently released Fallen to Grace.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, A.J. You have written a lot already! Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Most of my writing is done on my MacBook because I like to use Scrivener. If I’m writing a flash fiction, however, I sometimes like to write longhand. There are studies that our brains can be more creative when writing longhand rather than typing because we don’t have to use the part of our brain which needs to remember where the keys are placed. I believe there’s some truth to it, and if I ever feel creatively stuck, I’ll go longhand for a while and then transcribe the draft to the computer.
And when you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Most of the time I have no idea what a character will be like when I first start a draft. My writing process begins with an idea and I go with it, and much of the draft will need to be rewritten. But once I get through the first draft, I’ll generally have a good idea of the personality each character has developed through the events which have shaped them. On the revision, it’s easy to keep that personality because I know what the characters are like since I’ve let them develop on their own.
You have certainly been busy writing, but how about marketing? What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
At this stage in my career, I believe it is more beneficial to allot time to building my platform than specifically marketing my book. I have over 600 followers on my blog, and I need that number to grow. Word-of-mouth is where future sales will come from, and those followers have already purchased my book. I don’t need to market it to them, but I do need to give them useful content in form of blog posts and beneficial email subscription content. If they like my platform, they will encourage others to check it out, and that’s where things start getting good. When my next book is released, I’ll have the springboard I’ll need to launch a new marketing campaign. It’s a cycle, and when I earn more fans they will be the target audience who will buy my previously published books.
So to answer the question, I allot all of my writing time to things that will earn me sales in the future such as blog posts and writing new material. I do not allot time to making advertisements or spammy emails or tweets.
Would you ever, or do you, use a PR agency?
I’m still very early in my publishing career, and it will be some time before I look into hiring a PR person. I do plan on doing that eventually, but that will be after I’ve made enough sales to cover the expense. I treat writing as a ground-up endeavour. I’ve never done anything without making enough money to invest. It takes money to make money, and that’s true with publishing books for sure. I started selling flash fiction to get the money for stock photos, and I self-published my writing guide to fund purchasing Scrivener and now the sales are going towards the things I’ll want to go for next for my fantasy novels, such as a content editor, copywriter, cover artist, and yes, a PR agent.
While the exact number isn’t known, there are at least 2,000 books published just on Amazon per day. It’s not just about writing a good book, but reaching your target audience so they can even know your book exists. Good PR is necessary for that, and it is definitely on my long-term to-do list.
Finally, an age-old question: is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Haha! Definitely a curse. What sane person would work for .001 cents an hour? Then again, no one really writes for the money and fame (I would hope). I love being a writer and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
Thank you so much for your time today. Good luck in your latest endeavours!
A.J. Flowers is a fantasy author, book blogger, and automotive engineer in Detroit. She loves her writing, her work, and above all, her faith and family. When not writing or designing, you can find her saving the world from annihilation on her favourite video games side-by-side with her Dutch husband and princess Blue Russian kitty named Mina. You can follow her writing advice, published work, and fun personal stories on her blog.