Describe your venture: I am an author. My debut novel in YA Fiction was recently published. It’s the beautiful story of a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers deeply following the loss of her father. Her downward spiral lands her in small-town West Junction where a vivid dream sets her on the path to healing. Soon, she’s falling for Cooper, a football hero with a secret that could devastate his chances with Jenna. When she discovers it, her heart is shattered all over again and she must choose between the comfort of bitterness or the hope that only comes from forgiveness. With so much at stake, can she ever heal a heart so broken?
What skills/talents do you have that compliment your venture? I’m a voracious reader. That may not seem like a necessary skill, but I have learned a lot about what I enjoy as a reader and what I don’t like. Observing people is another talent. I enjoy watching people and noticing their special talents and quirks. Everyone has a story and I find that fact fascinating. And words have always been toys for me. I love spinning them together to tell a story that will touch people.
What fears did you have getting started? First, that I wasn't trained or educated enough to be a real writer. I’m a self learner and often feel like I’m a fraud because I haven’t taken a course or learned from someone else. I am learning to embrace that process as an innate gift in some areas. Another fear I had was that of rejection. Don’t we all get that desperate feeling for approval from those around us, especially when offering up something so precious as our own works? I’ve faced some rejection, I’ve had some delays and some crazy circumstances that made me stop and think – do I laugh or do I cry. Invariably, choosing to laugh has been so much more fun and enjoyable than allowing myself to be broken down. There is so much fun and adventure in real life and I like being a part of it.
What was involved in getting started? Well, now this is a process. Writing is pretty solitary. It involves putting children to bed, turning out lights and writing until your eyes feel like sandpaper. Ha ha! But then there is a community of editors and a process of fine tuning this perfect gem, shining it up until it shines and all the dirt has been cast aside. I chose to self publish and that is such a huge undertaking. There are so many little pockets of expense and attention. Finding a reputable self publishing company is challenging, and I’m not completely satisfied with the one I went through. What I would recommend to anyone choosing to self publish is to do your research and ask many, many questions. That’s how I saved hundreds of dollars. There is always a better way to do something and sometimes just asking the question will get you the information you need.
What were your start up costs? What are your ongoing costs? My initial investment was $5k.
From there, it has been nickels, dimes, registration fees for the printing company, proof copy prices, etc. One ongoing cost is the fees I’ll pay for my Paypal service, my monthly shopping cart fees and the yearly website hosting fees and domain registrations. It’s never all inclusive. I’m no longer naive about that part of this process.
How do you get the word out about your venture? Blogging has been such a fun way to share the news about this exciting new book! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are all important venues as well. I’m also working through the local libraries, book clubs and other people's blogs. I really believe that word of mouth will always be the best way to share. If you love a book, tell your friends! Personal promoting can literally change a life.
How much time a week do you spend on your venture? First and foremost, I’m a Mom of four active kids, so there’s a lot to juggle. I’m careful to balance my work with my family. Some weeks, when I’m on deadline, I might spend 20-40 hours – after hours – on writing. These weeks are few and far between and come with amazing support from my husband. A normal week would find me working on writing/marketing/sales about 20 hours a week.
What have you learned a long the way? Ask questions!! And don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. I learn much better when I treat this process with humor. Also, self publishing is becoming much more viable and acceptable means of getting your work out into the world while retaining your profit margin. However, with every “self” propelled venture comes an investment and learning curve. I appreciate and value all I've learned through self publishing, but I’m not afraid to say that I’d love to hand all the heavy lifting over to the right conventional publisher and spend my time writing. I realize now, more than ever, how valuable my time is.
What do you like best about your venture? Writing is more than a pastime for me. It allows me to express the feelings of my heart and find ways to touch people from around the world. A friend recently went onto my website and read through the short stories I have posted there. She wrote me in tears, touched by what I’d written. That is amazing to me! If I never sold a single book, but could know I’d touched someone with the things I've written, it would be enough. I’m not just writing to entertain, though I certainly hope that’s a part of it. I want the reader to walk away from my books a different person because of what I put down on paper. What else are words for, if not to change a person from the inside out?
What do you see for you and your venture in the future? I see myself writing lots of books. Like I said, I have half a dozen books done and in various points of revision. There is a Bucket List novel, a couple Paranormal romances, a book about Everyday Angels, and so many more. I love the creative process. I love being honest to myself and exploring parts of my story in the work that I do. My dreams involve becoming a national bestseller, speaking to women and young people, both inspirational and writing technique and traveling to Europe to do some research for a period novel. There is so much to enjoy and experience in this life, and I hope to dip my toes into all of it. Above all, I enjoy meeting people, who broaden my perspective.
You can follow Christene on Facebook, Twitter (@WriterChristene), Pinterest, and Instagram.
Purchase your copy of A Heart So Broken on Christene's web site, Christenehouston.com
or on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com