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Book Publishing Secrets with John Herrick, Author of 'Beautiful Mess'

This interview was originally published in

Name:  JohnHerrick
Book Title:  Beautiful Mess
Genre:  Mainstream fiction (romantic comedy)
Publisher:  Segue Blue
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author:  Honestly, if I don’t write, I feel like a part of me dies a slow death. That might be a combination of wanting to fulfill my life’s purpose and the imbalanced nature of an artist. Every artist seems to be a little screwed up! But I love to explore people—observe what they do, consider why they do it, and imagine how they might respond in various situations. That’s the essence of writing a novel.
Why did I write Beautiful Mess? I love ensemble casts and wanted to write a fun ensemble romantic-comedy. The original inspiration for the Marilyn Monroe angle hit me when I read a biography about the actress. I learned she spent time—against her will—in a mental institution. I couldn’t shake that idea. I wondered how that experience might have affected her. Did it leave scars? Did it make her paranoid? Did it break her heart? Somehow, the ensemble and Marilyn Monroe ideas clicked.
You can find out more about Beautiful Mess at my website,
Is this your first book?
Author:  Beautiful Mess is my fourth novel. I also have a nonfiction book out. Every book is different, and each project offers the opportunity to improve your craft. Learning never stops.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author:  Small indie press. I love the collaborative nature, having the opportunity to be personally involved in every aspect of the book, not just as a writer, but in the book design, its market positioning, strategy. It also allows me more freedom to experiment where needed, to grow as a writer while bearing in mind the commercial aspect of the book.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author:  I fell in love with writing when I was 8 years old, so entering adulthood with years of practice and refinement under my belt were an advantage. My first opportunity to write for the public was writing commercial copy for a radio station, which gave me firsthand experience adapting my approach to meet a need. I had to ask myself, “Who’s my audience? What do they care about? How can I get my message across in a way that intrigues them? How far can I stretch without alienating them? What goal does the client want to achieve?” That’s what writing a book boils down to. It’s not simply telling a story; it’s telling your story in a targeted way that accomplishes goals. It’s a matter of looking for win-win scenarios, identifying a niche that nobody has met, and filling that gap. To paraphrase music producer Pharrell Williams, you identify your lane and occupy it.
One “pro” is the relationships you build along the way—the opportunity to collaborate with people who are great at what they do, who know more about particular areas than you do, and glean from them. Another pro is that it hones your skills, forcing you to evaluate all your good ideas, identify the best one, then invest a chunk of your life developing the best possible experience for your readers.
The “con” is that it always takes longer that you wish it would. If you’re starting out as a writer and have an idea of how long you expect the process to unfold, it’s probably a good idea to multiply that timeframe by 5 or 10. You’ll undergo a lot of rejection, get your heart broken, and be forced to either grow stronger or quit. But it’s worth pressing forward! (And that con turns into a pro, because it helps you develop patience. It disciplines you to think and plan long-term.)
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author:  Everything takes time. My attitude plays a significant part—I try to identify as many things to celebrate as possible and view the journey as a chance to learn. A large project appears daunting, but the key is to make it practical. Break it down into smaller, achievable parts. It’s OK to start small.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author:  Sure. Find the method that offers a win-win scenario, where you achieve your goals as an artist and you meet the needs of the team that represents you.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author:  Be kind. To everyone. Trust me.

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