Questions to ask an Author - Jodi Gibson
Updated: Feb 11
Welcome back to Author Spotlight!
Again, we have an author who I was lucky enough to connect with at the RWA conference - Jodi Gibson. As a first-time attendee and very green author, it was with great relief that I attended the newbie orientation the night before the conference officially started. It is so valuable to connect with writers at all stages of their careers, you can learn so much from everyone, at every stage. While on the grand tour I met the lovely Jodi Gibson, who was about to release her self published debut novel, The Memories We Hide.
· What made you choose the genre you write in?
I write under the broad genre of women’s fiction, but actually write in two sub-genres: contemporary drama, as well as modern chick-lit.
I read widely from drama-based fiction, crime and psychological thrillers, right through to rom-coms and chick-lit. I like balancing the dark and light with my reading and that’s what I want to do with my writing too.
Interestingly enough I heard an interview recently with Jackie French who writes across many genres, and she said exactly the same thing; writers read widely, so why can’t they write widely? Unfortunately, most traditional publishers are unable to support authors who want to do this, which is one of the reasons I chose to go down the indie author route.
· How long did it take you to write your first book?
It’s a harder question to answer than you might think. The first manuscript I wrote probably took me about a nine months to finish the first draft, but it’s still sitting in the metaphorical bottom drawer, so I wouldn’t call it complete. The first manuscript I finished to a publishable standard, that is; first draft through many rewrites (so many I lost count), took me about five years. But that timeframe includes putting it aside for large amounts of time to work on other things. This manuscript became my debut novel ‘The Memories We Hide’ and was published in August 2019.
I’m finding the process of the completing a draft is a quicker process each time I write, although every book is different and has it’s own individual challenges.
· How long did it take you to get your first book published?
I did pitch to a couple of publishers with ‘The Memories We Hide’, and both asked to see the full manuscript, which was awesome, but neither took it up. In the meantime, I’d been doing a lot of research into indie publishing and decided that it would be a great fit for both what I wanted to do with my books (writing across two different genres), and my personality type (control freak). Then once I made the decision to self-publish it was all systems go. I already had a freelance editor who helps me with the structural editing of my book, so it was just a matter of engaging with a cover designer, copy editor, proofreader and formatter from there. Oh, and learning all the ins and outs of the actual publishing process! But, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
· The best writing tip you ever received?
There is so much information out there for writers, but most of my tips I glean from either podcasts or from hearing authors speak themselves. It’s those nuggets of information that are gold. I remember listening to an author who spoke about writing in scenes instead of chapters and it changed her writing for the better. So I tried it. And honestly, it has made the biggest difference to getting the words down in a first draft for me. Thinking of the story in scenes allows you to concentrate on that moment in the story and fully focus on what you need in that scene that will keep moving the story forward.
· Any advice for the unpublished/querying author?
Keep writing. Don’t get stuck working on the same book for years and years trying to perfect it. Writing is an art – it’s subjective and there’s no such thing as the perfect novel. My advice is to finish a book to the best standard you can get it, submit it to agents and/or publishers and then get on writing the next one. Whether you decide to publish traditionally or independently, you need books plural. Not just one! So keep writing.
· Who is your inspiration in the writing world?
There are so many authors who inspire me in different ways. Natasha Lester has a brilliant work ethic. Fiona McIntosh is passionate about story and helping other writers. Then there’s Liane Moriarty whose success is something all budding authors aspire to. But I’m also inspired by smaller authors such as those I meet online and through organiations such as RWA (Romance Writers of Australia), people who just love story, love talking about writing, and are passionate about what they do whether they are a best-seller or an emerging author. Those people are most inspiring.
· Final note for anyone considering self publishing.
It's not vanity publishing where you pay someone to publish your novel.
And it's not always 'plan B'. There are so many authors who choose to go down the indie route as their first choice. I'd encourage authors to do their research on the self-publishing industry. Getting information from other self-published authors with a track record such as Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Adam Croft. Then they can make an informed decision on whether self-publishing is right for them - as it's not for everyone.
Jodi can be found here: www.jfgibson.com.au
And her recent release - The Memories We Hide is available for purchase here