I interviewed debut author Ellen Booraem a few months ago, and here’s a Q&A with another debut author, Annette Fix. Annette decided not to go the traditional route of getting her memoir, The Break-Up Diet, published through a house. Instead, she self-published and learned a lot along the way. This interview is part of a blog tour Annette is currently doing. After all the questions in this interview, check out the links where you can find Annette and have a chat.
Thanks for joining us today, Annette. First, congratulations on The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir. It’s a fun book. What inspired you to write this book?
Thanks! It’s been a crazy ride! Initially, I was a screenwriter; I actually never intended to write prose. But, I believe the story chooses the medium. The unlikely inspiration came from my live-in boyfriend leaving home one morning and calling me from work to break up with me over the phone. I wanted to find a way to capture the humor and pathos that went along with my bunny-boiling break-up recovery, diving into the shallow end of the dating pool, finding myself, and eventually dumping my basket of issues into the lap of my Prince Charming.
While you were writing it, you also had a family to take care of and jobs to go to. How did you balance that with your book writing?
Like every writer who has a life full of responsibilities, I had to squeeze in writing time wherever I could. My AlphaSmart went with me everywhere. I wrote at my son’s little league games; I wrote while at the park with my dogs; I even wrote during slow times at work.
Then Uncle Walt threw a Disney miracle my way. When I was about three-quarters of the way through writing the book (and still didn’t have an ending), my fairy godmother dropped a handsome prince into my lap dance and he offered to support my son and me, so I could quit my job and finish my book. Of course, the marriage proposal wasn’t too far behind! So, I was very blessed to find someone who is encouraging and believes in me enough to support my dreams.
What made you decide to self-publish your book?
I first sent queries to agents and called my manuscript a memoir, but not one agent requested to read it. Then I tried a little experiment and sent out the exact same query, but called my manuscript “chick-lit”—and I had agents clamoring to read it. Within a month, I had an offer of representation. After I signed with her, I told my agent my book was actually a memoir, not a chick-lit novel. (This was soon after the James Frey A Million Little Lies incident.) She said she didn’t want to shop it to publishers as a memoir because when she read it, she thought it was fiction.
The manuscript made the rounds and didn’t get picked up, so my agent suggested I put it on the back burner and start working on something else until the cycle turned. I decided to self-publish because I just couldn’t bear to let my story languish in a drawer.
How was that process? What did you learn?
Boy, I learned never to do that again! (laughs) The self-publishing process had a HUGE learning curve; I wanted to do it right, not use a subsidy/vanity company. So, by choosing that path, it was a lot more hands-on. Moving my manuscript through the editing, design, and printing steps took two years from the day I told my agent I was going to publish it myself to when it finally came out in print. And I made a lot of expensive mistakes along the way—including buying a block of 100 ISBNs! Knowing what I know now, if I could take a publishing mulligan, I’d choose to stay with my agent, work on something else, and wait out the trend cycle.
Are you working on another book? And if so, would you consider self-publishing again?
I’m mostly in marketing mode right now, but I am starting to outline my next book and create the blog site for it. Despite the way I answered the last question, I may consider self-publishing this next book, or maybe going with an independent publisher. It depends. I’m planning to create the book as a stand-alone, but I want to use it as a required guide/textbook for a single-parenting workshop I’m developing. I may also write a book proposal as part of my outline, and I’ll see if I get any nibbles when I send it out.
What advice would you give to writers trying to fit their writing into a busy schedule?
Stay connected with people who are striving to do the same thing you are. Get an accountability partner. It’s too easy to get caught up in daily life and lose the excitement and motivation. It’s too easy to put off writing because you’re too tired, have too many other things that “need” to be done, etc. Don’t let life trample your creative spirit! And WRITE EVERY DAY—even if it’s just a little bit. The word count will add up faster than if you wait for a big block of available writing time that never comes. Trust me on that.
Thank you very much for stopping by and chatting with us. We wish you the very best for the continued success of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir.
Annette Fix is a freelance editor, a publishing industry and single parenting speaker, Senior Editor of WOW! Women On Writing, and the author of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir. Visit her writing blog at Annette’s Paper Trail and The Break-Up Diet site. She enjoys hearing from her readers and other writers. You can email her directly at annette[at]annettefix[dot]com. For the length of her blog tour, Annette will be giving away free digital copies of her memoir. If you’d like a copy, send an email to promo[at]thebreak-updiet[dot]com, please put “Day-by-Day Writer” in the subject line. You can purchase copies of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir online and from any independent or chain bookstore.
Thanks for hosting a stop on my tour! I’ll pop by to answer any questions and respond to comments from your readers.