Posted on 06/21/2017 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Right now, it rocks to be Linda Smolkin.
An enthusiastic drummer in her spare time (to the sometimes chagrin of her family), Smolkin is now also a published author receiving accolades from amateur and professional reviewers alike.
Now that Among the Branded is out and fulfilling Smolkin’s childhood dream of being a writer, she took the time to answer a few questions before getting back to work on her next novel.
SADYE: What made you decide to seek publication, and what was that process like?
LINDA: It has been a very long journey. While waiting to hear back from agents and publishers on a different novel, I started writing Among the Branded and queried this one for a year before going indie.
I knew going indie would be hard work, and boy is it ever! But I’ve known all along that I couldn’t do it alone. I have an incredible editor, and my book formatters put up with me and all my requested revisions.
I also decided to invest in targeted marketing because, as a debut author, nobody really knows me. My budget is small, but it’s better than nothing. Overall, the publication process has been amazing.
Thanks to distributors, I’m able to have my book in just about every online bookstore, and it allows me to reach out to brick-and-mortar retailers, festival managers, and libraries for that extra push.
SADYE: What did you find most helpful as you worked to improve your writing?
LINDA: Other than great feedback from my editor? I’d say reading fiction helped me improve my writing.
When I started writing novels more than a decade ago, I didn’t realize how important it was to start and end each chapter. Reading fiction showed me how all the great novelists do it. Reading also showed me how important it is to make characters memorable. It’s more important than making them likeable.
Also, one of my favorite authors gave me some great advice when I got stuck. She said try adding some conflict to the story. Once I did, my story got much better.
SADYE: Did an interest in World War II inspire you to write your novel?
LINDA: My father was a Holocaust survivor. I was very much inspired by his life and what he went through when I wrote my novel. ... (But the story isn’t) about him, about the Holocaust, or historical fiction.
I purposely wrote a book that didn't focus on the concentration camps, etc. There are plenty out there, and they're wonderfully written. I wanted a story set in modern day; it's really contemporary fiction with a historical touch. ...
The book is more about relationships and a modern-day moral dilemma that my main character faces and less about the Holocaust.
SADYE: What has been the most surprising part about being an author?
LINDA: First, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to talk about myself or the book. But several friends told me I have to put myself out there and not be shy about it. Since taking their advice, I’ve been reaching out more, and the response has been wonderful.
The second surprise is how emotional I get when somebody tells me how much they’ve enjoyed my book or when people show their support in various ways. It makes me want to strap a box of tissues on my belt for easy access.
SADYE: What does your son think about his famous-author mom?
LINDA: This question made me laugh out loud. Actually, I’m still laughing! My son is 17 and growing, so he probably cares more that there’s food (or lack thereof) in the fridge.
Joking aside, he hasn’t read my book in its entirety but was my go-to expert for the teenager dialogue and told me what to fix.
SADYE: What advice would you give to someone in your shoes?
LINDA: Every author goes about it differently, but I’d say to make sure you don’t rush to publish. First and foremost, focus on the story. Listen to your editor or advance readers’ comments—be open, be willing to make changes, and be ready to put in the work.
Don’t get distracted with how or when you’ll be published; worry about that later. Once you publish your book—whether you go the indie or traditional route—be prepared for the ups and downs of the business, try not to take anything too personally, and keep a sense of humor through it all.
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Categories: Author Interview