Monday, May 11, 2009

Author Q&A with Janet Spurr, of Beach Chair Diaries

About Janet Spurr: "After being in sales for over 15 years, I had a calling to be a writer. I had never written before and started taking courses and attending conferences."

About Beach Chair Diaries: Beach Chair Diaries is a collection of short humorous essays about summertime. From learning to surf in Maui to boogie boarding in Maui. Spurr independently published her 172-page book in May of 2008, through Lightning Source, which is owned by Ingram.

Why did you write this book? I started writing fiction, children's books, screenwriting and finally figured out that short essays work for me because of my full time sales job and trying to do too much.

In one course, a British woman said that I should write a book about summer time, sailing and yacht clubs. And I thought, I could do that.

What did I love about it? The fact that now I can go on any beach vacation and tell people that I'm doing research.

Also, when I do book signings, I ask people where their favorite beach is and we talk about beaches.

Why did you self-publish, and what has helped you be successful at self-publishing?

I had a dishonest agent and a book contract; the editor of the small publishing company suggested that I fire the agent because she was so difficult to deal with. I was able to get my second agent, who didn't have the passion for Beach Chair Diaries that I did, so I had to let him go. A best-selling author told me that every author has three agents. Since I had been in sales, selling women's accessories to stores throughout New England, everyone said that I should sell my book to the stores that I already sell to. I did and now a year later I've sold over 2,100 books and had over 20 events.

What does your writing routine look like?

I'm laughing. I have no routine, because I travel to so many different places for my sales job. When I write I usually do while away from home and/or on the beach.

Tell us some writers whose work you admire and why.

Mitch Albom, who wrote Tuesdays with Morrie. I hope someday to write a book about my dad and if I can make a difference as Mitch's book has done, then that would be the greatest. Bill Bryson. I want to be the Bill Bryson Babe of the Bookshelf. Doris Kearns Goodwin. I just finished Team of Rivals. I have a relative who was in the Boston Tea Party, that might be my fourth book.

What are you working on next?

Beach Chair Diaries 2, but that won't be the title. It should be out next spring.

What advice would you have for other writers/would-be writers?

Believe in your dream not matter what happens. Never forget your dream. I think a lot of people get out of college and then forget that a dream takes 4-8 years. So go for it. There is nothing more amazing. There was a 95-year-old woman who graduated from college. If she can do it, anyone can.

What would you say to others thinking of self-publishing?

Go with Lightning Source. The upfront costs might be higher, but the wholesale cost makes more profit. Most importantly, what I didn't realize was that once you publish a book with Lightning Source you are then listed with Ingram. Many times I would call a book store and they would order my book right away because I was with Ingram. This was a very important fact that I didn't even realize until after I had published. I was only turned down by two bookstores because I was self published.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Louise Larson, blogmistress for The Writing Porch, interviews published authors. To be considered, email her at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. Larson's work has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Dallas Morning News and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal and a contributor at the Waxahachie Daily Light, and she has received the top award for series writing in Texas, the Texas APME, as well as a silver from the Parenting Publications of America. She co-authored a nonfiction career guide for FabJob Publishing in 2006, and is seeking representation for her new novel, 'At High Tide.'

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