You need to celebrate the small wins, like an agent request or personalized feedback from an editor, because that really carries you through the constant rejection.
YA author Jennifer DiGiovanni thrives on a challenge; from taking up a new hobby (under the guise of book research), to running a small business and co-writing a book with a friend. We talk to her about finding the best time of day to write, seeking out writing mentors and her ‘soft’ approach to book marketing.
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
I’m a YA Author and freelance writer. I’ve written a contemporary series for teens and I’m working on a YA paranormal series that is very much grounded in the real world, except that the typical high school kids have X-men-type powers. They deal with normal teenage stuff, like who they’re taking to prom, and also try to save the world from evil. I’ve also co-written a novel, PROM-WRECKED, about a prom where just about everything goes wrong, which will be published in 2019.
What made you want to be a writer?
I have always loved to write and started at a young age. I often wrote stories in notebooks or on loose leaf paper. However, I didn’t pursue writing seriously for a long time. I think I knew I didn’t have the time to fully commit to it, so I was afraid to start down a path and need to pull away from something I loved.
Do you have a writing routine?
I write best in the morning so I try to keep my schedule clear for at least a few hours each day. I don’t usually need to motivate myself to write although if I have a lot going on in my life outside of writing, focusing on my work can sometimes be difficult. I move through drafts at different paces on different days, but I’m always working on something.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I still feel like I’m aspiring in some sense, and I think I’ll always feel that way! I would tell other authors you have to love writing enough to put up with the highs and lows of the profession. Also, don’t be afraid to try something different. I recently co-wrote a book with an author friend and it turned out to be one of my favorite writing experiences. When I start something new, I like to ask myself what’s different about this project – compared to other books about similar topics or something I’ve already written. I think you need to focus on what’s unique about your writing to help develop your voice and style.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for new authors?
Navigating the world of publishing is a big challenge. After you finish a book, what do you do with it? This is where it helps to seek out a mentor or a friend at a different stage of their writing career. Learning the market for your books and finding out where and how to submit to agents and publishers also takes time and can be a slow process.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
I definitely prefer softer marketing techniques – I’m not one to push my books heavily, but I think just having a presence so that readers know where they can find you if they have questions is important. Also, it’s important to acknowledge anyone who helps promote your books – bloggers, reviewers, readers or fellow authors. I also love Instagram, although I’m not necessarily talking about my books every day on that platform.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
I’ve gotten much better at handling rejection, but when you first start out, it’s hard to deal with! I think you need to celebrate the small wins, like an agent request or personalized feedback from an editor, because that really carries you through the constant rejection.
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
My life outside of writing is busy, so I actually welcome the quiet time in front of my computer. Maybe someday I’ll feel differently, but right now, it doesn’t bother me.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Don’t give up and remember why you started!