It’s time for a new interview series… like NOW. No really, actually it’s called NOW (Newly Omniscient Authors). This blog has been publishing since 2011, and some of the earlier posts feel dated. To honor the relaunch of the site, I thought I’d invite some of my past guests to read and ruminate on their answers to questions from oh-so-long-ago to see what’s changed between then and now.
Today’s guest is Jodi Meadows, who debuted in 2012 with Incarnate. She wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She has also authored the Orphan Queen Duology, and the Fallen Isles Trilogy, and is a coauthor of My Lady Jane.
Has how you think (and talk) about writing and publishing changed, further into your career?
Over the years, my perspective on writing and publishing has absolutely changed. It’s had to. I’ve had books my publisher has gotten behind and supported . . . and books they have not. I’ve said good-bye to editors and publicists, and gotten to know and appreciate new ones. I’ve written books I thought would be my next book, only to find out they would not, and later found myself writing books I hadn’t imagined would be on my Also By page.
The seven years since my first book came out haven’t killed my hopefulness, nor my love of writing, but some days it takes more of an effort to find my optimism. I have a lot better sense of things that can go wrong (and right!).
Now, the way I talk about writing and publishing is still hopeful, but tempered with carefully measured reality.
Let’s talk about the balance between the creative versus the business side of the industry. Do you think of yourself as an artiste or are you analyzing every aspect of your story for marketability? Has that changed from your early perspective?
Both. Can I choose both?
When I have multiple ideas I’m excited about, I often consider which one will be easier to sell—which one might be the best next move for my career.
There’s a book I’ve been working on off and on for years, but I won’t dig into it and finish it until I don’t need money anymore; the book is unlikely to bring me riches . . . or even pay a few bills. I joke about it, but it’s also not a joke.
When I decide what to work on, I follow the characters as I’m writing and editing, but I also keep in mind what I want the book to be. It’s my job to find a balance between those two things.
In a way, I learned this lesson pretty early on in my career. Incarnate was my first published book, but it was the seventeenth novel I finished writing. I’d spent a lot of time before that writing to trends, following whims, and trying to produce what I thought other people wanted – instead of writing what is the most me. And I always, always remember that when I’m making choices. Ultimately, I am my own target audience. If I’m not happy with the book, no one else will be either.
The bloom is off the rose… what’s faded for you, this far out from debut?
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career so far, and because of those, I’ve had to learn how to do a lot more than just write a book; I’ve had to learn how to sell it, too.
In some ways, I like feeling as though I have even a crumb of control over how my book performs, but it’s also upsetting to realize that I have to do so much of my own promotion and marketing, or it just won’t happen. (Most authors are in the same boat.) It’s also made me aware of just how limited my reach is.
Sometimes, I think about that time our debut group had a chat with the group ahead of us. It struck me how disheartened – how world weary – the other group sounded when they talked about the business, and I couldn’t understand it. They had books out! Their dreams had been realized! But even just a few months after my first book released, I completely understood how the shine rubbed off the dream.
Likewise, is there anything you’ve grown to love (or at least accept) that you never thought you would?
Travel and public appearances.
I’ve always been a shy introvert, much more comfortable at home than anywhere else. But over the years I’ve overcome a lot of travel anxiety (I do not miss those sleepless, panic-filled nights before the airport) and figured out how to speak in front of people without wanting to curl up and die. I’ve learned how to fake being an extrovert for a little while (and how long I need to recover).
All that was not easy for me, but absolutely worth the effort. I still get nervous, but the reward is seeing readers and other authors. That is truly one of the coolest parts of being an author.
And lastly, what did getting published mean for you and how has it changed (or not changed!) your life?
Before I got published, I believed having a book or nine out in the world would make my life different. Maybe even better in some ways. But so far, my life is relatively unchanged. I do travel more, people read my books, and when I’m anxious it’s pretty easy to trace it back to publishing now (thanks, publishing!), but as I answer these questions, I’m still in my pajamas (they have holes in them), I want more coffee, and the cat box needs to be cleaned. My life did not spontaneously morph into movie deals and people who are paid to clean the cat box for me.
And really, I’m glad about that. It keeps me grounded.