Book Goodies Interview with Ernestine Rose
I published my first three books in December of 2012. After I completed the first book, I couldn't quite figure out how to self-publish, so I went on to the next book while my husband researched the publishing process. We repeated the same process after the second book, and after the third, we found Amazon's CreateSpace (now Kindle Direct Publishing). With three published but unknown books, I looked for ways to market beyond Amazon. I joined Goodreads and Book Goodies, two websites that offered author pages and publicity, and Rave Reviews Book Club, an online author support group. I learned to advertise specials, run campaigns, and participate in blog tours and writing contests. This is my first online interview with Book Goodies.
Who is the real Ernestine Rose?
I am a retired teacher, wife, and mother of four sons. I grew up in Chicago and attended Bradley University in Peoria where I began my teaching career. I taught English, speech and theater, then moved to Fort Worth, Texas, working in schools and theater programs throughout the city. I earned a master’s degree from the University of Dallas and retired from teaching high school after 36 years. I have written and edited plays for many schools, churches, and theater groups, and I volunteer with several theater companies.
I currently work with Texas Christian University and DVA Productions on their plays and youth outreach workshops. I am also a writing coach, copywriter, and editor, assisting other budding authors as they pursue their publishing dreams. I have published 7 Tips for a Successful Marriage, a relationship guide, Raising the Roses, a memoir, and my short story collection, Tales from the Family Tree. Inspired by writers Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, my focus is on the power of language, love, and family. I reside in Fort Worth with my husband of forty years.
What inspires you to write?
I have always loved words and what they can do. I savor the sound of them and try to conquer every word I don’t know head-on. From childhood to college, I played word games, and today I have refined that technique online. Scrabble, Words with Friends, What’s the Phrase, I play them all. Because I was also an avid reader as a child, it was only natural that I’d love to write, and while I was teaching full time, I couldn’t find the time. Now that I’m semi-retired (I write, direct, and teach acting classes), I’m making room in my schedule for all those characters I’ve been thinking about. I love a good story, and I believe in the power of language, love, and family.
Tell us about your writing process.
I thought about what and how I would write for a year after my retirement. When I settled on a marriage advice book because it was something I knew a lot about, I became bored with the process. I wanted to write stories, not research papers! So I wrote a memoir on raising my children, then a short story collection, then a novel. My niche is family. I do a basic outline, making notes on what I want to include in each chapter or story in a big notebook. I have a small one just for writing down plot possibilities, which I flip through from time to time as I consider my next project. The details are worked out on the computer as I make revisions and notes to myself in my notebook. When I’m editing and correcting formatting errors, that’s another notebook.
How do you see writing a Memoir as different from writing other genres of books?
I love telling a good story. My first book, 7 Tips for a Successful Marriage even when Opposites Attract, was my first venture into becoming an author. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because it was too much like doing a research paper. When I got into Raising the Roses, then writing became the joyous work that I’d anticipated. I love a good story, and this book allowed me to tell my own in the way I best remembered it. I loved reaching into the past and recalling so many memories that I’d forgotten, or hadn’t even thought about in years. My last book, Tales from the Family Tree, is a short story collection, some based on my family and others just made up. I love making choices about characters and plot,and deciding how the story should go, even if it’s based on real-life events. There’s a lot more freedom, of course, in writing fiction.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Of course! And I’m embarrassed when I get caught! My characters are real to me, like old friends. I struggle with keeping them consistent so I watch how they flow and I work to make their dialogue consistent with their personalities and backgrounds. I actually “hear” them saying the words, and if I think they would say things differently when I reread them, I change them. As a play director, I also try to make sure there is a sense of ensemble in each book, that every main character has his or her moment to shine, to feel pain and overcome it, and to be simply brilliant! I do everything I can to make sure my books are believable and that readers can empathize with the characters.. That’s what makes a really good book to me, so I try to instill that in the books that I write.
What advice would you give other writers?
If you want to write, you have to work at it. You have to put in the time and be willing to revise. I’ve done editing for others and I’ve seen how many writers assume that anything they write is ready to print. Writing is a struggle and you have to work at refining your technique. You have to write consistently and be willing to be your toughest critic. Of course I thought that writing a book was the hardest part of becoming an author, but I had no idea how tough it was to market your book once it’s out there. That’s where the real work comes in. You have to be just as creative, determined, and diligent with your marketing if you want to succeed as an author unless you have a “hook up” with one of the big publishing houses or Oprah.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’m a retired teacher which means I have very little money. I invested in all kinds of Kindle formatting programs and finally found success with Amazon’s CreateSpace (now Kindle Direct Publishing). It costs nothing to self-publish this way. As I explored the options of the vanity publishers (you pay THEM) and the publishing giants (will they even read your book?), I realized that this was the quickest and easiest way to get started. Perhaps I can build my brand enough to get noticed by one of the bigger companies, but I hear it’s extremely hard, and until then, I’m doing it all on my own. I’ve also heard that dealing with smaller companies often earns writers less than self-publishing, and many times, they don’t do what they promised. So for now, I’m sticking with what I know.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m amazed at the way digital books have changed the publishing industry. I was drug into digital reading kicking and screaming, but once I adjusted my eyes and cleaned off my glasses, I realized the merits of getting a book as soon as I heard or read about it with a simple click. I love taking vacations without a cumbersome bag of books. I love the community of writers that is growing because of that, and the wonderful encouraging spirit I find in most of them. I still, like many of my fellow writers, love the feel of a book in my hands, so I still buy and read paperbacks and hardbacks. But I love having choices and the ability to become a writer on my own. The invention of the ebook has opened the doors for so many writers who may have never been noticed before. These options will be forever with us.
What genres do you write?
Novel, short story, memoir, romance, nonfiction, plays, blogs, book reviews
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and print
Here is a link to a video on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing process:
HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR BOOK TO KDP (KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING) - Self-Publishing Your Book on Amazon