I’m so excited to have one of my dear author buddies Dana Fraedrich on the blog this week! In this interview, you’ll get an inside look at her writing process, learn her top tips for dealing with rejection, launching a book and being productive, discover what inspires and motivates her to write, and receive invaluable advice all writers would be wise to follow!
Here’s your cue to brew a cup of coffee or tea and get comfy!
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
Nutshell time! And thank you so much, Diana, for having me. I’m so pleased to be here! Okay, well, my name is Dana Fraedrich. Dog lover, proud geek, and Nashville transplant at your service! I am an author of three books (so far) with a fourth in the oh-so-fun editing process.
What made you want to be a writer? How did you begin writing?
I’ve always written for as long as I can remember. I know that’s a trite answer, but it’s true.
I believe we’ve all been given passions and talents for a reason, that we’re all created with unique strengths and weaknesses so we can color the world with our different talents and each be a force for good in our own way. For me, the written word is my passion. It’s just what I’ve always gravitated towards.
Writing assignments were always my favorite in school. The first one I can remember was in second grade about a haunted house and a friendly vampire. I always had notebooks on me when I was younger (long before they were replaced by my smartphone) and would write stories during class. At home, I would write on my computer for hours just for fun. I played around with different things. Sometimes I’d write fanfiction, other times they’d be fantasy adventure stories, magical realism, romance, whatever I felt like.
What inspires you to write?
Um, everything, I think? Ideas randomly pop into my head without warning. I started my latest book, Out of the Shadows on a lark. I wanted to see if I could write a steampunk story because I love the genre.
Almost immediately after I’d begun, I had a dream that informed me what the city of Springhaven looked like and resulted in the creation of one of the side characters, Annabelle Wilson aka Gadget.
Sometimes it’s what-if questions that start my stories, like with my Skateboards, Magic, and Shamrocks series. Taryn and Ozzie were born out of me thinking, “What if two lifelong best friends suddenly stopped being friends? Why? And what if they were forced into a situation where they had to work together?”
When I have an idea in my head, it buzzes around inside like a bee until I let it out onto a page.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
I just want to take this moment to say how thankful I am for the Bookstagram community. I only started getting involved with them back in February, and the level of support and encouragement I have found there is staggering. In case you, dear readers, are not aware, there is a lovely little corner of Instagram where writers and readers gather together and gush over their shared love of books. Diana and I are both there (@authordianatyler and @danafraedrich, respectively), and everyone is so kind. I have met some of the most wonderful people there, and they all understand the struggles that readers and writers deal with.
I know social media gets a bad rap, and some of it is deserved, but there’s also an amazingly warm and bright side to it too. I love you all, Bookstagram fam!
Please explain the process leading up to one of your book launches and how you feel at that point.
I think my book launch process changes with each new book. With the first one, Skateboards, Magic, and Shamrocks, back in 2012, I had no idea what I was doing. I kind of just announced it and then sat down. I barely did anything to promote it.
I did a bit better with the second one, Heroes, Legends, and Villains, but I don’t think I really started to get my feet under me until the release of Out of the Shadows last October. I actually had preorders with that one, giveaways, etc.
Pro-tip to new writers: book launches are hard work! Like, sleep becomes a distant acquaintance and you forget to eat hard work.
With the next one, Into the Fire (the next in the Broken Gears series after Out of the Shadows), I’ll be sending out copies for beta readers, ARC copies for reviews (feel free to reach out and let me know if you’re interested in either), hosting more giveaways, doing a cover reveal, hardcovers will be available…it’s even more work than I did for Out of the Shadows, but I’m so excited! You can even already add Into the Fire to your Want-To-Read shelf on Goodreads right now! You’d make a certain author named Dana Fraedrich very happy if you did. 😉
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
So my brain likes lists and systems. The more difficult something is, the more I want a system for dealing with it. This is the list of things I go through when faced with rejection and negative criticism.
- Glean what you can from the feedback. I tend to think really good feedback provides both good and bad points and is specific. Take stock of the specific points made, both positive and negative, and use that to make your future books better. On the other hand, if someone just says they didn’t like it, well, there’s not much you can do with that. Yes, that hurts and might make you want to throw up a little, but move on immediately. Why immediately?
- Because you should never respond to negative criticism. Trust me, I get it. The desire to point out what that person missed or doesn’t understand is really tempting. After all, you know the book better than anyone! Who better to set them straight? Do not do this.
- Be discerning. I say this with caution because it is an insidiously tempting idea to just chalk someone who’s rejected you as, at best, just someone who was never going to like your book because it’s not their cup of tea and, at worst, a mean dumb jerk-face who wouldn’t know talent if it bit them! Again, someone who is truly trying to give constructive feedback will provide a mix of positive and negative notes, so look for these.
- Be gentle and caring with yourself. Never, ever say you’re worthless or not talented. That’s just not true, and these kind of thoughts serve no helpful purpose. If you find yourself wrestling with them, say out loud repeatedly or write out and read back positive things about yourself. And treat yourself to a few indulgences that will serve as stepping stones to lift you up and out of your funk. These are the things that help me anyway.
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
I consider myself fortunate in this area because I have never been someone who is, *ahem* shall we say, considered quiet. I process things by talking about them out loud…at length…with great fervor. And I am beyond grateful for my family and friends because they’re all massively supportive. They understand my process and indulgently let me rabbit on until I run out of steam.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Be prepared to work your tail off and keep writing. Even when it gets really difficult – and it will get incredibly difficult – keep at it. You won’t get anywhere standing still.
There have been moments in my writing career where I couldn’t see how I was going to get over a particular bit of writer’s block, where I wondered if I was going to be able to finish that book in a believable way that met my standards.
And it’s going to hurt. You’re going to have to put your characters through tough stuff, but you have to do it for the story.
If I did not believe finishing what you start is vital, I wonder if I would have put out any books yet. Keep pushing every day. You’ll be glad you did.
Which writers do you admire?
Oh my goodness, that is a long list. Okay, let’s try to do this in rapid-fire style. Robin McKinley for her ability to paint a scene. JK Rowling and Angie Sage for world building. Beverly Lee and James Fahy for fantastic characterization that doesn’t do the annoying “this is how guys are so this is how he acts and this is how girls are so this is how she acts” thing. CS Lewis and Tolkien for creating legendary adventures with ordinary people. Chris Wooding and Gail Carriger for some of the best dialogue ever! There are so many more, but this list is already long.
Any marketing tips for fellow authors?
Don’t market your book 24/7. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but people will get bored by you pushing your book all the time.
Share other things that people will be interested in by creating a feed full of things that a broad range of people will enjoy. I personally love the different tags and challenges that go around the Bookstagram community. Some people do all food-based posts. Or fitness posts. Or creativity inspiration (pssst! Diana’s IG feed is great for that last one. You should follow her if you like a regular jolt of creative encouragement).
And be involved in your community. Comment on other people’s posts, share encouragement, celebrate with them. There’s no better way in my opinion to get followers and spread the word about your books and events than to make friends.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Getting your book in front of eyeballs followed closely by getting reviews. There are thousands of books being published every month, all competing for space in the world. And then you have to convince people to spend their precious time and money on your book. And then you have to hope they’ll leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever.
Dear readers, please leave reviews for books. Even if it just says, “I really enjoyed it!” You have no idea what an impact this makes in the lives of hard-working authors. Reviews are how we sell more books in order to make a living due to the algorithms built into sites like Amazon and how bookstores decide what to carry.
What’s your favorite writing beverage and/or snack?
Oh, man! You can’t beat tea and biscuits/cookies! There’s currently a severe biscuit shortage in my house, a cookie crisis if you will. Send help…chocolate chip help if you’ve got it.
Where can readers/other authors find you?
My website, where you can sign up for exclusive content and a free book in my VIP newsletter, is http://www.wordsbydana.com/ . And I have bookish merchandise on there too!
You can find me on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter as @danafraedrich and on Facebook as @wordsbydana . All my books can be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Fraedrich/e/B008QB3QXI .
Thank you again to Diana for having me. You know she’s got a newsletter too, don’t you? You should subscribe. 😉