Welcome to the three hundred and eightieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction author Anderson Maestri. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Anderson. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Anderson: I was born and raised in Brazil, and immigrated to the USA in the late 90’s. I am currently based out of St. Louis, Missouri. I started writing in college, and became fascinated with how the entire publishing process can be an art form. I look at every finished project as art I have created both in written form and design.
Morgen: Yes, although creative writing is an art, it’s easy to forget that. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Anderson: I have written self-help, and devotional works. I have the initial ideas for a business consulting work and a story-telling piece.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Anderson: I have published three works so far. In 2002, I published “Bilingual Parenting & The Preacher’s First Ministry” (Amazon). This work is out of print; however, I am in the process of finishing a revised edition to release this year. In 2009, I published “Neither Heads nor Tails” (Createspace). A self-help work focused on balance between extremes in many areas of our lives. The latest work released this February, “Sunday Knowledge: Snippets of Scriptural Wisdom” (Createspace) is a collection of bulletin articles written for church members on a weekly basis during several years of preaching.
Morgen: I’m not sure how relevant my next question is as you’re self-published but have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Anderson: If you count unanswered cold calls as rejection, I simply saw that as part of the difficulty of breaking through the initial marketing efforts.
Morgen: I’d say so, yes. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Anderson: I do not have an agent, but I have wondered at times if an agent would have the connections the facilitate promotion.
Morgen: I’m sure they do help… and in most cases are worth their percentage. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Anderson: Currently, I have not spent the resources to convert my works into eBook format. However, if sales of the paper format progress well, I intend to look into that possibility. Since I rarely read eBooks, I believe that my choice may be biased.
Morgen: There’s little doubt that eBooks are the way to go and it’s not that difficult to do it yourself. I have Amazon and Smashwords templates I could send you if you like. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Anderson: 100%. As a self-published author, my resources are limited, so I use my background in marketing to facilitate adaptation to the specific field of book promotion.
Morgen: That would make it easier. I have no marketing or sales experience but know that just touting yourself with little else to say on the likes of Facebook and Twitter does no good and certainly on Twitter gets you (one) de-followed; it’s a constant learning curve. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Anderson: I was responsible for every single aspect of the design of my books. I believe the cover and title are a major part of the marketing of a book. It is the face of the work that makes the first impression and captures the audience at the first glance.
Morgen: It does and I have had some here say they have been put off buying because of one or the other (or both). What are you working on at the moment / next?
Anderson: Right now, I am revising my Bilingual Parenting work published in 2002. When I wrote that piece, I did it from the perspective of the one raised bilingually. Now I am adding the perspective of raising my son bilingually.
Morgen: I used to live next to a German / English family and it was great hearing them speak both languages. Do you write any fiction, poetry or short stories?
Anderson: All of my work is non-fiction, but I have considered writing the life story of a character I created. However, the idea has remained archived due to other responsibilities.
Morgen: That’s a shame but I do know how not having much time goes. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Anderson: Since I normally start with organizing my ideas in outline format, much like a college essay, editing becomes more of a visual exercise to perfect the final product.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Anderson: For my self-help work, I tend to do much research. My devotional / religious work flows from my every day study of Scriptures and preparation for classes and sermons.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Anderson: I prefer first person, but I still carry much of the college perception that it is not appropriate writing.
Morgen: I’ve been told by an agent that first person has been done to death but I guess it’s different for non-fiction. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Anderson: Most likely my story telling will stay archived.
Morgen: That’s a shame. Writers started as storytellers so maybe when you’ve got everything else written and online. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Anderson: I love seeing the completed work. I am very surprised that I have written as many works as I have. And that I desire to write more. I never expected for this to be this “addictive”.
Morgen: My mum said to me recently that I shouldn’t let it take over her life… I didn’t like to say she was a few months too late. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Anderson: Write without expectations! I know some of us desire to make a living as writers, but the purest work may come from simply writing for the sake writing!
Morgen: Making a living as a writer is really hard (I’m still at the bottom rung) but they say a successful writer is one who never gave up. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Anderson: “Anything in excess overflows!”
Morgen: I like that. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Anderson: If you count weekly bulleting articles for our congregation. My wife, however, has been blogging for about a year, and I am her number one fan (www.littleloveliesbyallison.com). Her craftwork is amazing, and her writing brings it all together. But I guess I’m biased!
Morgen: I think that’s lovely. It makes such a difference to have someone close who’s so supportive. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Anderson: I think I have too many hobbies, and I do a little bit of everything depending on my mood and the weather. I like playing soccer, volleyball or any sport for that matter. If I watch anything for five minutes I become interested, and I could end up watching an entire D list movie. I sometimes fiddle with the guitar, other times with lead and charcoal. I also dabble in gaming; PS3 is my console of choice.
Morgen: It’s good to have lots of interests. It’s like writing one genre – it suits many writers but others (like me) need to write different things for the variety, even if it’s a mix of novels and short stories. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Anderson: I have a fan page on Facebook, and I have been using LinkedIn as another means of networking.
Morgen: They’re both great but LinkedIn came to my rescue recently; I was running low on interviewees so I put a shout-out and was soon inundated – I’m now booking into December. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Anderson: The links mentioned above are all individual pages where my work could be found.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Anderson: After reviewing all these different genres, what is your favourite genre to read just for fun!
Morgen: I say I read light and dark so it’s crime and humour (pure humour or girlie like chick lit). I do err on the side of dark and sometimes even find my light stuff (1966-and-all-that) usually has a body in it somewhere… I even managed one in my 105K chick lit novel, although it wasn’t a human one. Thank you, Anderson.
I then invited Anderson to include an extract of his writing and this is from ‘Neither Heads nor Tails’…
“There is a difference between being passionate about a position and being blinded to common sense by biases. My aunt once “yelled” at me when I was a kid. For some reason I was being annoying and insisting in doing whatever it was I wanted to do. I remember her words as if it was yesterday. They made me so mad, but as I grew older they made so much sense. She simply said, “Anything in excess overflows!” That was an interesting way to say “That’s enough!” She probably did not realize the depth of her statement. The concept that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing was right then being planted in my mind, so that it could mature for the next twenty years. As a result we come to this assessment, too much to the left we have Tails… too much to the right we have Heads; what option leaves us with just enough?”
Anderson Maestri has been involved in the education and instruction field for the past 15 years. His fields of expertise encompass a variety of subjects. He has taught all age groups from teaching soccer to 10 year olds to teaching English to 45 year olds, from teaching martial arts to college students to teaching Bible to those above 60. After years of observation and a few key motivating factors, Mr. Maestri decided to share a philosophy which was planted in his childhood, watered in college, and now it is ready for the harvest. He brings to this work his experience as businessman, his knowledge acquired through years of teaching, and good dose of common sense.
Update November 2012: Since our interview, I wrote Growing Old Graciously as a ghostwriter for a group of senior citizens. We gathered once a week for 13 weeks, and each week I listened and guided their input for each chapter. It was a fun experience. Right now, I’m in the final proofing stage of Coaching Futsal. A short work for soccer coaches.
Morgen: what fun, congratulations.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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