Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with science-fiction novelist JL Manning. 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. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
JL: Hello, I’m pleased to be interviewed by you. I’m the author J.L. Manning; My first books were published with my full name John L. Manning. I started writing 2005 because the job I had at that time wasn’t challenging enough.
Morgen: Writing is certainly challenging. 🙂 What genre do you generally write?
JL: The genre I started with was space sci-fi that has changed, but it’s still fiction and mostly science fiction. My new book that should be coming out the summer of 2012 has aliens from other planets, but the book takes place here on Earth.
Morgen: There have been a lot of successful movies recently Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
JL: I have self-published all of my books with those expensive subsidy publishers. I have sent out query letters to a number of publishes. The few responses I have received have said that they are not accepting new authors or like comments. I know now that those first books were not ready to be published. I was too impatient, the books need more editing. I wish I was told that…
Morgen: You live and learn, and practice. 🙂 So presumably you don’t have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
JL: A good agent would have told me that my books needed more editing… No, I don’t have an agent, but they are needed to be published by a big publishing house. The conundrum comes to mind; you need to have been published to get an agent, but you need an agent to be published. That is not true there are a number of small publishers that would be happy to publish a well-edited manuscript.
Morgen: They would, absolutely, and many of the authors I’ve spoken to have been published but have never had an agent… which could be why some agents are becoming publishers. 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?
JL: I have made all of my books available as eBooks for the MobiReader; http://www.jlmanning.net/ebooks.html
The publishers have made some of my books available as eBooks also.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
JL: I am the only one who markets my books. I have started to have daily posts to market myself and my books with http://ping.fm. Ping allows me to post to a number of blogs at once. I’m also on Twitter; @JLManning
Morgen: Ping sounds great, I’ll take a look. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
JL: The main character of “The Night Watchman” is taken from my own life, but before it can be made in to a move it needs to be re-edited. If the lead actor isn’t me then Ryan Gosling.
Morgen: I’ve seen him in a few things, good choice. 🙂 Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
JL: I hear the cover is important… I chose all of the titles. I gave an artist a design for most of my covers. The artist gave me a few to choose from.
Morgen: I recently discovered http://morguefile.com which is a brilliant resource. What are you working on at the moment / next?
JL: I haven’t chosen a title for my current book yet, but I am paying an artist to start the cover soon, so I better come up with a title. The book is about working together, to be accepted, and to overcome past transgressions, and join the Earth’s community.
Morgen: I know this is different because they’re much shorter but with my 5pm fiction daily short stories I tend to write the piece then pick a title, usually a phrase I like from the text. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
JL: I write most days, it just may not be one of my books. I don’t believe in writers block. I believe a writer may need a break from a story to develop a character more or to proof read the book or…
Morgen: Absolutely, which is why I love writing a little every day (300 words = 100,000 in a year) because it’s too much of a variety to get stuck. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
JL: It is good to have a plot for your story, and knowing where it heading with the characters. My stories grow as I write them. Then I edit them. I just started a new book that I wrote four chapters and stopped. I’m developing the character profiles and finding where I’m going to take them. It’s a great story, but I realized the characters need work first because I’m already talking about their past, but haven’t develop it yet.
Morgen: But you’re only doing a first draft. I’ve done four NaNoWriMos and although I did some planning upfront (very little on the second one, a chick-lit, and that ended up being 117,540 words in 28 days! – that one’s coming out shortly as an eBook, a heavily edited – six read-throughs – version) they usually run away with me, and I love that. Do you write any poetry?
JL: I wrote poetry and have some Editor’s Choice Awards, but I am convinced that they are to get me to buy the book that has my poem in it. That is the problem with contests. You were one of the top ten, but now they have book for you to buy from them with the top ten short stories in it…
Morgen: Ah yes, sometimes it’s how they make their money, although you should get one copy for free. Do you have to do much research?
JL: I had to do research for “Changing the Little Things” that changed my life. “Changing the Little Things” is a novel that may be called a Self-Help book. For my first books I had to do research about Mars to keep it real enough. I like sci-fi, but not too much fantasy.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
JL: “The Night Watchman” starts out in first person to introduce the character. My books are all third person. First person put you in the story, but with mutable characters, I would think it would be difficult to write an entire novel in first person.
Morgen: First person was pretty popular until recently (or so a couple of agents have told me) but readers do prefer third person. My chick-lit is first person (my other three and a bit novels are third person) so I’m hoping there’s an audience out there for it. 🙂 Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
JL: Before you start to market your book watch this free video; http://www.freepublicitygroup.com/book-marketing.html.
Morgen: Back in a minute… … … … … sorry I took so long but it was nearly 25 minutes long and, apart from being unsurprisingly depressing (lots of statistics) it’s great. Finally, where’s the best place to find you.
Morgen: Thank you, JL.
J.L. Manning authored “Changing the Little Things” in 2010. He has self-published three books through Authorhouse.com that have not been getting the attention that he feels they deserve. The first book that he published was about Mars in the not too distant future. “The New Mars” is about vacationing on Mars. He wrote two more books that are connected to the first book about Mars, but they are not sequels.
The first book was published Dec. 14, 2006 by a pay to publisher, as were all six of these books. Now that he has some experience, in writing good books, he is looking for a mainstream publisher to get these and future books the attention they deserve. He did self-publish “The Night Watchman” with Publish America. He republished “Paradise Island” with Tate Publishing. “Changing the Little Things” is his most recently published book, by Trafford Publishing. He has many ideas for new books.
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