Friday, March 30, 2012

Lessons Learned on the Way to the Top: A Q&A with Jaime McDougall

Echo Falls
Jaime McDougall is the author of the paranormal romance novel Echo Falls. Writing Daze caught up with Jaime recently and asked her some questions On Writing and Self-Publishing. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by her answers. 

About Jaime McDougall 

Jaime McDougall is a citizen of the world, currently loving life in beautiful country Victoria in Australia. She loves eating sushi, kidnapping her husband and naming her pets in honour of science fiction authors.

A love of fiction has always coursed through her veins and she told stories as a child even before she knew how to write them. Settling into one genre was never her style and she has plans for novels in women’s fiction, urban fantasy and more – all with a touch of romance.

She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: High School: The Real Deal and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles. She has also enjoyed writing the So You Want e-book series for authors looking to establish their names online.

About the Book:  

Running from a nightmare stalking her every move, Phoebe Martin arrives in Echo Falls hoping she has finally found a safe place to stop. But trouble has a way of catching up and soon the signs are there.

After a vicious attack in an alley, policeman Aidan O'Bryan is left with Phoebe as his only path to understanding why the Echo Falls werewolf pack - his pack - is being attacked. When another pack member is killed, Phoebe is forced to confront her past before she loses Aidan and everything she has come to love.

Love and duty become one as Aidan strives to prevent Phoebe from becoming the next victim. But with Phoebe just as determined to protect Aidan and her new home, secrets from her past threaten to tear them apart. Will love give Phoebe the strength to trust Aidan and face her fears, or will her past destroy her future?

On Writing:

Q:  What motivated you to write the book?
The characters definitely motivated me to write Echo Falls. Phoebe crashed into my mind and wouldn’t let up until I finished writing the novel.

Q:  What is the single most useful thing you’ve learned and how has it helped you as a writer.
I think the most valuable and useful thing I have learned is to try out different writing techniques to find out what works for me. From outlining/not outlining to what time of day is best to write, I have read a lot of advice from authors. The best thing I ever did was give myself a few weeks to try out each thing suggested until I found out what worked for me. (Loose outlining and writing at night, if you’re curious.)

Q:  What do you think makes for a good ending to a novel?
That’s a big one. I think there are plenty of ways to write a good ending to a novel. Leave more questions answered than unanswered. Books that are written with endings that make it obvious there is a ‘book two’ coming are just annoying and makes me more inclined to not buy the next book.
Also, make sure the main character has changed. If you could take your main character at the end of the book, put them at the beginning of the book and they would have the same thoughts and reactions, then something isn’t right.

On Self-Publishing:

Q:  What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with self-publishing?
The stigma is one of the bigger challenges, truth be told, but I can understand why it’s there. You get burned enough with shoddy material and you want nothing to do with it from then on, but that just means more closed doors for the rest of us.

There is also the interesting juxtaposition of the less you learn, the more you have to pay (and vice versa). You either learn formatting or you have to pay for it because poor formatting will get you bad reviewers faster than nearly anything else. The same goes for every step of the way. It’s not easy learning what you need to know.

Q:  What surprised you about the self-publishing process?
I was pleasantly surprised at how much control the author has. It is called self-publishing, but I still found it great how much is self-motivated, self-directed so on and so forth. This isn’t always a great thing for a procrastinator (as I am), but it still makes the process all the more satisfying. 

Q:  Right now there is a stigma attached to self-published authors, that just because you can pay for the book to be published doesn’t mean you are a qualified author. Do you think self-publishing will ever become a respected industry?  
Unfortunately, I don’t think the stigma is going to drop anytime soon. There are still too many people who aren’t taking the time to put out a professional product. They aren’t hiring professional cover artists or professional editors.
To be frank, I don’t know that that is going to change, ever. The gates are wide open and there are some people trying to make ‘easy’ money.

Q:  What is your advice to authors who decide to self-publish?
My biggest piece of advice is to take your time. I know that it’s addicting and so tempting when everything can be now, now, now, but if you want anyone to view you seriously, you need to take your work seriously. 

Thanks Jaime for stopping by Writing Daze. 

It was my pleasure, thank you. 

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