A Final Conversation with Author Erik Hertwig – PART 3

  • People believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true? That depends on your definition of glamourous.  Many people look at Jennifer Lawrence and say she is glamourous.  Her first trip up the steps to accept an award left her tripping on her dress.  Not glamourous.  Authors need to set goals, deadlines, production goals, and they need to work at meeting them.  When you do you are ‘accomplished’ and that is a much better reward than being considered glamorous.

 

  • Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors? I love to travel, allergies keep me indoors.

 

  • Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts? The people who claim to write perfect first drafts are fooling themselves.  Writing the book is 20% of the writing process.

 

  • Did any of your books get rejected by publishers? When I wrote my first book I printed off a list of publishers I sent it to and hung it on the inside door of my bedroom.  I sent self-addressed stamped envelopes and post cards where they could circle yes or no and mail it back to me.  More than 50% of them never responded to me.  None of them accepted it. This was about the time that publishers were going out of business left and right.  I decided I would continue to write for me and start my own publishing company.

 

  • How does it feel when you don’t get the recognition you deserve? I have been a teacher for 12 years.  I don’t get the recognition I deserve on a daily basis.  You get used to it.

 

  • Do you enjoy book signings? Book signings are rewarding.  They wear your hand out but they are rewarding.  It is important to have a team with you when you do it in order to make sales, hand out promotional materials, and update the contact lists.

 

  • Do you reply back to your fans and admirers personally? Talking to children and fans is the reason I got into this.  I love to see the wonder come across the face of a child when they read my books.  I have not been out promoting in public for a while but when the time comes it is the best feeling.

 

  • Have any of your books been adapted into a feature film? Soon I will start updating all my books and scripts into FinalDraft the leading script software so when people ask about doing it I can already hand them the script or file.  Hey, you need to do it all if you want to get paid.

 

  • They say books die every time they are turned into a movie; what do you think? I met Michael Blake, author of ‘Dances With Wolves’ at a book festival.  I knew about the movie long before I ever knew there was a book attached to it.  He was funny, accommodating, entertaining, and a joy to talk to at the festival.  After he signed my book my brothers were both upset I didn’t get them autographed copies so I went back with two more.  The movie didn’t hurt his book sales and I know he would remember me if we were to meet again.  If he reads this I know he will say: “I remember that guy.”

 

  • Which of your books took you the most time to write? I never expected that I would ever write a novel.  That is why I called my first one ‘the practice novel’ I stared writing it 15 years ago.  When ‘The Trials’ was finally finished it took me two years to write.  My second novel was written in 100 days and that practice novel is practically writing itself now.  For me it was believing enough in myself to actually do it to finally get it done.

 

  • Do you believe attractive book covers help in its sales? It absolutely does.  Never short change your work with unmotivated artists.

 

  • Have you ever marketed your own books yourself? I have self-marketed all of my books and will turn all of them, including the children’s books into scripts because I intend to turn them into cartoons as well.  Marketing is where the money is.

 

  • Whose work do you enjoy reading the most?

 

  • Name one book that you like most among all the others you have penned down. “First Flight” has not yet been illustrated but it is one I have enjoyed creating.  One of my main children characters names is Orville, he is an otter.  Through the crazy adventures of the characters they escape their zoo and find themselves at a bike shop in Dayton Ohio where they meet a wombat named Wilbur.  As you can guess the two work together to build an airplane.  It is a historical retelling of the Wright Brother’s construction of the first airplane told through the adventure of my Zoo Adventure Series characters.  It has spawned many ideas.

 

  • Do you believe it is more challenging to write about beliefs that conflict with the ones you hold yourself? That is always a challenge.  If you fail to research the belief completely you fail epically so unless you plan to spend half of your time researching you may not want to take up this challenge.

 

  • Have you ever taken any help from other writers? I have read author interviews and listened to interviews but have never been in a position to where some accomplished author was giving me advice.  The writers group I belong to often acts as a sounding board for ideas where we come to each others aid to help them through particularly difficult aspects.  One of my associates is experienced at making jewelry so I told her what I was attempting to do and asked if she could help me get through it.  I was attempting to describe a talisman a character had and didn’t have the proper vocabulary to do this.

 

  • What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any? I have not done this though I have thought about it.  Coordinating two people on a project will be much more difficult that one person doing it alone.  Others would be concerned about their work before work they decide is someone else’s work so there would need to be complete buy in by both sides.

 

  • Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones? I create new names and locations for my fantasy work but creating new words often confuses readers.  It needs to be explained and will add word count so if that is what you need to accomplish then go for it.

 

  • What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre? My mother is a published author and she hates fantasy.  I have asked her to read and edit my work and she struggles with it so I think for most people it is interest in it rather than missing information.  If they were interested they would get the information.

 

  • Are you satisfied with your success? When my success brings me a comfortable living without having to work outside of my creativity then I will be satisfied with it.

 

  • Is writing book series more challenging? There are benefits to having a series as you can call on the world, setting, and characters you have already created rather than recreating them all again.  Those folks who write stories that take place in our world may have it easier than those who create their own world or series.

 

  • Now when you look back at your past, do you feel accomplished?

 

  • Are you “there” where you wanted to be? I have quite a bit more success to attain before I consider myself “there” but I do feel I am close to accomplishing it.  This year will help me determine how much more I have to do.

 

  • Are you a member of any writing committees; if yes, define your role? I am a member of a writers group but I do not have any roll other than member.  Those who fill administrative positions within are spending their time running and organizing the group rather than writing with their spare time.  I do not want or need another time taking activity.

 

  • What do you do in your free time? In my free time I write mostly. I do enjoy spending time with my wife and visiting other locations, it helps with ideas for both writing and promoting books.

 

  • Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself? If I were able to do it all over again I would write early, write often, and keep creating entertaining work.  I had a teacher in middle school that tried to squash my writing dreams.  It set me back about 15 years before I picked it up again and started over.

 

  • Was it all too easy for you – the writing, the publication, and the sales? None of it has come easy.  The creating part has been the easiest thing for me.  But writing it down, keeping it fresh, continuing the process of writing all needs to be a part of it.  I created a map of my fantasy world and have lost it somewhere over the last 25 years and now I will need to recreate it.

 

  • What is the secret to becoming a bestselling author?

 

  • How do you feel when people recognize you in public and appreciate your work? It is fun.  I need to make a habit of carrying some of my work with me as people have asked to see it.  I believe only once I had a copy of my work with me when that happened.

 

 

  • Writers are permanently depressed; how true is that? Being depressed or feeling pain helps many people write.  I found in my younger years that being depressed help me create more emotional pieces.  Some of my depressed poetry were recognized but as you get older emotions do not effect you as much as they used to so you need to rely on talent and experience to get you through.

 

  • Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you? There are too many stories inside me to think about giving up on it.  Writing is part of what makes me who I am.

 

  • What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels? Typically writers who are struggling are struggling with something in particular so there is no generic advice that can be given other than to keep at it.

 

  • Are all writers rich? 99% of writers are poor.

 

  • How did it feel when your first book got published? It felt much better to actually sell a book to someone I didn’t know.  Being published did not make me an author as much as selling my book to someone who didn’t know me meant.
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