Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Writing The Book Of Your Heart, Indie Publishing, and a giveaway of Joanne Bischof's Contemporary YA novel

Stephanie here!

I'm so excited that my friend Joanne Bischof is here today. Joanne and I met because we have the same literary agent, and she was looking for writers to endorse her upcoming contemporary YA novel, To Get To You. I'm always up for a good contemporary YA read, so I said, "Sure!"

And thanks to an extremely long flight delay on my way home from my writing retreat in July, I was able to read To Get To You in one sitting. It's a good thing too, because it's totally one of those books that would have had me ignoring housework and letting my kids watch too much TV just so I could finish.

When I got home, I immediately wrote to Joanne and asked if I could please, please, please host her on Go Teen Writers and give away a copy of To Get To You. She was awesome and let me ask my burning questions about how she finished the book, the challenges of writing a "road trip" style novel, and why she chose to indie publish this title.



Stephanie: You confessed to me that this book was a struggle to write. What was it that helped you to push through to the end?

Joanne: Oh yes! There were a handful of hiccups involved that were quite extensive. One of the biggest was a crashed computer (crashed = I dropped it twice!) and it ruined the hard drive so much so that I barely saved the manuscript. This was right after the gal that I had set up to critique the manuscript, had to pull out of the project. I was trying really hard not to panic. My husband stepped in and sorted out everything with my computer and in the meantime, a friend stepped in and miraculously critiqued the entire thing in a really small amount of time. She was such a Godsend.

Once everything was back in business–and the manuscript was shaping up–I had some teen girls read the unedited story – even one that was a complete stranger on a plane ride! I needed to see if this book was shaping up into the story that it needed to be. Their enthusiasm for it really spurred me on. It reminded me that I was writing this book for teen girls and to strip all other fears and worries away. God was showing himself so mightily as He equipped this story to be…despite it all. It’s been a wild, ride but I really got to see the great things He can do in seemingly impossible circumstances.

Stephanie: Writing a road trip (or any kind of quest) book has always seemed very challenging to me. What thoughts do you have on making it work?

Joanne: I didn’t realize just how much fun it would be to write a road trip until I was in the middle of this one. It was almost like taking a mini vacation! But even so, there were definitely challenges at hand. The trip consists of Riley and his pro surfing dad and also his dad’s best buddy. Three guys for four days in a VW van? Seriously challenging.

A lot of the action took place in a very small space so coming up with action beats and things for them to do to keep the story fun and interesting was probably the hardest part. I find in situations like this to just dig deep. Don’t be afraid to highlight things that are super ordinary, like seatbelts and rolling down the window. But to also have fun with unexpected things. The guys listen to an audio book during a part of the trip that not only paralleled the story, but almost became like a character itself. And the VW van. That thing definitely became a character. As writers, if we’re not afraid to play around with both the unexpected and the ordinary, it’s amazing how much people can really engage with a book. Those things not only highlight the fun and familiar, but add a dimension that makes the adventure a whole new experience. Cali to New Mexico anyone?! I call shotgun.

Stephanie: I'm stunned that this book hasn't been picked up by a traditional publisher, because it's so, so good. Lots of our writers at Go Teen Writers have an interest in indie publishing, and you've done that exceptionally well with To Get To You. What are two or three things you feel are vital to creating an excellent self-published book?

Joanne: Why thank you! That’ so sweet! I’d say the number one reason this wasn’t picked up by a publisher is because I decided not to try.

Stephanie: Ha! Well, that would do it. Why is that?

Joanne: I know that sounds kind of silly but after trying to get re-established in traditional publishing for several years, To Get to You sort of became my way of letting go of expectations and what I thought the market might want from me, and it became an opportunity to simply write something from my heart. A way for me to have a ton of fun with words, this story, and to set aside everything else.

For those three things, I’d say this:

  • Editing: Don’t skimp on editing. I hire or trade work with 3-4 editors ranging from critique to macro edits to copy edits and finally, I finish with an excellent proofer. I’m a bit obsessed with editing. As painful as it is, it’s one of the best ways to make your writing and your book the finest it can be. If you can’t afford an editor? Don’t be afraid to swap work. A lot of writers make rather good editors and it can be an affordable way to go. And I love singing the praises of my editors so if you’re looking for one, just ask!
  • Cover: Covers are so key. A strong cover can work wonders for a book. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and an appealing cover tells readers that you’ve done your work. You’ve put thought, time, and effort into it which brings them confidence that you’ve done the same for the story inside. Of course, this isn’t always the case, which is why my number one tip is – well #1! :)
  • Think outside of the box: Whether it’s marketing or building a launch team, you’re going to do things a little different than your traditional publishing friends. I’ve published three books traditionally with Waterbrook/Random House and it was not only a wonderful experience, but I learned SO much.When I approached publishing independently, I really drew back on the valuable tools I had learned to create a plan for my next books. On the flip side, I’ve also had to think outside the box to market my books. Without a lot of funding and resources—creativity is the biggest tool for an Indie author. And it’s a tool that has no limits. The ability to do things in unexpected and new ways is one of my absolute favorite things about writing Indie.


You can get entered to win a copy of To Get To You from Go Teen Writers down below, and you can also enter to win at Joanne's site where you'll get the book as well as all kinds of travel goodies!



About To Get To You:


To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.


Tell Joanne hey, ask a question, or share a part of her journey with To Get To You that you found particularly inspiring!


59 comments:

  1. Hi Joanne,
    The cover looks amazing, I love the mountains in the picture.
    Thankyou for the chance to win a copy.
    Lientjie

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    1. Lientjie - Why thanks! I love those mountains too. :)

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  2. This book sounds totally awesome!!!

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  3. The book sounds cool- but the journey behind it is cooler. Thanks for sharing, and for the tips!

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  4. This book sounds awesome--thanks for the writing tips, Mrs. Bischof!

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    1. Jonathan, I'm so glad it sounds like something you'd enjoy!!

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  5. Ohh, this sounds amazing! I love anything Indie, so I will definitely be checking it out.

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  6. Loved your interview and suggestions. Wonderful cover by the way - can't wait to read your book.

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    1. Well thank you, Beverly! I appreciate that!

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  7. this book sounds super interesting. i hope its available at the library soon or at the book store. i'll definitely have to check it out!

    ~K.A.C.

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    1. I really hope this one finds it's way to your library. Best wishes! :)

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  8. I love the premise of this story. It sounds fascinating!!!!

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    1. Why thank you! That's always a joy to hear :D

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  9. I loved the interview and the book sounds amazing! :3

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    1. Bianca - I'm so glad that this one sounds like something you'd enjoy!

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  10. This book looks really interesting! How'd you come up with the title? I've been wondering what makes a good title. Did you come up with it or was it your agent? Any tips?

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    1. Hi Emma!

      Great question. I came up with this one on my own and lately, they've sort of been the first things that pop into my brain. For To Get to You, I chose this one because it tells two stories : Riley trying to get to Becca, then also the story of a father trying to get to his son (who is literally a foot away in the passenger seat) ;) Sort of a way to tell the journeys we take, and how the relationships in them matter. The book is also quite linear, literally with a road trip, so I thought maybe something sweet and simple would be a good fit.

      For tips, I think a good way to get started is to jot down all the key words you can think of that pertain to your book. Different flavors and themes that sort of tie into your novel. Then try arranging them in different ways. Maybe also keeping in mind the tone you want: serious, lyrical, romantic, funny, witty, etc. With this method, it's nice to allow yourself to write 99 bad titles, under the hope of writing 1 good title that will be just the right fit. Sometimes also testing them out on a friend or two can help!

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  11. I love YA books with male pov's, especially road trip themed!! This sounds great.
    I find it interesting when authors who are traditionally published choose to go Indie. I'm wondering if you found the process more rewarding or more difficult on your own.

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    1. Well I'm glad to hear that, Stephanie!

      As far as traditional and indie, it is an interesting switch, isn't it? I think so many authors switch one way or the other for so many reasons, but for me, indie has been the only option available these days. I got started in it on a small scale, then things sort of grew. It's super challenging, but also REALLY rewarding! :)

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  12. Sounds interesting. I don't think I've read a book like this... ever. :-P

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    1. Ooh, that's great to know! Thanks Faith :)

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  14. Joanna, I don't read a lot of YA lit, but something about this story premise grips me, and seems really sweet and heartwarming. I read the first two chapters, and I'm excited to see read more! I'm a homeschool girl, so I laughed at your description of how she dresses. :P Congratulations on the new release!

    ~Schuyler

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    1. I'm really, really glad to hear that. One thing I wanted to do with this YA is to really incorporate adults. I think that it's easy in YA to have things be "just about the teens". It made sense to me to be able to have Riley really interact with the men who had gone before him. It's what really defined his growth and maturity. Oh and I'm so glad you enjoyed those first two chapters! LOL.. My hubby was homeschooled, as are our kiddos and lots of my teen girl friends are homeschooled so I had tons of material to go on. ;)

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  15. This book sounds so good, I hope I can read it soon! And the cover is seriously beautiful. :)

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    1. I'm so glad it sounds like one you'll enjoy, Emily!! And thanks - I love that cover. ;)

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  16. Hi Joanne! *waves* This book looks like so much fun! :D I'm super impressed with that cover too--it looks a lot more professional than some indie covers I've seen.

    You mentioned editors... I'm actually keeping an eye out for a good line editor/proofreader. I've worked with a professional editor already, but she had to step out of the project before doing the final proofread. The book's not *quite* ready for that last step just yet, but if you could drop a name or two, I'll file them away for later. :) Thanks!

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    1. Hi Tracey! Waving right back. :) Why thanks and I'm so glad you like the cover! This one was really fun.

      Oh, I'd be happy to chat editors with you! A great one that I love to use is Denise Harmer. She's a sweet friend of mine and also really great to work with. Also Rachelle Rea who I've worked in the past is great and super sweet. If you're ever looking for macro edits, or sub edits, let me know because I have a critique service and love working with writers. :) If you're looking for an eagle eye proofer, Andrea Cox is excellent. Here is the link to my critique page, and all three of those ladies are linked near the bottom: http://www.joannebischof.com/manuscript-critique-service/

      All the best with your book!

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    2. It definitely looks like fun! :)

      Thank you SO much for the names and the link! I'll be checking all of them out. Really appreciate your recommendations.

      Thanks--and same to you! :)

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  17. (not sure if this commented already)

    This is so going on my book bucket list:)

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  18. Thanks so much for sharing!! I am inspired by your journey through your book to keep going with my own novel, which has definitely had its twists and turns! I really hope to read yours soon!! :)

    ~Zoe

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  19. Ive been seeing this blog float around on the web!!! Looks very interesting...the title catches my attention! :)

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  20. Oh boy I understand panicing... I one time went to work on my story and all of it was erased from word press!!!! Luckily I had saved it in my email draft!

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    1. Sierra, isn't that scary!? Yay for back up! :D

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  21. Congrats on the book! Sounds like an adventure!

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  22. HOLY MOLY I WANNA READ THAT BOOK!

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  23. This book sounds promising. I'm also writing a road trip book so I want to see how it is written in To Get To You. :D

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    1. Angel, best of luck with your work in progress! :)

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  24. This book sounds so good! Thanks for all the background information, it is so much fun to hear the story behind the story. :)
    I'm also eager to read this book because I too am writing a "road trip" book, although it is set in medieval fantasy, I'd love to read a great story with great travel pacing.

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    1. Ooh, A road trip book in medieval times. Fun! Happy writing, Elizabeth! If you get a chance to read To Get to You, I really hope you enjoy it.

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  25. I'm a bit late to the party, but the most interesting thing to me was your point about limited action beats and other ways of making riding in a car interesting. Definitely sounds like a challenge, but I'm glad you stuck with it! Sounds really interesting! :)

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    1. Amanda, So nice to hear what stood out to you. Yes, that one was a challenge! Thank you so much for your warm words. :)

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  26. ooh, so excited for this, Joanne! I love everything about it, from the cover to the character names to the fact that you're the author. I'm only slightly obsessed ;) but then I love a good book and a great author :) <3

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  27. "As writers, if we’re not afraid to play around with both the unexpected and the ordinary, it’s amazing how much people can really engage with a book." I love that advice. I need it on a bulletin board or something!


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

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