Welcome! My name is Michelle Dalson, and I will be interviewing Brian and Juliet Freyermuth, co-authors of Mind of Beast. Yes, they are co-authors! After 18 years of marriage, Brian and Juliet Freyermuth decided to try something crazy: write a book together. Here’s a little background info about both authors:
Brian’s writing is not limited to print. For twenty years he wrote and designed games such as Fallout, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Epic Mickey 2 and Lichdom: Battlemage.
Juliet’s love for writing began with a fourth grade assignment. She has been writing ever since. Her writing took a new direction when she enrolled in journalism and met amazing people. Whether it’s an article about anthropology or a hero’s journey in a magical world, she hopes to inspire readers to new possibilities.
When Brian and Juliet aren’t writing, they enjoy reading, watching shows such as Persons of Interest and going on road trips with their son, Kyle.
And now, both authors are going to share the experiences they had with the harrowing process of planning, writing, publishing, and marketing a novel. I hope writers of all genres will find the interview helpful, and if you have any questions after the interview, do not hesitate to ask the authors in the comments below!
The Planning Process:
Michelle: Hello, Brian and Juliet! I have to say, I am excited to be hearing from authors who have co-written a novel together.
Juliet, let’s hear from you first. Before we discuss the reasons behind your decision to co-write, I’d like to ask you to pick ONE novel that you and your husband have written and published. Describe how you both planned the storyline of this novel. Did you outline your chapters before you wrote them? Did you keep a document where you jotted down all your ideas as they came to you?
Juliet: In Mind of the Beast, our first step was to come up with the situation. What would happen if an archetype of a god became more and more powerful? From there we brainstorm and get some ideas about the direction of the story itself. Sometimes during this brainstorming we like to do research to see what kind of mythology we want to include in the novels, since that’s a huge part of the world. For Mind of the Beast, it was looking up an ancient set of carvings across Europe known only as the Green Man.
Michelle: I see. So a lot of research had to be done before coming up with a storyline for your situation. After all the research, how did you plan the rest of your plot and develop the full body of your story?
Juliet: Once the research was done, an outline is made with the major points, and then we open up Scrivener. We’ve been using this program for awhile now, and it is AMAZING at helping us break the story into chapters and scenes. It has a really cool feature that creates index cards for you based on summaries of the scenes. That way when you’re done planning you can see the whole story right in front of you.
Scrivener also lets you plan out your characters. By the time we get started, we know them as well as our closest friends.
Michelle: Wow, sounds very useful! I’d like to see how this program works. For me, I keep all my outlines written in powerpoint or a word document. But I might look into Scrivener!
Now what advice would you give to aspiring authors about planning for a novel? Would you advise them to follow the same steps you took to plan your book? Why or why not?
Juliet: Yes and No. Everyone has their unique ways of doing things. If you are a planner, what we did might work for you. But some authors don’t know what they are writing until they are writing. It works for them.
Michelle: Yes, and I’m sure this was something that you had to consider when you were co-writing with your husband. How did the two of you work together to plan for the story?
Juliet: We write differently from each other. Brian only has a short summary of the scene before he writes. I like to mull over it until I have the whole scene figured out before I sit down in front of the computer.
What we suggest all writers do is use a software program like Scrivener to organize your research and planning.
The Writing Process:
Michelle: So it sounds like the two of you have had a solid planning process with Scrivener, despite the differences in the ways you both plan and write.
Now let’s discuss the writing process of your book. Brian, let’s hear your thoughts about the process. How many drafts did you go through before you both finally published your book?
Brian: I wrote the first draft for Mind of the Beast, and then handed it off to Juliet. She went through and did some pretty major changes, adding scenes here, deleting ones there. Basically, we combined both our voices into one final rough draft. From there we would go back and forth, editing each other’s scenes, having more brainstorming sessions, figuring out holes, etc, until we were both happy with the draft.
Mind of the Beast had nine revisions before we felt it was ready for the editor.
Michelle: Wow, nine revisions sounds like a lot of work; however, that is not uncommon. I understand there must be a lot of rewriting and revising along the way. Tell us about the editing process (copy-editing, content-editing, line-editing). Did you two work with an editor? Did either of you find him/her helpful?
Juliet: We worked with two editors. The first one gave us suggestions about story as well as word usage, grammar and punctuation. After we went through those edits, we sent it to another editor who found even more grammatical and punctuation errors.
One great thing about using an editor is that you look at your own work with fresh eyes as you read their corrections and comments.
Michelle: Besides working with professional editors, did you have anyone else read your story for feedback? Beta readers? Critique partners?
Juliet: Yes. Our friends with a sharp eye for detail read it before we sent it to the editors.
Michelle: Good. I’m still having friends and beta readers review a few chapters of my novel before I decide to send it all off to an editor. I’m also trying to fix the storyline and a couple scenes before I move onto the process of editing grammar, word usage, etc. The editing process will obviously take much more time to complete than the writing process itself!
What important advice would you like to give to aspiring authors about writing, rewriting, and editing a novel?
Brian: Don’t be afraid to throw things out or change scenes. Sometimes a character will look at you and say, “yeah right” before pushing to do it their way. We always listen to what our characters want to do, not what the plot calls for them to do. This, as you can guess, can lead to some restructuring of the outline, but it all makes for a better story.
Michelle: I agree with you. I’ve restructured my story multiple times, and so far, I’ve found that it’s helped the story improve every time.
Juliet, do you have anything else to say to aspiring authors about writing, rewriting, and editing?
Juliet: Always hire an editor. When you’re choosing one, have them edit a sample and work with someone who has experience in your genre. If you give several editors the same sample, you will be able to see a side-by-side comparison.
Don’t worry if the rough draft isn’t good. I like to think of the rough draft as a big block of clay. It’s in the editing process that we chip away at it until something wonderful takes shape. Just get the story out. You can make it great later.
The Publishing Process:
Michelle: Now, let’s move onto the publishing process of your book. What route did you two agree to take to publish your novel? Large press, small press, or independent publishing?
Juliet: Demon Dance and Mind of the Beast were both independently published.
Michelle: And why did you take this publishing route?
Juliet: Brian was working at Disney right before Junction Point was closed. We were in California visiting friends. Three friends who didn’t know each other suggested to us that we self publish Demon Dance. They knew it was a good book and had friends who were successful at self publishing. When we got back, I decided it would be a great anniversary present to Brian to open Middark Press and publish Demon Dance. It eventually led me to coauthor Mind of the Beast.
Michelle: Ah, so it sounds like it wasn’t too much of a struggle for you two to decide on the self-publishing route. Did either of you face any struggles with this publishing route?
Juliet: There are pros and cons to independent publishing. On one hand, we have ultimate control over the story, cover, price, distribution, etc. But with that, we have the responsibility that comes with it.
We are more authorpreneurs than writers. We have to spend as much time running the business as we do writing. We hire editors, cover artists, and copywriters. We have a marketing plan and budget, long and short term goals, and have to deal with all the details of running a business.
Michelle: That’s something that I hear from many self-published authors. Self-publishing does give you much more authority and freedom with your book, but with that freedom and authority comes much more responsibility. What are the key factors a writer should think about before choosing one of the three publishing routes?
Juliet: If you choose to independently publish your work, realize that you are starting a business. You need to research a home-based business as much as you research for your writing, so you can create a business plan that’s right for you.
Brian: If you choose to go the traditional route, have a marketing plan. Publishers only have so many resources and if you want your book to do well, you’re going to have to do some legwork yourself.
Michelle: Right. No matter what publishing route an author takes, that author must have his/her own marketing plan to draw readers for their books.
The Marketing Process:
Michelle: So as self-published authors, the two of you have spent lots of time doing all the dirty work yourselves to market your book. Tell us how you drew people to read your book. What marketing strategies did you used?
Juliet: We used several. For Demon Dance, we had a book blog tour, took advantage of Kindle free days and made sure to tag it appropriately on Amazon. We also had a Goodreads Giveaway.
Mind of the Beast has only been out for a month. We announced it on Facebook, Twitter, our newsletter, our blog and told all our friends. We also gave away Demon Dance for free for a couple of days on Amazon. Readers will be able to find a link and the first three chapters to Mind of the Beast at the end of Demon Dance.
Michelle: Goodreads is a very popular site for both authors and readers. Tell us a bit more about how you used goodreads to promote. How much time did you dedicate to connecting with other authors and/or readers on goodreads?
Juliet: The best thing about Goodreads is that it helps you connect with readers and other authors who enjoy the same books you like to read and write.
We highly recommend using their Giveaway program. One great thing about the Goodreads Giveaway program is that people who enter the contest also add the book to their “To Be Read” list.
Most of the time we focus on connecting with people, but we make sure to inform them whenever we are giving away copies on Amazon. Usually there is a separate discussion thread for this.
Michelle: I’ve heard lots of good things about the Giveaway program! Entering the program is one of the things on my to-do list once my book is completely finished.
Currently, I am using goodreads to connect with other readers. But I find other social media sites more useful for making connections. How did you use facebook to promote your book? How much time did you dedicate to connecting with others on facebook?
Juliet: We both have author pages where we share our interests, as well as info about our books. We are also members of facebook groups, where we share ideas and information with other authors.
While we share great things that are happening to us, we don’t sell our books on facebook. This is where we let people know who we are and what we are about.
Michelle: What about twitter? How did you use twitter to promote your book?
Brian: Juliet uses it to look for ways to connect with other authors and to see what our favorite authors are up to. I like to share cool stuff I finds on Io9 and other related sites.
Michelle: Hmm, so it sounds like goodreads is most helpful for promotions, while facebook and twitter are very useful for making connections with other writers.
What other websites did you use to promote and sell your book? Any websites you recommend for other authors to promote/sell?
Juliet: There are plenty of sites where you can advertise your free or discounted book. Digital Book Today featured us when we had free Kindle book days for Demon Dance.
James Calbraith has an excellent list of places where you can advertise a free book.
Michelle: Wow, 90 sites to advertise your book! I’ll definitely have to look into that.
Any additional advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors about marketing?
Juliet: Read what has worked for other authors, but realize we each have our own road to travel. Make a plan and tweak it until it works for you. There isn’t a magic formula and there is no such thing as failure. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
Michelle: Perseverance is crucial to developing a good and successful story. I can tell that both of you are doing a good job keeping your eyes open for any opportunity to market your books—together!
To Learn More About Brian and Juliet Freyermuth…
- Website address: http://www.magicalunderworld.com/
- Facebook contact info:
- Twitter contact info:
- Goodreads contact info:
Demon Dance: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CA9IAOW
Mind of the Beast: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MQ38D2Q
If you have any questions about Brian and Juliet, their books, or would like to know a bit more about how they handled the planning, writing, publishing, and marketing processes, leave your question in a comment below!