Read as Joseph Souza gets Jobshadowed. You can find Joseph on his website www.josephsouza.net and on his Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
How would you describe what you do?
I formulate a blueprint or outline from an idea and then proceed writing the novel. Then there’s editing, marketing, interviews and a whole host of other matters that must be handled outside of the actual writing itself.
What does your work entail?
A lot of solitude and quiet. A lot of planning and promoting. To be a writer today you must be familiar with social media. And with a busy schedule, I utilize my iPad and write whenever I can.
What’s a typical workweek like?
That’s one thing about writing; you can choose your hours and so no week is exactly like the last one. As I previously mentioned, I use using an iPad and so I try to write at every opportunity possible.
How did you get started?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I wrote short stories when I was younger and then transitioned to the novel. My first horror novel THE REAWAKENING won the 2013 Maine Literary Award and became an Amazon bestseller. Then I wrote two more books in the series, Darpocalypse and Darmageddon, which will be published in early 2014.
What do you like about what you do?
I enjoy creating my own worlds and characters and see them play out on the page. Then to see the final product is quite rewarding. Winning awards and making money are also nice rewards too.
What do you dislike?
I find the marketing aspect of selling the books the most arduous. That includes promotions, blogging, Facebooking, Twitter and all the other social media. You have to shut off your creative side and transition into business mode.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
As far as writing goes, I’m compensated by the sales of the book as well as the advance given to me by the publisher. The more hardcover and ebooks you sell, the more you make. Writing a series of books also helps propel sales.
How much do you make?
$0-25,000 but with more books coming in the future I’m hoping to improve on this figure and grow my writing business as time goes on.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
You make nothing starting out until you have a book published. Then you have to find a publisher or publish it yourself, which means spending money on a cover artist and editor. So in the beginning, if you are self-publishing, you must actually invest money out of pocket in order to hope to make a profit down the road. So in that respect it’s like a lot of other businesses. And you need a quality cover and good editor.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
You don’t need any formal schooling but it certainly helps to have an understanding of literature and writing techniques. But a person can self educate and write their own novel if they study the works of other writers and hone their craft. And everyone has a novel in them waiting to come out. But not everyone is willing to do all the hard work it takes to pull it out of their brain.
What is most challenging thing about what you do?
It’s very challenging to come up with a good plot and then execute the writing. There are so many minor details involved in writing a novel that it becomes a challenge to juggle them all at one time.
What is most rewarding?
It is very rewarding to be recognized by one’s peers. As I previously mentioned, my novel THE REAWAKENING, The living Dead Series, book 1 won the Maine Literary Award for Speculative Fiction. I’ve also won the Andres Dubus Award for short fiction, as well as some other awards. It’s also very rewarding to get feedback from readers who love your book. I think nice feedback and great sales are probably the most rewarding aspects about writing.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Read, read, read. Know the market out there and see what author is selling well in the type of writing you do. Then write and don’t give up. Keep honing your craft and don’t get discouraged about what you write. Usually, I’m not satisfied with my manuscript until the fourth or fifth pass through it. You need to get something down on paper to edit, and a lot of time people get too discouraged and quit before they finish their story.
How much time off do you get/take?
Not much. There’s always something to do and because I love doing I could do it even on vacation. When you love something as much as that, you want to do it all the time.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Some people think it’s a waste of time to write and that you should be pursuing more lucrative career. Others think you’re making lots of money or that you have movie deals. But most writers work at their craft every day like everyone else because they love creating stories. Very few make the big dollars like James Patterson and Lee Child. Writing itself is an end for many writers.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I’d love to be able to write full time and get better in my craft. I’d like to be able to write different types of novels and increase my sales every year and grow my fan base. Also, to become a better marketer/promoter. Modest goals.
What else would you like people to know about you job/career?
Just to let people know that now is a great time to be a writer. The arrival of Amazon has given beginning writers the opportunity to write books and sell them on their website. The best way to sell books right now is to choose a genre and write a series of them. Make sure you know your craft before you start to market your novel and make it’s the best it can be. Too many times amateurs try to sell work that is not polished or ready for market. Find a writer’s group or mentor that can guide you along the way. Understand plotting and the need to make your story interesting to a reader. But more than anything have fun and the entire process will reward you in the end.