I’m delighted to welcome the Croatia-based ‘cross-genre’ author Bernard Jan to our Author Q&A session today.
I can’t remember how me and Bernard Jan met, but we’ve been connected for many years now through our writing and he’s been a fantastic support to me and my novels. Equally I’ve always got an eye out for him and seeing what he’s up to.
Introducing, Mr Jan!
What is your type and genre of creative writing?
I am the man of all genres! Ha ha! I am not kidding.
First, I wrote two war novels, then I switched to animal and literary fiction, YA and coming-of-age, flirted with mystery, suspense, a bit of romance, poetry.
I think I could write in any genre if I set my mind to it. Let’s put it simple and say I am a multi-genre and cross-genre author.
Why do you write?
Right now I don’t write (except for book reviews and my blog posts) because I am trying to learn how to market my books, which is a rather daunting thing. Writing is a walk in the park compared to book marketing, if you ask me!
I started writing when I faced the possibility of a sudden death during the outbreak of war in Croatia. It was nothing planned. I just felt an urge to document things that were happening around us, how I felt about it. And to have my books as a reminder and a warning for something like that never to happen again.
All the books I wrote came from a deep emotional experience or involvement. I only write about things I am emotionally attached to or consider them important enough to share them with others. I don’t write for commercial reasons; maybe that’s why I have trouble figuring out how to market and sell my books! Creativity and business don’t go hand in hand in my case (yet).
You’re an author, but do you have another full time occupation? And if so, how do you find the time to write?
I have either worked or volunteered part-time or full-time when writing my books. It wasn’t easy. It also wasn’t easy translating them while working. That was even more challenging. Now I am taking more or all my time for my books, learning about self-publishing and investing my energy in marketing efforts and post book launch activities.
It’s another full-time (unpaid) job. It’s actually a job for more people rather than one person if you want to do it right. Focusing now on writing is also hard when your mind is with your books, but on other activities.
I admire authors who can work and write and self-publish their books at the same time. They should get public recognition for that.
What comes first; fictional world, character, plot, or something else?
Sometimes it is just a spark, an idea that can start with a book title!
You can say it is a world, the setting and the topic I feel deeply about. Then I have a character and the plot builds around it. Nothing happens if there is no emotion, though. There must be emotions through which I live with my book in my head before I even start taking notes or writing it and taking notes along the way. It’s all about emotions for me.
How do you plot your plot?
My mind is always active, even too active, so lots of overthinking and contemplating are going on in my head before I plot my plot.
Once I start writing it I try to stay on the course, but sometimes my plot has a mind of its own and makes its own plot. Then I have to readjust and follow. It’s kind of funny. But I always know the ending and how to get there. I allow just small deviations off the course!
Do you have a book trailer? If so, show us!
I am glad you asked this because I have trailers for two of my books and they are pretty cool!
Here you can see black and blue versions of the trailer for my novella and a short memoir A World Without Color:
Here is the book trailer for my novella Look for Me Under the Rainbow:
I hope your fans who read this interview will like and share at least one of them. Thanks, everyone!
What advice would you give someone who wants to start writing?
If you are serious about writing, go into it with all your heart. Give the best you have and be honest about what you write. Your readers will recognize it.
I can’t give advice on the planned writing focused only to make more money because this is not what I do. I write because I want to share what I love with others who will recognize and appreciate it.
Writing is first art and only then business to me. There are lots of online courses who will give you tips on how to monetize your books even before you start writing them. Just pick the right ones unless you want to be overwhelmed with too much and sometimes contradictory information.
Which authors inspire you?
There were quite a few authors who inspire me during my lifetime. The paradox is I don’t write in the genres of books I love to read most. King (Stephen) is, and has always been, the king. Dean Koontz, Richard Bach, Rimbaud inspired me too while I’ve been writing my latest books. So hard to mention them all because my literary taste and genre preferences changed a lot.
There is a list of authors I like to read on my Goodreads profile, both traditionally published and indie authors. It’s not updated, though, and more authors should be there, but you will get an idea who are my favorite authors and genres.
Do you have any top book marketing tips to offer to other authors?
My top book marketing tip is arm yourself with patience, patience, patience. Stay away from anxiety and stress, be immune to ignoring, and hang out in a good company of perseverance and persistence.
Don’t follow every marketing course you see online, but choose only those who work best for you. Invest in coaches who will work with you and not throw tons of online video material for you to study for weeks and months by yourself. Remember, books are business. Big business. For some people, they are only business. For authors who put their heart into their books, they are much more than that.
Should the moment come when you felt like throwing everything away, take a few days off. You won’t feel the same when the storm of emotions calms down. You will recharge and find motivation to push forward and move on.
And if you ever lose faith in yourself and your abilities, never lose faith in your books! You wrote them for a purpose.
Thank you for joining us Mr Jan!
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