Today, we conclude our Q&A with author Jon L. Breen. An award-winning book review columnist, he can be seen regularly in the pages of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Mystery Scene.
His latest novel is private eye mystery Eye of God (Perseverance Press). A retired librarian and English professor, he lives in Fountain Valley, California.
* * *
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Keep writing, and keep sending out what you write. Take any personal rejection, something beyond the standard rejection slip or form letter, as encouragement. Editors won’t write you a personal note if they don’t believe you have a future.
WHAT DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That it’s not really true anybody can write a book. I fear many people believe their favorite politicians, athletes, and show business celebrities manage to turn out not just memoirs but novels in their spare time. The ghostwriter is sometimes credited, openly or subtly, but sometimes not at all.
FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT?
Unfortunately, even successful writers are expected to do more self-promotion than in times past, and even for those to whom it comes naturally, it takes time away from the work itself. Anything that makes more potential readers aware of your work—going to fan conventions, blogging, doing bookstore signings (usually better in the independents than the big chains), handing out book marks, making yourself known to dealers and sales reps—can’t hurt, though I don’t pretend to know what will work best.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND JOINING AN AUTHOR GUILD?
I belong to Mystery Writers of America, because it is the oldest and most important organization in my field of writing, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, because I enjoy their publications and membership occasionally gets me invited to local s.f. conventions. Beyond that, I’m not much of a joiner. If writers had an actual labor union, however, I would certainly join it.
WHEN CHOOSING FROM ALL THE ORGANIZATIONS AVAILABLE, WHAT TRAITS SHOULD A NOVELIST LOOK FOR?
It depends on what one is looking for. An organization that will advance the professional well-being of its members in some tangible way, such as advice on craft, contracts and marketing, or collective clout with publishers? One that will facilitate contacts with agents or editors? One that affords the opportunity to socialize and commiserate with other writers? One that hands out awards? All these activities are worthwhile, and MWA and SFWA do them all to a greater or lesser degree.
* * *
Many thanks to author and reviewer Jon L. Breen. Find out more about his new novel, Eye of God, at Perseverance Press. Find his bibliography at the Internet Book List.
Related link: Q&A: JON L. BREEN, PT 1
More mystery and thriller novelists:
Q&A: SANDRA BROWN (Ricochet)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)
Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)