We had the good fortune of connecting with J. T. Bishop and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi J. T., we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
As an independent author, many people are unaware of the vast number of challenges, learning curves, adaptability and patience that is required of an author. There are a lot of hats that are necessary for an author to wear.
Writing your book is the easy part. What comes after is harder. There’s the editing and proofing, then delivering your manuscript to your Beta and ARC teams, then launching and publishing your book. Along with that comes building subscribers for your newsletter, getting reviews, choosing book covers, writing book blurbs, picking keywords and categories, setting up promotions, social media engagement, and of course, marketing, marketing, marketing. Amazon, Facebook and Bookbub ads are a whole other set of skills for an author to learn and practice.
Then there’s planning the next book, and the book after that, and maintaining your backlist, plus budgeting and running numbers every month and evaluating what’s working and what isn’t. Then, as soon as you think you’ve got it down, something changes, and you have to redirect and shift gears.
There is so much to this, and there are no guarantees you’ll succeed. It’s a long game and you have to be committed, determined, and passionate about your work. And you better be a good writer, too. Craft is key, and none of the above will work well or for long if you can’t write a good story to entertain your reader.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In 2012, I started to write a story. I’d written little things in the past, and had never kept it up, but for some reason this story stuck, and I kept writing. It didn’t take long before I realized I had a book on my hands. And it didn’t stop there. I knew that book would spawn two more and become a trilogy. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.
It took some time to get the nerve to show my work to someone. It’s not easy subjecting your creative endeavor that you’ve sunk your heart and soul into and offer it up to another person’s judgement. For anyone who plans to succeed though, you have to put yourself out there. Once I crossed that hurdle, I knew I could do it. All I needed was that little nudge.
When my initial readers liked my stuff, that’s all I required to move forward. I had a lot to learn, though. Becoming a self-published author is a journey, to say the least. Plus, there’s a stigma attached to it. Many assume all self-published work is subpar or not up to a certain standard, but I’ve met some of the most dedicated people you will ever meet in this business, who are crazy talented and devoted to delivering a product every bit as good (or better) than anything traditionally published. These people know their stuff and even better they share their skills with others. They are a supportive community. Those who’ve established themselves are always happy to offer a helping hand to those coming up behind them.
I’ve now written eighteen books, with another on the way. I write fiction and have a couple mystery thriller series, along with an urban fantasy/paranormal romance I wrote prior to my current series. (That’s my initial trilogy, plus its four book sister series.) It has been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. There is so much to learn in this industry and a lot of discernment that is required. The amount of information available can be overwhelming, and it takes small steady steps, patience, and an understanding of what works best for you.
I’ve learned not to compare myself with other authors because every journey is different. I’ve also learned that finding others like you who are on the same journey provides immense help and support. They’ll give you the helping hand, or kick in the pants, that is sometimes needed, Being an author can be lonely work and developing a social circle is crucial.
My mystery thrillers all contain a paranormal element. I’ve always had a fascination with the paranormal, but I love crime fiction and a good murder mystery. So, I combined them. I’ve created characters I love to write and the more I do it, the more I love it. The biggest advice I can offer is to trust your instincts. I’m a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants. I can outline all day, but I find the ideas flow better once I sit down to write. The outline, although still helpful, is no longer my guiding light. It’s pure trust your gut after that. At least, that’s what works for me. The joy of writing is in the discovery and the journey. I relish all the ups and downs, twists and turns, loves and losses my characters endure, but once the story is written, edited and released to the world, it belongs to the reader.
Then I’m ready to move on to the next book. It’s an endeavor that requires skill, structure, patience, trust, but most of all, a love for what you do. I love all of it and despite the struggles, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live just outside Dallas, TX. It’s not the most beautiful place in the world, but I could keep you busy. There are plenty of delicious places to eat, and if you want to shop, it would be tough to choose where to start. Probably some of the most popular areas to visit are Deep Ellum, the Bishop Arts District, Uptown, and Downtown. There are also museums, the zoo, the Arboretum and the World Aquarium. Plus, Fort Worth and the Stockyards. And, if you appreciate history, we could see the JFK Memorial.
If you were staying for a week, though, then I’d definitely suggest a road trip. The hill country is about four hours away and it’s a beautiful place to visit. Austin would also be fun, and we could swing by the Texas coast if there was time. All would be great places for a friend to enjoy.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ll give a huge shout out to my family and friends. They’ve all been so encouraging to me throughout this author journey I’ve undertaken. Any creative person always carries a nugget (or more) of self-doubt, especially at the beginning. If you don’t have support systems in place, it can make it that much harder to succeed. So, to my mom, siblings, close friends and others who’ve contributed in a number of ways to my survival and success, I say thank you!
Other: Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/author/jtbishop
Nick Bishop and Mayza Clark.