Danny Johnson interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Nov 2, 2016 4:38:49 AM
Danny Johnson interview with David Alan Binder
Book page: https://www.facebook.com/authordannyjohnson
1. Where are you currently living?
Durham, North Carolina
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
That one cannot shortcut the process. I’ve learned to write the story first, beginning to end, thus having a place to now begin the revision process, of which I do 3 or 4. I revise for place, character depth, story arc, and then print the manuscript and sit and simply read it. In this process, for me, it lets me see everything in as a complete product, then make one last run through for additional revisions. I am fortunate to have an excellent writers group and by the time I have read to them, gotten their suggestions and utilized them, I am very close to the finish. I find in this process, that so many things are revealed, and the story begins to tell itself.
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
I am a fanatic about constantly trying to improve my craft. Each new story or book I write is a learning process and I want to continue to get better at this life we’ve chosen. When I got the galley on The Last Road Home and sat down to read through it, my first thought was: “dang, I’d like to revise this thing.”
4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
Publisher only. I determined when I started that if a traditional publisher did not find my work acceptable, I would keep it in my computer rather than self publish. Many folks have done very well self publishing, but it’s just not my cup of tea.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
My publisher is Kensington and they are in NYC
5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Today, every traditional publisher releases your book to every market at the same time. EBooks are a great convenience and I certainly appreciate the value of them. I only am familiar with conventional publishing, so cannot comment on alternative because I don’t really know what it means.
6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
#1—STUDY YOUR CRAFT… Be the absolute best self-editor you can be, believe in yourself and your work, get into a good writers group, attend anything that will allow your work to be read by yourself or others, and do not fear embarrassing yourself, because that’s the only way you learn. Your everyday friends, unless they are in the business, don’t know squat and all the pats on the back they give you are worthless. If you truly want to do this work, you must devote yourself. People are always talking about Stephen King writing 1500 words a day, every day—sounds impressive, but understand that’s only about 4 pages. Of course, his skill level is slightly above the rest of us. J)
7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
I got my agent by accident; after being on FB with a lady for a couple of years without knowing or asking what she did for a living, I felt we had a connection and one day asked her. She happened to be the head of a literary agency in LA. She read a few pages of my book, and sent it to their NY agent. I received a yes within a week, and she sold the book in 30 days. Moral of the story: The Universe Will Seek You Out when you are ready.
Remember, agents are hard working folks, and when you send a query it must get past the slush pile reader first, and he/she is only going to pass along what really impresses them. When the agent reads your query, it’s usually after a long day and he/she spends about an hour or so reading what has been passed to her before calling it a night. Needless to say, it must grab his/her interest from the beginning, because they get hundreds of queries weekly and you have to come to the top of the stack. Any poorly written query, badly edited work sample, etc. are going to get you kicked out right away. The query must be limited and professionally done. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what would grab you about your work. READ the agent’s website and submit exactly how they ask. There are thousands of writers out here; how do you make yourself stand out?
8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Go to every writer’s conference you can where there are successful writers and listen, and if possible, read your work. Join a statewide writers network that holds conferences, promotes writers, etc. Find a local writer’s group that is serious about the work; if they break out the wine and cheese, get up and leave. LEARN EVERYTHING about your craft. As Pat Conroy answered a similar question: READ EVERYTHING. GO DEEP.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
To take criticism and act on it rather than sulking. A novel is generally a 2 or 3 year process. The publishing process once your agent has sold your book is slow, so much patience is required. It is the most (and I would say “only”) satisfying thing I’ve ever done.
10. How many books have you written?
I’ve written 1 awful book, 1 good book that’s published as of Aug 1, 2016, have completed stage 1 in my current novel, meaning I have written it to the end and starting on the revision process. I have had several stories and articles published in a variety of places. I wrote my first story at the age of 62.
11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
I’ll give you my “roofer” trick. If I wanted you to put a new roof on my house, what would you do? Wouldn’t you at least read a book or two on how to do a roof replacement?
Really I think the best tip is the one most beginners mess up, and that’s be the absolute harshest, critical, self-editor possible. You can pay folks to edit for you or you can learn yourself. If you do pay somebody, be sure it’s for “content” as well as “grammar”. Remember, you LOVE your story, it’s in your heart, it’s been trying to get to the page for a long time. Now, wouldn’t you at least study about how to do it? If you want to be in this business, be a professional, the same as any other business.
12. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
As you become an observer of your characters to the point where you simply write down what they do, and trust me on this, they will twist and turn in ways you never expected. When you get to that place, you know you are getting it just right, and the story will reveal itself to you in amazing ways.
13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
That’s the eternal question. The answer, I believe, is this: 1st sentence, 1st paragraph, and 1st chapter. If you are in B&N browsing, what do you do? You must earn extra time from a potential reader of your book in that 5 minutes. I imagine you get all kinds of answers to this, but I don’t care if one is writing about toads in Siberia, the same formula will work.
14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I belong to the NC Writers Network, Authors Guild, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, and I put my face in front of every book shop that will let me come for a visit. I love people, and take every opportunity to interact with them. I also promote to various organizations I belong to.
15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
That’s hard. But in a perfect world, I would have started my career earlier, but I didn’t have the confidence of success and wasn’t willing to pay the price for my own art in case I sucked.
16. What saying or mantra do you live by?
I can always do it better.
17. Anything else you would like to say?
If it’s in your heart, if it consumes you, if you are willing to pay the price, do it.
I recently heard Junot Diaz refer to writers as “Literary Artist”…has a nice ring to it J
This is the number one question you will get: What is the Book About? Think about this a lot. You will need to have a good answer.