M. J. Joseph interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Feb 11, 2018 6:05:16 PM
M. J. Joseph interview with David Alan Binder
Bio: M.J. Joseph maintains membership in the English Goethe Society, the Siegfried Sassoon Society and other literary associations. He is a supporter-member of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, as well as an Associate of Lincoln Cathedral. Prior to retiring, Joseph enjoyed a lengthy and rewarding career with an industrial firm where he served as CEO and managed the company’s merger with a larger international corporation.
1. Where are you currently living?
First, thank you for allowing me to share some thoughts with you about writing. I live in Pensacola, Florida, part of the seventh-generation of my family to reside there.
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
The most significant knowledge I’ve acquired in my writing life is simply, the mind absorbs everything, it seems, from one’s analytical and emotional life, but no amount of frustration or anxiety will influence the frequency or intensity of what the imagination pitches back into one’s consciousness.
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
My adoration of The Chicago Manual of Style is boundless, but I really delight in occasionally ignoring its rules to satisfy the demands of my imagination. I’m not very forgiving when others violate these rules, however, unless their intent is very successfully effected.
4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
I really can’t recommend self-publishing to anyone, but recognize that, for various reasons, self-publishing may be the only route to print available to an author. I do suggest that aspiring authors find a professional “shepherd”, someone who derives a livelihood from an important function in the publishing process, who can provide some guidance toward a reliable, independent publisher, book designer and publicist.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?
The Peppertree Press is publishing my novel, The Lübecker. The Peppertree Press is located in Sarasota, Florida.
5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I really don’t perceive a conflict between electronic publishing and print books. Frankly, my reading interests are very broad, and the eBook format obviates the accumulation of print books. I do, however, keep many print books and prefer the experience of reading a printed book rather than an eBook, but, if I don’t believe that the book will be important enough to keep, I buy the electronic version and save a tree. And shelf-space. Or any other flat-surface-in-the-house, space. As for alternative vs. conventional publishing, I have no interest in offering any of my work for consideration by conventional publishing, again, and will continue contracting with independent publishers, designers and publicists. The conventional process is bothersome and the path to print, there, is a wretched, drawn-out, ordeal especially for any author not relying on their writing to provide critical income.
6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
I would urge aspiring authors to have an attorney review every contract presented to them as necessary to achieve publication of their work and to insist that an agreement by the contractor to provide regular performance reports, which would be copied to the attorney, be included in every contract. I would also suggest that the attorney representing the author engage the prospective publisher, and any other contractor with potential involvement, e.g., designers, publicists, etc., directly, before a contract is signed.
7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?
Any tips for new writers on getting one? I don’t have an agent, and with more avenues to publishing becoming accessible to writers, do not believe that an agent is absolutely necessary to the process. I do believe, strongly, that new writers acquaint themselves with a book professional, someone, such as, Maryglenn McCombs, who, while working as a publicist, knows the business well and can offer suggestions concerning representation, etc., for aspiring authors. Engaging Ms McCombs for a few hours would be money well-spent.
8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
I was brought-up on Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and The Chicago Manual of Style and would advise anyone interested in writing to become intimate with The Chicago Manual of Style. Checking their work against it, long before considering publication, will instill discipline in all aspects of writing and, hopefully, develop in the writer reverence for the process. The rules presented in The Chicago Manual of Style are tools of good writing and their use and mastery are fundamental to acceptance of an author’s work by the reading public.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating? I have always been surprised by the demands characters make upon me: they seem so competitive, with boundless possibilities of development, always trying to muscle to the front of the narrative. I really adore this.
10. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
Again, The Chicago Manual of Style. Writing improves with more writing, but let’s consider the human being as writer. Writing is a solitary experience and I would warn the budding writer not to ignore the impact their absence will have upon those who depend upon them for material and emotional support. Appropriating time to write is an utterly selfish act and without the active support of the most important people in the writer’s life, the writer risks harming them, profoundly.
11. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Not really, but would warn that understanding that any devices employed by the writer must serve the underlying narrative. Don’t get too cute.
12. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I worked, in writing The Lübecker, to develop a methodical, but complex, narrative structure with, well-developed characters that would project multi-layered appeal and challenge to the reader.
13. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
My work is promoted almost exclusively by the publicist, Maryglenn McCombs, whom I mentioned earlier. She has provided outstanding work and I am most flattered that she recognized enough quality in my writing to agree to work with me.
14. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I would insist upon working more closely with my editor to achieve the best results, earlier in the process.
15. What saying or mantra do you live by?
I did not receive a mantra from my guru, but read Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem, Savitri, in his presence. I’ve always wondered if my mantra resides there, but I will never know.
16. Anything else you would like to say?
Thank you, again, for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts about writing. Writing is a joyous and fulfilling part of my life and, fortunately, is supported and encouraged