We talk a lot on this blog about following dreams, and that’s exactly what Torre DeRoche blogs about at The Fearful Adventurer. The Aussie also writes about facing her fears and the process of publishing her first book, which makes her a pretty perfect fit for an author Q&A here.
Torre recently released her first book, Swept: Love with a Chance of Drowning. Read an excerpt or watch the book trailer! Or check out her answers below, and I guarantee you’ll be on your way to Amazon to order your own copy.
Alexis: Congrats on your book launch! Wanna give us the gist of what it’s about?
Torre: Thanks, Lexi, and thanks for having me on your blog!
Swept: Love with a Chance of Drowning is a memoir about how, in my mid-twenties, while away from my Australian home for a year of work and fun in San Francisco, I fell for a 31-year old dreamer who had a humble sailboat and a plan to set off exploring the world. Terrified of deep water, I wanted nothing to do with his plans, but eight months after we first met in a bar, the time came for him to depart and I had two choices: leap into watery oblivion with him, or watch the man I was in love with sail away forever. I leapt.
Why’d you decide to self-publish rather than go the traditional route?
Short answer: I'm excited to experiment with the era of self-publishing. I love the entrepreneurial aspect of it. My background is in marketing and graphic design and my sister is a talented professional editor, so armed with these assets, I feel capable.
Long answer: After reading many articles and comments from disgruntled authors, I started to grow fond of the idea of flying solo — so fond, in fact, that I turned down my chance with an agent in NY. The agent had had my MS for five weeks, and when I emailed him to ask how the read was going, he said that, while he loved what he'd read so far, he hadn't been having much luck with selling memoirs to publishers. He still wanted to consider working with me, but his email warned of a long, uncertain road ahead. My response was relief and happiness! I'd been wanting to self-publish, but I just needed a good excuse to go for it.
What’d you learn through the self-publishing process that could be beneficial to those of us considering the same path?
I've seen many authors explain their reason for self-publishing like this: “I couldn't find a publisher and my MS was collecting dust, so I thought: why not self-publish?”
Self-publishing has a stigma because, for too many writers, it's the Florida of publishing: the last resort before death. If you adopt that defeated attitude and you begin to believe your book isn't worthy, you'll create an unworthy book with poor editing, hideous design and floppy marketing.
Self-publishing isn't an excuse to forgo effort and investment. A poorly executed book pollutes the marketplace and perpetuates the stigma. If you're going to choose the solo route, give it everything you've got. If the execution is sleek and professional, and you haven't skimped on hard work, most readers won't know or care who published your book. They just want to be entertained.
Part of the reason I’m crazy about your blog is because you write a lot about a topic I’m passionate about: taking leaps in life. You call it “dream planning,” which I love. Did you set out to focus on that when you first started blogging?
Thank you. I wanted to create a blog with the message of, “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” but without a corny self-help tone. I have generalized anxiety disorder, which means I'm more anxious and phobic than your average person. I like to show people that fear isn't a reasonable excuse (if I let it become my excuse, I'd be a hermit cat lady in no time). In part, I'm encouraging readers to face fears and follow dreams, but I'm simultaneously reminding myself to pursue adventure despite my fears.
You’ve grown an impressive blog community. What’s worked well for you in that pursuit? Can you share your top two blogging tips?
On Saturday nights, you're more likely to find me bathed in the glow of my laptop screen, than bathed in the glow of a disco ball. Tip one: work hard.
Tip two: write like nobody is watching. Staying open and vulnerable is — in my opinion — what makes a blog interesting, so it's important to forget that your conservative relatives may be reading. In order to reveal your personality, you have to be uninhibited, so let your freak flag fly and just hope that Grandma will still look you in the eyes at Christmas time. If not, too bad for her.
Is it true you quit your day job to write? What was that day job? And how do you support yourself now?
Yes, that's true. I had a design business and I worked from my home office. Business as a freelancer is irregular, so if work was quiet, I'd tinker with my book. When the ‘economic downturn' hit Australia, I embraced the opportunity to write uninterrupted. By the time business picked up again, I was too involved with my book to resume design.
As for funding the book, I regard it as an investment. People don't hesitate to blow savings and accumulate debt for assets, but investing everything into a creative project or a dream is commonly seen as reckless. Maybe nothing will come of it financially, but I'd rather be asset poor than dream poor. I'm investing in a life experience.
My dad's a writer and my mum is a singer, so I've watched my parents swerve between wealth and debt my whole life. They lived humbly and unpretentiously, but they were always fulfilled. They've accomplished some amazing things. I was taught to take art seriously and to scoff at yuppies, so having my parents' approval is invaluable.
I'll probably die a poor, homeless lady, but I'll never regret this experience. Plus, Swept will always make excellent kindling for my derelict oil barrel heater when I need to warm my old lady hands. That's an investment, right?
When it comes to promoting your book, where are you focusing your efforts? Do you have a goal for how many copies you’d like to sell?
I'll exploit every path that looks promising, but I'm focusing the majority of my efforts online. My goal is 5,628,101 book sales. Why not? If I sell enough copies to fund Ramen noodles and beer, that will be okay too.
Is there anything else you’d like to share that you think would be helpful or interesting to readers here at The Traveling Writer?
I see so many writers attached to the idea of getting published traditionally. Writing is a lonely endeavor full of self-doubt, and we're all ultimately seeking validation that we haven't wasted an incredible amount of energy on a dud project. We crave to be told we're good enough, and to be inducted into the club of ‘real writers.' But there's no such thing as a ‘real writer,' and you don't need a publishing house to tell you you're worthy — that job has always been in the hands of readers. Storytelling is about one thing only: entertaining readers.
Now, there's no gatekeeper between reader and writer, and publishing houses no longer invest hefty sums into marketing. So authors really need to ask themselves: do I need a publisher to make this happen? There are many good reasons to align with an agent and a publisher, but ego stroking is not one of them.
Thanks again, Torre! Can’t wait to read your book.
If anyone has questions for Torre, feel free to leave them in the comments. She promised to swing by today and indulge us!