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An Interview with Young Adult Fiction Author L. Diane Wolfe

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L. Diane Wolfe’s series, The Circle of Friends, focuses on the pursuit of dreams and the overcoming of obstacles. The stories intertwine as the characters learn that with belief and encouragement, they can achieve anything. Her latest in the series, “Mike: Book IV”, follows one young man’s journey of forgiveness.

Traveling the East Coast to promote her series, Wolfe sets herself on a heavy tour of extensive book signings and speaking engagements. The author averages over sixty appearances each year, maintains a website & blog for her series, and contributes articles for several other sites. She conducts seminars on publishing & promoting, goal setting and works with writer’s groups. Meant to inspire as well as entertain, Wolfe’s books have been described as “encouragement personified”.

You can visit her website at http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/.    

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Diane! Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published? You are welcome to tell us about them if you like.

Good day! I am the author of a series of five, four of which are currently in release. My Southern-based series, The Circle of Friends, focuses on the pursuit of dreams and the overcoming of obstacles. Book I, LORI follows a young swimmer pursing Olympic dreams. Book II, SARAH follows a Georgia Tech student searching for trust and belief. Book III, JAMES follows a young man struggling to overcome past abuse. Book IV, MIKE follows a young man unable to let go of past mistakes and forgive himself. Book V, HEATHER will be released in 2009. The stories intertwine as the characters learn that with belief and encouragement, they can achieve anything.

What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

My first completed novel was LORI! However, I began writing as a teen and have two incomplete science fiction stories that were to be part of a series. While I have long since scrapped the idea of the second book, the first story’s basic premise will be the next book I attempt after my current series is complete. Working title CASSASTAR, it will follow two brothers in a war.

For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

Book I of my series, The Circle of Friends, followed a swimmer with Olympic dreams. By the time the book reached the editing step, the Olympic games were just one year away. I realized that if I pursued the traditional route, it would be a minimum of five years before my book would be published. Outside of the time it would take to find a publisher, I knew Book I would be held to coincide with the Summer Olympics. Eventually I selected a subsidy publisher. They offered Print-On-Demand digital printing and a return option for the books that no other subsidy publisher at the time could match. Whereas POD and subsidy publishing tend to kill most authors and their books, I had two things going for me – naïve willingness and a rep that understood marketing. My rep suggested numerous books and websites to assist me with promotions and told me to start making bookstore appearances. I eagerly followed all of his advice and by the end of the year, I’d done fifty book signings and built a good fan base. I did send out a handful of queries for Books II and III, but not enough to see any results. By this time, traditional publishing was not a route that excited me. I have since then done my research and am preparing to start my own publishing company in 2008 and take on other authors.

How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

Almost every rejection was a form letter, so none of them really bothered me.

When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

As I said before, I went with a subsidy press, AuthorHouse. I selected them because they offered returnable Print-On-Demand, something that was just unheard of at the time. I stayed with them for the next few years because of the easy access my books and I had to the bookstores and because of the assistance I received from my rep. During this time, I learned so much about the publishing industry!

How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

Holding that first book is quite a thrill! My husband brought me a dozen roses and took numerous promo pictures of me holding LORI.

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I threw a book release party in my hometown. The local newspaper ran a big article and I sent out invitations to everyone I knew. It was a tremendous success and so encouraging!

If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

I do not regret the path I chose. I could have waited and done all of the self-publishing research before releasing LORI and started my own company first. However, so much of what I learned came from experience. I’m not sure I would’ve been prepared to do it completely on my own.

Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

After LORI, a new book followed every year, up to the current release, MIKE. And I don’t know how one could write all of that and NOT grow as an author! I cannot wait to do revisions to Book I, although I am still pleased with the spirit and storyline of each book. I can see a big difference as the books have progressed, the stories becoming more focused and with stronger conflict. Of course, this really puts the pressure on Book V, HEATHER!

Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?  

Knowing more about the industry would have helped tremendously!! But I put off my dream of being an author for so many years. I tell other writers learn the craft, do research, but don’t put it off forever!

What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

On a professional level, I am now a paid speaker. I teach publishing & promoting seminars, speak to clubs & organizations, and do seminars on overcoming obstacles. On a personal level, it is the friends I have made along the way and the people I’ve affected through my books that matter the most! That my work inspires others means the world to me.

If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

I am also a professional photographer and could have been happy continuing with that. However, writing for a roller coaster magazine would be the best, because I’d HAVE to travel the world and ride roller coasters!

Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

I would rather just ride the coasters than give up being an author! And my photography fits well with my writing, as I take my own promotional shots. My camera also travels with me when I make appearances, and I have pictures of fans and such all over my website.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

As a successful small publisher, with at least four other authors, and four more books under my belt. I will continue with speaking engagements as well. Most important, I will feel good knowing I have made a difference in other’s lives!

Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?  

Begin with the end in mind! If you want to be on the New York Times Bestseller List with a fictional title, you will have to land one of the major publishing houses. If you want just family & friends to read your book, self-publish a hundred copies for yourself. No matter what though, do your research. You need to fully understand the path you’ve chosen before boldly going forth, or you’ll just wind up frustrated. Just don’t give up on your dream!


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