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An Interview with Children’s Book Author Jason Alter

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John Fastramp and the Dakota 3000 Challenge began as nightly bedtime stories for Jason’s children. At the urging of friends and family Jason turned the adventures of John Fastramp and his friends into a novel which was recently published and is now available from Amazon and Borders.com.

Jason Alter graduated from Alfred University with a dual B.A. in Biology and History. He earned a M.S. in Microbiology from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Binghamton University. He currently is the Marketing Director for Aureon Laboratories which provides prognostic tests for cancer recurrence.

Jason lives in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife, two children (Ross and Lindsay) and his dog, Yogi.  You can visit his website at http://johnfastramp.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Jason, can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

This is the first time I have published a book. However, I have written numerous articles for trade publications for work. The title of my book is, “John Fastramp and the Dakota 3000 Challenge.” It is based on ~10 years of bedtime, cliffhanger stories for my two children.

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

Same as above.

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?

I had many rejections; I don’t remember the exact number but on the order of 10-15 rejections. After these rejections I decided to self-publish the story.

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

I felt frustrated. I had a book that children loved but I could not interest publishers. The worst case were publishers who returned the manuscript without reading it! To overcome the disappointment I reminded myself of the many successful writers who struggled to make their mark.

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

My first book was self-published via BookSurge, a division of Amazon. I chose BookSurge because they offered a menu of editorial services that I felt would make the book stronger. Also, because Amazon and BookSurge are affiliated, online distribution via Amazon was assured.

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

It felt tremendous to actually hold the book in my hand. The story began as bedtime stories for my children and it was very gratifying for them and me to see it in book form. I think we went out to dinner to celebrate.

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

I have done many things for promotion. But, the first thing I did was to prepare a press release and pitch the story to numerous newspapers. I succeeded in placing four articles in local papers after the book was released. I also sent notes to colleges I attended and asked them to mention it to alumni.

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

I might have tried the traditional publishing route a little longer. This is because there is still an incredible and unfortunate stigma to self-publishing that adds obstacles to your success.

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

I have not published again but I am working on an adult novel.

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?

I learned a lot about self-publishing and many of the tricks necessary to become successful pursing that option. Also, I would change the timing of hiring an illustrator and begin to work on the art side of the book earlier in the process.

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

Two major accomplishments: first, seeing my book on book store shelves is tremendously fulfilling. Second, my book was translated into Braille for visually-impaired students and I was asked to do a reading. This was one of the most gratifying experiences associated with the writing process.

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

I have another profession as a marketing profession for life science products and services.

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

No. But, I would give my marketing career to become a full-time author.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Still working at my day job but continuing to write as my passion.

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

Borrowing from Thomas Edison, “Becoming a successful writer is one percent inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Nothing done well is easy and becoming a well-known, established writer is no exception. Hang in there!

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2 Comments

  1. Welcome to Beyond the Books, Jason! Love that cover!

  2. MJ Allaire says:

    Great interview, Jason! I’m also a YA Fantasy Author and I’ve found that writing is MUCH more than I bargained for, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! LOVED your quote from Thomas Edison .. that says it all in one sentence! Don’t be afraid to work hard, and believe that no one knows or will promote your books like you do/can!

    Happy Reading,

    MJ Allaire

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