Judy Gregerson, author of the young adult fiction novel, Bad Girls Club (Blooming Tree Press, July ’07), was born at the very end of Long Island on a very warm and sunny summer day. Everyone was happy she made it because the cord was wrapped around her neck and there were a few scary moments before she popped out.
The rest of her life went a little better. She grew up in a town that shut down at 5 p.m. and got out as soon as she found a college that would accept her. That was SUNY Oswego and she attended school with famous people like Bruce Coville, Al Roker, and Jerry Seinfeld. Ok, only Bruce was there at the time and she didn’t know him. But it makes for good copy.
After college, Judy worked as a newpaper copy editor, a marketing assistant at Viking/Penguin, in the advertising department of The New York Times, and then had various jobs at an ad agency, doing public relations, and the likes. Finally, she worked herself into an ulcer and moved to the west coast.
Her first book was published in 1980 by Doubleday (a memoir) and she was named in Who’s Who in America that year. It really didn’t help her any. In fact, no one seems to remember.
Judy now lives in the Seattle area with her two daughters, husband, dog, cat, frog, gerbil, and two mice. She is currently seen doing yard work and getting the mold off her windows.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Judy! Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
This is my second book. My first book, Save Me! A Young Woman’s Journey Through Schizophrenia to Health was published by Doubleday a LONG time ago. I took an 18 year break and came back to writing about 10 years ago. Of all the novels I worked on, BAD GIRLS CLUB which was just published this year, was about the third or fourth, and it was bought by Blooming Tree Press a year and a half ago.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Save Me! A Young Woman’s Journey Through Schizophrenia to Health, Doubleday.
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?
My first book was bought by the first editor who looked at it. I thought I’d gone to heaven. I also thought that was the “norm” of selling books. Boy was I wrong!
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Well, with this book, which took much longer to sell (5 years), I spent a lot of time venting to my husband. I did my share of acting like an angry author and several times I decided to quit. Actually, I decide to quit about two times a year. Just being able to do that and then go back to it is very helpful for me. It allows me to let go, stop caring, stop fussing, stop complaining, and get on with my life. Then when I come back to it, I’m rid of all that. I can move on.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Doubleday published my first book. I chose them because I heard that the editor there was looking for new writers. So, I figured I’d give it a shot. I was pretty green, so I told her in my query to make a decision fast because I wasn’t going to wait too long before I sent it out somewhere else. Of course, I said it in a much nicer way than that, but I truly believed that the book would sell fast and I didn’t want to wait around too long. I heard from Doubleday in a month and had a contract within 3 months.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It was very affirming to publish my first book. I went to dinner with friends and drank sangria and ate prime rib. But, when a book is publishing, nothing really happens. The sky doesn’t open up and angels don’t come and sing to you. It’s kind of a dead day other than what you feel inside.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I did nothing. Back then, publishers didn’t want authors doing anything. I think they assumed that you’d screw it up.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
I liked Doubleday. They were very good to me. They wined and dined me and they did a great job on my book. I was listed in Who’s Who in America that year, probably my editor nominated me, but I’m not sure. I wouldn’t do it differently.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
My latest book, BAD GIRLS CLUB, was published this summer by Blooming Tree Press, a young indy press in Austin, Texas. My writing changed a lot between book one and two. I became more literary in the sense that I learned how to use symbolism and setting as a character, although my book isn’t really literary fiction. I learned to write deeper, explore a theme more fully, and to develop characters more fully. This is all good; it makes for better writing.
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?
You know, I’ve thought about all that for a long time and I’ve rolled it around my brain. I don’t think there was anything that I could have done differently. It’s a process that you have no control over, which is what makes it so darned hard. You’re at the mercy of the gods and you just have to keep trying and keep waiting. I always try to do my best, so I’m not the kind of person who walks around thinking, “Darn, I could have done that better.” I just do my best. And then I let things fall where they may, which might be in my favor or might not. There’s no telling.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I’m starting my own radio show on internet radio in the spring. That came out of nowhere and it wasn’t something I could ever have dreamed up. I fell into it and it’s a whole new area for me to explore. I’m really excited about it. I’ll be able to interview authors and talk about books.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
A psychoanalyst. That’s really what I should have become. But it seemed like so much work and so much college. I recently went back to college to get a degree in Human Development which will open the door for me to work with troubled teens. I’ve waited a long time to do this (I’ve been raising kids who are now grown) and I’m kind of excited about it. But I won’t go beyond a B.S. I don’t like school that much.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I think that I’ll probably always write or be writing something, no matter what I do. I’m not one of those writers who HAS to write. I write when I want, what I want. I took an 18 year break between my first and my second book, so that tells you a lot. I don’t fit the profile that people throw out for a writer. In fact, some would probably tell me that I’m not really a writer since I don’t HAVE to write. But, I don’t care. I write when I have something to say and when I don’t, I don’t write. To me, it’s more about having something to say than just producing books. I’d probably be an agent’s nightmare.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully, still alive. But honestly, I have no clue. I want to sell another book or two. I have one finished that I’m trying to find an agent for and I have another that is about a third done. But books take me time. I can’t crank them out in a year. I might work on them for several years. Or five years. Or more. So, hopefully, I’ll have sold another book or two. I’ll be rich and living in Tahiti.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Learn not to connect your worth with your writing. If you do, it’s deadly. Your writing is your writing. Your value is rooted in other things and if you can separate them, you can ride out the storms in trying to sell a book or publish one. Also, be yourself. Do it your way, do it when you want, and the only time to really listen is when several people are telling you the same thing. Take note when that happens and think about what they’re saying. Otherwise, just go for it and be willing to ride it out because it can take some time.
ATTENTION!!! Buy one of Judy’s books at AMAZON, send US an online copy of the receipt before January 31 and she will send you an autographed bookmark, PLUS other incentives including free ebooks from Pump Up Your Book Promotion! Click HERE to find out what other incentives you can receive!
Judy’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours at http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/ and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.