In the last 35 years, J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College in Fine Arts. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South. You can visit his website at www.jpwhite.net.
I’ve published five books of poems, but Every Boat Turns South is my first novel.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
In Pursuit of Wings, a book of poems.
Q: 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?
Too many to count. I had one of the best agents in New York, but she was unable to sell the book, so I took the manuscript back and placed it myself with one of the best small press publishers of fiction. It was well over a ten year saga. Suffice to say, I was rejected by some of the best names in publishing and accepted by one of the best.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
I tried to find consensus in the rejections, but that never happened. As a poet, rejection is second nature so that process in and of itself was not disheartening. The hard part was learning how to tell the story I knew was there.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
The Permanent Press. They are one of the best small press publishers in the country and they’ve been doing it for thirty plus years.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
Well, mostly it was a relief to know Every Boat Turns South had finally found a home. I celebrated by telling myself the next book would be a lot easier. I started breathing again.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I emailed all my friends and family asking them to place pre-pub orders at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Probably. I don’t know. Through error we find direction.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I have a new book of poems coming out in September 2010 from Holy Cow! Press.
Q: 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 would have taken a class and worked with an editor and saved myself a lot of false starts and heartache.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I’ve received a number of emails from readers that have very gratifying.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I’ve had several professions already, but boating has always been in my past and it will be in my future.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
If it had not been for the rum, I would have stayed in the islands.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
Writing, sailing, traveling — not necessarily in that order.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Don’t give up. Work with an editor. Read Joseph Campbell.