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Interview with Jackie M. Johnson: ‘Getting rid of fear and believing in yourself really helps.’

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Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer. Her first book, Power Prayers for Women, has touched the lives of nearly 200,000 readers. When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty, a helpful resource for singles who need healing from a relationship breakup, was released in May 2010. She has also written articles, poetry, and hundreds of devotionals. A native of Milwaukee, Jackie lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her encouragement blog, A New Day Café, at anewdaycafe.blogspot.com or website at http://www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com/

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Jackie.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

A: It’s good to be here. I’ve written two books: Power Prayers for Women (Barbour Publishing) was released in 2007, and When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty (Moody Publishing) came out in May 2010.

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

A: My first book was Power Prayers for Women. The publisher chose the name, as it often goes, but it packs a punch in four words.

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?

A: My first book was published by a mainstream publisher. I had a few rejections. 

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

A: Sure, you feel a bit discouraged. But I’m always hopeful. I have a lot of passion and tenacity, and I believe that every “no” brings you one step closer to your final “yes.”

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

A: Basically, I sent letters to a number of publishers I was interested in working with (this was before you needed an agent to get a publishers attention) and I collaborated with the one who wanted to work with me. Power Prayers for Women was published by Barbour Publishing in Ohio. They have an excellent reputation in the industry for high quality work, integrity, and distribution success.

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

A: Elated! Being a published author was a lifelong goal, so I was very happy when I got the phone call for my first book deal. I celebrated by going out for dinner with close friends. They brought me balloons, flowers, and cards—and shared my joy!

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

A: I called a local radio station and booked an interview. Every May there is a National Day of Prayer in America, so I asked the station manager if he’d be interested in doing an interview since the topic of my book was prayer.

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

A: No. Things seemed to be working well on the path I’ve taken.

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

A: Yes, my second book When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty just came out in May. I feel I’ve grown in my writing because I’ve learned to write “tighter” and say things more succinctly. Editors have helped me grow, too, because they encourage you to use the best word possible (“be specific, not generic”) and to get to your point quickly. I think it’s always wise to polish your writing craft and desire to become a better writer.

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?

A: Getting rid of fear and believing in yourself really helps. I would have sent letters to publishers sooner. Years ago I didn’t have the confidence that I was good enough; now I know better. If you have something to say, and can present it well, then you need to just get out there and pursue publication. Have courage and press on!

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

A: I’m certainly pleased with achieving nearly 200,000 in sales for my first book. But touching the lives of readers is what really gets me. Like the young woman in India who wrote to let me know how much my book helped her. Or, the woman on FaceBook who said that she’d only read the Introduction but already she was reduced to tears because the book was speaking to her need.

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

A: I would own a large spa in a resort location (perhaps by the ocean), oversee the work, and find joy in people coming to it weary and leaving replenished.

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

A: Interesting idea to combine both worlds.  I am an author. For now, I will go to spas not run them. 

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: Content. Joyful. Connected with people who are life-giving and hope-filled, like me.

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

A: Yes. Persevere. Hone your craft. Strive to be a better writer. Go to writer’s conferences. Join writer’s groups and get feedback. Write what you love. Believe in your dream. Have courage and lots of tenacity. You know what they say, “Success happens when Preparation meets Opportunity.” So, go get ready!

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