John Banks was born in Asheville, NC. His storytelling is very much in the Southern tradition, with a special affinity for humorists such as Mark Twain and the Old Southwest school of writers. Though entirely imaginary, much of the material in Glorify Each Day must have come from his many years as a teacher in the public schools and community colleges of his native state and from the three years he spent as an a community college administrator.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, John. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
I’m self-published. Being self-published is an example of making a virtue out of necessity. I was very disappointed at first at the prospect of self-publishing Glorify Each Day. I am very proud of the book and have gotten good reviews, and I really thought I would be able to land an agent and a publishing contract. Learning the realities of the publishing world has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. But now that I have formed my own publishing company and still have all the rights to my work and stand to keep most of the profits from my sales, I’m actually happy to be where I am. Of course, if a major publisher called tomorrow and offered me a contract, I might still jump at the chance, but there are definitely advantages to being self-published.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I would have to make an important distinction between writing the book and publishing it. Getting the book published isn’t really that big a deal. With all the self-publishing avenues now available for writers, and within price ranges most people can afford, there really aren’t any obstacles to getting published anymore. And that’s a great thing, of course. But the real thrill is knowing that I have written the book and that as long as I can keep thinking of ideas then I can continue writing. As for the celebrating, we’re going to have a big party soon to celebrate the publication of Glorify Each Day, but as I just said, what I’ll be celebrating is the writing of the novel, not the publishing of it.
Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published?
Getting the book into the hands of reviewers is a big first step in promoting a book. And setting up a webpage for your book. Going on this blog tour is also very important.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
The process of writing a novel and editing it along the way helps you to understand exactly what the purposes of your writing are. People write for a lot of different reasons and with many different goals in mind. And those reasons and goals can vary within the same book. When I first started writing fiction seriously in college it was mostly with the attitude of “let’s just see where this character is going to take me” – and there’s certainly a lot of serendipity in any successful creative writing project – but it’s not a good idea to rely on serendipity as your main source of creativity. Glorify Each Day is the product of a good deal of thought and planning (with a few unexpected surprises awaiting the writer), and even though I have a good idea of what my next novel is about, it will probably be several months before I actually start writing it.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
The sheer number of everything is amazing. First, the huge number of agents there are and the huge number of manuscripts fighting for their attention. Most agents say they receive hundreds of queries each month and yet they are only going to take on maybe one or two new clients out of those hundreds of queries. And then once you’re published, the real competition begins! There are so many published books – many self-published now – out there fighting for a reader’s attention. It’s more than a little discouraging to discover that your literary masterpiece is just one of thousands of new books being endlessly promoted on the internet.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
The work is the reward. The satisfaction of seeing a few initial ideas and brainstorms and interesting sentences turn into a finished novel is a great feeling.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Just make sure you enjoy what you’re writing. No one can guarantee that you’ll land a major publishing contract, or that you’ll make a lot of money, but if you’re having fun with your writing, then the publishing part won’t be as important to you.