Saturday, October 22, 2011

Indie Insider - Matt Posner

Introducing Matt Posner, author of the School of the Ages series, magic expert, teacher, poet, percussionist, indie author advocate, and nearly full-time interviewee.

Hi, Patricia. Thank you for thinking of me for this interview.

How many words do you do write a day? Where do you do it?

I don't have a consistent writing schedule. I sneak in writing where I can here and there. Typically I write in a notebook on the subway, in the car, in bed. Lately I have been writing on my iPad, using a Bluetooth keyboard, when I am at lunch or some similar situation. However, my main habit for years has been to do the first draft in a notebook and the second draft by improving and adding as I type. Then I niggle at the second draft on the computer. I still have a notebook with me and I will open it when I am at loose ends and try to add to whatever incomplete projects I have in mind. My present notebook has about five different projects in it.

Do you think that people judge a book by its cover? Who makes yours?

My covers for School of the Ages have been made by my cousin Mike Cohen, who is a videographer by trade. His covers have beautiful proportions and color balance. People do judge a book by its cover -- that's what book covers are designed for!

What do you do when you get writers block?

I switch to a different project. If I can't write my novel, I write another novel. If I can't write one part of a novel, I write a different part. I don't get writer's block anymore per se; instead, I get "no time to write because of other stuff that's going on." However, I did have writer's block for many years. I think writer's block has two causes. One is not having done the planning necessary to write the material you want to write; and the other is feeling bad about your writing or yourself. I have faced all of those problems. Improving how you feel is a complex process; as for the other, it might mean that you need to do some outlining or creativity exercises, or it might mean the project isn't right for you at that particular time. All of us writers have what might variously be called "albatrosses" or "tar babies," projects that weigh us down and interfere, projects that get us stuck. I have plenty. I actually made a computer file called "Tar Babies" back in the 90s, and I still look at it once every couple of years, but my creative impulse is pretty different after so long, so I doubt I will use any of that material ever again.

How much time do you spend on social media per day? What do you concentrate on?

At this point I spend several hours a day on social media. Mostly I am networking with other writers on Facebook. There's a Facebook group called Writing Kindle Books that you and I are both active in, Patricia. I also try to maintain my website to the extent I can, and I twitter a few times a week. I can also do that while I'm walking from my car to my workplace and in other such situations. I retweet stuff in order to get followers and don't advertise myself too much. And of course I have some activity in Goodreads also. I don't use Google+ or LinkedIn, and I rarely visit Kindleboards anymore. As overwhelmed as I am with the social media I'm already doing, it's unlikely I will add anything. I wish I were doing less of it, but I'm very attached to the people I interact with and I'm always trying to hustle for a marketing opportunity also.

Which narrative form and tense do you think is the most difficult and why?

I don't write in present tense at all. It feels very weird to me. I prefer past tense, which feels most comfortable to me. I write with equal facility in first or third person, but I like first person more, or at least a limited viewpoint. I have never written in second person, except in poetry maybe. As far as narrative forms, I like novels better than short stories, because I like the space and time to develop characters and situations with more situations and dialogue, but I can write short stories well, too.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? What is your process?

I use beta readers and critique partners. I met some at that I am building ongoing relationships with. Here's a shoutout to Felicia Cash, who is fast and tireless and patient. I am still open to meeting more partners for this purpose. I don't use a professional editor; I don't think I'd be satisfied that I got my money's worth.

How important is it for an indie author to use a professional editor?

It depends on the author. I need other opinions -- I am painfully needy in my craving for feedback from people, of course -- and I need proofreading help, because I have trouble seeing my own typos, but I don't think I need major help with anything structural, such as an editor would provide. I trust myself for that. I have an academic background in fiction writing that is sufficient to help me recognize and solve gross problems, and my beta readers can help with the rest.

How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish?

My first published novel, The Ghost in the Crystal, took five years. The second and third took a year and a half each for first draft, and then of course more time after that for revision, formatting, and so on, but I think I am doing so much social media now that I am slowing down. I haven't worked on my novel-in-progress in months. Eventually I'm going to flip out and vanish from social media and focus on writing, but not yet.

Please list three unique blogs or web sites for writers that you read on a regular basis.

I don't read anything regularly anymore except New Yorker magazine, a clinic in writing style, I daresay.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I think many writers who are struggling creatively seem to me to be struggling with the fact that that their work is focused on concept not character. It really doesn't matter how intriguing your situation is if the characters aren't interesting enough for the reader to journey along with them. I absolutely hated being in graduate creative writing for many reasons, and I was writer's-blocked for years as a result of many experiences there, but I did learn a few things that I still use, and the main one is that the characters you are focused on need to be complex, and that a good piece of fiction is always about the characters more than anything else.

Here are some of the many links that bring you to me.

My website, with links to my books in various places:

My amazon author page in the U.S:

The Kindle All-Stars Project website (I am one of the All-Stars):

An interview with my character, Goldberry Tinker:

An extra-long interview I did recently:

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