Note: John Sheirer is a prolific writer of fiction and memoir, and this summer, he published a new collection of linked short fiction, “Stumbling Through Adulthood,” which carries the Janice Beetle Books imprint and is available on Amazon. My fall intern, Kaitlin Carmichael, recently had a conversation with John about the experience of working with Janice Beetle Books. This is his feedback.
How long have you been writing creatively?
As a kid, I loved writing. I grew up on a farm and always thought of a million stories. In college, I studied sociology and psychology, which was great because it focused on human behavior, and that’s helpful for writers to know. I later studied English—the classic writers, in college—and then went to graduate school for English.
What inspired you to write “Stumbling Through Adulthood?”
Life, in general, inspired this collection of stories. At least half of the stories are based on my life and what-if scenarios. Maybe a third of the stories in this book are stories that came primarily from my imagination.
How is this book different from the ones that you have previously written?
“Stumbling through Adulthood’s” stories are longer and more developed than my others. I normally write flash fiction. The first story in the book is about 3,500 words, which is extensive, and I thought it would be just 500 words when I started it. Another thing that made it different was I made a lot of connections between the stories. That main character in the first story pops up in about three other stories as a side character. And there are links between almost every character in every story to other characters and stories. I like to think of them as visits from old friends in new stories.
What made you think to work with Janice?
We have worked together in the past and reconnected over Facebook. I kept up with what she was doing to help beginner writers. I wondered if she was interested in publishing my book through her imprint. I reached out to Janice after I submitted the manuscript to about 30 book contests without success. Janice was excited to publish my book with her imprint, and that was thrilling for me.
How did you and Janice partner together to publish your book?
I brought the skills I had with writing and book design and combined that with her ability to push and market books to the public and get it out there with marketing. It worked exactly the way I thought it would.
What did Janice do, and what was it like to work with her?
First, she gave editing tips and very strong suggestions for improving the stories. In addition to suggestions, she helped me set up for marketing the book, offering resources on what I should do before the book was released. She helped line up Amazon reviews and my book reading at Forbes.
What have you done to market your book?
The big thing was recruiting Amazon reviewers. I asked a bunch of my Facebook friends if they would be willing to leave a review on my book. A lot of people agreed, about 25 people. Amazon reviews are great to help push your book up in the rankings on the platform.
How was your reading at Forbes earlier this summer?
It was really great! It was great to be able to do it in person. It was outside in the beginning of August. Since then, I’ve scheduled more readings, including one in December.
What kind of feedback are you hearing on the stories?
People love the characters and the connections between the stories. That’s very gratifying because those were the elements I worked the most on, and I’m glad to see people discovering those aspects of the book.
Are you pleased with the book’s roll-out in general?
Oh, yes! The only way I would be more pleased is if Oprah called me to be on her show!
Anything else you’d like readers of Janice’s blog to know?
She is a great resource for any level of writer, and especially helpful for beginners.