Writer Rochelle B. Weinstein, a South Florida native and resident, shared her long and winding road to successfully published author in a recent interview.
There was a day, long ago and far away, when one had to solicit others to birth our artistic outpourings; now, we must be all-knowing and seeing as the technological age has provided tools to create, produce, advertise and track progress, both in fiscal and social avenues. In one way it opens the door for everyone to take a crack; on the other hand, one must rely on possessing the nature to circumnavigate often dark and turbulent waters of unfamiliar terrain. Some freeze up, others get going.
One such intrepid success story is the author of “What We leave Behind”, about the repercussion of choices and soon to be released “The Mourning After”, a personal revelation of Glycogen Storage Disease. Her narrative is “11 years long, and dotted with highs and lows” reveals Weinstein. “Knowing my work has made an impression, that I made bright women think and question, erases the memory of rejections I’ve received over the years.”
Self publishing was not Weinstein’s first choice: “I was unequivocally opposed to the idea and felt that self-published novels lacked credibility and their authors would never be taken seriously.”
“A few things happened that changed my mind about the fast-growing self-publishing industry”:
Intelligent and well-read women at a local book club asked why she wasn’t in print. She had to ask herself the same question as traditional publishing biz in-roads were shrinking.
“The industry took on another seismic shift. The Wall Street Journal and NY Times were reporting on self-publishing and how it has become a viable option for writers.”
Weinstein cites author Amanda Hocking as a beacon for this new frontier. In one year young Amanda had gone from e-book self-publisher to selling over a million copies of nine books, earning two million dollars from sales. Add to that, E.L James self-published “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, recently had several major film studios bidding for film rights with the winner being Universal Pictures...you’ve heard of them, perhaps. Motivating, yes?
I asked Rochelle what the biggest stumbling block was in the process, as well as the most surprising observation:
“Probably getting over the fact that I was actually going to self publish. As ironic as that sounds because I’m so happy in this moment, it wasn’t always that way. I had to rehearse my response to people when they asked me which publishing house I went with. It’s a good thing CreateSpace (publishing) took 6 months from start to finish to complete my novel because I had lots of time to practice. I had to get over the ego aspect of it—what were they thinking about my doing it on my own and not the traditional way. Some people are transparent and you can sense immediately the shift in their attitude when you tell them you self published.”
“The most surprising observation is how happy and relieved I am that I went this route. Most people are amazed when they meet anyone who has been able to write and complete a novel. I have been overwhelmed by support and praise nationwide for my story. At this juncture, no one cares how it got in their hands—they’re just loving it—which makes me very happy.”
Her background consisted of a high-powered position in the music & advertising industries. A journal writer “her whole life”, she graduated with a degree in journalism. Having twin sons shifted her focus from the music industry; Weinstein then opted to “put my ideas and words to the written page”, and to write of a theme “that was universal to most women, one that depicted the understanding of love and loss and how our experiences define us”. (speaking of her first book “What We leave Behind”)
At this juncture I must remark that Rochelle noted that after working hard her whole life she found herself with time on her hands.....let’s pause here......most women with even one baby consider it a successful day if they manage a shower and to be out of their p.j.’s by noon when dealing with new babies. Ms. Weinstein is obviously one organized human. Perhaps we should read/heed her words.
Says Weinstein: “my experience thus far with self-publishing has been entirely fulfilling and gratifying. I am a mother of young children and enjoy the freedoms I have that being tied to a publishing house would not afford me. I write when I want; I travel when I want; I do not answer to anyone, and being a control freak this works out rather nicely for me.” She settled on CreateSpace after narrowing down the publishing houses to Lulu, iUniverse and CreateSpace, “based on their customer feedback and relationship with Amazon. To me, it was aligning myself with WalMart. What better exposure could you ask for?” She took advantage of the social media and personal network, did book signings, TV and is currently filling ever more and more re-orders with Turnberry and the Fountainebleau gift shops. Her “e-book conversions put my book on the Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader and iBooks. Without any advertising or marketing, I sold just over 500 books the first month.” Her reach has gone to many states and several countries. She recently hired a publicist to continue her growth. “Sales have exceeded my expectations entirely because I have not done any professional marketing or advertising -until now.”
I asked her what was the impetus, the final jumping off place, in venturing into the subject matter of her book (What We Leave Behind) and why did she believe it was topical?
“Every woman who has picked up this book and loved it has said at some point within the arc of the story, they felt they were the main character Jessica. The themes resonate universally. I had witnessed firsthand over the years many women who had loved for the wrong reasons. Much of that is determined by our early experiences. In the case of Jessica, the loss of her father at a young age confused her into mistaking longing for love. Although many readers identified with the first love component, as the author, I used first love as one example of this type of troubling, unfulfilling relationship. It further illustrated how we are pulled by the forces of a love that can not ever be, and how we tend to refuse the love of a good, solid man. Another theme: loving ourselves in order to allow ourselves to receive love. And finally, how many of us can say we have never questioned what could have been? What might have happened if we had chosen a different path? That has been a personal favorite in our book club discussion. There is no denying this a hot topic that women like to talk about.”
Actively knowing why your are writing a book is an important aspect to identify. Weinstein realized she “wanted to touch someone’s life.” The fact that the author has fifty-four 5-star reviews on-line attests that she can now stamp ‘mission accomplished’ on this life file. “The book went live on February 12, 2012. Two months in and we are at about 650. I am excited to see how strong marketing effort will shake things up.”
Perhaps Rochelle’s story will shake up your story. It can happen.
Weinstein has a reading of “What We leave Behind” coming up in Miami: TEMPLE SINAI, Thursday, May 3, 6-8pm Temple Sinai, Carolyn Kemelhor Campus 18801 NE 22nd Avenue North Miami Beach, FL 33180
Then she hits the road on a self produced book tour and book group guest to NYC, Boston, Chicago and many more.
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach