Author Spotlight: David W. Berner

See full issue for 2018 06-04

If you had a writing motto what would it be?
Get after it! I do not believe in writer's block, inspiration, or wishing and hoping. Writing is work. Get to it. Set deadlines, set goals, and cherish and protect your times to write.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
Inspiration is a funny word. It implies that writing, that art itself, needs a little boost from the spirits, you might say. But I think "inspiration" simply comes from being aware. What strikes one emotionally, what touches the heart, tears at your soul. Look around at your own life, your world, there is so much there to spark a story, a scene, a passage of dialogue. I don't necessarily believe in inspiration. I believe in being present in the world and paying attention to all that is around you as a writer. The stories are all there in front of you.

What is one interesting fact about you?
What a great question! How about three, depending on what one might consider "interesting."
1. I play guitar. Love writing music. And one of my books - OCOTBER SONG - is about an unexpected chance to take that to another level. Rock-n-roll dreams, you might say.
2. I lived in Jack Kerouac's house in Florida for three months as the writer-in-residence there. This is the home where he wrote THE DHARMA BUMS. It was an amazing summer.
3. I am deathly afraid of old porcelain dolls. Those faces, those eyes that stare. I can't go into a room where they are displayed. It's awful. I should write about that sometime.

Have you learned anything from the self publishing process and would you do anything differently next time?
There are so many opportunities to publish. But with this comes the potential vulture. Be careful with whom you work. Some self or hybrid publishers will prey on your desperate need to be published. Yes, they have to make a buck, too. But just be aware of what you are getting into, what you are signing, and the expectations. There are a lot of wonderful publishers out there who do good work. Don't be over anxious. Take your time. Find what works for you and your goals. And if the publisher does not offer serious editing of your work, either skip them completely or find an independent on your own.

What has been your most successful marketing strategy?
It's hard work, but I get a lot of play out of combining sales with workshops. Offer writing workshops, talks, or seminars to libraries, literary events, etc. It gets the word out and you can sell books to those at the event. For me, sales are NOT always the ultimate goal. That may sound counterintuitive. Yes, I want to sell books, but the bottom line is not always the right measurement. I want to get my writing out there, share it. I see writing as a community event, you and the reader, so offering Goodreads giveaways or contests for readers also works to share the news of your work. I think social media is a good tool, but it doesn't always sell books. What it does do is get you in the conversation, and that's also important.

What is the best kept secret you have found in regard to indie publishing?
It's nice to see your book on the shelves at bookstores, but it doesn't always relate to sales or getting your work out there. I LOVE bookstores, don't get me wrong, I could live in one. And I support indie bookstores. Want to see them do well. But you or your publisher spending a lot of time negotiating with bookstores to get your book on a shelf is not always the best way to spend your marketing time.

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