I met Joshua Graham a little more than a year ago at the life-changing master class in Oregon. I was incredibly impressed with his discipline, creativity, ability to come up with the big ideas, and just how nice he was. The fact that he’d worked as a professional musician also gave him insights into the realities of what it takes to make it as an artist. In the months since then, I’ve only become more of a fan. Please join me in welcoming this up-and-coming writer who has embraced electronic publishing and is really using it to succeed in his writing career.
Tell us a little about your education and experience as a musician.
I hold a Bachelors and Masters Degree from Julliard and my Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in music. As a professor of music I’ve taught at Western Maryland College, Columbia Union College and Shepherd College.
I performed as a soloist and principal cellist with orchestras throughout the United States, South Africa, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Domestically, I’ve performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall.
Being a musician is different from being a writer, but being a professional is the same no matter what the profession. Give your best work, on time, treat people with respect, and always remember what a small world it is. You never know whose help you will need in the future, so treat people the way you like being treated today.
Like other creatives, have you also held bread-and-butter jobs?
Believe it or not I’ve worn many different hats. I worked over a decade in the IT field, but before that I worked as a sales representative for Honda, and I’ve owned and operated a small local computer repair store in Brooklyn, NY.
How long have you been writing?
Literally since the 1st grade. Writing has always been a great love of mine, whether it’s stories, plays, or scripts. I made my first sale in 2005 to Pocket Books, and that’s when I first considered myself a professional writer.
You’ve embraced electronic publishing — why?
Ah yes! Ebooks are great. I still love the feel, smell, and look of opening a beautiful new hardback, but ebooks are convenient in that you can carry an entire library on one device. Another advantage is instant gratification. You can download an ebook and start enjoying it in seconds. Whereas with paperback/hardcover books, you have to either go to the bookstore, library or order them online and wait for delivery. Ebooks are also good for the environment. I’m not known for standing on this soapbox, but it’s true.
There are many advantages for writers too. One of the biggest is the turnaround time from final draft to going on sale. Instead of months, it could literally take hours to two days. And if you are an independent author, your royalties are significantly higher than what you’d earn from a traditional print publisher.
Do you work with an editor? A critique group?
Yes, I work with editors and a fantastic writing group that meets a couple of times a month. It’s been a lifesaver to work with professionals who know the craft and business of writing.
Are you still interested in traditional publishing?
Of course! Traditional publishers have many resources independents don’t, such as sales and marketing and art departments. But most of all, publication by one of the big 6 helps with a certain degree of credibility. That said, I don’t think it the best plan for professional writers to limit themselves with only one or the other. One need not wait to be traditionally published before developing a following and a platform, which you can do as an independent author. If you are traditionally published, your readers will follow you and read your independently published works as well.
Tell us a little about some of the things you’ve written . . . what interests you as a writer?
I have written in several genres. Actually, I started off in Science Fiction, but have written mostly suspense thrillers and fantasy. The bottom line is that I am interested in great characters and their stories. What interests me is a story where characters develop and go through a journey of irrevocable change. I also want to challenge my readers to think about various issues from new perspectives.
My novel BEYOND JUSTICE was a semifinalist in the first Amazon Breakout Novel Award Competition, and was awarded Suspense Magazine’s BEST OF 2010. It has been on mutliple Amazon bestseller lists and even hit #1 the on Barnes & Noble bestseller list for legal thrillers just weeks after its release.
As gratifying as those acheivements have been, the greatest reward has been receiving emails and letters from fans who tell me how my book has changed their lives.
What advice do you have for people just getting into electronic publishing?
Don’t be intimidated. There are plenty of resources out there to help you get into it. Just about any technical question — and answer — can be found online or through Google. There are many independent contractors who have years of experience in the publishing field who can help you with editing, cover art, ebook formatting., etc.
But the most important thing, first and foremost, is to write a great book, because no amount of knowledge in the technology will keep readers reading. It’s all about the book.
What advice do you have for writers in general?
The hardest thing is getting started. Push past self-doubt, dare to write something that might not be “good enough.” You can always improve a flawed manuscript. You cannot improve a blank page by any other way than writing something.
Crystal ball time: Where do you think publishing is going to be in 5-10 years?
I wish I knew. Such knowledge could be really helpful. I definitely think we are going to see ebooks take on a huge market share, but traditional books aren’t going away. I think savvy writers/publishers are going to find a way to leverage both mediums (and future ones as well) and make the most of them. I’d keep on top of all the trends to make sound decisions in the future.
Wonderful interview, Joshua. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks so much for having me as a guest. It’s an honor to participate. In closing, I’d like to say that I really love interacting with my fans
and readers over the internet. I hope to get to know more of them through: