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.
How many works do you have up right now and where are they?
I have 10 titles available right now. They are available at Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.com
My best known book, BEYOND JUSTICE, is available in both trade paperback and ebook (Amazon) and for Barnes & Noble nook/nook color and in formats for iPad, SONY Reader, and Kobo as well.
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:
my website: www.joshua-graham.com
I stopped by to say hello before heading out of town for some of the day. It looks like everyone is still recovering from the Super Bowl . . .
I hope you enjoy the interview and enjoy getting to know Joshua.
Welcome to Murderati, Joshua! Fantastic interview. You are an incredibly accomplished individual. Your words and your background are inspiring.
I love how you said that "you cannot improve a blank page by any other way than writing something." That's pretty much the bottom line. And the cello is probably my favorite instrument. I'm looking forward to reading your work.
Pari – thanks for bringing Joshua on board!
Thanks for the interview, Pari. Just ordered Beyond Justice for my Kindle and am looking forward to reading Joshua.
Welcome to Murderati, Joshua. Great interview, Pari!
Thanks! I am honored to be in the company of such an august group of writers.
Thanks for your support, Carl! It's been a wonderful day in more ways than one! 🙂
Thanks for the welcome Stephen.
Accomplished? Just look as this incredible group of writers! As I said, it's a huge honor to be here and I hope to get to know everyone better. I can't even begin to say how inspiring so many of you have been to me.
And thanks so much for this opportunity, Pari. I am so glad we connected at the Master Class back in 2009. It was great getting to know you personally and professionally.
I have a feeling this is going to be an incredibly blessed and prosperous year for MANY people here!
Thanks Pari and Joshua for the interview. I wonder what changes Joshua has had in the time spent with the cello now that he's a professional writer. So many writers have such creative backgrounds and it really seems to be a gift that must be released.
Stephen, that was my favourite quote too!
I cannot even begin to list the changes that have happened in my life since I was a professional musician about a decade ago, much less that past three years! What an incredible and humbling journey it's been, and I'm just starting.
You know, the things I've been blessed to be able to do are somehow connected in a greater purpose, of which I'm only catching a glimpse of right now. But the greatest thing is knowing who I am, whose I am, and for what purpose I've been created.
Life and circumstances can change like the tides, but knowing the latter has anchored me in unimaginable ways. Today, as I was meditating on the scriptures, this quote was placed in my spirit:
"As a saw to a nail, so is the frustration of a man set to work for which he was not fashioned."
Today, I believe that by divine providence and grace, I am fulfilling my purpose and no amount of social status, achievement, money or material things can compare to that. 🙂
Oh, I'm very pleased to see the conversation here. I was in Los Lunas, NM most of the day for an article I'm writing.
Joshua, Thank you for participating in the conversation. The 'Rati readers are just a fabulous group of people. I'm glad you're getting to know a few of them.
Rati — thanks for making Joshua feel so welcome.
Joshua, thank you for that beautiful reply. That quote is timeless and shall alway speak to our heart. I hope you don't mind but with credit to you, I have posted to my status, '…the greatest thing is knowing who I am, whose I am, and for what purpose I've been created," and the quote. Please, from where did you take it?
@Debbie – I am honored to be quoted!
As for where the quote came from? At the risk of sounding overly religious or mystical, I must coness that this quote came from divine inspiration. As I was praying today, for a dear friend of mine who struggles with success as a CEO in corporate America, I was given this thought and quote in regards to his possible calling to do something radically different: to become a Pastor of Men's Ministry.
But it also applied to my life. I have worn so many hats, but for me, none of them fit the so well as a writer's hat. 🙂
At the risk of sounding like I'm kissing up, I thought it was Solomon…until I couldn't find it. Definately inspired.
I look forward to reading your books, Joshua. I only read ebooks these days, so I'm happy to find a new author who isn't intimidated by it! Best wishes to you, and your friend and his calling, wherever that may be. A div schoolmate of mine, Tom of toothpaste fame, developed a ministry of ethical business practice. Ministry is everywhere.
Thanks so much, Reine! I love ebooks as much as I do paperbacks and hardcover books. I think it has something to do with my tech background. Are you talking about Tom of Tom's of Maine?? My daughter loves using that toothpaste!
Yes, Tom Chappell. He actually graduated div school several years ahead of me. I should have referred to him as a fellow alum. He also graduated from the college, has a doctorate from Yale, and is an ordained Congregational minister. He recently endowed a chair at our school, The Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professorship of Divinity to address issues of "Christian morality, ethics, and values in the contemporary interaction of religion and society." http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/06.15/03-chappell.html
@Reine, that is most impressive and inspiring. All that and a successful business too! What favor!
He would say, I think, that there is joy in hard work and critical thinking. I mean… he is a congregationalist, after all. Now he's a rich congregationalist who still believes.