Patti Brassard Jefferson divides her time between Ft. Myers and Islamorada, Florida. In her spare time, she is a sunset expert, crayon sniffer and amateur tiara model who happily admits she doesn’t own a single pair of socks.
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I was born in upstate New York, raised in Virginia and now live in Florida. I’m running out of space to move south! I’ve always been involved with artistic endeavors. My degree is Media Arts Advertising and I have owned a graphic design company, a paint-it-yourself pottery studio, art gallery and now a bookstore & my own publishing company. I love working with creative people! What to talk about Game of Thrones? Never saw it. Want to talk about the font that is used for GoT? You are my kind of weirdo! (It’s Trajan Pro, by the way.)
What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
My first two books were children’s books (How Long Will You Love Me and Stu’s Big Party) and book #4, due out in January, is a return to that. My third book, however, was my first foray into non-fiction. 365 Bright Ideas for Marketing Your Indie Books was an idea that I had after being involved with so many independent authors either through my bookstore, PJ Boox, or through my association with the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (I have been on the FAPA Board of Directors since 2014 and am the current President-Elect). The most common challenge that most authors face is marketing. I figured out a way that I felt authors could understand the challenges of branding and marketing and work on it a little bit at a time every day. I even made it so that the author could pick and choose tasks based on the time it took to complete or the costs that may be involved. Overall, it has been very well received and has won a few awards along the way. I love speaking to writers and authors groups and getting such great feedback. I am working on another one in the 365 series which I hope to have done in the summer of 2019.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
Just like so many authors, I think my biggest challenge is the juggle of home life, day job, social obligations, creative life, and continuing education. We need to learn to prioritize and set very realistic goals and schedules. When you have so much going on, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and scattered. I listen to marketing videos on YouTube while on my 20-minute drive to and from work. I try to keep my day job during regular business hours and not take too much work home with me. I make lists and set rewards for my progress. When I’m facing a deadline, I try to go to bed no later than 2:30 and just set an alarm to get up a little earlier to wrap it up. Otherwise my day job suffers. Everyone’s situation is different but the juggle is real!
What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
I was at Book Expo America one year and Orna Ross (who is the founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors) was there at the Alli booth. I had been trying to meet her for 2 days. Finally, she was alone and I walked over, said hi, and told her I owned a bookstore for indie authors in Florida. She looked at me and said, “Are you Patti Jefferson?” I was floored. That is the sort of thing that counts as success for me: validation of people I admire or others in the industry, helping a new author get a book out, or receiving a photo of a Mom with her child in her lap reading one of my books and telling me that it’s become a nightly ritual to read that book together. Not that making money or winning awards isn’t a good thing, too! The “aha” moment comes when you realize that profit doesn’t outweigh purpose.
What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
Since I own a bookstore that sells only independently or small-press published authors, I am always discovering new authors! I enjoy mysteries and thrillers when I am reading for pleasure; Patricia Gussin, Bill Powers, and Bill Thomason are some authors I have read lately. As for books that influence my writing? I live for the giggle moments when kids read my children’s books so obviously, Suess and Silverstein are an influence.
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
Unfortunately, I don’t write every day – it just doesn’t fit into my schedule. I do have a stack of book ideas or half-started manuscripts. When I AM writing, I generally do it late at night or very early morning when my house is quiet. I drink a lot of Chai tea, put on my headphones and listen to a loop of white noise (usually a box fan) from YouTube. I really have to drown out the world or I get too distracted. I’m a “squirrel!” kind of girl so I try to be cognizant of that – my phone has to be in the other room and on vibrate.
What are your interests outside of writing?
In my copious spare time, I like to read (go figure!) and create art. A lump of clay or a pile of broken tile puts me in my happy place. I am also somewhat of a sunset aficionado so I like to travel to places that have great ocean views and gorgeous sunsets.
Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
The one thing I would do differently is to change my branding strategy. I wrote the first book and set up all of my social platforms in the book name rather than my own name. When the second book came out, I had 2 websites, 2 Facebook pages, etc. Ugh! I felt like I lost a bit of traction when I first started promoting ME rather than my titles. The funny thing with writing is that you can’t even begin to know where you are heading. I wrote children’s books and then added a completely different genre. Now it all fits under the “pbjauthor” umbrella but I wish I had thought of that in the beginning!
My advice to aspiring authors is to get started with educating yourself on how the industry works while you are still writing – don’t wait to finish your first book before you try to figure out your publishing strategy. Whether you choose traditional, indie or hybrid publishing, you should learn the jargon, the standards, and the processes involved so you can make the best decisions for your writing business. It will help you treat your book, not as “your baby”, but as a creative, well-produced product that you can get out into the world. Your readers have been waiting for your book and you owe it to them to make it the best that it can be.
Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an author interview, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.