Spotlight 44: Jacqui Broderick
Mark Dawson: I’m Mark Dawson from the Self-Publishing Show and this is Self-Publishing Spotlight, where we shine a light on the indie authors who are changing the world of publishing one book at a time.
Tom Ashford: Hello, and welcome to the Self-Publishing Spotlight. We meet indie authors at all stages of their careers and ask them a series of five questions. Five questions about their process, their mistakes and their successes. Five answers that will help you level up your own author career.
My name is Tom Ashford and I’m part of the Self-Publishing Formula. Don’t forget that you can get your self-publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
This week’s guest is Jacqui Broderick. She’s written seven books in a load of genres and she lives in the Republic of Ireland.
Jacqui Broderick: Thank you. And thank you for having me.
Tom Ashford: That’s all right.
Do we want to start by talking about the seven books and all the different sort of genres that you’ve written in and plans for the future?
Jacqui Broderick: I started off originally as a magazine editor and one of the people that I wrote an article about was a young jockey from Ireland who’d been very badly injured in a racing accident. I met him through the magazine and did an article on him.
Then I wanted to tell his story. In Ireland there had been a huge fundraising campaign because at the time when he had the accident, there was nothing in place for injured jockeys. And there had been a huge fundraising campaign, which had kind of really brought Ireland together. And so I wanted to tell his story and the story of the campaign. I approached a publisher and they were interested in what I was doing and so that was published. So that was my first book.
Following on from that, the publishing company wanted to look at some fiction ideas that I’ve got. And so I wrote a heap of book ideas. And then at that stage the man that owned the publishing company was going to retire and so that was all shelved.
But then I had all these ideas and so I picked one and approached another Irish publishing company with the idea and they liked that, asked me to write it, I wrote it. It was contemporary women’s fiction set in Ireland around the horse racing world. And so I wrote that, then they wanted rewriting and eventually then this would have been in about 2000, I got a letter, because this was kind of in the days before email, I got a letter asking me to go up to Dublin and that they were not promising anything but come and have a chat with us.
I went up to Dublin and in that meeting they gave me a three book contract, which was just absolutely amazing. It was all I’d ever hoped for. From being a child I’d always wanted to be a writer. And I really felt like that was it, I was a writer.
I wrote the three books and then the same as I think happened to a lot of authors around that time, 2007, with the kind of onset of eBooks and publishing just seemed to go mad and they didn’t want any more books from me. And I was lucky enough that at that stage I was offered a job as a magazine editor for a horse magazine here in Ireland. So I did that for a number of years.
But I still carried on writing and I published a children’s pony story. And I also kind of ghost wrote a few books for people. Then when the magazine folded up, I knew really that my big love, even though I loved the magazine, it became just a routine. You planned it, you wrote the articles, it came out, you planned it and it would just, it was a cycle.
I missed the creativity of my own books. And so I went back to writing and had at that stage as well got the rights back to my three books. So I republished those myself, this as eBooks and through Amazon and it just went on from there.
A couple years ago did a master’s degree and that kind of gave me a real boost of confidence that I kind of… I don’t know. I almost felt embarrassed to say that I was a writer. It didn’t feel like it was real. That I could kind of own that.
Through the course I saw a lot of people who would have had little short stories published, and I’m not taking away from that, but they had such egos about what they’d done. Whereas they’d done nothing really in comparison to what I’d done. And that really gave me a kick to kind of think, you know what, I actually am a writer. Would you ever just stand up and admit what you are and kind of own what you do? And so I did.
So it gave me a real kind of sense of who I was and it’s really pushed me on to doing more, more writing. And when I started the course, I had a half baked idea for a book. And we had every week to submit a piece of writing. And I just started to write the book and that came out at the end of January. I finished it last year.
I just did it and then it came out in January. And since then I have written the sequel to it. And over the last few years I’ve written lots of books and then done nothing with them for one reason or another. So this year the plan is to release, to rewrite and edit or work with an editor and get one of those out this year.
Tom Ashford: Awesome. Well, the first question is normally why do you write, and I feel like you’ve covered that quite nicely there. But so a lot of that was traditionally published.
I presume going forward you’re looking for more of an indie route?
Jacqui Broderick: Definitely. I love the independence of it. When I was published traditionally, I remember coming out of that meeting and thinking I was like Wilbur Smith. I thought I’d made it. I thought that was going to be it. Now this was my income, my whole life.
What I didn’t realize kind of quite naively about the business was that you earn absolutely nothing from it. Absolutely nothing. And you are very much just a little cog in a very big wheel. And the publishers just take over your book.
They make it how they want it. They put whatever covers they want on them and you just have no control. And I ended up with three books that were all written. They were all kind of like racy books, like Jilly Cooper’s. They were that type of thing.
They ended up with these prissy covers with girls sitting on beds. I mean, not sort of seductive girls, but just like these random girls sitting on beds and they where of no relevance to what the genre was or what the story was.
When I got the control of them, it was just such a turnaround of everything. I can work with the designer and get the cover of the I want. I’m very conscious of making the books as professional as they would be if there were traditionally published. I work with an editor. I have a couple of really good editors.
I enjoy that process, the process of them, the editor, being able to see things in the books that you don’t see yourself. And like I say, I’m very conscious of the fact that it’s a product that I’m making. I’m not precious about it, about my work. It’s just a book, but it’s got to be as good as it can be.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. Okay.
Question number two is, how do you write? Are you more of a plotter or do you just sort of pants it and see where the story takes you?
Jacqui Broderick: I’m a plotter. I will spend weeks plotting. And before I start to write, I will have a very, very detailed break down of how the book’s going to go. It’s broken down chapter to chapter.
Then I tend to write in 500 word chunks. And 500 words mean I get my 500 words down then I can go and put a load of washing in or I can go make a cup of tea or something. And another 500 words and I can get some other rewards.
I break down the chapters into chunks of 500. Each chapter is about 2000 to 2500 words. And so I break each chapter then down into four or five 500 word chunks.
Tom Ashford: How long are your books generally?
Jacqui Broderick: They used to be a lot longer than they are. They used to be like 120,000 words. But now the last few that I’ve written, I’m going down to 80,000.
Tom Ashford: Fair enough. I think I was talking to Cecilia Mecca about word counts and things because she was saying that she used to write 80-90,000 words for romance novels and then she wrote a couple that were 60,000 and nobody responded negatively to it. They just were like, “That was a good story.” So she’s like, why would I write two books instead of three?
Jacqui Broderick: Yeah. The last two, there’s two children’s books that are coming out, well one’s just been released on Amazon and the other one should come out this week, and they’re both 30,000. And I wrote both of those, I wrote a chapter a month of each last year, kind of while I was writing other stuff. And so as I said, they’re going to be 30,000.
Tom Ashford: What sort of software do you use to write your stories?
Jacqui Broderick: Just Word. It suits me fine. I’m used to it. My focus is writing and I find that anything else takes… I haven’t got time to play with something else. I just want to get my words down.
Tom Ashford: Yeah, that’s fair enough.
Jacqui Broderick: And I think because I’ve plotted so carefully as well, and I do very detailed backstories, so it’s all there anyway. And I think listening to people who use other things, it seems that that just does what I’ve got down on a bit of paper anyway.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. Things haven’t drastically changed from the typewriter, really.
Question number three is, are you a full time author? If you are, how did you get there? And if you aren’t, what steps are you taking to make it happen?
Jacqui Broderick: I am a full time author. Yes.
Tom Ashford: Nice.
Jacqui Broderick: Yes I am. I’m very proud to be.
Tom Ashford: When did that happen?
Jacqui Broderick: Slowly over the last few years. At one time I was a magazine editor and I used to write in my spare time, when I wasn’t writing magazine articles. When I was first published, I was working as a trail guide. So I used to bring groups of people horse riding through Ireland.
Any spare minutes that I got, I would be writing plots or editing. I’ve always just fitted it in around everything else. But the last few years now, especially since I’ve been published independently and it’s just started to slowly increase and increase and increase. And so now that’s my living.
Tom Ashford: Question number four is what mistakes do you think you’ve made and what have you got right?
Jacqui Broderick: What mistakes have I made? I think not trusting myself. I think not showing up that I was a writer. Sounds a bit like a hippie kind of thing to say, but I would be embarrassed… Somebody would say, oh, I’ve written a book or something and I’d say, “Oh yeah, just chick lit.” And it’s like I’ve sat down and spent a year writing that.
People write to me and say how much they’ve enjoyed it and I’m just passing it off as something irrelevant. So I think that was the mistake I made, not to admit to who I was and not to be proud of what I was doing.
I also wish that I had gone more into independently publishing before. But equally, I think sometimes life just… I did a lot of courses and a lot of… That all have brought me to where I am. So I think I’m where I’m meant to be. I’m happy with that.
Tom Ashford: Question number five is, what’s your final piece of advice for authors starting out in indie publishing?
Jacqui Broderick: Just to put your bottom in the seat and just write. Just write and keep writing and show up every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes and just do something. But don’t overthink it. Don’t kind of keep rewriting and thinking, oh, it’s got to be this, that or the other. Just keep writing.
And I think it’s almost like making a cake when you write a book. You just throw it all in there and it’s not until you’ve actually written the book that the proper work starts.
It’s very, very important to make sure that you work with an editor. But equally it’s very important that you find an editor who is good and who will do what your book needs. And you can’t edit your book yourself. You can’t see all of the failings in it. It’s like your children, you don’t see their faults and a book is the same as that.
Tom Ashford: That’s good advice. Okay. And that’s your five questions. Thank you very much for coming on the show.
That’s it for this weeks Self Publishing Spotlight. Don’t forget that you can get your free self publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
And if you want to appear as a guest on the show, send us brief details about yourself and your writing at selfpublishingformula.com/spotlight-guest. I’m Tom Ashford and I’ll see you again next week.
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