“Writers write.” Perhaps someone who embodies that most is Amber Janae, an author and blogger who has now successfully self-published four books. Amber Janae writes in many different forms–poetry, non-fiction and fiction–and through her stories, encourages women to remain inspired and encouraged. I had a chance to talk with Amber Janae a few weeks ago to talk about her creative process, how she worked through self-publishing and what she hopes to provide women with her message.
How did you get started writing?
My mother was an aspiring author when I was growing up. Till this day in the home office there are plenty of books on how to be a successful author. I guess the writing gene came naturally for me. I have been writing since the age of 12 or 13. It wasn’t until reading Tupac Shakur’s “The Rose That Grew from The Concrete” that I was inspired to write poetry. I still have every piece I have ever written from then up until now.
You have successfully self-published four books. Can you tell us a little more about the self-publishing process? (i.e. how long it takes to publish the book from start to finish, what your writing process is like, etc.)
My first book took me a little more than five to six years to complete it. I had a vision for many years and I worked around my schedule whenever I could to create a book that was captivating and worth reading. When the writing is complete, it’s pretty much a huge weight that is lifted off of my shoulders. And then the fun part begins! Editing, cover designs, and formatting typically only take about two to three months for me. I’ve always done editing myself; however, I will send the final draft off to get professionally edited just to have a second set of eyes on the job.
I also design all of my book covers on my own. It takes a lot of time to format the interior of the book to make it look presentable to my readers. After everything is 100% in order and complete, I send it off to a partner company to be printed up and the book is born. As time goes on, the writing process has been smoother and has gone faster with each book that I write. It is all dependent on ones writing process, being inspired to write and the true commitment to the project(s).
What is the biggest misconception people have about self-published authors?
The biggest misconception is people assume that it’s easy putting yourself out there and the success and notoriety are instantaneous. Self-publishing is a huge risk, and it’s basically an author with a goal trying to build a name for themselves all on their own. It’s not easy; instant success isn’t promised at all. It takes so much time and effort to successfully market your brand while striving to be a respected author. The journey is never ending and it is the furthest thing from easy.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
The best writing advice I’ve ever received was: “If you’re in it for the money you’ll always be broke. Keep producing quality bodies of work and stop worrying about the numbers. The numbers will eventually pile up, but the focus should be your work and creativity. When the work is there, it will eventually be noticed and over time the consistency and commitment will pay off.” To me worrying about the numbers, how much it’s selling and who is buying is a distraction. It can be a bit of a discouragement as well. My first piece wasn’t a NYT Bestseller, neither was the second or third, but I aspire to get there one day soon. The only way I will achieve that is by continuing to create the work my readers love and not worry about the numbers or the profits.
On your blog, you recently wrote a post entitled, “A Look Inside The Brand: WhoIsAmberJane” where you talked about seeing one of your books in Barnes and Noble. Can you describe what that moment was like for you?
I almost didn’t know how to feel when I first saw my book on shelves in Barnes and Noble. I had so many mixed emotions. I was proud, nervous and anxious. I was just a wreck. But, I allowed myself to celebrate in that moment and let it all sink in. I knew that it was only the beginning of what is to come on my journey. Seeing my book on shelves solidified that more moments like that are promised in the near future.
You’ve written different genres including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Is there a genre you prefer? Is there one that comes more naturally to you than the others?
Poetry definitely comes more naturally for me than anything else. If I had to choose among the three I would choose fiction. Fiction is the only genre that I can write using real life issues and send inspiring messages through fictional characters, while still making it entertaining. The goal is for my readers to be entertained, but it’s also important that they catch the underlying messages I give through these fictional characters lives. Its deep, I hope they feel it!
Give us a “cliff notes” version of each of your books.
Sacrifices Love and Deception is a fiction anthology that takes place in modern-day times. It’s compiled of five short stories that are all full of drama and suspense. Because it features so many stories, I’ll share; Hellacious Love which is the first story in the book. It is a love story about a couple, Marcus (Butta) and Arianna. You get an inside look on how their different lifestyles collide. Marcus knew Arianna was the one from the first day he laid eyes on her. Over time the two fall in love. Marcus (Butta) learns later on in the relationship that his better half has secrets that connect their lifestyles more than he ever imagined. He begins to wonder if he can trust her. Marcus is unaware that loving a woman of Arianna’s caliber is dangerous. There was a story behind Arianna that she hid very well from Marcus. Women like Ariana are very easy to love and even harder to get rid of. She had a manipulative charm about her that Marcus couldn’t say no to. Someone in this equation would eventually end up hurt by the other. It would take them falling in love, dealing with Infidelity, dishonesty, mistrust and a drastic turn of events to figure out which of the two would end up scarred forever. The entire book is an emotional roller coaster. These stories are full of twists, and turns that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seats until the very end.
A Woman’s Quest to Self-Love is a self-help book that I wrote to share my journey to loving myself completely. I talk in-depth about my struggles with depression, suicide, body image, being bullied, terrible friendships and relationships and so much more. I knew when I started writing I wanted to be a voice for women and young girls to speak life and words of encouragement into them. I feel like with this book I’ve successfully accomplished that and more. My intentions were to spread the message that no matter what obstacles you face you can bounce back and overcome them all. All of my years of pain inspired me to start on my quest to self-love. Years ago I was in a space where I was tired of the pain and self-pity and I knew I had to do something about it. When you’re tired of being mistreated or mistreating yourself, you step your game up and start wanting more from not just the people around you but from you too. The quest to self-love is a never ending journey. I find new things about myself that I love every day. I wrote this book to inspire women across the world to do the same.
The Root: A Compilation of Poetry is my third book. I wanted to release a project that was close to where writing all began for me. Poetry is the root of where it all started and I wanted to put this book together to showcase my development as a poet throughout the years. “The Root” has 41 poems. Throughout the book, you’ll read poems about losing love, and finding love, self-love and self-respect. I wanted to incorporate a variety of poems in the books so that those who read will always have a piece to reference back to fit their mood. The Root is one of those books that tugs at the soul and captures the heart.
What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
My only advice is to be inspired, be encouraged and be blessed. Being an author means finding all different sources of inspiration constantly. Be inspired and stay inspired. It takes a lot to write a book and deal with all of the other logistics that comes with it. You’ll need a tremendous amount of encouragement to stay on course, but it can be done. Whatever it is that you do, however many books you write, always remember to be blessed. Celebrate your blessings and celebrate the fact that you’re able to be a blessing through your words.
What keeps you inspired?
A person giving up on me is what keeps inspires me. Somewhere in that crazy equation I find the strength to keep going. It’s the doubt of others and their disbelief in what I am capable of that fuels me and inspires me to keep moving forward always.
Amber Janae is an author and blogger who currently resides in San Francisco, CA. Her overall goal and message is to inspire others to know that there is hope and recovery after any pain you’ve experienced throughout life. You are not your circumstances, there’s always room to overcome them and be great. Follow Amber Janae on Twitter at @WhoIsAmberJanae.