A self-described "broken Christian," John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.
Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his novel-writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.
The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as "a solid debut novel." Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed.
Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 100,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.
His latest novel, Between These Walls, returns readers to Hudson, Ohio, to which he introduced them in From the Dead.
Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. "It was a challenge but also a growth process," he acknowledges. "But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it."
Visit John Herrick at www.JohnHerrick.net or at his blog, johnherricknet.blogspot.com. Connect with him on Facebook or @JohnHerrick.
Amazon Link to Book: http://www.amazon.com/Between-These-Walls-John-Herrick/dp/0991530918/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
Thank you for letting me stop by for a chat! I love bloggers and readers. At 8 years old, I fell in love with writing stories. By age 10, I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing it. As an adult, I write because I die a slow death inside if I don’t. I love the writing process, but writing itself feels like lifeblood flowing through me. It’s a “must” for me, but a good kind of “must.”
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
As far as the effort goes, it’s a challenging road: A novel requires a 2-year commitment from me to plan and write. The process becomes emotionally taxing because I spend those years walking with a character during a rough period in his life, then begin the process all over again with another character. And chances are, by the time you see a book on the shelf, that author has faced years of rejection along the way! For me, the key was, on Day One, to remove quitting from my list of options. One of the demands is to allow the general public to judge your work—some people are kind, others not so much!—and to refrain from defending yourself.
Now for the perks: Holding your book in print is a rush! It’s a dream come true. The sense of accomplishment is its own reward because you know the effort you invested into it. You’ll develop relationships with talented individuals along the way—people you interview during the research phase, people with whom you work to create a solid product, and other authors you meet along the way who share a kindred spirit and know the unique challenges of the journey. But the perks don’t get any greater than when a reader says our book impacted his or her life. That’s a beautiful thing.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I work with a small indie publisher. On one hand, it means you don’t benefit from the marketing muscle of the big New York houses. On the other hand, the product remains more organic. I’m involved with the entire vision from start to finish.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
I have an advantage in that respect! I’m a single guy with no kids, so I can devote as much time to a project as is needed, working around the day job. I look at my brother, who is married with kids, and see all his life entails. If I were in his shoes, writing novels while balancing a day job and a family would be much more difficult. I guess God knew what He was doing with me!
This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?
Let me put it this way: My fake plants still look as alive as they did 10 years ago!
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
I used to write in the evening, between dinner and bedtime. I took my phone to another room, plugged it in, and ignored it for the rest of the night. Anyone who knew me also knew I wasn’t checking the phone, so they weren’t offended. Eventually, after working all day, I grew exhausted and lost more and more sleep as I stayed up later and later. So I shifted my schedule. Nowadays, I write in the early morning for a couple of hours before the day job begins. That provides a built-in hard stop, so late arrivals at work aren’t an issue.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
The first time an agent asked to read the manuscript for one of my books. Technically, that wasn’t crazy or insane, but it was to me. I’d faced almost a year’s worth of flat-out rejection before that first request arrived. Prior to that, the first personal response I received from an agent who enjoyed my manuscript sample (sent with the query) felt just as extraordinary. That reply came in 2005 from Laurie Liss, the agent who discovered The Bridges of Madison County and author Richard Paul Evans. Although it was a rejection, it was such an honor, and she confirmed—at the right time—that my writing had potential for a wide audience.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I love connecting with my readers and am a big believer in social networks. I’m convinced that word of mouth is more powerful than a media appearance, and social networks are rooted in word of mouth. It’s all about a group of people with a common interest coming together. The downside is you only have 24 hours a day, and social networks multiply like rabbits! I wish I had time to devote to each and every one.
For now, I’m focused on the larger ones. You can find me at Facebook, Goodreads, @JohnHerrick on Twitter, and blogs like this when I’m allowed to stop by. J
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
Word of mouth is the best promotional tool. I’ll say “Yes” to just about anything that gets people talking. Some people believe a radio or TV appearance will sell a ton of books, but those media don’t carry the same influence as a friend’s recommendation. The friend has the personal relationship.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
Don’t give up too early!
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
Thanks, I love Chamomile tea. You really know how to welcome a guest—I might never leave! Writing books is a privilege because you have the potential to speak to thousands of individuals and connect with them, heart to heart. If my book encourages readers or changes their perspectives on life, the whole process is worth it. Life is all about the lives we impact. The rewards don’t get much better than that.