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An Interview with Indie Author James Hughes

For first-time author James T. Hughes, the success of his book Jasper Spring has him elated. He is the winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best First Novel and a finalist for Best Contemporary Novel. James shares with us what motivates him and how it feels to be an award-winning author.


How does it feel to be a published author?

I am overwhelmed by the awards and good reviews I have received. To realize that my story is now being met with praise is truly rewarding. I always wanted to participate in the power of literature from an early age. Writing something that can empower a young person to look at life differently is very exciting. It took a long time for Jasper Spring to get published. Now, to have it exposed to the world leaves me a little frightened. I pour a lot of heart and energy into my writing. The fear comes from having it out there for people to judge and possibly reject. It is intimidating but you must overcome that fear and forge ahead.


What inspired you to write the book?

I grew up admiring stories that have a keen sense of place and whose complex characters were both good and evil. With Jasper Spring, it was about preserving the stories and places that I personally experienced. I want my writing to encourage young adults to take a positive approach to life.


You tell us you are inspired by characters in classic literature.

From an early age, I loved books and films that portrayed strong, classic characters like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Ma Joad in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Studying these works helped me find a direction for my writing. I also wanted the landscape to become a character, too. Living in the Black Hills of South Dakota, you appreciate the beauty and majesty of nature. I wanted the setting to speak to readers as much as the main characters.


What writing process or method works best for you?

I keep pocket-sized notebooks with me all the time to jot down ideas. For Jasper Spring, once I filled up several notebooks, I knew it was time to start writing. I would get up at 3:30 am and write until about 7:00 am. After that, I would head off to work. I kept at it and had the first draft in nine months.


What is your marketing approach for your book?

Marketing is hard. I am very old school. If it hadn’t been for Matt at Dog Ear Publishing pushing me to get out there, I don’t know that my book would have been seen by many people. It’s all about multi-tasking. You would rather be writing your next book instead of trying to sell your first.


Why do you choose self-publishing over traditional book publishing?

I tried for 10 years to get someone in traditional publishing to look at my book. Finally, I decided to publish it myself. Self-publishing doesn’t carry the stigma it once did. If you can’t get traditional publishers or agents to look at your book, publish it yourself. Whichever route you choose, realize the competition is tough, regardless. Write the best book you can, find the best publishing option for you, and work hard on promoting it.


What prompted you to choose Dog Ear Publishing?

I had friends who published with Dog Ear and were extremely pleased. To me, Dog Ear is very upfront with pricing and what you can expect. I haven’t experienced any hidden fees. They have always been very helpful in whatever I wanted to do.


Are you working on another book?

Yes, I have a rough draft underway. How long it will take me to write, I cannot say. It is a little intimidating, following up a well-received book like Jasper Spring. You must put those thoughts out of your mind and work on the stories you want to tell.

Why Dog Ear?

Congratulations to James T. Hughes on the success of Jasper Spring. We look forward to working with him on his next book. Take a page from James’ playbook - stay positive, write the best story possible, and be persistent. If you’d like to discover how you can take charge of your publishing destiny, check out our website at dogearpublishing. With over 50 years of traditional publishing experience, we can help you produce a quality publication that will reflect who you are as an author.