The Author Interviews: J. B. Richards

(Image courtesy of J. B. Richards)

To give my readers and fellow writers an insight into the processes and successes of other like-minded creatives, I'll be featuring some hardworking authors in my journal each week.

Today's author is J. B. Richards and she's independently published.


What made you want to become a writer, J.B.?

I’ve always had a knack for creative endeavors—like drawing, handicrafts, woodworking, and such, but it wasn’t until I had a debilitating accident and developed a neurological condition that caused me to lose feeling in my hands that I turned one of my favorite hobbies into a career—Writing. I’m an avid reader of mostly historical fiction and fantasy, and I found writing came so naturally once I started thinking up my own stories. Once I had the idea to pour my history and psychology studies into a novel series, the decision was made… “Miriamne the Magdala” became my first novel and my career as a writer just took off from there.

What are your thoughts on the indie vs traditional publishing argument?

I can certainly appreciate the need for both forms of publishing. Traditional publishing is great if you can get a publisher to accept and review your manuscript, then select it over thousands of other manuscripts that are submitted each day. If you’re selected for a publishing contract you might be paid an advance and most of the publication and promotion process will be handled for you. But, the author has little control over deciding royalties, the price of their book, or where it can be marketed.

Traditional marketing has its good points in that an author doesn’t have to worry about the day-to-day processing and promotion of their book, but you must sign a contract with your publisher for exclusive rights to your book and that can be highly restrictive. You may be limited as to which vendors can promote and sell your book. Extra costs may be incurred for changing the text or cover galleries for your book. You may have to be available for author signings, corporate appearances, and writer conventions. And meeting the terms of your contract might prove costly when deadlines can’t be met.

On the other hand, Indie publishing allows more control over the publication process. If you use publishing programs like Kindle Direct Publishing, you can update the content of your book and its galleries without paying any exorbitant fees. You can view your actual sales on a daily basis. While the publication process may be a breeze, aside from formatting your work, an Indie author is responsible for all their on marketing and promotion. While traditional publishing usually provide a certain amount of media exposure, an Indie author must go through a learning curve to discover and employ marketing resources to promote their book to the public. Unless you have experience advertising literature, or have an effective team of likeminded Indie authors offering their assistance and promoting your work alongside theirs, it can be very hard to break into the highly competitive world of selling books and target an audience of readers. Fortunately, the Indie community is starting to realize that, only by coming together to help each other in the spirit of professionalism and cooperation, can each of us successfully meet our individual goals.

Watch the Indie Fabs in their second group appearance (DEC 2017) on my podcast, The White Room!

Like this content? Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and hitting that thumbs up for more!

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel?

Of course! I’ve been fortunate in gaining a dedicated fan base since my debut novel, “Miriamne the Magdala” premiered, and when I published “The First Christmas: A Yeshua and Miri Novel Series Short” just before the holidays this past December, sales of the novel went quite well. The story focuses on the facts surrounding the Nativity story—which has become an integral part of the Christmas tradition. The novel is a short read at only 40 pages, and it’s told from the point of view of 6-year-old James—Yeshua’s eldest brother (Yeshua is Jesus’ name in his own native tongue of Aramaic, by the way!). It deals with many of the questions we all want answered; What happened on that first Christmas day? Were heavenly angels singing praises about a new savior as shepherds looked on in awe? Did a magical sign in the heavens lead wise men to a special Child?

Feedback from readers is leading me to believe that “The First Christmas” is destined to be a holiday classic, but even with the season over, if you loved “Miriamne the Magdala” and can’t wait for my upcoming second chapter of this amazing family saga, “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”, spend some time with James and his family as they witness “The First Christmas”. It’s available on Amazon, and free to read now on Kindle Unlimited—and can be accessed along with my other novels directly through my website!

Can you share your top 3 marketing tips with us?

  1. Know your audience—Don’t market a historical fiction novel about the life of Jesus to Sci-Fi fans

  2. Stick to your budget—There are a lot of companies/individuals out there offering to promote your book for a fee. Make sure you compare prices because you can also find the same services for a much lower price… or even for free!​

  3. Join an author team… NOW—Get to know other Indie authors through social media (I’ve found Facebook is best for this purpose) and either ask to join their author team or, if you have come to know a group of like-minded authors who are willing to trade services and support each other with book promotions, author takeovers, and other marketing aimed activities, form your own group. I know there’s no way I would be where I am today without my Fabs—Aliya DalRae, RM Gauther, Eva Pasco, Lyra Shanti, and Joanne Van Leerdam. I owe them more than I can ever say. They are my dearest friends, my sounding board, my “pick-me-ups”, my advisors, my business associates, my editors… Well, you get the gist of it. They have taken me from an inept amateur to a mentor and advocate for other Indie authors and a vital part of my community.

Tell us about your typical writing day.

I’m sorry to say that—for me—there is no “typical” writing day, lol! Working from home has its perks because you can often bend your work around family and personal obligations. That’s what’s so wonderful about being an Indie author—There are no office hours or deadlines. Having said that, it’s also what’s so horrendous about being an Indie author—Your personal life can often override opportunities to write and interfere with other projects... especially if you have kids; big or little. The key is setting priorities and self-discipline.

I’m a married woman with a husband on the cusp of retirement. He works several different positions in his job, and working any type of schedule that even remotely resembles “regular hours” is beyond the scope of reality. I often get notified a day in advance—usually well after I have set my own schedule—that his hours have shifted and he now has the day off. Oh, goodie! I also have an adult special-needs son who depends on me to help him deal with a variety of daily issues. Though he spends most of the day on his own, I try hard to keep my schedule flexible enough to meet any last-minute needs he might have. Those times happen often and at the drop of a hat—usually a huge knit cap he uses to cover his dreads, lol! And, as if this wasn’t enough, I have a lot of health issues. The list could give anyone nightmares… or at least keep them up at night, so we’ll just leave it as I’m on the living room couch with my two dogs draped over me often, have regular appointments with my seven doctors, and have a weekly physical therapy session for pain control. My days are anything but typical.

Through all these challenges, though, I manage to stick to an evening writing schedule, and I intersperse my day with promotions, responding to inquiries, mentoring authors, running my IHI Book Review Project, and being an all around Super Mom each and every day. One of the most important things an author in my position can do is to explain to their family that 1. Mom needs an interest outside the home, 2. Mom has a “real” job… sure, it’s flexible, but it’s still a job, and 3. We’re all going to stick to a schedule that will help our family function well while giving Mom her space.

I’ve found that, once I explained my needs to my family, they became quite understanding and supportive of all my efforts. It also helps to spend your first royalty check on a wonderful dinner out with the boys!

What is your definition of success? Would you say you are a successful author?

Wow, citing all the things I just talked about… being able to work and write despite all the pain in my body and constant distractions… I’d scream it from the rooftops—“SUCCESS!”

Seriously, I don’t think of Success as a generic term, and I believe that each of us has our own individual measure of what success is. For a first-time author, it may be picking up a pen to start their first draft… For another, it may be their first publication or book sale. One author might be trying to hit a goal in book reviews or sales while another may be hoping to win a prestigious award.

Despite all our inadequacies and failures, each and every day, we achieve success just by picking ourselves up and starting over again. We don’t need a boss’ approval or kudos from an associate. We just need to know that our family is happy that we’re happy doing what we love. That’s true success.

Watch the Indie Fabs in their first ever appearance (JUL 2017) on my podcast, The White Room!

Like this content? Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and hitting that thumbs up for more!

Share some of your writing goals with us. Have you met any of them yet?

I have so many goals, I can hardly list them all. I’ve met many of my goals with the publication of “Miriamne the Magdala”, “Once Upon a Fabulous Time”, and “The First Christmas”. But, I still have a lot of books rattling around in my head. Here are a few of my most important goals for the immediate future:

  • I hope to publish at least 3 novels this year; “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road” and 2 short story spin-offs on The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series.

  • I’d like to squeeze in another novel in the very near future based on my own experience with childhood sexual molestation.

  • I aim to start drafting my new fantasy novel series at the end of this year (due to be published in 2019), “The Dragon’s Heir”, which—by the way—is previewed in the “Once Upon a Fabulous Time” fairytale collection by me and my Indie Fabs.

  • I would like to begin a new space opera/sci-fi series in 2019 based on a strong female lead I first created in my teenage years.

  • I am in the process of redesigning my website to enhance my IHI Book Review Project, promote the Indie Fabs as a model author team, and provide more resources for Indie authors interested in free and low cost services.

  • I hope to find a way to implant a chip in my head that will automatically take my thoughts and transcribe them into a physical document that I can then use to either develop my writing projects or navigate my schedule for the next day.

How do you deal with negative reviews and criticism?

No author wants to hear that a reader absolutely despised their novel, but I welcome negative reviews—valid ones—as a means to improve my writing. The only feedback an author ever has about their work comes in the form of a book review, so opinions really matter and can become a genuine catalyst for writing the next story.

Do you have a favourite author for fiction and non-fiction? Why are they your favourite and which of their books would you recommend?

Because I’m an historian and expert on the Roman occupation of Palestine in the 1st-century CE, I tend to favor books in that genre—whether they are fiction or non-fiction. I have a whole library of non-fiction books on the Roman Empire, Mediterranean culture, Judaism, the rise of Christianity… all by various authors spanning the centuries—including notable historians, biblical archaeologists, and scholars like Josephus, James Meyers, Elaine Pagels, Herschel Shanks, Peter Heather, Susan Wise Bauer… The list goes on and on.

I adore and collect fairytale books—not the Disney chapter books or kid’s lit of today, but antique tomes that take one back to a time when magic wasn’t a Hollywood production but a spark of imagination and curiosity. My most prized item is a 1890 first-edition of “Echoes From Storyland”. I have a special section of my library dedicated to that particular genre that is behind glass and protected from the elements. One of my proudest moments was when I added my fairytale anthology “Once Upon a Fabulous Time” to my collection this year. This book, penned by my beloved Indie Fabs, holds a featured spot among my most treasured books.

I also have a diverse library of standard fiction. My favorite reads are standout novels with complex characters in diverse and unexpected scenarios. My taste for literature is extremely diverse— Oddly enough, one of my ultimate favorite authors is Anne Rice, but it’s her Christ the Lord Series, and not her vampire novels that I find most compelling and provocative. I loved the Fallen Series by Lauren Kate, the Beautiful Creatures Series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and various other fantasy novels. I’ve relished novels by Steven King, Steve Perry, Jeffrey Small, and yes… even Dan Brown (though I find some of his theories a bit off-kilter).

But my favorite reads now come to me as a result of my IHI Book Review Project. Did you know that Indie authors are among the most talented writers in the world?! Aliya DalRae, RM Gauthier, Eva Pasco, Lyra Shanti, Joanne Van Leerdam, SK Wee, Sarah Northwood, Val McBeath, Megan Cutler… These are just a few of the amazing authors who, time and time again, continue to earn 5-Star ratings!

Where do you get your ideas, J.B.?

Oh my goodness! May I confess a secret? I have ADD, so my mind is continuously cluttered with images and ideas. An idea for a scene in one of my books might come from watching a couple of kids playing Noah’s Ark in a doctor’s waiting room (which ended up inspiring a scene with 6-year-old Lazarus and Little Mara in “Miriamne the Magdala”), to a Christmas billboard in our downtown area depicting a huge gold star (the Star of Bethlehem in “The First Christmas”), to a dragon appearing in a favorite TV series (inspiring “The Dragon’s Heir” in “Once Upon a Fabulous Time”). Book ideas are all around you—All you need to do is follow the clues!

Watch J.B's first solo appearance (FEB 2018) on my podcast, The White Room!

Like this content? Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and hitting that thumbs up for more!

Can you share any free resources or tools you have found helpful?

Absolutely! One of the best online resources I’ve found for Indie authors is The Indie Writers Cooperative—A Facebook group that hosts authors of all genres and experience levels. The group acts as a place to ask questions, network, talk about all facets of the writing process, get writing prompts, and even brag a little when something wonderful happens to come into our lives.

I would also like to mention that I’ll be setting up a special section on my website featuring the Indle Fabs that will also provide links to groups like The Indie Writers Coop, free author services, an Author’s Toolbox section, and various resources we’ve researched and recommend. This new feature will debut on March 3 when the Yeshua and Miri website relaunches under my name.

Do you outsource your work (editing and cover design specifically)?

Part of having an author team like the Indie Fabs is having the ability to trade services, and we often exchange talents like graphic design, marketing and promotion, editing, ARC reading, etc. We also “pay-it-forward” with each other by providing advice and services simply as a courtesy of our friendship and business relationship.

When my team is unable to provide a service for some reason, we do turn to outside services that offer special promotion deals, review services, or book contests, but we always make sure to let each other know the ins & outs of the deal once we’ve independently checked into it. That way, we can avoid paying too much for a service that may be free or cost less on another site.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Um, what’s a “pantser”?! My rewriting process is this: Find some free time, grab a cuppa something, sit down quick and write!

Why do you write?

It keeps me sane!

What is your mission statement?

I share the same Mission Statement as my Indie Fabs—In fact, I wrote it shortly after I founded my author team. It goes like this… "All for One, and One for All!"

The Indie Fabs believe in paying it forward by offering support, assistance, and guidance to Indie authors in order to build a strong bond of cooperation and fellowship within our community. In turn, we ask the authors we help to extend that same courtesy, for it is our greatest hope that we can all achieve success by working together!

What do you love the most about writing and why?

I love hearing a character speak to me, knowing that I’m the only one who is able to tell their story!

What do you dislike about writing and why?

That it can be frustrating to find the opportunity to write. Most people don’t understand authors when they suddenly have to run to the bathroom to jot down a few lines and email them to themselves. If a writer doesn’t get an idea down right away, it could be lost forever. Bathrooms and private spaces are wonderful—No one can bother you until you’re done!

Do you ever visit other authors' websites and if so, what do you look for? Why?

I look for upcoming releases and events. I look for how they put their website together—there are some really great ones out there. And I look for their bio, so I can find out what makes them tick!

In order of importance (most important first) when shopping online, what do you look at first? Examples: cover design, formatting, reviews, description, price, publisher, author name, page count, preview, formats available.

  1. Definitely, reviews come first. I won’t go past the reviews if I see most of them are vapid, obviously written by friends or family, or can’t give the book a rating above a three.

  2. Description.

  3. Price—I won’t pay over a set amount for an ebook, and I base that price on the number of pages and content of the book.

  4. Next comes the book cover—Judging a book by its cover is a real thing!

  5. Page count.

  6. Author name.

The rest just isn’t important to me.


Thank you so much to author J. B. Richards for sharing her insights on writing and publishing books. If you would like to support J.B. and her work, please consider purchasing a copy of the book, Miriamne the Magdala, available on Amazon now. Check out the handy link below: