When we decide to publish a manuscript at Boyle & Dalton, we become invested in the success of the author. It’s great to see hard work pay off, and we love celebrating our authors’ accomplishments. We recently sat down with Joe Downing, author of The Abundant Bohemian, and learned more about his creative process.
The Abundant Bohemian extols the benefits of working less, while still making a living, and finding time for the simple pleasures life affords us. Find The Abundant Bohemian on Amazon.com here.
B&D: Why did you decide to write The Abundant Bohemian? What was your inspiration for the book?
JD: Seven years ago I was a minor partner in a law firm working fifty or more hours a week and having to follow someone else’s rules and value system. I had no time or mental energy left at the end of the day to pursue my passion of creative writing. I was miserable and thought I hated being a lawyer. After two years of fear-based dithering I took the risk and quit the firm and opened a small private practice, convinced that I would fail. I didn’t. Because I now kept my profits without giving the majority of it to senior partners and I no longer wasted time in pointless meetings, I was able to cut my hours back to less than thirty-five a week, and in my first year I made more money than my best year with the firm. Most importantly, I had my autonomy and my time back: I now could pursue my writing. I discovered I didn’t hate being a lawyer, I hated someone else controlling my work life. After this, I became evangelical about helping people find ways to do what they love. I spent two years interviewing entrepreneurs and creatives, including writers, artists, dancers, and sculptors, on how they followed their passion and still managed to not just survive, but to thrive. Those interviews became the basis of The Abundant Bohemian.
B&D: In the book you draw from lots of other sources–interviews, quotes, experts from other work etc. What was the research process like for you?
JD: The research process was a labor of love. The people I interviewed were passionate, energetic, and eager to share their secrets. I met amazing people, who then referred me to even more amazing people. The process caused me to reevaluate my views on risk, security, the role of money, and how work that you love is really play. I also drew on many historical figures whose stories have much to teach us. The research for this book was so life-changing that if I had to burn the manuscript when finished I still would have written it.
B&D: How does living the Bohemian life impact your writing process?
JD: Living the Bohemian life is making an affirmative commitment to the value one puts on one’s art. I have all my material needs met, but I try to keep those needs minimal because the time I am not working at my law practice is time I can devote to my writing. I actively seek out and engage other people passionate about their art and their energy feeds my creative process. The Bohemian life values art over material wealth, autonomy over security, authenticity over status: all things necessary to be a contented writer.
B&D: You wrote a blog post a few months ago, and in it you talked about finding success in publishing a book, regardless of the number of copies you sold. How has that outlook impacted your publishing and/or writing experience?
JD: I knew I had to be prepared for the book to be well received and I had to be prepared for it to be criticized, or even worse, ignored. I was passionate about writing the book and that leads to expectations. But I knew I had to detach myself from what came next. How others respond is out of my control, but how I experienced the writing of it was all mine. The lessons I learned and the people I met inspired me and changed my life. I’m a different person than I was when I started the process four years ago. That is the true compensation and value I received. If others benefit and enjoy it, all the better. But the experience justified the time and labor involved. We all want to be validated. We want our work to be respected, appreciated, and consumed. But the act of doing it? That’s where the treasure lies.
B&D: Why did you decide to publish with a hybrid publisher like Boyle & Dalton instead of pursuing the traditional publishing route?
JD: I attended the San Francisco Writer’s Conference several years ago and although I learned a lot, much of what I learned was quite depressing. The majority of the promotion and work to get a book to its audience has shifted from the publishing house to the author. Unless you are already an established best-selling author, little support is given. Without a well-developed platform already in place, few publishing houses will take a risk on a new author. And if you have developed a strong platform, you have to ask: why do you need the publisher in the first place? Technology and the Internet has opened up a new world for writers and other creatives. And many bestselling authors who have published with major houses, such as Tim Ferris and James Altucher, are now self-publishing their books because they were disappointed with the archaic methods and lack of support from traditional publishing houses. They discovered they can do it better themselves. I didn’t want to wait around for some self-appointed gatekeeper to decide whether or not my work was worthy to share with the public. When I chose Boyle & Dalton I received excellent content and copy editing, design and marketing help. And my work and its destiny remained in my hands. That’s what the Abundant Bohemian is all about: people pursuing their art on their terms and making it work. It would have been hypocritical of me to follow any other path.
B&D: What advice do you have for authors who have finished, or are working toward finishing their first manuscript?
JD: First, make it the best work it can be. Many authors rush to publication before their books are ready and then are disappointed when they get rejected or the world doesn’t embrace their work. Take the time and do the hard work of learning the craft of writing. Join a writing group and get feedback from talented writers who will be honest with you. Remember that most writing is re-writing. Read books in the same genre as yours and know your market. Build a platform via a blog, website and social media. Network with other writers and support them. This is not a one-way street. And only when you know you have written the best book you can possibly write, submit it for publication.
B&D: What are you working on next?
JD: I’m continuing to expand and grow my blog at www.abundantbohemian.com, where I explore the themes of creativity, autonomy, financial freedom, and creating fully authentic lives. I’m in the process of creating a Dayton, Ohio based literary journal with author Jenny Monet. And after spending the last four years on nonfiction, I’m excited to be starting a new novel.
If anyone has an interesting story about how they thrive pursuing their art, I would love to hear from them and promote them on my blog. They can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in working with Boyle & Dalton? We are now accepting new manuscripts for review. Send us a sample here, or contact us at info@BoyleandDalton.com.