Rebecca Brockway is a happily divorced, middle-aged gal who resides in paradise – Santa Barbara, CA – with the youngest of her four children. Rebecca is a champion multitasker. She writes, reads, runs lots of vertical steps for exercise, eats avocados and chocolate daily, parents her teenage son, and dodges the Mr. Wrongs of the world while in hot (tepid) pursuit of Mr. Right.
Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?
I will begin by clarifying what my book – Miss Matched at Midlife – is not. It’s not a book of “bad dating stories.” Although my book is filled with tales of multiple dates (over 150!) that went awry, these brief encounters weren’t necessarily “bad.” Few things in life are inherently bad if one learns from the experience and adjusts accordingly. Miss Matched at Midlife is a true swashbuckling adventure story about a woman (me!) who, at age forty-eight, set out on a nine-year quest to discover authentic love at midlife.
What drove you to write this particular book?
Although it was the first time I’d tackled a literary project of this magnitude, I embraced the challenge of writing this particular book because I believe my stories are too valuable (unbelievably wild!) to fall by the wayside and never shared. As I commenced to write, and continued to date, my book evolved into a collection of stories and life lessons that will appeal to single women of all ages. My vision for Miss Matched at Midlife developed and deepened as the book took shape.
What’s your writing regimen? Where do you do your writing?
I never required a “writing regimen” because from the get-go I was obsessed! Although I’d taken on a difficult task, I loved writing Miss Matched at Midlife! Before I began, I utilized Google: “How do I write a book?” Google responded: “Start writing.” So, I did. My laptop and me sat at my tiny dinner table and wrote. Ten hours a day. Every day. At first, my writing skills were rusty (shitty). Fortunately, I had the good sense to hire an editor. Again, I turned to Google. I hit the serendipitous jackpot when I discovered Jamye Doerfler. I absorbed the information she shared. I applied it to my writing. I improved. With skill and patience, Jamye taught me how to write a top-notch book.
Who are your greatest writing influences?
I enjoy the graceful storytelling style of Barbara Kingsolver; The Poisonwood Bible is my all-time favorite book. I wept my way through Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: a brutal and tender love story between a father and his young son. I enjoy authors who develop and deliver meaty characters. I always have a book on hand, although recently, I’ve been doing more writing than reading.
Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?
Miss Matched at Midlife is a dating memoir; a humorous and heartbreaking tale that chronicles the nine years I actively dated after my divorce. I love reading memoirs. I appreciate the fact that a well-written memoir requires an ample dose of candid soul searching. The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, and Angela Ashes by Frank McCourt, are three of my favorites memoirs. To pen my own memoir was a humbling and rewarding endeavor.
How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?
I invested six months querying literary agents. Querying was monotonous, disheartening, and required too much waiting for (the inevitable?) rejection letters to arrive by mail. Even if I had managed to secure an agent, there was no guarantee that my book would be snapped up by a traditional publishing house. I discovered I don’t possess the patience to pursue publishing in the traditional manner.
Traditional publishing houses make the decisions. I decided that exercising control over my project was important to me. I wanted to design my book. I wanted to decide what would stay and what would be edited out. Honestly, if I had landed a fantastic publishing contract with a traditional publisher, my ego would have danced a jig. I could have strutted my credibility as a first-time author who’d landed a big-time publishing contract. But the bottom line was: I wasn’t willing to commit to the time and energy necessary to obtain a traditional publisher. I was restless. I knew if I didn’t write my story and launch it, I might miss my opportunity. Self-publishing wasn’t my first choice but it became my best choice.
What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?
From the start, I knew I didn’t possess the skills, knowledge, and experience to go the self-publishing route alone and emerge unscathed with a high-quality product – my book – in tow. I realized I needed publishing professionals to assist me with my first book. I did a fair amount of online research on companies that offered assisted self-publishing. I selected Mill City Press. I have never regretted my choice.
Would you self-publish again?
Yes, although it may be a while.
Any words of advice for those looking to self-publish? Any big missteps/successes?
Before a new author self-publishes, I’d wholeheartedly encourage them to become as educated as possible about the publishing process. Even though a company like Mill City Press is designed to walk its author-clients through publishing their book, Mill City Press does not make final decisions for their clients. Although MCP will offer recommendations, every author is expected to make the final decisions on number of rounds of editing (never skimp on editing!), interior format (text & font), cover design, back cover copy, number of copies printed, etc. I was fearful I’d make poor decisions concerning my book due to my inexperience. Sometimes my anxiety escalated to Woody Allen proportions, which continued throughout the book publishing process. I’m extremely happy with the quality of my finished book, yet it was no picnic getting there.
What’s next on the horizon for you as an author?
Marketing my book! I’ve placed my current focus on gathering customer and professional reviews for Miss Matched at Midlife on Amazon. I’m proud to have demonstrated book marketing savvy by purchasing a professional book review package from Self-Publishing Review (Disclaimer: SPR did not instruct me to say that!). I’ve added a snippet of my 5-star SPR review to the Editorial Reviews section on my Amazon book page. I realize that most literary successes don’t happen overnight, but I’m happy to be on my way.