A Q&A with Earth Joy Writing author Cassie Premo Steele
Q: What is Earth Joy Writing?
A: It is a way of interacting with the natural world that brings about empowerment, healing, and personal change. Nature has always been a source of comfort, inspiration, and wisdom for me. I wanted to be able to share that—teach that—to others.
Q: How the book come into being?
A: I started writing Earth Joy Writing in 2008 while teaching classes in ecopoetry and ecofeminism at the University of South Carolina’s Green Quad for Sustainable Futures. I continued working on it over the next few years and presenting workshops with exercises from the book to various groups, including more than a year’s worth of monthly workshops at Saluda Shoals Park in South Carolina. The book is very much a balance of theory and practice, tested in university and community settings, and accessible to a wide audience.
One of the best experiences I had while writing the book was being in Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, and a saleswoman asked me how I liked living in South Carolina. I responded, “I like it a lot. We have nature there.” She looked around, thinking, and then said, “Oh, yes, we used to have that store here, but it closed.”
I think we are feeling an increasing anxiety about the natural world, and we’re not sure what to do about it. We listen to news reports, and we can feel helpless. I wrote this book to help with our fears. I truly believe that when we begin to see nature not as a “thing” that can be bought and sold but as a living being in relationship with us, we begin to heal not only the Earth, but ourselves.
Q: How would you describe the book to readers and aspiring writers?
A: Earth Joy Writing is a new version of The Artist’s Way for the green generation. In the years since the hugely successful Artist’s Way hit the market, three important changes have occurred. First, our lives are much more interconnected on a daily basis through the Internet and social marketing networks. Second, we are highly aware of the grave dangers our environment faces. Third, we can sense a surge in a collective desire for community. This book addresses all these needs for readers—to live a harmonious and balanced life despite the vast changes happening around them, and to connect with others and the earth in meaningfully creative ways.
It is a hopeful book. It is practical. It has been tested. It leads to healing. It is not just for writers or naturalists. It is for the person who wants to live life more meaningfully.
I found this usability study very interesting and very relevant to writers.
According to the study:
The flipside of this is important to be mindful of: users won’t necessarily consider the product with the highest rating average the best-rated one. Indeed, during our 1:1 usability tests, the subjects often show greater disposition towards some products with 4.5-star averages than some with perfect 5-star ratings due to the number of votes these averages are based on.
For instance, most subjects would pick a sleeping bag with a 4.5-star rating average based on 50 reviews over other sleeping bags with perfect 5-star ratings that were only based on a few reviews – they simply didn’t find the latter to be trustworthy.
So, authors — don’t worry so much if you don’t receive all 5-start ratings. Focus your energy instead of getting as many reviews as you can, because the number of reviews matters as much as the aggregate rating itself, if not more so.
How to get reviews? Simply ask anyone who tells you they loved your book to “go public” with their admiration, whether on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc. Most non-writers don’t realize how helpful it is to have good reviews on online retail sites, and most are happy to help!
Last year we had a great turnout, and we hope this year is even better. (To learn about last year’s winner and finalists, click here.) It’s wonderful to see so many fine writers tackling the issues of the environment and animal protection through great stories, novels, memoirs, and essays.
This year, we’re delighted to have Ann Pancake as our final judge. (If you haven’t read her amazing novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, about mountaintop removal mining, get yourself a copy right now; this gorgeous, important novel is among the best of contemporary environmental literature.)
The 2015 prize winner will receive $1,000, a four-week residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.
Also, please note that we will be closing for regular submissions as of March 15 in order to focus on prize submissions — so if you’d like to submit a non-prize entry, feel free to do so before the Ides of March. (Regular submissions will open again after the prize closes.)
With traditional media cutting book editors and reviewers, “book bloggers” are becoming a popular and often very successful way for books to get noticed. While not all book bloggers are professional critics, they are all passionate readers, and if they have a good following on their blog (as well as social media), a good review could lead to great word of mouth for your book.
Because not all book bloggers read every type of book, be sure to look at their review policies before contacting them. And there are dozens and dozens of other book review bloggers out there, so while this list offers a start, it is far from comprehensive.
Also note that while most publishers reserve the majority of ARCs for major media, they do occasionally send out ARCs to book bloggers – so check with your publisher before contacting book bloggers to ensure that there’s no overlap.
A few tips for contacting book bloggers:
Always check out their reviews to make sure your book is a good fit
Make sure the blogger has an audience—look for a large number of followers (in the hundreds, at least); look for comments that show that the blog has an active community of readers; check its Facebook page and Twitter feed to make sure it has a good number of followers
If the blogger does giveaways, this is a good way to get more potential readers interested; you may be able to ask the blogger to donate his/her review copy, or you may need to send two books (consider giving away e-books as well)
If the blog features author articles or interviews, offer to do a guest post or a Q&A; this will give you excellent additional exposure
Always remember to offer a bio, an author photo, and a book cover image
Try to coordinate posts/reviews with events you’ll be doing, for additional exposure
Go beyond book-review blogs to blogs on topics that relate to your book (for example, if your book involves travel, find a travel blog and pitch a guest post; the blogger may also be happy to review the book if it’s a place he/she has visited)
When the review/article/interview appears, share it far and wide, in emails to friends and family as well as social media—word of mouth is the single best way to find new readers!