Marcia Meier
Award-winning journalist, writing coach, director of Antioch University Santa Barbara’s Summer Writing Institute, and author of Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders.

1. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Probably spending a month in Costa Rica by myself. I went there in October 2012 to finish my book. It was an amazing experience.

2. What motivates you to pursue a goal and take on a new challenge?

Interesting question. What drives anyone to pursue something new? I have always had an internal motivation, something that makes me want to try new things. I think life would be boring if we didn’t constantly seek out new experiences.

3. Why did you write, Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders?

I was the director of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference just before the publishing world started to change drastically, and many people had asked me what I thought the upheaval would mean for writers. I knew a lot of people in the industry, so decided to see if I could answer that question.

4. Is it easier or tougher for today’s writers to get published?

Easier and tougher. Easier in that self-publishing and e-books have opened doors to writers who might not have been able to be published traditionally. Tougher in that you still have to write something people want to read, and for readers, finding the jewels among the nearly 1 million books published each year is much more challenging.

5. Is there a stigma attached to self-publishing?

A year ago I would have said yes, though it was changing then. Today, I think outside of publishing something of really poor quality with one of the online publishers, there is very little stigma to self-publishing.

6. Is it still better for a writer to try to get a traditional publishing contract?

I have some clients who already know they want to self-publish, but if they’re not sure, I still recommend trying the traditional route first. But make a plan and decide how much time and effort you’re willing to put into getting an agent and (hopefully) a book contract. If it doesn’t happen after six months to a year, I would say self-publish.

7. How has eBooks changed the publishing world?

Massively. There are more books sold as e-books now than printed books. And more and more people are reading on Kindles, iPads and other devices. That trend is only likely to continue. Publishers are still trying to figure it all out, but the whole industry is slowly adjusting to this massive shift.

8. What is the difference between the non-fiction and fiction markets?

There is a huge market for nonfiction books in all formats; for fiction, particularly a new novelist, the market is much tougher. People are still reading fiction, but the big publishers are sticking with authors who are already household names. That’s why many debut novelists are self-publishing.

9. Is it a must to get an agent?

Not unless you are committed to going the traditional route. In that case, publishers won’t consider a manuscript unless it’s represented.

10. Why is it important today for a writer to have a platform?

Because the marketing and promotion of your book is going to fall almost exclusively on your shoulders. You are the brand. Which means you have to build a presence on the various social networks and use those to market your books.

11. What is your next writing project?

I just finished a memoir, which will go to my agent in January. We’ll see what happens with it. Meanwhile, I’ve returned to a novel I started several years ago and my goal is to complete it in 2013. I also have a couple of short stories I’m working on.

12. What books did you read as a child?

Oh, goodness. Many! As a small child, some of my favorites were The Velveteen Rabbit and The Secret Garden. Also, Where the Wild Things Are, all the Babar books, and Goodnight, Moon, which I loved revisiting when my daughter was little. When I was a little older, I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings trilogy – I think I read it three times in high school.

13. Where in the world would you like to visit and why?

Greece and Italy, for the art, history and the ancient architecture. Oh, and the romance - I would love to spend three months in one of those countries and write.

I wish I could say I’ve traveled enough to answer this question. That’s my goal for the next 10 years: to travel everywhere. Do you recommend one?

14. What do you always pack in your suitcase?

A pair of cute jeans and my cowboy boots.

15. What is the best advice your mother (or Grandmother) ever gave you?

Actually, it was my dad. Never give up.

16. What is your life motto?

Never give up. 