Q & A with Author Tim Whitney
Tim Whitney (pen name Able Anders) was one of the earliest members of TheNextBigWriter, joining in November 2005. His major project on the site was a novel called Thanksgiving at the Inn, which went through many revisions based on the feedback he received from other members. It is on the TheNextBigWriter All Time Top 10 List. Tim spent several years shopping it around until he found the right publisher, Bancroft Press. In advance of the book's release, Tim has jumped into marketing mode and currently has 693 fans on the book's Facebook page. Thanksgiving at the Inn is scheduled to be released September 30 and promises to be a Thanksgiving Classic.
Why did you write this book?
I’ve always loved reading, but one of my dreams has always been to write a book. To be honest, as I was writing it, I was spending a lot of time traveling back and forth to Guatemala, as well as going through a divorce. I wanted to complete it as a tribute for my two young daughters.
When did you start writing Thanksgiving at the Inn?
I started jotting down notes and collecting my thoughts over the summer in 2005 and began writing in the fall.
What inspired you?
My inspiration for the characters and events really came from all over the place and various life experiences. The main inspiration for the theme of the book, however, came from working with handicapped children over twenty-five years ago as a senior in high school back in Portland, Maine. It was an experience that truly changed my perspective on life.
The inspiration for the setting came to me while staying in an old Whately, Massachusetts farmhouse which has remained in one family since the late 1700s.
What was the biggest challenge writing the book?
I think the biggest challenge for any author writing their first novel is battling through the many adversities that come from inexperience and ending up with something that is truly worthy of being published.
What else have you written?
I have written numerous short stories and have two manuscripts in various stages of development. I’m currently working on an exciting and fun iPhone application and planning on documenting the results.
When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve had an interest in writing going way back to elementary school, but it became a passion while I was in college.
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
I am hopeful that readers will take away different bits and pieces as they relate to their own journey through life, but ultimately, I hope that people will remember that life is filled with opportunities to be grateful and thankful for what you have.
How was your experience finding a publisher for this book?
The publishing process can be a long and arduous experience. I have over 40 rejection letters to prove it! But seriously, the majority of publishers loved the characters, story, theme, and setting, but times are tight in the YA market and the feeling was this story was simply too clean-cut, too Hallmark, and not edgy enough for today’s readers. The majority of YA readers today are female, and the predominantly male cast didn’t exactly help, I’m sure!
Everyone is looking for the next sensational moment. Ultimately, I ended up with a smaller publisher (Bancroft Press) which promotes “books that enlighten.” It has turned out to be a perfect fit and their personal touch with editing and overall guidance really has been terrific.
How do you plan to market your book?
I’m still working on the marketing plan with my publisher, but the book will be pitched as the first true “Thanksgiving classic.” The focus is on family, forgiveness, and gratitude. Obviously, I’ll be using the traditional methods of promotion, but also hope to pitch to retailers that focus on holiday sales, etc.
Additionally, I have fan page set up on Facebook and will give social networking a whirl to see how I can create some viral marketing buzz!
How has TheNextBigWriter helped you in achieving your writing goals?
TNBW was very instrumental in helping to achieve my goal of finishing and publishing this manuscript. When I first started posting chapters online, I was unsure, apprehensive. The reviewers provided firm, fair, and helpful feedback which challenged me to not just write a better manuscript, but learn to be a better writer. Many shared not just encouragement, but helpful recommendations as well. It is equally important to know what works with the reader as it is to know what doesn’t work.
When all was said and done, I had over twelve hundred reviews and reached as high as seven on the top ten list. This really provided additional motivation to finish the novel and keep polishing it.
Additionally, many of the forums provided specific guidance on everything from dealing with rejection letters to selecting the appropriate agent. It is amazing that so many writers and reviewers are joined in a tight-knit community and so willing to share and support. Their assistance truly was invaluable in completing the novel, and I’m sure I would not have finished in a timely manner without the help!
To learn more about Tim and his writing, visit his profile on TheNextBigWriter.