Monday, March 29, 2010

In his day job Jim Rubart help authors and businesses market themselves through his company Barefoot Marketing. he's married with two teenage boys and live in the Pacific Northwest. You can catch up with him here:

When did you decide to be a writer?
I don’t think I ever decided, just like I never decided how tall I would be. But I understand what you’re asking. It was around 7th grade that being an author became my greatest dream.

Good analogy! How long did you write before you sold your first book?
I got serious about writing a novel in 2003. People sometimes say I had overnight success as ROOMS is the first novel I wrote, I got an agent less than a year after finishing it, and we sold it a year and a half later. But in my day job I’m a marketing guy so I’ve been writing Web site copy, radio and TV ads, one sheets, brochures, etc. for twenty years, so I did pick up a few craft skills along the way.

Everyone’s journey to publication is different. Now that you’ve walked that road, what tips can you give to authors still hoping for that first contract?
Stop hoping for that first contract. I’m serious. If you’re a follower of Jesus your calling isn’t to get a contract, it’s to follow Him. I know it’s easy for me to say this being on the other side, but truly, in the scope of eternity what will matter is if we followed Him, not if we got published. But, at the same time, let me offer one suggestion for those whose dream is being published:

Make friends. Just like any business, publishing is about relationships. And by make friends I don’t mean just editors and agents. Sure, knowing editors and agents can be helpful, but they’re inundated with people trying to buddy up to them. I’m talking about making friends with other authors, and not just the published ones. Some of my closest friends in the pub world are authors now published, that weren’t when I met them. We’ve “grown up” together.

Follow Jesus, study the craft hard, be real with people, make friends and leave the rest up to Him.

Was there something about the experience of getting published that was a surprise to you?
How competitive it is. Getting a book published is like getting to the top 24 on American Idol. The hopefuls are many, the slots are few. Good writing isn’t good enough, it has to be great. BUT, people make it to the top 12 every year!

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
Ha! Wouldn’t it be great to write when you felt like it, and still get your word count in? Whoever said, “I only write when I’m inspired, and I’m inspired every morning at 7am,” had it right. Sometimes beginning writers think they can only write when the muse descends on them. Wrong. Most times the muse doesn’t show up until you’re writing. Action first, then the inspiration shows up.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
A million different things. Here are a few: Water ski, mountain bike with my sons, play guitar, take photos, long walks with my wife, sleep.

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?
ARENA, by Karen Hancock. (Her Guardian King books are brilliant too.) The Shack has been called the Pilgrim’s Progress for the 21st century, but truly ARENA should have that distinction. It’s the most powerful allegory I’ve ever read.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
It inspires me, stretches me, scares me, it makes me see ways of approaching story or craft that I haven’t thought of. To be an author you must read extensively.

Tell us a little about your latest release:
ROOMS is the story of a young Seattle software tycoon who inherits a home on the Oregon coast that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul. If you’re saying, “Ooooooo,” then I think you’ll like it. If you’re saying, “Huh?” then the jury is out. :-) If you took It’s a Wonderful Life, Disney’s The Kid, The Shack, The Screwtape Letters, and mixed them together you’d have ROOMS. (Along with a big dollop of romance. RT Book Reviews gave it 4 ½ stars and made it a top pick for April, and I confess, someone had to tell me this is a big deal.) The headline on the back of my cover conveys the story pretty well: “What would you find if you walked into the rooms of your soul? One man is about to find out.”

Where did you get your inspiration for ROOMS?
When I was a teenager I read Robert Unger’s little pamphlet "My Heart, Christ’s Home." When I was in my mid-twenties I thought, “What if you took that idea and put it on steroids? What if you mixed it with John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and all the movies and books I mention above? Out came ROOMS.

Which character is most like you?
Wow, great question! It’s very tempting to cop out and say none of them. But since I don’t want to do that, I’ll say Micah Taylor, my protagonist. They say a first novel is somewhat autobiographical, and I supposed I’d have to say there are more elements of me in Micah than any of the other characters.

Who is your favorite character and why?
Rick, definitely. He’s amazing. Brilliant, funny, wise, strong … I can’t say anything more than that … but if you read ROOMS you’ll find out why I’m so enthralled by him.

Did you know how ROOMS would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
Very surprised. I didn’t know how to write a novel when I wrote ROOMS. I had no plot, no outline, all I had was an idea, and a vague idea of how it would end. (It didn’t end that way, even in the first draft.) For the most part I felt like I simply transcribed the story from what I saw happening in my mind and heart.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
That there is incredible freedom and healing in Jesus.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
I’m a fulltime marketing professional, so I could easily fill pages with my answer to this question, but let me offer three quick comments:

First, visit Christian Fiction Online Magazine (it’s free) and read my marketing column as well as my archived columns.

Second, marketing at its core is getting people to like you. You can do this through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, your Web site, but the most powerful way is face to face, one-on-one with your readers. No, you can’t sell enough novels one at a time to be successful, but if people like you, they’ll tell your friends about you and so on and so on.

Third write a book like nothing else out there. I’ve been blessed to have a significant amount of authors rave about ROOMS. I think part of this is because it’s unlike most books out there. Now there’s a fine line between unique and so unique that no one will touch it. But get as close as you can to that line without going over. Books in the middle don’t get talked about much. It’s the books on the edge that do.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
I just turned in my second novel, Book of Days which will release January 2011. It’s a part of a new three-book contract with B&H which is a thrill because they’ve been fantastic to work with on every level.

Do you have any parting words of advice?
One of my favorite quotes is from Annie Dillard: “We have to jump off cliffs all the time and build wings on the way down.” When I wrote ROOMS it was a jump off the cliff with no visible means of flying. And isn’t that what God says? “Anything done without faith is sin.” If you’ve been standing on the edge of your cliff wondering if you can fly, you’ll never know until you take the risk and find out.
Jim is giving away a copy of his book, Rooms. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!


  1. " the scope of eternity what will matter is if we followed Him, not if we got published."
    So true. So why is it so difficult for me to remember?

    "If you’ve been standing on the edge of your cliff wondering if you can fly, you’ll never know until you take the risk and find out."

    Writing my 1st novel has demanded that I take risks but they have turned out to be well worth that terrified moment of jumping off the cliff and feeling only air beneath my feet. I've been encouraging a friend of mine to do this; she wants to write and yet she's scared. Just do it, I told her yesterday, and I'm going to hold you accountable for writing consistently!

    Great interview. I'm excited about Rooms!

  2. I am, too, Laura. I've heard such great things about Jim's book!

    Good for you for being such an encourager to your friend!!

  3. It's nice to see Jim here - your story sounds a bit like mine, only bigger. Congratulations.


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