Julie Ann Knudsen and her coming-of-age debut novel about healing a broken heart

First, tell us a bit about your book: what it’s about, what genre it’s in, what inspired you to write it.

My Young Adult novel is titled IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.

And here’s the synopsis:


Butterflies.  Little fluttering butterflies.  That’s what fifteen-year-old Willow Flynn feels in the pit of her stomach every time the mysterious boy is near.  But Willow has other things to contend with as she deals with the tragic loss of her father, as well as her emotionally preoccupied mother, while being uprooted to a new house, a new school, a new life, far away, on an island, in the middle of nowhere.

At the beginning of the school year, the sickly but cute Michael sends Willow the first of many cryptic notes during homeroom.  He stares at Willow and gives her the creeps.  Michael never returns to school after that, but Willow ends up connecting with the poetic boy on-line where they strike up an unusual friendship.

As Willow attempts to fit in and find her niche in the ever-cliquey high school world, she is further confused by Michael who strives to win her over and mend her broken heart.  But will he be able to, especially when his own existence remains so uncertain?”

Julie Ann Knudsen

I was inspired to write the book when my daughter’s friend moved to an island off the coast of Maine and had to rely on a ferryboat to get her to and from school everyday.  This fascinated me and I thought it would make a great setting for a young girl who would start to feel as isolated and remote as the island she now lived on.

Did this book come to you easily, or did you have to wrestle it to the ground once or twice? Did you ever give up on it?

This book came to me relatively easily.   I wanted to write a coming-of-age tale because there are so many kids out there who can relate to the angst we all feel at one time or another as we maneuver through the hallways and heartbreaks of our teenage years.

Do you have a writing process that you can share with readers?

I don’t have a specific writing process.  I start out with general notes and an idea of how the story is going to progress, but find that once I begin to write, the story takes on a life of its own. I can’t explain how it happens, but, even though I am writing the story, it’s as though the characters, themselves, dictate what happens next.  Sounds kinda crazy, huh?

I do need complete quiet, as I’m sure most writers do.  Sometimes, though, when I need inspiration, I will listen to music that I feel would be fitting as a soundtrack for that particular point in the story.

The wild ride to publication is always fraught with drama. Tell us about your journey to self-publishing. Had you tried to go to the traditional route first, or was this always the way you wanted to go?

I had tried the traditional route at first, but got discouraged after receiving over 60 rejection letters.  I struggled with the idea of stopping writing altogether in order to get a “real” job.  Then, one day, I stumbled upon a blog called “A NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING” by J. A. Konrath.  Joe’s blog inspired me to self-publish.  I decided that no one was more in control of my fate than I, so I chose the self-publishing route instead.

What service did you use? And what help did they provide—editing, design, distribution, marketing? Did you agree with their approach?

Joe Konrath listed names of services that he highly recommended.  I used Diana Cox from Novel Proofreading to proofread my manuscript.  I hired a terrific husband and wife team, Amy and Rob Siders from 52novels.com, to convert my manuscript from a Microsoft Word document into an e-book, which I then uploaded, myself, to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

I designed my own book cover by purchasing the photo from a website called Dreamstime.com.  I then had to install Photoshop on my computer in order to alter the photo, as well as add my name and title to it.

I have the best website designer Maddee James, from Xuni.com.  She is in the process of finishing my website, julieannknudsen.com, and getting ready to launch it.  When I was debating whether or not to have a website at all, I realized that I don’t have a physical space where people can come to buy my books.  My website is my shop, a virtual storefront for me.

What have been the best and the toughest parts for you?

The best part has been having an idea take seed in my head and blossom into a purchasable book on line.

The toughest part has been trying to figure out how to market my book and get the word about it.

Where is your book available?

My e-book is currently available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Would you go this way again, or are you wishing to break into the more traditional kind of publishing?

I have started writing my second book, a women’s fiction novel, and will most likely pursue self-publishing again.  It will definitely be easier the second time around since I learned so much the first time.  I do believe that self-publishing and e-books are the future.  I’m sure traditional publishing will still exist throughout my lifetime, but, at the end of the day, who is going to promote my book better than me, a story for which I am so passionate?  Also, with self-publishing, I own all the rights to my book.  I believe you lose those rights when you sign with a publisher.

Do some genres lend themselves more to self-publishing than others?

That’s a tough question, because even though Young Adult is a very popular genre, I feel that genres appealing to adults, such as women’s fiction or mystery, probably lend themselves more to self-publishing, simply because a person needs the money to buy an e-reader.  Many teens have to depend on parents to buy their books or they must go to a library to borrow them.

How are you getting the word out about your book?

I have a link on Facebook and just paid for a Kirkus review of my book, which I will use when I advertise on certain websites, such as Goodreads.  I have also given away free copies of my book to teens around the world in exchange for an honest review on Goodreads.  The wonderful thing about e-books versus traditional paper books is that they are timeless.  As long as Amazon or Barnes & Noble don’t remove my e-book(s) from their Internet bookshelf, they can remain on sale forever, whereas most traditional books are limited by their “shelf life” in brick and mortar bookstores.

1 thought on “Julie Ann Knudsen and her coming-of-age debut novel about healing a broken heart

  1. i realy enjoyed your book it was realy inspireing since im trying 2 write my own book , i hope you write a nother book that contunes in the middle of nowhere could you please let me know when your next book is out, thanks 🙂

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