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EXCLUSIVE: A New Look on Books with Raven Eckman

Joining us today to share about her writing and her own editorial business is Raven Eckman, founder of A New Look on Books.

1. Thank you for joining us, Raven. Tell us a little about you and your background, how you got into writing and editing.

In truth I hated reading with a thick lack of disinterest in writing until the summer before freshman year of high school. My grandmother got tired of my moping and challenged me to read a book a day – long story short, I completed the challenge and my love of reading flourished from the classics to anything in YA. Thanks, Grandma! Anyway I must admit I was at first a contemporary, romance junkie until fantasy rocked my world and I’ve rarely strayed from the genre since.

My writing journey started after I read Twilight and didn’t like it – sorry Twilight fans! I decided I’d write my own Twilight-esque novel, so essentially a fanfiction that was like 50 pages. It was, okay is, still terrible and I read it occasionally to reminisce, but I owe Twilight thanks for planting the seed of writing in my heart.

From fanfiction – and trust me I adore fanfiction still – to bad love poems of high school angst, I stayed mostly with short stories until college where I really dug deeper into the human psyche. I channeled my inner Leigh Bardugo, love her work!, and got away from the fluffier pieces that I realized had no meat to them. I wrote fanfiction in college and co-authored a few stories with a friend too.

I actually gave up writing for about three years after college thanks to a burnout and self-doubt. Only since completing the NaNoWriMo summer camp did I finally finish my first full length novel draft – of which I am revising now to send out to beta readers in early 2020.

As for editing, that sort of just happened. I had wanted to be a writer forever, but rejections and lack of inspiration sent me down a more waffling path of “who should I be?” Curse you imposter syndrome! I gained a lot of knowledge from my internships with magazines, literary centers, and my local libraries. Eventually I reconnected with an old elementary school principal who was also a published author and had his own publishing press. I started freelancing with him and haven’t looked back.

2. What made you want to begin your own editing business?

Good question. So as I mentioned above I started freelancing by chance and adored it – from meeting an array of works and authors to learning the ins and outs of the trade. And let me tell you… there is still so much more to learn. There are tons of workshops and conferences and events I want to attend next year – if you see me, say hi!

Anyway, I decided one day that I was either going to launch my own business or give up trying to be a part of the writing world completely. Now that may sound harsh, and it is, but I was back to that waffling, back to not knowing where I belonged or what I wanted to do: I was stuck in the beginner to immediate book blogger realm and as writer but not really. And I hated it… and set out to fix it. I reached out for advice, got myself a mentor, and off I went. My last stop was a small, local business startup center that was both inspiring and hindering. A month after visiting the center, I launched my business.

It’s been a year – specially a year last July – and I have no regrets. It’s hard work, challenging, taxing and yet beautiful. To have gotten to know so many inspiring authors and publishers and to see the finished products, to see my name in print as the editor… I really can’t describe the feeling.

3. What are some things you’ve learned since running your own editorial business? Anything you’d like to share?

The biggest thing is – there is no day off. Every single day, regardless of anything else I had planned, or how the day job went, or how I feel, I have to do something for my business whether it is a project to work on, an inquiry email to send, looking for advertising, popping into a Twitter chat, etc.

If I want to succeed – and I do! – then I must always keep working.

Also it is a constant battle with the imposter syndrome voice… ugh.

4. What current projects are you working on that you’re excited about?

Stay tuned for this! I’m always updating my portfolio on my website and there are two releases for 2019 and more to come throughout 2020.

5. Personally, do you have a work in progress?

*face palm* Oh yes, one WIP, one picture book I plan to self-publish, and one in the very, very early plotting stages – aka a Pinterest board and 10 bullet points on a piece of paper tacked to my wall.

The current one, a YA (borderline NA) dark lit, horror/fantasy is the finished first draft that keeps growling at me. I’m picking it apart, messily might I add, but I can see the bones and while it frustrates me, I love my characters – quirks and all! I’m looking at diving deeper into the human psyche and trying to incorporate some mythology as well. We will see as I’m surprised at every turn it takes.

The ultimate goal is to query this coming summer and begin working on the other somewhat there draft – or maybe something new, who knows.

As for the picture book, I found a fabulous illustrator who captured my character to a T and will have a finished MS in January to begin the illustrating process and then publication late 2020 or early 2021.

5. Would you like to share an excerpt from your WIP?

Hello nerves, but sure! The first two opening paragraphs are below:

There once was a girl who played with shadows…

The house creaks, stiffening on its foundations as the intruder steps upon each stair with care. Shadows watch from the walls; stalk close from behind. They are powerless to stop the events unfolding, powerless against the scorned figure’s wraith.

Yet her face is devoid of emotion beneath the skewed mask she had hastily put on after pounding on the door. The dagger held in her hand is out in the open for anyone to see. She begs for recognition as she imagines in her head the sweet revenge that is moments away.

6. What are you excited about that you accomplished this past year, and what are you looking forward to in the new year?

This year has a been an up and down mess. I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve had moments where I had a hodge-podge of emotions. But I held strong and look at where I’m at – a growing business, a novel in the works, a picture book I plan to self-publish. I could spend the next few minutes painstakingly detailing every moment from my mistakes to the joys… I won’t though because this was just another chapter in my story, my business story, my author story, and it won’t be my last.

As for next year, I’m rebranding and launching a new website with a new logo, new header, new tagline, new packages… well you get the point. I cannot wait to share it with you. And I’ll also be attending some of the bigger conferences and events this year – ALA, Expo & Con, and YALLFest. My blog schedule is in the works now, with some fabulous authors already scheduled for features, and I have some giveaways coming as well as some social media campaigns.

Stay tuned via my social media sites for all the details!

Oh, and if you have a collaboration idea – from a podcast appearance to a blog feature to an ad – please don’t hesitate to reach out.

7. Share a fun fact about you and/or your business!

Me Fact: I plan to get a tattoo of the first line of my novel once its published.

Business Fact: By the end of 2019, I will have 13 books I’ve worked on published or being published.

Thank you for having me!

Raven Eckman is an editor by night and fangirl at every other available opportunity. She always knew books were her passion, well after her grandmother’s challenge to read a book a day, and obtained her B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. Currently, she’s drowning in her TBR list, tackling her novel draft, and expanding her freelancing business while looking for more bookish things to get involved with. She is active on Twitter, Instagram, and sometimes Facebook when she remembers. You can also find her on LinkedIn.