Sunday, November 15, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Julia Fellner, Author

Julia Fellner, Author
TO BE A HERO
REVEALED
SELF-PUBLISHING HANDBOOK
Julia Fellner recently released TO BE A HERO, described by one reviewer as “a fast-paced read that is inspirational, touching, and humorous all at once.” In her story, Fellner says she explores different ideas about heroes because characters define a “hero” in different ways.

Fellner has learned to appreciate the process of publishing and marketing, which led her to write a SELF-PUBLISHING HANDBOOK and to create the concept of “authorpreneurship.” She claims that authors who want to succeed must learn the business of publishing, market their book even if traditionally published, and operate story-production like any other business.

Fellner currently lives in Austria. She is working on another book of short stories and a novella. When she isn’t writing or marketing her own writings, she enjoys going for long walks with friends, traveling, and baking.  Although German is her native language, she enjoys writing in English. She graduated from Vienna University with a Bachelor in English linguistics, literature and cultural studies and completed a Masters degree in Management in the Creative Economy at Kingston University London.

Q: You have written novels that include vampires and heroes. Are your novels directed at young adults? Are they cross-genre?

Julia Fellner: My first two novels are both written in the young adult genre because I was 16 and 19 years old when I started writing them. So it made sense to write for other young adults when I was one myself. However, now I’m looking at exploring different genres. What I do also very much enjoy about the Young Adult genre is that, while there are subgenres, you do not need to stick to certain genre norms necessarily as long as it’s a story about young adults.

Q: You have also written short stories. Do you prefer short stories over longer novels? What is the key difference?

Julia Fellner: Since it is quite a lot of work to develop the world, in which a story is set, I prefer novel-length stories. Novels also allow for more words to explore the world and the characters. However, I do also believe in the art of being concise and leaving certain aspects to the imagination of the reader, so short stories definitely also play an important part in honing my skills and experimenting.

Q: You have written a novel TO BE A HERO. What are characteristics of a hero? Do you need a villain to have a hero? What are the traits of an effective villain?

Julia Fellner: These are questions I also very much explore in the book. Different characters have different ideas but most of them are guilty of either belittling or romanticizing people who are heroes in their opinion. Valerie, the protagonist, struggles with the latter when she tries to be a hero like in the stories she reads and her romanticized image clashes with real life. This is also why I decided to tell the story as a young adult novel. Realizing that you have been romanticizing certain people or ideas, and having to construct new meanings for yourself is, in my experience, part of growing up. To find out how exactly Valerie ends up defining what a hero is, and whether a hero always needs a villain, you’ll have to read the book.

Q:  In addition to writing fiction, you have released an e-book on self-publishing and you also offer consulting services for authors. Can you offer three to five tips for self-publishing authors?

Julia Fellner:
1.     Don’t rush into anything. There are a lot of “publishing” companies that try to make money off of people who are new to the industry. If someone asks you to pay money to publish the book upfront, let alone to read the manuscript, you should research their credibility very thoroughly and seriously consider saying no to the offer.
2.     Find a great editor. Even if you are a Spelling Bee champion, as a writer you reach the point where you’ve read your manuscript so many times you can’t even spot typos anymore. Hence, definitely have someone professional make sure the manuscript is in a mistake-free condition, before publishing it.
3.     Invest in the cover art. People do judge a book by its cover, so your book can have the potential of bestseller but if the cover doesn’t reflect the quality of the writing, customers won’t even bother to read your blurb.
4.     The most time-consuming task is marketing. There is so much to say about this topic I’m currently working on another free eBook called the Writers’ Handbook to Marketing, which should be finished soon.

Q: Can you describe what you mean by “authorpreneurship?”

Julia Fellner: If you want to have a sustainable career as a writer, you also need to be an entrepreneur. You want to know the industry, so you are not dependent on any publishers or agents. You need to do your own marketing, often even if your book is published traditionally. You basically run your own business like any other entrepreneur.

Q: Do you write your fiction strictly to entertain your readers, or do you also try to educate or deliver a message?

Julia Fellner: I think delivering a message in your writing mostly happens unconsciously. I often only know what a book is really about once I’ve finished the first draft. For TO BE A HERO, for example, I realized that how fictional worlds and reality intertwine was one of the big themes, so in successive drafts I worked on making the main themes more prominent. However, ultimately I do agree with Roland Barthes, in that the reader decides, which message the book delivers.

Q: How do you create credibility for your fictional stories, specifically in the world of vampires? Is credibility important to telling the story?

Julia Fellner: Good world building, in my opinion, means that every world you build should be consistent within itself. If the world and its characters are credible, the novel being part of the vampire genre becomes less important. Personally, I actually tried to steer away from using too much of vampire clich├ęs and folklore. As an avid reader of vampire novels at that time, I felt like I had read the same origin stories too often and wanted to give my vampires a different angle, even if, perhaps, this choice makes them less credible in some people’s eyes.

Q: What do you recommend to develop characters that engage readers?

Julia Fellner: Usually, when I start plotting I start with the characters. All my plot outlines begin with who the main characters are, what their family background is. This way I know which formative experiences in their lives have led them to where they enter the first page of my story. Having pages about the character’s history and traits, it feels more natural to develop the plot, knowing exactly who the character is and how they would react in certain situations. I believe that if a writer can achieve letting all these facets of the characters’ personality and back story shine through, without ever having to mention those first few pages in the plot outline explicitly, then readers will be engaged because the character becomes three-dimensional and relatable.

Q: What’s next?

Julia Fellner: Currently, I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month, where writers try to write 50,000 words in November. Based on what I write now, another short story collection will be ready for publishing in the coming months. These short stories have been inspired by conversations with my friends and us complaining that there are not enough stories where there are lgtbqia+ characters, whose sexual orientation or gender identity is represented realistically and they are also not reduced to it.

I’m also working on a novella, which is the prequel to the next novel I want to write. It will be my first piece of writing that is set in Vienna, so I’m very excited about getting to play with the city’s history and famous places.

Q: Tell us about Julia Fellner. Is English your first language? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Julia Fellner: Although German is my first language, I started writing in English very early on, when I was about fourteen. Languages have always fascinated me, and so I studied, like many other writers, English. While this choice has certainly helped to hone my writing skills, I decided I needed to learn more about being an entrepreneur and went to London to study Management in the Creative Economy.

When I’m not working, I’m often working on writing-related authorpreneurship tasks, which mainly means marketing. But I also enjoy going for long walks in parks with my friends, travelling and baking.

About Julia Fellner

“I wrote my debut novel, REVEALED, at the age of sixteen. After this first experience with the publishing industry I wanted to become more entrepreneurial than just writing.

“Therefore, I self-published my second novel, TO BE A HERO; a short story collection, Adventure Stories of Pirates, Robots and Coconuts, also very much enjoying the management side of the process. Based on my experiences as an authorpreneur, I have also released two free eBooks, the SELF-PUBLISHING HANDBOOK and the Writers’ Handbook to Marketing.

“I graduated from Vienna University with a Bachelor in English linguistics, literature and cultural studies and completed a Master degree in Management in the Creative Economy at Kingston University London. Currently, I live in Austria, where I am working on exciting new projects.”


Valerie has loved stories about heroes ever since she was a child. Now it’s her chance to become one herself.

When a masked, self-proclaimed hero called Shadow appears in her hometown, she decides to team up with him and become a hero herself. Valerie is an unlikely adventurer. She can’t run fast and she is a little insecure. But she is passionate about turning her life into an interesting story.

However, soon she has to learn that living a story is not as easy as she had thought. In a small town with no big adventures, the person underneath Shadow’s mask is the only mystery worth exploring. When Shadow’s secrets pile up, she has to learn to face problems without her mask.

In a world that believes it no longer needs heroes, can Valerie and Shadow prove it wrong?

About REVEALED

Vampires, secret societies and first love – those are things that Anne Watson missed during her first high school experience.

Panthera Academy is not only a place for eccentric characters, but also the home of two secret societies, the panthers and the rebels. There Anne has to deal with midnight meetings, shocking confessions of dark secrets and mysterious deaths as she experiences falling in love for the first time.


Based on my own experience of self-publishing my second novel TO BE A HERO, I have compiled a Handbook to guide you through the self-publishing process. Originally a blog series, the Handbook starts, by helping you decide whether self-publishing is for you.

In order to produce a quality book, topics from editing, over cover design to typesetting are explained. Next, legal considerations and different distribution channels, as well as financial concerns are addressed. Finally, the biggest section focuses on marketing - the bread and butter of any author, offering advice on how to build up to the release and continue creating impactful marketing afterwards.

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TO BE A HERO eBook (U.S.) 



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