About Monika Trobits:
Monika Trobits has lived in San Francisco for more than 30 years and is a native of New York City. In addition to her full-time work in the corporate world, she has been a docent/tour guide for various historically-based organizations and local tour operators for more than 25 years. In 2011, she established her own tour company, San Francisco Journeys (www.sanfranciscojourneys.com). Her article, “Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco in the 1920s” was published in the winter 2011 edition of the Argonaut, the historical journal of the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society. Her first book: Antebellum and Civil War San Francisco: A Western Theater for Northern & Southern Politics was published by The History Press (www.historypress.net) in November 2014. Monika earned a B.A. in political science/history from San Francisco State University.
What inspires you to write?
As a non-fiction writer, my inspiration comes from wanting to connect modern readers with the remnants of the past that are found all around them in a historically-rich city such as San Francisco. There are stories attached to the sites, street names, statues, monuments and buildings that populate the urban environment. Both the book and the article that I’ve written thus far are portals to San Francisco’s past as are the walking tours I lead. The public response to all of these further inspires me to take on future writing projects and open more portals.
Tell us about your writing process.
Non-fiction is driven by research. I begin by investigating the research material that’s available to develop the subject I would like to write about. When I’m satisfied that there’s enough information for me to adequately develop my topic, I can move forward. I then determine the timeframe for the story and write a preliminary beginning and ending in a Word document. As I gather basic information and notes about sources, I add it to that document. The story begins to develop as I continue adding and moving around information. Each time I sit down to write, I read what I have written so far from the beginning to the end, editing as I go along. That’s a warm-up for the writing I’m about to do and a method of continuously improving the quality of my work, the continuity of the story and my becoming thoroughly immersed in it before adding another word. In addition, I’ve developed a color-coded system for points and sections that need clarification, confirmation or additional research.
What advice would you give other writers?
Writing requires a writing talent, an idea, and time management skills with the latter the most important in the long run. Writers need to have time available to them to write and an environment that’s conducive for doing so. Be realistic about the above! Also be realistic about your subject and its appeal to a potential audience of readers.
The best way to prepare oneself to be a writer is to first be a long-time, avid reader of a diversity of quality writing. To be effective, it needs to be the kind of prose that challenges one’s intellect, builds vocabulary and leads to the development of a solid writing style.
Have a great idea for a book? Don’t advertise it. Keep it to yourself and work diligently to develop that idea into a story.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My book actually began as an article that was twice rejected by a local historic organization that had previously published another of my articles (a 33-page piece). Undaunted, I continued writing and realized that to adequately tell the story, it would have to be book-length and that meant finding a publisher. When I was three-quarters of the way through my writing project, I was contacted by a publisher who found me through my website for my tours that included a PDF of my previous article. I cultivated that initial contact into a manuscript agreement and was then on my way to a published book. As with so much of life, luck played a significant role but at the same time, I had positioned myself for this “lucky break” with my previous work, reputation and my exposure on the internet.
I did look into self-publishing at one point and joined a self-publishing group at a local private library. There I learned a great deal about the nuances of publishing a book. The group consisted of fiction writers and my exposure to this group and the various speakers that addressed its members caused me to shift gears. The self-publishing process was simply not particularly appealing to me. I put aside my fiction project and began a three-year non-fiction project that’s discussed above and was published by The History Press in November 2014.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Books will continue to be published because readers will continue to want to read them in whatever format is appealing to those readers. The book publishing industry is slowly moving forward and finally embracing the realities of the 21st century and the technological era. Publishers needed a reality check and in some ways had become too powerful and too dismissive. Those who survive will do so because they’ve become progressive and more open-minded.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Non-fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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