Interview with Judy Fishel, author of Straight A’s Are Not Enough

Title: Straight A’s Are Not Enough

Author: Judy Fishel

Publisher: Flying Heron Books

Pages: 320

Genre: Educational

Format: Paperback

Why do 5000 girls a year not get credit for AP Calculus? How do our mindsets affect our learning? Can we change our own brains, get smarter, or improve our willpower? What happens in your brain when you concentrate on learning? What is the major factor that divides freshmen who do well and those who struggle? These and other intriguing questions are answered in this book. Memorable stories, vivid metaphors, simple images and even a few comic strips reveal ways you can learn most effectively. Many straight A students memorize facts for exams but soon forget nearly everything. What a waste of your time and money! Wouldn’t you rather take charge of your own learning and get a great education? Straight A’s Are Not Enough is definitely not another book on how to make straight A’s. Students who use these powerful strategies will enjoy learning, get a great education, and learn skills employers want most. They can also make straight A’s.

To Purchase Straight A’s Are Not Enough

Thank you for your time in answering our questions. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to write a book?

While teaching in a summer program for gifted children, I asked the students to introduce themselves and share what they wanted to be when they grew up.

A sweet fourth grade girl then asked me what I was going to be when I grew up. I didn’t laugh. I thought a minute and said “When I grow up, I’m going to write a book.” My little fourth grade girl said seriously, “You don’t need to wait until you grow up, Mrs. Fishel. You could start now.” And she was right.

Is this your first book?

While I did have a short story published, this is the first book I’ve published.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?

I started writing at least fifteen years ago. I took a few classes, read a lot of wonderful books about writing, and just kept writing. Although a few of my early submissions got nice comments from agents, nothing was published.

Then, I entered a short story contest and won first prize, $100. My next short story was published in a collection. The problem was that I didn’t really like writing short stories.

After some serious reflection, I decided to write something important, something that could make a difference in the world. And that something was a research-based book on learning strategies for college students. The book begins with question I had asked for years. “Why do I work so hard, make excellent grades, but learn so little?” “How can I learn more and remember it longer?” “How can I get a great education?” Straight A’s Are Not Enough answers these questions and more.

What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?
I learned that many literary agents don’t want to touch a book unless they believe it will be easy for them to sell to a publisher. After a year and a half of sending queries and proposals, even with an outstanding marketing plan, one kind agent finally explained that publishers don’t think college students buy books other than textbooks. Based on my proposal, she said I had an excellent book and that it might sell 250,000 copies, but that I would need to self-publish. I had considered self-publishing a last resort but I am now glad I did it.

I read everything I could find about self-publishing. I avoided any of the vanity presses including those who claim they are not vanity presses. I hired my own editor, book designer, and a publicist who is excited about the book. Now, I’m enjoying the next step, marketing the book. It can be scary at times but what an adventure it is!

If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?
I wish I had given up on literary agents when the first 20-30 said ‘Not for me.”

Did you credit any person or organization with helping you get published?
There were a number of people. Certainly the agent who encouraged me to self-publish is on the list. A dear friend, Leona Bodie, who had already self-published and was doing well was a great role model. My husband supported me all the way, cooking meals as I wrote and acting as my unofficial business manager. My editor, Mark Woodworth actually made editing fun. My talented and patient book designer, Jim Bisakowski encouraged me to do as much as I could. With his help, I even created my own index. Finally, I cannot leave out Amy Collins and her team at NewShelves. Amy refused to take the book until we had a great cover. Jim and I worked on cover ideas for two weeks. It might take a village to raise a child but it takes a talented team to publish a great book.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Don’t just write to get published. Write about something you are passionate about, something that might even change the lives of those who read it. Write what you love.

Judy Fishel was a seventh grader when she first asked the question why she worked so hard, made good grades, but learned so little. She struggled with this question through high school, college and grad schools, and for years as an award-winner teacher. Here she shares her discoveries and insights with you.

For More Information

Visit Judy at her website

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