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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Julia Boggio. Photographer Pictures New Life As Indie Author

Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Julia Boggio. Photographer Pictures New Life as Indie Author

My ALLi author guest this episode is Julia Boggio, who went from professional photographer to indie author. Along the way, she experienced early viral fame and launched a clever marketing campaign that recruited her fellow photographers in promoting her work.

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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Julia Boggio

On the Inspirational Indie Authors #Podcast, @howard_lovy features @juliaboggio, a photographer who found early viral fame, then pictured a new career as an indie author. Click To Tweet

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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Julia Boggio. About the Author

Julia Boggiois a multi-award-winning ex-photographer, whose debut romcom, Shooters, was called a “sassy, sexy, romantic riot” by Milly Johnson. Julia became an original YouTube star when her first dance sparked a worldwide trend in choreographed first dances. She’s appeared on Richard & Judy; Sky, ITV and BBC news — and The Oprah Winfrey Show where she famously danced with Patrick Swayze. (And yes, there is a news-worthy first dance in the book!) You can check out Julia’s website here. Julia is also co-host of the book podcast, Two Lit Chicks, starting its fourth season in May. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

About the Host

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn and Twitter.

If you’re a published indie author who would like to be interviewed by Howard for the Inspirational Indie Authors podcast, you need to be a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Then contact Howard, including your membership number, explaining why you’re an inspirational indie author and what inspires you.

If you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization.

Read the Transcripts—Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Julia Boggio

Howard Lovy: My guest this episode is Julia Boggio, who went from professional photographer to indie author.

Along the way, she experienced early viral fame and launched a clever marketing campaign that recruited her fellow photographers in promoting her work. I'll let Julia Boggio tell her story.

Julia Boggio: Hello, my name is Julia Boggio, and I recently debuted my first novel called Shooters, and I'm really excited to be here chatting with you.

I actually grew up in New Jersey, and I've loved books my whole life. I would usually choose reading books over the company of people when I was growing up, much to my father's chagrin. But at some point in there, I realized that I didn't just want to read books, I wanted to write them as well.

Howard Lovy: But that would come later. She went to college to study creative writing, but becoming an author was not yet in her immediate plans.

Julia Boggio: I would've liked to think that I would be one eventually, but I don't know. I think that I was really excited about the idea of being a copywriter when I was a teenager, that sort of mad men idea of being in advertising.

I think that the desire to write, it came upon me definitely in university, when I was studying creative writing. I knew I wanted to go into copywriting, and so I wanted to take more than the allotted number of creative writing classes that I was allowed, and I went to my teacher because I had to get his signature to give me permission to take this extra class, and I had been writing this story in the previous class about a wizarding school, and he said to me, he said, Julia, I have no doubt that one day you will write the Great American novel, but no more of those wizarding stories, okay?

And I kid you not, this was in 1996, Harry Potter came out the following year.

But I think it taught me a good lesson though, which is, write what you want to write and forget what other people say.

Howard Lovy: So, rather than writing about a wizarding, Julia went into medical copywriting.

Julia Boggio: Yeah, so I went into medical advertising for about eight years, and I wrote copy. Yeah, it was exciting, but being in medical advertising, I had to read a lot of scientific papers and it's just not, my brain just doesn't work well with that. So, I only lasted there about eight years, but I did win awards and I enjoyed the work that I did do.

But I knew it wasn't the kind of writing that I really wanted to do. I knew at that point that I really wanted to write novels, but like I said, I didn't think that I had the experience yet.

Howard Lovy: But before Julia could gain that experience, she discovered another career.

Julia Boggio: What happened next is I discovered photography. So, I went traveling in South America for six months, and I was on the Inca Trail and somebody I met there, he had this Cannon camera, and he was showing it to me, and I just suddenly caught a bug.

And when I got back to the UK, I enrolled on courses to learn photography on the side of my copywriting job, and after a few years of doing that, I turned to my husband one day and I just said, I really want to try photography as a full-time job, and so he supported me while I left my job and started my business. Then a few years later, he actually joined me in my business, and we worked together for seven years. So, yeah, that was quite an adventure, and we're still married, so!

Howard Lovy: And along the way, Julia made her way to the UK.

Julia Boggio: So, I was in New York at a bar one night, as you do, and I met a South African boy, and we bonded over our shared love of Anne Rand. So that book, Atlas Shrugged, is a book that quite literally changed my life because I ended up moving to the UK with him, and the relationship lasted about as long as my Anne Rand fascination, and we moved on and I eventually met my husband who's Welsh and has not read any Anne Rand.

So, yeah, that's how I ended up here.

Howard Lovy: And then something incredible happened, Julia went viral on YouTube in an unexpected way.

Julia Boggio: So, my husband and I love film, so when it came to our wedding, we decided to have a whole film-themed wedding.

I walked down the aisle to, How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, and I walked back out to the Indiana Jones theme tune, all on a string quartet, so we kept it classy. We also did the dance from Dirty Dancing as our first dance. And this was, we got married in 2005, and YouTube came along sometime between then and 2007. So, after a couple of years, we decided to put the video up just to show my friends back in America, and within a day, a newspaper had contacted us and wanted to do a story, and it just snowballed from there.

We were invited onto loads of different shows in the UK, and it lasted for quite a while. Then we went all the way to Greece to get away from it all. We were like one of the original YouTube stars, and when we arrived in Greece, I turned my phone back on and there was a message from the Oprah Winfrey show, and so they said, yeah, we want to fly you out to Chicago, we're doing a whole show about YouTube, and just learn half the dance so you can show the audience, and James and I are thinking, why do they only want us to learn half the dance? It's the second half that's the best half.

So, anyway we get there, and we meet the other people who are going to be on, there's a skateboarding dog, and Paul Potts, if you remember him, and you have some other people.

So, we get called up onto the stage and Oprah's interviewing us, and then she's like, well, we want to see the dance. So, we start doing the dance and the audience is clapping along politely, because let me be clear, we are not amazing dancers and we're dancing and they're clapping, and suddenly they just start yelling their heads off.

And I'm just thinking to myself, we're not that good, and I look over my husband's shoulder and I see Patrick Swayze walking towards us, and he comes up and he taps my husband on the shoulder and is like, can I cut it in? And I'm like, yeah, push my husband out of the way, jump into Patrick Swayze's arms, and we were off from there.

So, yeah, that was a good day.

Oh my goodness, it went on and on, and let me tell you, it's come in handy over the years, definitely. It was great for my business at the time as well, because at the time I was a wedding photographer, and so I got into all the wedding magazines, and it really helped to give my business some prestige.

You can't buy that kind of PR.

Howard Lovy: Julia became a successful studio photographer, but along the way, she still felt like she needed to write.

Julia Boggio: Some of the two most useful skills a person can have is being able to take photographs and being able to write, because then you can pretty much live anywhere in the world.

So, even when I was a photographer, I was a regular columnist for a big photography magazine out here, and so I was flexing my writing muscle.

So, I was a photographer for about 15 years. I started in weddings and then I went into portraiture and opened the studio, and I was working with a richer and richer client, let's say.

I got a little bit disillusioned with the business and I just got tired of the hustle. I think that's what happened. So, eventually I decided to close the business down, which I did in 2019, which turned out to be excellent timing, and then I started my first book.

So I was, I'll tell you the story where I got the idea for the book is, I was at a photography conference and I was sitting with a friend having coffee and I said, I like this idea of writing romance stories for photographers, and she said, oh, you want to be the Jilly Cooper of photography, and for the US audience, Jilly Cooper is an author who wrote a lot about show jumping and really romanticized it and created some amazing characters and stories around that.

In that minute, when she said that, a plot, the characters, the title of the book, everything jumped into my head and I was like, okay, I'm ready to write this book now. I felt like I was finally realizing my dream and just to spend all day with these characters and just seeing the words flow and the word count grow, it was wonderful, it was really addictive. I think you get addicted to it.

Howard Lovy: After the book was finished, Julia tried the traditional route and got an agent.

Julia Boggio: While I was writing the book, I did a course with Curtis Brown, which is a big agency over here, and that's where I met my writing tribe. They helped me polish it and I had an editor look at it as well, and yeah, I managed to get an agent and she was great, really good agent, and she sent it around to all the publishers, and the feedback we got back was very positive. They all said, we absolutely love the book, but we're not going to take it.

The two reasons I got back from her were, number one, they already had a wedding themed book on their lists, so a lot of them say, oh no, we can only have one on the shelf at any time. Which was annoying, because not all these books had been written from the point of view as somebody who had actually worked in the wedding industry, and I think that it does definitely give Shooters a different take on the whole subject.

But anyway, their loss, and then the other thing I got back, and this was said off the record to her over coffee, was that in the romcom space they were really looking for younger writers with a better chance of going viral on TikTok.

I'm 48 years old, so I'm hardly over the hill. It was my first experience of ageism, so I thought to myself, you know what, I can do this myself, because I've got a degree in marketing, I was a copywriter, I ran my own business for 15 years; I can put this product out there.

So, I had a chat with my agent and I said, do you think that I should self-publish?

And she said, you know what, I would tell 99% of my clients not to do this, but you are the one client I would tell, yeah, go for it. So, I did.

Howard Lovy: Julia is an expert in marketing, so she made sure before her book was released, she had a unique and innovative marketing plan.

Julia Boggio: I think the two areas where I decided to market it were mainly to photographers, because photographers are readers as well, and there's a huge female element in the professional photography market as well. That being said, men and women have been reading it and enjoying it. And the other group I thought was brides, so wedding industry.

So, I had loads of contacts in both areas, and so I worked my old network, and I started getting in touch with people and sending them copies of the book and getting them to put it on Instagram and whatnot, and then I sat down, because I knew I wanted to do something big for the launch and I just wasn't sure what it was.

So, I sat down and looked at what I had, and I had a zero budget and a fat list of contacts of very amazing photographers from around the world.

So, I brainstormed with a friend of mine, and we came up with this idea of asking a whole bunch of these photographers to take pictures of themselves reading the book, kind of along the idea of the Cadbury Egg commercial over here. So, how do you eat yours? Or where do you eat yours?

So, I created a secret Facebook group and invited all these photographers from around the world to join it, and told them the brief and then I waited, because I knew what I wanted from it, but I didn't know if they would fulfil it in the way that I wanted them to.

So, what I mean by that is, I didn't want a bunch of iPhone photos back, and the first one that sent them back to me was very much like that, and I was like, oh no, this isn't going to work.

Then some amazing photos started coming in and it was just like, wow, okay, I think that this could actually work. In the end, I think I had 26 photographers send me photographs of them reading the book. One of them even went to Biggins airfield in the north of England and had a photo shoot with a real Spitfire plane, and so the effort that they were putting in and the support that they gave me was absolutely amazing.

So the plan was, I told them all, okay, on March 14th at 8:00 AM everybody needs to put their image up online on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, wherever it is that you have a presence, and I told them the sort of copy that they needed to have, and then I dropped the price to 99p for the Kindle, in order to make sure that there was absolutely no barrier between people making that buying decision, and we did it. If you were a photographer on March 14th, and you didn't see something about Shooters in your feeds, then you don't know the right people.

It's funny, because even a friend of mine who's not in the photography industry, but has a friend who works at Fuji, he called him and said, oh, you need to read this book Shooters, and the guy at Fuji was like, gosh, you too? All my photographers are telling me to read this book today, it's just everywhere.

So, yeah, it was great, and I managed to get to number 16 on the romantic comedy list in the UK, which is a competitive list, as you know, and then I managed to hit bestseller in USA in satire, and in Canada in pop culture, I think it was, but hey, number one's, number one, I'll take it. So, it worked.

Howard Lovy: Julia also launched her own author interview podcast.

Julia Boggio: I thought a podcast would be a really good way to just build a platform because, at the time, I was nobody in the publishing industry and I don't like being nobody. So, I started the podcast with a friend. It's called Two Lit Chicks, and the idea behind it is that we talk to well-known authors about books that changed their lives. So, we've had Bonnie Garmus on, we've had Kit de Waal, Claire Fuller. Oh yeah, Joanne Harris, she was amazing, she made me {inaudible}.

And we've recently, we've had, just our last episode, we had independent author Nicola May on, and we've got LJ Ross coming on in the next season. So, yeah, it's been great.

Of course, it's given me a little bit of a platform, which is nice, and also, it's put me in contact with amazing authors who then, you know, as soon as I decided to go independent, guess who I phoned up and said, hey, could you blurb my book for me?

So, I obviously didn't ask the ones that weren't right for it, but yeah. So, I got, Francis Quinn, who wrote a great book called That Bone Setter Woman to blurb my book and it's again, another good contact list to have.

Howard Lovy: Julia is happy she decided to go indie and advises other authors to consider it as well.

Julia Boggio: I would say go for it, definitely. I'm glad that I chose the independent path now, because I like the control that it's giving me over when I put the book out, over what the final book is as well, editorially, and control over the marketing campaign because, speaking with a lot of my traditionally published friends, they sign these contracts, they go into a traditional marketing world, and then sometimes they just don't get that marketing support and in fact, get told off when they try to get involved in their own marketing.

So, I'm really enjoying that aspect of having the control over this, and I guess I would just also say, think out of the box with your marketing. Even when I was a photographer, I always said to people that your marketing should be just as creative as your photography, or as your writing. It's a creative thing. So, put that creative hat on and think of new ways to market your book.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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