Kindle Author Interview: Jutta Heitland

Jutta Heitland, author of So You Are Free...Making It Home, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about So You Are Free...Making It Home?

JUTTA HEITLAND: Well, in the book So You Are Free...Making it Home I tell parts of my own experience as a foreigner. I am Austrian but grew up in Germany and always had the feeling of not completely belonging to Germany. Now I am living in New Zealand and here I met many migrants from different countries. And the interesting thing is that their feelings in New Zealand are similar to my feelings in Germany. It is the feeling of foreignness. Maybe the idea to write about it was always in me, but here in New Zealand I found the time and had the distance to my past. And I found out that those feelings of foreignness have actually not really to do with being a foreigner. It has to do with our personality and our view on life. So in my book I reflect on what it is that we need to find our place in life. I approach the issue by exploring aspects of life such as curiosity, envy, pressure, friendship, love and death. Using my own story as the starting point, the questions about life are then followed by interviews I conducted with twelve people from different countries. I wanted the abstract ideas in the first half be illustrated by practical examples and personal insights of other people.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

JUTTA HEITLAND: Really just everybody is my ideal reader! I wrote this book as an experiment and it is not a book only for immigrants. I tried to check out what we need to find the right place in life, a place which should fit like a glove. And those things have nothing to do with countries; they have to do with personal maturity and balance in life. Of course it helps to live in a nice country but humans need more than that. They need family, friends, and relationships. They need acceptance and respect and more. Reading the answers of my interviewees is very intriguing because they are people like you and me, nothing special but similarity gives us often the feeling of home.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

JUTTA HEITLAND: That’s an interesting question. I never considered myself as a writer but as a child I was always a good storyteller. My book is a non-fiction book and not a story, but it is something I thought about for a very long time. I think it is just natural to write down those thoughts which have preoccupied you for so long.

Yes, and I studied social work and pedagogy and I have worked more than 20 years as a social worker and pedagogue. I met so many people with the same questions and so many are not self-confident at all.

We all share more or less the same longings.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

JUTTA HEITLAND: I wrote a book but I am more the short storyteller. My book has lots of chapters and I wrote all of them as if they have been independent topics. Finally I had to put all these chapters together and then I had my book! My book is not the typical book, it is not a novel; you can read it chapter by chapter or begin in the middle and end in the beginning. I started from scratch more than once but my first drafts I just threw somewhere. I made it a habit to always carry a little notebook with me, so I could immediately record all ideas and brain waves. It took me some months until I was satisfied enough to keep my writing. Actually writing is not so easy because you disclose a lot from yourself to the world. And as soon as it is published people can judge it. That’s why I think it’s not only about writing; it also is about presenting yourself to the public.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

JUTTA HEITLAND: As a child I had some favourite authors like Astrid Lindgren or Michael Ende. Now I read all over the book shelves; I like historical fiction, autobiographies and novels. It really depends on my mood what I like to read. I really do like Isabell Allende, Patrick Süßkind, Ken Follet and J.D. Salinger. My taste is rather eclectic and I think there is no particular author who has inspired me. I think reading as a whole can inspire me.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

JUTTA HEITLAND: There have been so many through the years, it is difficult to pick one. Maybe Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren or The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger?

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

JUTTA HEITLAND: My book is published in two languages, in German and English. The English version is on the market since February 2011, so it is pretty new. And I had to learn a lot since then. First I had to get used to the idea that only because I have written a book the whole world would know it. First of all I created a website, and then I told all relatives, friends and acquaintances that I have written a book. I registered myself on Twitter and Facebook, Book Marketing Network, Self-Publishing Review, Good Reads and more. I informed newspapers but that has not been successful up to now, I put up notices in shops, libraries etc. and I had two book parties.

I never would have thought before that marketing and promoting would be so time-consuming. Meanwhile I think writing is 10 % and marketing is 90 %.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

JUTTA HEITLAND: I don’t know if ebooks are the future and they might not suit all people. But for me they are perfect, they are cheaper than traditional books, I can carry my Kindle easily with me and I can order ebooks within seconds. To publish on Kindle was just logical for me. It is so easy and everyone can do it.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

JUTTA HEITLAND: I would say: “Just do it!” But: Be aware that the data is as excellent as possible because it’s annoying for the reader to find one typo after the other. And you should know that with uploading your book you are not done but the hard work will just begin. There is nobody who will help you with marketing and promoting. It is your task to spread out the word and give readers the information that you have written something outstanding. And: You need endurance, patience and persistence.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Jutta Heitland is a writer, social worker and pedagogue. She is the author of the book So You Are Free...Making it Home. She was born in Austria, grew up in Germany and is currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. Her passions are for travelling, reading, writing, hiking and making music. She is married and a mother of two.

Visit her website, find her on facebook, and follow her on twitter.

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