Alumna author talks success, self-publishing

Julie Johnson
Courtesy of Julie Johnson
Johnson writes about young love and suspense.


Most students spend their senior year of college merely trying to grasp the fact that they’re about to enter the real world. Alumna Julie Johnson found herself graduating a semester early—with a self-published novel under her belt.

“I wanted to write something that I would want to read,” Johnson says. “‘Like Gravity’ is written in a college setting, so I had a lot of inspiration with being in college and writing about college. I took the phrase ‘write what you know’ and ran with it. It was really natural for me to write.”

Johnson had no intentions of becoming an author in college. She studied mass communication and psychology in the Honors Program and planned to pursue a career in public relations. She took up writing as a hobby between classes and finished her first book, “Like Gravity,” in six months. The over 300-page book sold thousands of copies.

“I somewhat stumbled into [writing] as a hobby, and I ended up self-publishing my first book before senior year,” Johnson says. “I didn’t think that I would sell any copies, and I ended up being completely surprised and lucky with the response that I got.”

Johnson’s works, written predominantly for college-aged students, are new-adult genres with a coming-of-age love theme and suspenseful twists. Since the success of “Like Gravity,” Johnson has written two other self-published novels “Say the Word” and, most recently, “Erasing Faith.”

Since graduating, Johnson has settled in the Boston area and is currently working on a series geared more specifically toward teenagers. She can usually be found playing with her dog, finding inspiration for her books’ characters through hanging out with friends, or waking up early to write with a big cup of coffee.

Because Johnson is her own boss, her writing process tends to be a double-edged sword: she can set her own hours, but sometimes finds it difficult to maintain motivation. Johnson says she is most proud of her self-publishing process.

“I do everything myself,” she says. “I do the actual writing, editing, cover designs, promotions. I have my hands in every aspect of it rather than handing it over to a publishing company.”

Johnson also credits her writing and publishing success to her online presence. Through her interactive website and various social media accounts, Johnson promotes her work and interacts with her readers.

“I think that it is completely invaluable to have a strong online presence as an author in this day and age,” she says. “Books are promoted from reader to reader, meaning my work is likely to get around by word-of-mouth recommendations. […] My online presence allows me to talk to my readers all around the world. This morning I received an email from a reader in Australia—and without my online presence, that would not have been possible.”

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