Archive for the ‘Bestselling Authors Q and A’ Category
In:amreading, amwriting, Author Marketing Plans, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, blog post, blogging, Book Cover Designer, Book Cover Designers, Book cover promotion, book promotion and marketing, From the Editor's Desk, Getting Organized, Marketing and Promotion, Marketing your book, Promoting Your Book, promoting your books, Publishing industry
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.
LP: Tell us about your background and how and why you started Author Marketing Experts.
PS: I started the company because I’m an author and I wanted to give authors a company that understood them, knew the publishing industry and knew what they wanted.
Before I started AME I was in corporate America, working in marketing – but nothing as exciting as marketing authors. Then I got laid off not once but twice. Two companies I worked with shut down, I took it as a sign and started AME. I guess I am what you call an accidental entrepreneur.
PS: Our focus is on promotion, reaching potential buyers and readers. There are a lot of phases to getting a book out there, from editing to publishing, but we’re the go-to for the exposure.
LP: What can AME do for an author that they can’t do for themselves?
PS: What makes my team special is that we know what works and what doesn’t. For a lot of authors who try to tackle marketing on their own it’s a lot of trial and error. I’m not saying we can knock it out of the park 100% of the time, no company can do that, there’s a lot out of our control, but we really do know what strategies work for which types of books and which types of readers. We also have a lot of boots on the ground at any one time, pushing a book from multiple channels, no single person can make that happen on their own.
LP: Okay let’s talk about price. What are the different packages you offer and what do they cost? What can an author get for their money?
PS: First let me say our price ranges have varied somewhat through the years, to some degree they change based on what’s working in the industry, what we can offer our clients and what’s getting authors solid results over and over again. That being said, right now for the types of strategies and approaches we’re really seeing making an impact, the starting budgets are around $1500-$2000. They go up from there based on needs.
And for what they can expect, honestly we customize each campaign for the book and author, rarely are there two campaigns that are exactly alike in our recommendations, but our core strategies usually include guaranteed reviews, Amazon Search Optimization, eBook-specific promotions, and some media pitching. Our goal is to cover as many channels as possible. So we don’t encourage our clients to put all their investment in media for example.
LP: Tell us about two author success stories that AME was involved in – and walk us through what you did for them and what the results were in terms of exposure, sales etc . . .
PS: Some years back, we worked on a book called Cookin’ for Love. by Sharon Boorstin. The book was self-published and turned down by the author’s traditional publisher because he thought that the characters in the book (who were over 50) were too old. So we worked with the author to promote the heck out of the book. We pitched Boomer bloggers and we told them the *why* of why she wound up self-publishing the book, which engaged then even further and fired up her reader base. She wound up doing so well with the book, Lifetime came after her for a movie deal.
The Kennedy Detail, with the former Kennedy Secret Service seemed like a slam dunk. I mean, it’s Kennedy, right? So we had a lot of blogger pitching on this campaign – I mean a ton. But once we started pitching we found out quickly that most of the bloggers only want to talk conspiracy theories (most of them anyway, and we weren’t pitching that specific market). So instead we turned to author events – and the two former Secret Service, including Clint Hill who was the agent who threw himself onto Kennedy’s car when he was shot, toured the country. We often had standing room only crowds. At Warwick’s Books in La Jolla, we had almost 300 people trying to get into that tiny store.
In regards to sales, we don’t track those. No marketing company should because they can’t take credit, or blame, for sales on their own. Too many factors affect sales, a lot of them are established before we join the party and many we have no control over, like competition for example.
LP: You also write for the Huffington Post – how did that come about and what are some of the topics you write about?
It was offered to several us, by Arianna Huffington directly at a publishing event I was speaking at – they were looking to build their book and publishing track. I write about publishing but mostly marketing.
I try to focus on topics authors can run with the day they read the article. So easy to implement marketing strategies, strategies that are proven to drum up more sales, warnings and guidelines that can save authors a lot of headaches. People don’t have a lot of time and I respect that, so I want to be a reliable source for go-to help.
That publishing is a business – yes, it’s creative and exciting and all of that, but at the end of the day it’s a business. You’ve got to make decisions that are business minded. It’s pretty easy to let the ego guide you, I mean in terms of what might look pretty on paper, but be a bad choice for the book. An example of this might be a full page ad in the New York Times. I love NYT but book ads in newspapers tend to only do well for authors with big platforms – like James Patterson, etc.
LP: In your experience – what are some big no-nos that you see authors do online.
PS: I hate to say there are so many, but back to what I said about it being a lot of trial and error, that’s really a big part of doing it on your own. But a handful of things that we see over and over again that can make a big impact are: pricing your book too high; not creating engaging copy for your Amazon page; not having a home base, be it a basic website or just a well-run Facebook page; and not engaging with readers. The biggest mistake an author can make is just sitting back and assuming because the book is for sale, people will buy it. Nothing is that easy, and certainly not in this market, where over 4,500 books are being published every single day.
LP: What are three things that you believe every newbie or struggling author ABSOLUTELY needs to do EVERY SINGLE DAY.
PS: Reach out to fans and potential readers. This is where social media comes in handy. You may not love it, but chances are your buyer market loves it. And maybe your readers aren’t on Facebook, maybe they’re on Twitter – figure it out, know your demographics.
Don’t spin your wheels doing things that don’t matter. This is more of a don’t, but honestly it means take that time and put it into something that works. If you only get 5 visitors to your blog every month, don’t kill yourself writing blog posts. Take that time and research bloggers to pitch yourself to, or spend more time on social media you know is popular for your market, or finish that next book! Anything productive is better than something unproductive.
You don’t have to read every marketing blog or every success newsletter, but find a few that fit your style, that motivate you, and commit to not only reading them, but implementing strategies you learn about. But make sure you make it more than just busy work, this is not busy = productive. This is about making your next book release that much better!
PS: Well so this is like picking my favorite child, that’s pretty hard. Honestly, I love authors who work it. We have worked through several books with Leslie Hachtel – she is tireless and she gets it. If she isn’t writing she’s looking for a way to promote her books. Tawny Weber is another one, and Sarah Andre – all of these gals are just “out there” and pushing their books. I could go on, because we’re so lucky to work with so many authors who never let a “no” get in the way of their success. Honestly, those are my favorite authors because these days, anyone can write a book – it takes a lot more effort to get it seen and read.
In:amreading, amwriting, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, blog post, CHILDREN'S PARANORMAL, From the Editor's Desk, Kids paranormal, Lachesis Blog, paranormal, Supernatural, Teen supernatural, YA Fantasy, YA paranormal
C.J. Redwine is the New York Times bestselling author of YA fantasy novels, including The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, and the Defiance trilogy. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. Visit her website: www.cjredwine.com
Welcome C. J.!
You’re a YA fantasy author – tell us how you became a writer and how you first got published.
I’ve been writing stories since I was in the second grade. By the time I was a teenager, I was filling spiral notebooks with stories, ideas, poems, and even lists of words that I loved. Book Nerd FTW!
I graduated from college with a degree in English and my teaching credential. Even though I loved to write and wanted to be published one day, I had no real idea how to accomplish that, and I needed a career that paid the bills. I taught high school for a few years, got married, had children, and life became one non-stop loop of no-sleep-keep-the-boys-from-starting-the-apocalypse-I-don’t-know-how-to-brain-anymore. It wasn’t until I was thirty and facing a cancer diagnosis that I stopped and evaluated what I was doing. I realized that I’d been waiting for life to slow down and give me the perfect opportunity to write books, but that’s not what life does. If you want something, you have to make it happen or move on to another dream.
So I wrote my first novel, which is a monstrosity that no one will ever read. I joined writer’s groups. Went to conferences. And learned as much as I could about the craft of writing and about the publishing process. I wrote a second book, queried literary agents, and signed with my amazing agent. I expected that book would sell, but it didn’t. I wrote another book, and that book didn’t sell either. I’d been with my agent for over two years without a sale, while others sold in a matter of weeks. I kept picking my self-confidence up off the ground, dusting it off, and telling myself that I could do this.
When I wrote my next book, I turned it in to my agent, fully expecting to hear a slew of “no’s” once it went on submission to editors. Instead, my agent called me to tell me the book was going to auction with four houses bidding on it. I just cried. It was so surreal. It took months for the fact that I’d sold a series to sink in!
My book THE SHADOW QUEEN, which is a dark epic fantasy inspired by the Snow White fairy tale, hit the list at #5. I went out to dinner with my family to celebrate. 🙂
I know that you’re published with Balzer and Bray (a Harper Collins imprint) but you’ve also written a book and indie-published it – called Query: Everything You Need To Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed. Tell us about that and why you wanted to write a book about how to break into the industry?
I’ve been teaching writing workshops for years. I love to teach! And I realized there were a lot of up and coming writers who’d never be able to attend one of my workshops. So I decided to put my query workshop into book form so that anyone who needed a step by step process for how to write a query letter that gets results would have it at their fingertips.
The annual retreat is open to any writers who register. We’re currently accepting names on a wait list for next year’s retreat C. J. REDWINE’S WRITER’S SANCTUARY WRITING RETREAT). It’s a fabulous event full of workshops, critiques, time to write, and delicious home cooked food. I also travel to conferences, book festivals, writer’s events, and libraries to give workshops.
My boys are teens, and they think it’s cool that I’m a writer. Sometimes they even read my books (and then complain about how awkward it is to read a kissing scene written by your mom). My girls are in first grade and preschool, so they don’t really understand what it means to be published. But they do know that I write books, and they love to fold paper together and make their own books. 🙂
It’s very competitive out there with traditionally published authors and indie authors and authors who do both! Writing a good book is of course important – but aside from that – how can a newbie or emerging author find their own place in a sea of so many successful authors?
It’s important to figure out where your readers are and connect with them. One great way to connect is to make sure that your social media presence revolves around passions of yours that are also passions of readers who’d love your books. For example, I write fantasy. I love Grimm, Supernatural, The Flash, The Avengers etc, and I talk about those things. I’m part of the Harry Potter fandom. Of course I share other aspects of my life too, but I make sure to share the things that I know are shorthand for readers who love the same things I do. I also think networking with other authors and doing shared events or book festivals is a great way to meet new readers!
My next book is THE WISH GRANTER, a dark epic fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin in which a bastard princess must take on a dangerous fae to save her brother without losing both her brother and her soul.
What do you love to read in your downtime?
Everything! I read widely. My favorite genres at the moment are thrillers, horror, and contemporary, and of course I always adore a great fantasy. I find so much inspiration in reading outside of my genre.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Literally everywhere. I’m constantly seeing interesting things that make me ask “What if …?” or I hear a piece of music that sparks a conversation between characters or an image of a world … I carry a notebook at all times because my head is a very busy place.
I love character actors! My faves are Benedict Cumberbatch, John Noble, Tom Hiddleston, Johnny Depp, and Bill Nighy. Also I fangirl over fictional characters like nobody’s business. Batman. Loki. Iron Man. Wonder Woman. Dean Winchester. I could go on, but you get the point.
In:amreading, amwriting, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, blog post, cozy mysteries, cozy mystery, From the Editor's Desk, Lachesis Blog, romantic comedy, USA Today bestselling author
USA Today bestselling author Anna Snow writes the break-out successful BARB JACKSON MYSTERIES for the Gemma Halliday Publishing House. While Anna is a happy wife and mom, she has a deep dark secret – she’s a self-confessed lipstick junkie. Anna carries no less than 15 lipsticks in her purse at all times. You never know when you’re gonna need one!
LP: You are published with a small boutique house – Gemma Halliday Publishing and Gemma Halliday is also a bestselling author – tell us how that came about and what is it like working for a boutique house?
AS: I started my writing career writing steamy paranormal and contemporary romance but after a while I wasn’t happy with that genre. I felt out of touch with it, I guess you could say, so I decided to try my hand at cozy mystery. I wanted to stick with mysteries because that’s what I love, but I also wanted to write with humor because I love making people laugh. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gemma’s so when I heard that she had started her own publishing house, I knew that I had to submit my Barb Jackson Series to her, and I’m so glad that I did! I absolutely adore working for GHP. Gemma is amazing.
AS: I was fortunate enough to have one of my Barb Jackson Mysteries (Blondes’ Night Out) be included in a collection of summer stories alongside some of my awesome fellow GHP authors, titled Killer Beach Reads. We hit the promo hard and were blessed with a spot on the USA Today Bestseller List.
I didn’t really do anything to celebrate. Can you believe that?
LP: You write cozy mystery – tell us about your series and why you love this genre?
AS: I’ve always been a huge fan of cozy mysteries. I dipped my toes into the genre by reading books by Jana DeLeon and moved on to Gemma Halliday and many others. I love cozy mystery because it has two of the things I love most while reading. Mystery and humor!
The Barb Jackson Mysteries is a fun, light-hearted series about a petite blonde private detective, her best friends, and her wacky aunt Mona. Barb is clumsy, not very girly, and (hopefully) very relatable. I wanted people who read this series to see Barb and instantly relate to her. She has bad hair days, a coffee addiction, she’d live in her pajamas if she could, her detective boyfriend is constantly worried about what she up to next, and she’s a complete work-a-holic. Barb is near and dear to my heart and I hope reader’s lover her as much as I do.
AS: I love coffee and I’d live in my pajamas if I could. I’m a bit clumsy, but nothing like Barb. I hope most people who read about Barb find that they have something in common with her.
LP: The industry has gone through some big changes in the past few years and some authors who had been doing well with a big pub were let go, meanwhile many indie authors have really taken off – what do you think authors need to do to stay sharp and stay in this business?
AS: Just keep writing and promoting. That’s all we really can do whether we’re published with a big publisher or an indie. I’m still climbing the ladder, so I’m probably not the one to be giving advice, *big grin* but what’s worked for me is that I just keep working. I keep writing. I keep submitting, and I keep moving forward. Do I have set backs? Of course. I sit down have a good pity party, then stand up, brush myself off, and get back to work.
AS: Barb has a lot of things coming up. Illegally Blonde (Book 2 in the Barb Jackson Mysteries) releases on November 15th, 2016. In this one we’ll see Barb working hard and fast to prover her best friend’s innocents when she’s accused of killing her shifty rock star boyfriend.
In April 2017, Barb will be helping an acquaintance find out who’s killing the dancers of the Double Trouble Gentlemen’s Club, with some help from her office girl and pal Mandy, and her crazy Aunt Mona in Blonde and Fabulous (Barb Jackson Book 3). This is going to be a crazy fun one!
And later in 2017 Barb will be headed to the Bahama’s on a cruise with her hunky detective boyfriend Tyler Black in Bahama Blonde (Barb Jackson Book #4). This time, Barb discovers the slimy lounge singers dead body in an elevator and just has to stick her nose in and find the killer.
LP: What are three things that you think authors should do to promote their new releases?
AS: Word of mouth is HUGE. Always tell people about your work. Don’t beat them over the head with it, or nag them about it, but talk about it, and social media is a great tool to utilize when promoting a new book.
I, myself, always have business cards, bookmarks, ink pens, book cover postcards, and other swag items that I send out to whomever wants it and I hold a huge giveaway on my Facebook page every release day. Also, try to get a BookBub advertisement. They’re hard to land, and pricey, but if you can hook one, it’s definitely worth it.
LP: Tell us about three authors you love and why?
AS: Gemma Halliday is always first. Her stories are just so funny that I find myself thinking about them even after I’ve finished the book. The same goes for Jana DeLeon and Hannah Howell. I adore these women!
LP: You are also a self-published author and have written erotica – under the same name Anna Snow – what has been the response of your mystery readers to your foray into erotica?
I wrote erotica before stepping out of that genre and into cozy mystery and my readers have been so incredibly supportive and responsive to my books in both genres. I keep the two genres separate on my website and everyone seems to be alright with my writing both genres.
AS: As Anna’s cat Roscoe:
Anna’s insane. Seriously.
Do you know that she steals my poop from the litter box and puts it in a plastic bag in a big thing she calls the trashcan? Geez. What a whack-job. That’s my business she throwing away!
She also does this thing where she tries to sing along with someone she calls “Prince” on the box that she calls a “radio”. It’s not pretty.
And she hides these yummy cookie things she calls a “Fig Newton” in her top desk drawer, then she complains that she didn’t lose any weight this week. But she gave me a piece of the “Newton” one time. I can’t blame her for eating them. They’re stinking delicious!
LP: Thanks so much for joining us Anna!
AS: Thanks for having me here today. I had a great time!
In:Amazon bestselling author, amreading, amwriting, anthology, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, Bestselling Indie Author, blog post, From the Editor's Desk, Highland Romance, Highlander Romance, historical romance, Independent Author, Indie Author, Medieval Romance, Scottish Romance
LP: You have a very sweet story about how you published your first book – tell us about it – it has to do with wanting to upload a book to your mom’s kindle.
ST: It’s a very long story! In a nut shell, I wanted to give my mother a kindle for her birthday. I thought it would be fun if when she turned it on for the first time, something I had written was on it. Keep in mind, I’ve been writing since childhood. I had only recently discovered Scottish Historical Fiction/Romance. I had fallen in love with Lauren Wittig and could not get the images of Scotland and men in kilts out of my mind. So I started writing Laiden’s Daughter. I was up at 3:30 every morning to write. (My husband thought I was playing Farmville.) I didn’t have an editor or a cover artist, in reality, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was writing it for my mom. I thought I could buy the kindle, get a ‘cord’ to go between the computer and the Kindle, and just give it to her. My husband discovered the book (we only had one computer at the time.) I had to come clean and tell him what I was doing. He came back to me a few days later and said there isn’t a cord, but there is this thing called Kindle Direct Publishing. You have to publish the book then buy it and then it will be on her Kindle. (It wasn’t until months later that I discovered that wasn’t the truth.) So I finished writing it, put together a really bad cover, and published it on December 9, 2011. My secret wish was that someone other than a family member would see it and buy a copy. I had really big goals of selling ten copies. In my life-time. If I could sell ten copies, I would be happy. By the second or third week of February, 2012, (two months after releasing it) it was #3 on Amazon’s top 100 best sellers list! I was selling 450 copies a day. And I still didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The rest, as they say, is history!
ST: At times it feels like a baptism by fire. But it has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It was probably a good thing I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, lol. And no, I wouldn’t take a traditional publishing deal. I am a hybrid author now, in that I do have a publisher/distributor of my paperback books, but I’m still 100% in charge of everything from covers to editing to marketing.
LP: Generally, what are the expenses and time involved in publishing your own book? How long does it take you to get a book out?
ST: It depends on the book! It took me three weeks to write McKenna’s Honor, but it took an entire year to write Frederick’s Queen. Each book can cost any where between $1500 to $3,000 to publish a book for ebook and paperback. Another $2500-$4,000 for audio books. I have an editor, final proofer, cover artist, and other expenses.
ST: Oh, I can’t pick just one! If you mean writing style, then the list is endless. But I have two dear, sweet friends, Kathryn Le Veque and Tanya Anne Crosby, who I talk to on a daily basis. Tanya has a great sense of the business as a whole and Kathryn is great at helping me come up with tag lines for my books. In addition to being awesome authors, they’re beautiful women and I adore both of them.
LP: You’ve had a lot happen in your family this year – can you share with us – how you find time to balance life and writing through life’s ups and downs?
ST: Yes, it has been a very hectic and at times, terrifying, year. Our granddaughter was born more than 3 months early. She was a ‘micropreemie’ weighing in at a whopping 1 pound 11 1/2 ounces. She was born in early April. She is home now and doing amazing! One of the best things about being a full time indie author is that I can either set everything aside and focus on my family without having to worry about losing my job. I put everything on hold when she was born. Once she was doing well and that initial shock wore off, I would go to the NICU every day because my daughter also had a 5 year old at home to take care of. I would go to the NICU, take my laptop, and write. I dedicated Ian’s Rose, my latest book, to my granddaughter. I wrote thousands of words in that NICU, while watching her sleep in that huge incubator. I’m so blessed in that I can focus solely on what I need to and not have to worry about anything else. Now that Malea is home, thriving and growing, I’m back to writing full time. This is a seven day a week job. I rarely take a day off. I’m more apt to only take a few hours off here and there. I make time every day for my husband, I always take my children’s phone calls, and at least once a month we have a big family dinner here now. It’s not easy, but I love doing what I do.
ST: Frederick’s Queen. It took a year to write because of the subject matter. I modeled Frederick and Aggie after my uncle and aunt. Just their mannerisms and characteristics. NOTHING that happened to the fictional Aggie ever happened to my aunt! She was raised in a very loving home!
LP: You are a USA Today bestselling author – tell us how that came about and what book (or books) hit for you? How high did you hit and how did you feel?
ST: With Dreams Only Of You, the anthology I did with Kathryn Le Veque, Eva Devon, Cynthia Wright, Christi Caldwell and Eliza Knight, was my first time making the USA Today Bestsellers list! I honestly can’t remember how high we made it. It was an amazing feeling! I cried, I laughed, I squealed, and took my husband and friends out that night to celebrate!
LP: It’s very competitive out there with traditionally published authors and indie authors and authors who do both! How do YOU stand out? Aside from writing a great book.
ST: I’m a nut, so I’ve got that going for me! I think what my readers like is knowing they can reach out to me on social media and I’ll respond to them. I talk with my readers. I love doing live video sessions on Facebook and talking with them. My readers know that I adore them. My stories are always filled with mystery, intrigue, romance and bad guys that I kill off in delicious and delightful ways!
LP: What do you have coming up next?
ST: I just released Ian’s Rose on August 26. My next book in that series (The Mackintoshes and McLarens) should be out before Christmas. It is titled The Bowie Bride. Next year will be a big year for me as I plan to release a few more historical romance novels as well as one contemporary.
LP: Where is the place you would LOVE to visit purely for research purposes!
ST: SCOTLAND! Ireland, Wales, and England. But Scotland first. My husband thinks we only need a week to visit. Ha! I’ll need a week just to get through the Edinburgh Library!
LP: Thank you!!!!!
ST: You’re very welcome and Thank you!!!
In:amreading, amwriting, Art and Writing, Author Marketing Plans, Author Research and Travel, authors, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, Bestselling Indie Author, blog post, blogging, book reviews, From the Editor's Desk, new adult, New Adult Romance, paranormal, paranormal romance, Supernatural, Supernatural thriller, suspense, urban fantasy, Writer's Craft, YA, YA paranormal, YA Romance
Catrina Burgess (aka Cat Brown) is an author and blogger based in Arizona. When she’s not writing, she loves to bake and spend time with her husband and three rescue dogs Coco, Trouble, and Ashy and their cat Shitty Kitty.
When did you launch Romance Junkies and what made you decide it was time to step back from running it?
I started Romance Junkies back in 2002. At that time I was a freelance web designer and aspiring romance writer. I’ve always been a big reader and in between working a day job and writing I was doing a lot of reading. I thought it would be fun to start doing book reviews with some of my friends. And since I was a web designer I decided to whip up a little website where we could post the reviews. I thought the site was going to be a small weekend project, but the first week we were open, I got a very nasty email from one of the big romance review sites. The letter had a very threatening tone and was telling us we couldn’t feature certain authors that were apparently “their authors.” I remember reading the email to my husband and afterward saying in an astonished tone, “Who knew there was a romance mafia.” I’m pretty laid back, but I don’t like bullies. I decided that day to spend all my free time working on the Romance Junkies. My goal was to try to make it as big as possible, for no other reason than to annoy the “Romance Mafia.”
After 13 years of running the site, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to spend more time working on my writing, and I wanted to try some new projects. Some new challenges.
Are you still involved in the Romance Junkies site?
Marie Harte, who writes contemporary romance for Sourcebooks publishing, is the current owner/operator. She is a good friend, and I know she is going to do a fabulous job with the site. I have stepped down from all Romance Junkies management, site decisions, and actual work, but I’ve stayed on with the site as a reviewer. I plan to do a few reviews here and there.
When you founded Romance Junkies back in 2002 what was the online world like for romance authors/novels and how has it changed since then in your opinion?
Big review sites and big blogs filled Romanceland. I remember I would hit my favorite sites and blogs each week to get news and gossip about what was going on. Over the years, social media has expanded with things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Now I get a lot of my Romanceland news via Twitter and Facebook. Rather than blogs run by a big group of people you see a lot more small, individually run blogs. A lot of young book reviewers are doing their reviews on YouTube.
You’re also an author – when did you start writing and why?
I started writing back in 2001. When I turned 36 years old, my husband lovingly told me, “You need to start working on that writing dream you’ve had since you were a kid, because let’s face it time is running out.” I told him I had no idea how to write a book, and he gave me one of his no-nonsense stares and told me, “Stop whining and go figure it out.” Now in his defense, he does tend to be very straightforward in the things he says. He will tell you the honest truth, whether or not you want to hear it. He is also the most supportive husband—he is one of my main critique partners and has really helped me over the years become a better writer.
I started working on that first book in 2001. It took me eight months to write that first book and five months to edit it. While writing that book, I realized how much I loved the whole writing process. Yes, it’s crazy hard, impossible some days, but so much fun. There’s nothing better than battling through and writing a book and getting to those sweet words—THE END. Nothing cooler than seeing the characters you have in your head become walking and talking entities.
What genre do you write in and why?
I started out writing romance. I have four stories that were published with one of the big epublishing houses. I’m not going to name them since my career with them ended when the house blew up with a bunch of crazy drama. Around that that time I got very sick. So sick I had to give up my day job—I was teaching computer classes and doing freelance web design. My husband, who had always helped me run Romance Junkies, took over the bulk of the work on the site. He also had to take on an extra job since I was no longer able to work. The poor boy had a sick wife at home, was working two day jobs, and was putting up features on Romance Junkies during the wee hours. I told you he’s a very supportive husband. Every year I got a little better and after two years I was able to get back to working on Romance Junkies. Though sadly I was still too sick to go back to working a regular day job.
When I was really sick, every six months I would try to write. The first two years the fatigue was so overwhelming I just couldn’t write. I didn’t have the mental clarity to get words down on paper. And then after year three of being sick I saw that author Candace Haven was offering a fast draft class. I decided to give it a try, even though I knew there was a very good chance I wouldn’t be well enough to participate. To my surprise suddenly I could get the words out. The tips I learned about fast drafting in that class really changed the way I wrote. Instead of editing as I worked, I started just banging out a fast, rough first draft. It was so freeing to allow myself to be creative and to turn off the editor in my head. Of course with no editor on duty, that meant my rough drafts were incredibly rough, and it would take me as much time to polish and edit a manuscript as it did to write it.
Before I was sick, I wrote romance, but now the stories coming out of me were much darker. Even more surprising—they were YA. Working on that first young adult book Awakening was a life saver. When your life is full of fatigue, your world becomes very small. You mourn the high energy person you used to be. You have so many limitations on the things you can do you get depressed. I took all that depression, all those dark thoughts and I poured them into my story. I spent the next two years writing the four books in the Dark Ritual series under the pen name Catrina Burgess. Those characters in the book, the Scooby gang as I call them, kept me entertained and I truly believed helped me get better. I’m still sick, and I still have a lot of limitations on the things I can do, but on a good day I can think clearly. I’m mentally 70% there, which is a huge improvement. More importantly, I’m well enough to write. I never realized how much I loved writing until I couldn’t do it anymore.
You’re published by Full Fathom Five – the publishing company launched by James Frey – who shot to fame years ago with his bestseller A Million Little Pieces – how did that come about and how is it going so far?
I’m with the infamous James Frey publishing through the Full Fathom Five Digital house. I wrote the first three books in my Dark Ritual series and posted them on Wattpad. Wattpad is a teen writing community. I honestly didn’t think anyone would be interested in reading my YA books. I was writing them to entertain myself and my teenage nieces. I was shocked when the series started to get a lot of traction on Wattpad. Before I knew it, the first three books had over 3 million reads. I was getting fan email from teens from all over the world. I decided to enter Awakening, the first book in the series into a Wattpad writing contest. To my amazement, out of 3,000 entries, Awakening was picked as one of ten winners of the Wattpad 2014 Prize. Awakening was named best suspense book. After winning the contest, I was contacted by Full Fathom Five.
I spent a good deal of time researching the new house and their management. It’s always a risk to go with a new house, but I decided to take the risk. It took six months to negotiate a contract we could both live with. Once I was on board with the house, I got to know the staff as I worked with them. And I really enjoyed working with them.
The toughest part of the whole process was the eight months of publisher edits. Since I signed in January and the first three books all came out the month of October, I was under very tough deadlines. But somehow I survived them, though I don’t remember much about last summer, it seemed to have whizzed by in a blur of edits.
I love how the series turned out. I adore the covers. And I would have happily continued working with FFF, but unfortunately the digital house this year decided to downsize. They are not taking on any new submissions. I plan to write a half-dozen books set in the same world as the Dark Rituals series, but now I’m free to do whatever I want with those books. It’s a bit scary having an orphaned series. It’s very unlikely another house will pick up the rest of the series. At the moment the plan is to self-publish the rest of the books. Nowadays when you self-publish you have to consider covers and edits. Those expenses come out of your own pocket. You cross your fingers and hope that the book sells enough to repay the money you paid out of pocket. There is no guarantee it will. There is a risk, but there is also quite a bit of freedom having full control over your book. It allows you to take more risks with the story and the characters.
Given your background at Romance Junkies – what do you think are some key things that every author should do to promote their books?
If you asked me this question three years ago, I would have had a pat answer for you. There seemed to be a roadmap that authors could follow to find success and sales. But in the last three years the publishing industry has been in a free fall. Suddenly authors who had been making a great living writing are having a hard time surviving.
I’ve given a lot of thought to why there has been such a drastic change in Romanceland in the last three years. Is it because Amazon changed its algorithms? The fact that so many indie authors are now publishing romance? Has the avalanche of free books turned readers off from buying books? Could it be that the middle class is shrinking, and people seem to be working more which leaves them less time to read and less money to spend on books? I think it’s a combination of all of the above.
So what can an Author do that will ensure she/he sells a zillion books? If I could answer that question, I would be the most popular person in Romanceland. I think it’s still important to try and get your name out. It helps to be active on social media. Book blog tours, Facebook ads, reviews—I think these things still help with book sales. But when it comes to the big sales I think it’s lightening striking—the combination of timing and luck. If you are lucky enough to have a project that hits big with Amazon rankings and somehow gets found by the readers and those readers spread the word about the book to all their friends–you get this grass roots buzz happening. The rankings and readers interest gets the blogs all talking about the book, and the big sales seem to follow. I don’t know that anyone has found a guaranteed way to make all of those things happen. If they did, I’m sure the whole of Romanceland would be talking about it.
Personally, I’m going to try a few non-writing projects see if I can raise my Author visibility. In the fall I’m going to start doing YouTube videos about paranormal topics. Hopefully, I can make the videos informative yet zany enough to entertain my teen readers.
Let’s say your book has been out there for six months, and the shine is off the apple – what are some key things that an author should do to keep their name out there?
Another good question. The answer seems to be write more books. It’s a tough time in publishing—authors are expected to write multiple books a year and, at the same time, do a ton of social media and marketing. You see many authors struggling to find time to write with all the marketing they are doing. Some authors seem to be able to juggle the two seamlessly. I’ve seen authors who are somehow on Twitter all day long interacting with their readers and yet they still find time to write. I wonder when they sleep.
What do you love reading and who are three of your favorite authors?
You have chronic fatigue syndrome – how does it affect your writing and daily routine? What are some things you do to help keep yourself balanced?
Chronic fatigue is a dreadful thing to have. Most people don’t realize how debilitating fatigue can be. There are days when I feel like I have a house sitting on my shoulders and getting up and putting a load of dishes in the dishwasher seems like an impossible task. I’ve always been a type A personality, but no amount of mental strength or willpower can fight through that much fatigue.
I found what works for me, is if I set a weekly page count. I try to write every day, but that’s not always possible. I find with the weekly page count it helps me push myself to get pages done on those days when I feel well enough to write. But there are many days during the week when I’m too sick even to sit at the laptop. Especially if I overdo it.
Last Olympics the women’s volleyball team had a mantra they used—breath, battle, believe. It’s a mantra I’ve adopted to help me get a book done. I breathe and take it easy on days I can’t work. I battle and work on the book on days I feel good. And I believe that if I keep working away the book will eventually get done.
Bonus: What are you really good at and why? (can be something silly) J
I can crochet afghans. It disturbs and amuses my friends that I can crochet. I’m someone who lives in graphic t-shirts, jeans, and vans, and I guess crocheting is something that people always think of grandmothers as doing. I’m good at it thanks to my very own grandmother who taught me how to crochet.
In:amreading, amwriting, anthology, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, blog post, contemporary romance, Dark Paranormal, From the Editor's Desk, LGBT romance, paranormal romance
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.)
LP: Most authors stick to one or two sub-genres in romance but you write in a variety – tell us what you write and why?
MH: I’m an avid reader of romance, and I like multiple genres to read. When I started writing, I wanted to write everything I liked. So confining myself to one genre would have been too limiting. It might not have helped me carve a niche, but it’s allowed me the freedom of enjoying my work, because I don’t get bored.
MH: Funny story. Back before book bundles had gotten so popular, I was in a bundle (A Taste of Decadence) in 2013 that hit the USA Today list. I was in Safeway (grocery store) with my kids at the time, and they got candy to celebrate. A year later I was in that same Safeway in a new bundle, Mastered, and my phone was going nuts. Turned out we’d hit the NY Times list! This was July 31st, 2014. Mastered was #14 on the NYT eBook List, #19 on the NYT eBook and Print Combined List, and #95 on the USA Today Bestseller List. Needless to say, my kids got their fill of sugar a second time.
MH: My first book released in 2004 through a small press publisher. So I began my career traditionally published. Back then, doing it yourself meant vanity publishing, and I refuse to pay to be published. I always kept striving to break into the big 6. But in the meantime, I wrote like crazy with multiple books coming out each year with my smaller houses that were doing really well. Then I delved into self-publishing, once platforms like Amazon, B&N, and iBooks were available.
I think the hybrid (trad and self) publishing model is the way to go. I get much more distribution and visibility through my traditional houses and more freedom and control through self-publishing. But it’s also a lot more work in self-publishing. For sure.
MH: Hmm. That’s a tough one. One author that comes to mind is Katie Ruggle. I’m a super huge fan of her romantic suspense series, Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue. The writing is tight and the plotting is fantastic.
Another favorite who comes to mind is Morgan Hawke. She hasn’t been too visible lately, but I reread her Interstellar Service & Discipline series a lot. It’s just so different from what’s out there, and it was written years ago. It’s a funky scifi, erotic, cyberpunk series, and it’s amazing. I so wish she’d write more!
LP: You took over the helm at the Romance Junkies site – tell us how that came about and why you wanted to pick up the torch so to speak.
MH: I’ve been friends with Cat, the previous owner of RJ, for years. She’d been talking about winding down, busy with family and her own writing, and I begged her not to scrap the site. When I started writing, RJ was a huge presence in the romance community. Times have changed, but I remember how much RJ had helped me with writing and with finding new reads. So I told her I’d buy it. I wasn’t sure about running a review site. It’s A TON of work, but I love books and it’s fun. So for now, I’m holding onto to it with both hands!
LP: What can Romance Junkies offer authors in terms of promotion?
MH: We are author-friendly, and our prices are low in comparison to other sites ($25 for a monthly cover spot, for example). We do anywhere from 65+ reviews a month, and we have access to everyone out there. The site has been around for 13 years. We’re growing our Facebook presence, but we have over 4000 twitter followers. We were getting 250,000 hits a month before we rebuilt our site, so we need a little time to rebuild those numbers as our SEO adapts to the new links. We do draw in readers with daily giveaways and FB posts and tweets.
Writer’s Digest has named us one of the top 101 best websites for writers several years running, to include 2016. We have a yearly writing contest, tips and resources for authors, and great rates for advertising, merging readers with authors. (See our For Authors link.)
LP: One of the things I’ve noticed is that some authors will devote most of their focus to a new release for a few weeks and then move on. What do you think are some key things that an author should do on a consistent basis in order to sell books consistently?
MH: Great question. I’ve been guilty of this myself. It depends on budget and how many books an author releases, certainly. But anymore, it’s not enough to just write a good book. You need to market your work. Sure, punch up that new release. But once the dust has settled, try new promotional efforts. A sale, a new release in the same series to bring back attention to book one. Graphics with catchy text on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a constant process to keep one’s name out there, but readers have to know about you in order to read your books.
MH: I think freebies both help and hurt. The first free book in a series? A great marketing tool to get folks interested in the series. A single title always free, when an author only has one or two books out? Not so great. By giving away their stories and making everything free, I fear authors have devalued their work. Now readers want cheap and free all the time, and it sets the idea that a writer’s time isn’t worth the money. Heck, normally, the cost of a book is equal to a cup of coffee. But readers are used to free and .99, so much that those prices don’t seem to phase anyone anymore. I don’t know. Publishing has gotten pretty scary lately.
LP: Tell us about your latest release and what you have coming down the road.
MH: My latest release came out June 7th. Test Drive is the first in the Body Shop Bad Boys series, about a group of rough mechanics working in a garage who like to get dirty on and off the job. *grin* Book two, Roadside Assistance, releases Sept 6th. Just next month! And in November, my third series for Sourcebooks releases. A Sure Thing is book one of The Donnigans–With the eldest Donnigan brothers adjusting to civilian life, their younger sister constantly in trouble, and their little brother clueless about life in general, falling in love is the last thing on anyone’s mind…
LP: Bonus: If you could possess a supernatural power/ability what would it be and why?
MH: The ability to stop time. I never seem to have enough of it!
MH: Thank you so much for having me!
LP: Thank you!!!!!
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In:amreading, amwriting, authors, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, blog post, contemporary romance, craft of writing, From the Editor's Desk, historical romance, Lachesis Blog, Marketing your book, New Release, Q and A Bestselling Authors, Q and A with Bestselling Authors, regency historical romance, Regency Romance, romance fiction, romance hero, romance novels, romantic comedy, So You want to be a bestselling ?, So you want to be a bestselling author?, Why we read, women's fiction
Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the bestselling and award winning author of numerous smart and sassy romance novels. A champion of the genre and its readers, she is also the author of the non-fiction book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels, Explained and has written for The Huffington Post, NPR, Bustle.com and more. Maya lives in New York City with her darling dog – a shiba Inu and a rogue of her own.
LP: You write romance – Regency historical and contemporary – what attracted you to both?
MR: I started writing historical romance because that’s what I was reading—because that’s what my mother read and passed along to me. But I’m so fascinated with the parallels between the Regency world and today and I wanted to explore that in my writing, so that’s why I did a series like the Bad Boys & Wallflowers. It’s about a modern day heroine “writing” historical romances based on her “real life” romance with the bad boy billionaire. This page on my website outlines how the books are connected.
MR: I hit the list with What a Wallflower Wants and I celebrated in the usual way: jumping up and down and crying in the kitchen with the husband. I actually wrote a little blog post about it, from my initial reaction, to the champagne, and what my mom said when I called with the news.
LP: You’ve also written a non-fiction book called DANGEROUS BOOKS FOR GIRLS: THE BAD REPUTATION OF ROMANCE NOVELS EXPLAINED. Do you think romance novels still get a bum rap and why?
MR: I think romance novels have gotten a bum rap because they’re unapologetically by women/for women and they’re mass (read: cheaply) produced and our culture tends to be dismissive of both those things. But that’s also what makes them so powerful and popular! I see this changing, though, as there is more attention and respect paid to women’s work (whatever it may be).
LP: Aside from writing your books, what are THREE key things that you do consistently that help you “put noses in your books” and build a reader fan base.
MR: Well, writing the books is the main thing. The best way to sell a book is by making a reader happy with another book you’ve written. For advice other than that, I’d suggest:
–Cultivating relationships with other authors. Champion the books you love and give shout outs to authors you want other readers to discover. Maybe they’ll do the same for your work, or it might just add to a culture of sharing the love, which helps everyone. 🙂
–Be an engaging person on social media. Connect with and converse with people there and talk about stuff other than trying to sell your books.
— Unless you have a new release and then . . .
–Tell everyone when you have a book out! HUSTLE! Tell your friends and family. Call your local bookstore. Shout it from the rooftops. Whatever it takes to get the word out!
MR: In Romancelandia, I’d get super bashful and excited to talk to Lisa Kleypas. Her writing is some of the best in the genre, and any fiction I’ve read. Plus, I love how she’s written historical and contemporary romances.
LP: Tell us about THREE AWESOME books you’ve read by newbie authors or authors who haven’t yet “broken through” (can be any genre).
After looking at my recently read list, I don’t think there are many newbies on it! Gasp! But here is what is downloaded on my kindle and awaiting me this weekend: Tycoon by Joanna Schupe, Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley and Stirring Attraction by Sara Jane Stone.
LP: What is one of the coolest/sweetest things a reader said to you or did for you?
MR: I’ve gotten some sweet cards from readers and even a really lovely wedding present. 🙂 But the best thing is just hearing from readers on social media that they enjoyed my books.
My latest is Chasing Lady Amelia—it’s book #2 in my Keeping Up With The Cavendishes series about an American family that inherits a dukedom in Regency London. Each book in the series is inspired by a Rom Com and this one is my tribute to the movie Roman Holiday. Think runaway heiress + dashing rogue . . . you know where this goes! Next up is Lady Claire is All That, inspired by She’s All That.
LP: Bonus: What are three fun “romance heroine” lines that a gal could use on a cute guy at a party or coffee shop?
MR: Oh, that is a tricky one! Any romance heroine line is one that is from the heart and probably sounds like “the wrong thing” to say. Or it’s a declaration that she will never marry the hero (haha, famous last words).
LP: Thanks so much!!!
MR: Thank you! This was fun!
In:Amazon bestselling author, amreading, amwriting, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, Bestselling Indie Author, blog post, contemporary romance, Cowboy Romances, cozy mysteries, cozy mystery, craft of writing, Getting Published, historical romance, Independent Author, Indie Author, Murder Mystery, mystery
Patricia McLinn is a USA Today bestselling author of more than 30 books that include mystery, romance, and westerns She began her novel writing career with Silhouette Books (Harlequin) and was nominated for and won several writing awards, but her career really took off when she decided to go indie. She made the decision to go indie well before the explosion of indie publishing began.
Before becoming a full time author, Patricia was an editor at the Washington Post for 23 years and a journalist for several years before that. She has a degree in English Composition and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University . A truly impressive resume.
LP: You began as a traditionally published author and now you self-publish exclusively. Tell us how that came about?
PM: My traditional career was so up and down that it would be banned as unsafe if it were a carnival ride. With one publisher I had about 32 editors for 25 books – hard to get any continuity or rhythm going. Some of those editors said I was “pushing the envelope.” Huh? What envelope? Where? I never got that.
I became increasingly frustrated with editorial limitations and poor decisions on scheduling, titles, marketing. I did encounter some outstanding editors. Frequently their hands were tied by the hierarchy. The upshot for me and many authors was having our careers ill-served.
Well before there was anything to do with them, I was getting rights back to my previously published books. No matter what, I figured I’d be happier with the rights in my hands.
In 2006 I remember thinking ebooks were going to pop sometime, some way. No idea when or how, but I was on the lookout. By 2008 I had ebooks available online, expanding to the major retailers in 2011.
An unexpected and marvelous benefit of going indie is that writing is a lot more fun now. Writing and publishing are very different activities. My experience in traditional publishing was that they actively conflicted. As an indie author, they do not conflict. They bolster each other.
LP: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
PM: When the traditional publishing model works the way we all dream it might – think of it as the Richard Castle model from the TV show Castle – it’s marvelous. Brand name authors become an asset that publishing houses tend with some care. It’s different for mid-list or most entry-level authors. I was just listening to a Joanna Penn podcast with Jane Friedman in which they said contracts traditional publishers are offering first-time authors are worse than ever.
The exception is if you have a blockbuster book, everyone agrees it’s a blockbuster book, multiple publishers are willing to pay an advance commensurate with a blockbuster, the publisher you pick follows through on its promises, and all the marketing efforts work so that, in fact, your book becomes a blockbuster.
Traditional publishing can reach a broader audience — the folks who read one or two books a year – while indie authors’ audience are devoted readers.
PM: Now, for the pros and cons of self-publishing.
Pro: Nobody tells you what to write. Some indies might say the market tells you what to write, but that’s only if you listen. 😉 I’m to a stage where I write what I like to read, then try to find readers who enjoy that, too. I do not tailor my writing to trends. Writing is too consuming and too difficult to do if you’re not, first, enjoying it yourself.
Pro: You’re in charge. You decide when your book will come out, what it will look like, how it will be marketed.
Con: You’re in charge of implementing all those decisions. It’s a lot of work.
Pro: You can change things that aren’t working and you can do it quickly. Cover redesign? Tweaking something that always bugged you? Altering the book description? Price change? All that and so much more you can consider, decide on, implement, and then view the results in less time than it takes for a traditionally published author to hear back about whether his/her editor took his/her request to any of — much less all of — the meetings required to decide on a change.
Con: You’re in charge of implementing all those changes. It’s a lot of work.
Pro: You set your schedule. When it comes to “hurry up and wait” traditional publishing puts the military to shame.
Pro: You get paid in 60 days.
Pro: You’ll never fire yourself.
Con: You have a boss who’s a b**ch. 😉
LP: Ball-park figure. How much MONEY do you spend on each self-published book and what are the expenses involved in publishing your own book?
PM: Book cover — $200-900 (largely depending on cost of photos.) Formatting — $100-150. Editing/Proofing — $100-600. Marketing — $0 to the national debt.
I have a couple advantages. I was an editor with the Washington Post for 23 years and a journalist longer. I’m an experienced editor. However, nobody catches everything, especially not in their own work, which is why I always have a proofer.
The second advantage is that from having been published for twenty-six years, I have author buddies I can call and brainstorm with for story issues. In essence, they are my developmental editors. And I repay in kind.
LP: Based on YOUR OWN experience. How much TIME do you spend each day doing marketing and promotion (over all and including social media, newsletter, booking ads etc . . .) Do you think it’s enough or not enough? Why?
PM: Oh, boy, I get to use my favorite answer – it depends.
When I’m deep in writing mode I try not to do much of that because it engages a different part of my brain/personality that is not conducive to writing. When I’m writing I don’t want to think about audience reach or ROI or strategy or any of that. I want my head so thoroughly in the fictional world that I’m astonished to walk outside and discover it’s not the season I’m writing about. (Which is why the neighbors think I’m that strange woman who wears winter coats to walk the dog when it’s 76 degrees out.)
Other times I will spend all day on various aspects of marking and promotion. That’s on top of the time my executive assistant Kay devotes to these areas, along with help from a team of great folks helping with individual aspects. It’s been wonderful to be able to delegate some of this, to free up my writing brain.
Enough? Nah. Because there’s always something else I see out there that I could have done. Another strategy or outlet to try. The possibilities are never ending.
But that’s okay, because all those strategies, all those possibilities are in service of finding the right reader-author match.
LP: You have many series on the go. Including the bestselling CAUGHT DEAD IN WYOMING SERIES. Why do you write series books? Tell us about your series. And what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?
PM: I love the interconnectedness of the communities in the series I’ve written. I love how a character learns a lesson in Book 1 and shares it with another character in Book 4. I love how the characters continue to grow past the end of their book. In romances, I don’t believe the ends of my books are Happily Ever After. Instead, they’re Happy Beginnings. What the characters learn and how they change brings the hero and heroine to the point where they can have a Happy Beginning.
In CAUGHT DEAD IN WYOMING each book has a mystery that’s completed by the end of the book. But the story of Elizabeth Margaret Danniher, her friends, and her stray dog Shadow develops over a number of books.
Elizabeth faces multiple crossroads in her life. Her marriage ended, her successful career was pulled out from under her, she’s plunked down in Wyoming, and trying to figure out what’s going on. Between solving murder mysteries, she is also solving the mystery of her life.
For me, writing a series lets me explore that great question “What happens next?”
LP: What social media networking sites do you use? Which one(s) work best for you and why?
PM: Mostly Facebook and Twitter. Some on Pinterest. I am looking at Instagram … mostly so I can inflict photos of my dog and garden on the wider world <eg>. The conversational threads are great on Facebook. Twitter appeals to my newspaper background. I wrote headlines for a lot of years, so 140 characters feels comfortable.
LP: You’ve hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list. What are 3 KEY THINGS THAT an author needs to do whether they are indie or traditionally published?
PM: Enjoy what you’re writing. Both because it comes through to the reader and because it will allow you to keep writing though a long career.
Fulfill your pledge to the reader. From the first paragraphs, you promise the reader a certain kind of read. Heck, before the reader starts Chapter One, s/he has an idea of what kind of reading experience this book is going to give him/her – from the packaging, the description, the title, your previous books.
Respect the reader. Those envelopes I kept being accused of pushing? Well, a lot of them had to do with this point. Readers do not need to be told the same thing 47 times, to have limited vocabulary, to have references constrained to current pop culture. Reading has always been a great education — as well as a great enjoyment – for me because authors didn’t undersell my ability to pick up new information from context or look something up.
LP: What is the most important thing you do when you release a new title?
PM: Inform the loyal, wonderful folks on my readers list via my newsletter. I try to give them any news first, along with deals, behind-the-scenes, and consumer tips. That’s the most important external thing. The most important internal thing is a lot of self-talk about one of the wonders of ebooks being that a book’s life is long and this is only the first day. Lots and lots of days to come when a good match can be made between the reader looking for my kind of read and my books.
LP: WHO are 3 authors that YOU look up to and admire and why?
PM: Limiting this to three is cruel. I’ll go for diversity in these three.
John McPhee in non-fiction. Because he can get me interested in topics I don’t care about beforehand (oranges, geology) and sustain my interest.
Georgette Heyer: Because her books seldom hit just one note – all-angst-all-the-time or over-the-top comedy. Instead, they have moments of humor, of seriousness, of confusion, of clarity – just like life. I especially like this in her murder mysteries.
Kathleen Eagle: Because she never stops respecting the reader.
LP: When readers message you – which series or book comes up most often as a fan favourite and why?
PM: Interesting question. It made me realize that people have contacted me about every one of my books/series.
I see reading as interactive. Readers don’t passively accept a story from the author. They bring so much of themselves to each book they read. A reader’s life experience or where they are at the moment will affect how they react to a book.
Okay, but you asked “most often.” Probably a tie between:
The Wyoming Wildflowers series, saying they feel so connected to the characters that they feel like family
The Caught Dead in Wyoming series, saying they love the realism of the characters and that the mystery has some humor, while still respecting the seriousness of the crime.
(Boy, this was hard, because there are devoted readers of the other series I feel like I’m leaving out.)
LP: Bonus: Dogs or cats and why?
PM: Dogs. Because there’s so much communication with them. Because they pick up on your moods and care. Because they’re inside pets who don’t use a litter box inside 😉 Though, realistically, it’s probably because my family had dogs all along, so that’s what I know better.
In:amreading, amwriting, authors, BDSM Romance, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, Bestselling Indie Author, blog post, contemporary fantasy, Dark Paranormal, Erotic Paranormal Romance, erotic romance, paranormal romance
Kathy Kulig is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of erotic romance whose works include paranormal, contemporary, BDSM and suspense. Her books are passionate and emotionally-charged, sometimes with a little added humor, but there’s always a steamy romance and a happy ending.
She’s been featured or quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Writer’s Digest, Romantic Times Magazine, USA Today HEA, Florida Weekly, Bustle Magazine, The Examiner, and several radio shows. She has spoken at national and local conferences, writer’s groups and libraries. She teaches workshops on various writing related topics at conferences, writers groups and online.
Kathy has published in both fiction and non-fiction. More than three dozen of her articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers and various on-line venues. Her recent non-fiction book Write to Success, co-authored with seven other authors, has hit bestseller rankings in its category.
Besides her career in writing, she has worked as a cytotechnologist, research scientist, dive master and stringer for a newspaper.
Kathy Kulig: I’ve always written on the steamy side in both paranormal and contemporary romance. In 2004, an author/editor who was a member of our writer’s group was putting together an anthology of erotic novellas. I pitched a story to her and she said to send it to her. I hadn’t even written it yet! So I wrote like the wind and made the deadline. She accepted it. And that story became my first published work of fiction to a small print press. It’s out of print now.
LP: Ever since Fifty Shades of Grey came out erotica has really taken off – or rather it has become more “mainstream” and attracted a lot more readers – as an author of erotic romance – who’s been writing for years – what do you make of this phenom?
Kathy Kulig: I think it’s great that Fifty Shades of Grey opened up the genre to readers who may not have otherwise tried it out. Although there are many talented authors who had already been publishing erotic fiction for decades, the Fifty Shades books struck a chord with a demographic of readers who are now reading these authors. That’s a win-win.
LP: What do you love about writing erotic romance? And in your case – paranormal erotic romance.
Kathy Kulig: I love the depth of edginess and emotion found in erotic romance, and the ability to explore a variety of kink and alternative relationships. These stories can add another element of hotness to the conflict and relationship among the characters not always seen in sweeter romances. I’ve been a long-time fan of the paranormal. I started reading them at a young age—ghosts, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, alternative universes, ESP and more. Add in a heroine you can root for and a sexy hero you can swoon over and what’s not to love?
LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published. What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Kathy Kulig: I learned a lot while working with a traditional publisher and editor, art department, etc. It’s a great way to learn about the business, and my editors have helped me become a better writer. The downside is you don’t always have a say about book titles, covers or release schedule. And you must work within a contract. It’s important authors know what they’re signing. If they don’t understand the clauses in contracts, hire an expert. Publishers put out a lot of their own money so they must protect their investment too. The pros of indie publishing are writing what you want with full control of your publishing business including titles, series, covers, editing and release schedule. But cost is all out of pocket.
Kathy Kulig: Yes, science has influenced my writing. Some of my characters have scientific careers. Some stories have scientific backgrounds. While researching a vampire book that has not yet been published, I visited an IVF lab. Quite impressive! I had to don a full isolation suit which took several stages to put on. Similar to the hazmat suit worn in the movie Outbreak. I also used a microscope that floats on liquid nitrogen and practiced artificially joining egg and sperm. (Sheep’s eggs). In my book a lab does research on a captured vampire. The heroine helps him escape.
LP: What is the most effective thing you do or have done on the marketing/promotion front that has worked for you in terms of building readership?
Kathy Kulig: I was fortunate enough to be invited in a multi-authored erotic box set titled Spice Box in 2014. My romantic suspense book RED TAPE was included in the set. We did an enormous amount of promotion, ads, FB parties, contests, blog tours, newsletters mailings, etc. We also had a number of headline authors with huge fan bases. The group worked hard together and we sold over 56,000 copies in one week, hit the NY Times at #6 and USA Today at #13.
LP: You live in a 100 year old Victorian home, which sounds absolutely lovely. And your bio on your website mentions that your garage is constructed from rejected gravestones? WOW! Tell us about that.
Kathy Kulig: Old houses come with lots of charm and
renovations. I love this old place. Hubby and I have spent the last 15 years remodeling it and it still needs lots of care. We live near an old cemetery. Some Civil War vets are buried there. And yes, the garage was built in the 1930s or 40s out of reject tombstones, or the extra pieces of stones not used. There are a few that have letters carved or holes drilled for where the headstone would’ve gone. It makes for a sturdy structure.
LP: You’re a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbie authors or authors who haven’t “broken through” should do to boost their career?
Kathy Kulig: Don’t do what I did. LOL. I jumped around in various subgenres because editors and agents said they were looking for a particular genre, then they weren’t interested in a certain genre so I wrote something different. Besides that, I didn’t know where my strength was. I enjoyed reading and writing different things. If you’re starting out, stick to one thing, make a series of several books, at least 4, 5, 6 or more. Another thing is learn your craft and keep learning no matter how many books you have. I learned that from a NY Times author who published over 100 books and still takes writing classes. I recommend a screenwriting course. Many local colleges offer them. I took one at a local community college and it was a huge help with plotting. And the last thing would be persistence. Don’t get discouraged when you feel everyone is more successful than you. Run your own race, set your own goals and don’t give up.
Kathy Kulig: I met Rose C. Carole at a writer’s conference. Her first book just came out. Catering to His Needs. It’s an erotic and fun read. She knows how to write BDSM with heart. Rose is an excellent writer and has been writing for a long time. She’s also a really nice person. I can highly recommend her book and future ones. (Contact Rose C. Carole via her website or on facebook).
LP: Out of all of your 20 plus books – which book(s) seems to resonate the most with your readers and why?
Kathy Kulig: That’s a tough one. I’ve probably had more reviews on my shapeshifter book, Desert of the Damned, but my most enthusiastic comments are probably for His Lost Mate. They love the mix of romance and the supernatural and many want to visit the sultry rain forest and ancient ruins. They also enjoy the steamy sex scenes and suspense.
Kathy Kulig: I have a number of projects I’m working on. I’ll be releasing a three-book series within a couple months and would like to continue on with other books in that series. I’m also half way finished with the third book in my romantic suspense FLC Case Files series. I have other projects in mind too.
LP: Bonus Question: Define a sexy woman? Define a sexy man?
Kathy Kulig: Love this question! I think a sexy woman is one who’s confident and adventurous, has a strong sense of who she is and what she wants. She doesn’t have to be beautiful or have the perfect body, but she feels beautiful inside and out. Because of that men find her attractive and charismatic. A sexy man has that certain sparkle in his eyes. Charismatic, confident, and strong, but not arrogant. He’s dependable and takes care of himself and those he loves. Hot bod helps, but I know men who have plenty of flaws who are sexy as hell, as well as hunky guys who are jerks with way too many red flags.
Thanks so much for having me as your guest!
Thank you Kathy!
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