Posted by Jo Robertson Oct 30 2011, 12:01 am in guest blogger Brenda Novak, indie publishing, Jo Robertson, Traditional Publishing
Please welcome back a Lair favorite, NYT best-selling author, Brenda Novak. Her latest trilogy (INSIDE and IN SECONDS) are currently available, and IN CLOSE, the third book in the trilogy, will be released October 25. Brenda’s published over 40 books and is beginning a new venture. Tell us all about what’s happening to you, Brenda.
One question I used to get asked more than any other (besides “Where do you get your ideas?” – which will probably always be #1) was, “How did you get published?”
This will probably surprise the younger generation, but there was a time in the not so distant past when getting published was difficult. I’m serious – it was tough! Not only did it require an amazing manuscript, it took TONS of patience. A writer had to snail mail (we’re talking an entire ream of paper AND a package with enough postage to return that behemoth) a copy of her manuscript to New York City and wait months (sometimes years) to get a response.
To make matters worse, an author could not submit to more than one publishing house at a time, a terrible infraction of the rules. The editors at the major publishing houses were gatekeepers, of a sort, and they were very particular about who they
let in to the publishing fortress.
But today the rules have changed. Publishing still has its challenges, but getting published certainly isn’t one of them. Anyone can write a story and put it up on Amazon.com or somewhere else. Never before has an author had the ability to send her words out into the world on this scale.
That doesn’t mean being a successful author has suddenly become easy, however. In some ways, it’s become harder, which is why I’m very happy to still be writing for New York (IN CLOSE, the last book in my new trilogy comes out October 25th and will be available both online AND in brick-and-mortar stores).
But I’ll save the reasons why it might be harder to publish successfully given recent changes for another blog.
Today I want to talk about the positive side of what’s been happening: the opportunities that exist today that did not exist ten years ago and what it might mean to certain authors and their readers – like me and mine. LOL
After I finished my first book, a historical romance called OF NOBLE BIRTH, it took me about a year to get an agent. After another year, that agent sold my manuscript. I was rejected by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington Books, Avon Books, Bantam (and probably a couple of others I can no longer remember) before HarperCollins called to offer me a contract. It was August 26, 1998, when I got THE CALL, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about anything (except maybe hitting The New York Times on June 16, 2008, almost ten years later). My editor was Robin Stamm, a young but eager junior editor working with Laura Cifelli. She seemed to like me, I really liked her, and I thought I was off and running toward the fulfillment of my fondest dreams.
But the path to being successfully published never did run smoothly. Before OF NOBLE BIRTH was even out of production, HarperCollins merged with Avon and let all their romance editors go. They let most of their romance authors go, too, and I was among them.
My career could’ve ended there, except for one thing. I’d gone to a small regional conference in Park City, Utah, just a few months before where I met Harlequin editor Paula Eykelhof. Although I’d never dreamed I’d write a contemporary romance, I decided to pitch to her simply because I had the opportunity.
I look back on that day now and wonder what possessed me to do such a thing when I was so sure I had my historical career on track, but I’m glad I did. I went home and wrote a proposal. EXPECTATIONS came out in February 2000. Since then we’ve done forty books together, including my latest romantic suspense trilogy, INSIDE, IN SECONDS & IN CLOSE (release date THIS October 25th.
But it’s interesting how things change. I started in historicals, got nudged out of historicals and just when I thought I’d never write another novel in that particular genre (even though I’ve had SO many readers of OF NOBLE BIRTH ask me to do exactly
that), the opportunity suddenly presented itself again—in the form of this new digital revolution.
As soon as I realized that I could get the rights back for OF NOBLE BIRTH, I decided to publish it myself. Then I decided to publish another full-length historical, a brand new book as opposed to a book from my backlist. This new book is about an
illegitimate child born to a wayward marquise who is determined to prove himself as good as any other man. He dreams of rising to captain his own frigate, but when he finds a lovely French stowaway aboard the Tempest, he must decide whether to return her to the man he knows will abuse her—or risk everything, even his life, to keep her safe.
I offer this background so you won’t be put off by the title (I had someone on my Facebook page take exception to it already so if you’re of that bent consider it done). By now you’ve probably guessed what it’s called…yep, THE BASTARD (aptly named,
if I don’t say so myself). And what a bastard Treynor is (I mean that in the most positive sense). New York Times Bestselling Historical Author Elizabeth Boyle just gave me a quote for the cover that made us both chuckle. She sent: “I fell in love with THE BASTARD.” I hope, if you give it a try, you will, too.
So what do you readers think of authors who self-publish books other than what they typically write? Do you see this as a fabulous opportunity to be able to read more from your favorite authors? How do you choose what to buy now that the landscape of publishing has changed so much? Are your expectations for a self-published book different from a traditionally published book?
Thanks for a great post, Brenda. I’ve always felt that you had a terrific historical voice and I’m very eager to read THE BASTARD.
I might add another question. As a reader can you tell if a book is independently published or published by a NY publishing house?
DON’T FORGET THAT WE’RE ENDING OUR FABULOUS WEBSITE LAUNCH TOMORROW. STOP BY TO PARTICIPATE IN JEANNE’S FABULOUS POST.
AND REMEMBER TO SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE KINDLE GIVEAWAY. TODAY SOMEONE WILL RECEIVE A “TRICK” AND A “TREAT” OF ONE OF BRENDA’S ROMANTIC SUSPENSE BOOKS AND A DOWNLOAD OF JO’S “THE WATCHER.”
Posted by Jo Robertson Jul 31 2009, 4:05 am in Delilah Dawson, guest blogger Brenda Novak, Jo Robertson, Winners
posted by Jo Robertson
The winners of Brenda Novak’s fan pack, the first three books in her Last Stand series, go to
Laurie and Maureen!
And the winners of Delilah Dawson’s books go to
Janga and Pink Peony!
Send your snail mail information to jo (dot) lewisrobertson (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Thanks for commenting both days, everyone! And thanks to our guests Brenda Novak and Delilah Dawson for their generosity.
Posted by Jo Robertson May 23 2009, 3:35 am in Auction, guest blogger Brenda Novak, Jo Robertson
Not all winners from Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes have claimed their prizes!
Would Crystal GB and Ruth C. please furnish their snail mail addys to jo (dot) lewisrobertson (at) yahoo (dot) com (that’s email@example.com ) by May 31 to claim their $25 off coupon valid at Brenda’s Online Auction.
The Auction ends May 31, so hurry! Congratulations again!
Posted by Jo Robertson Apr 30 2009, 6:01 am in guest blogger Brenda Novak, Jo Robertson, Online Diabetes Auction
We’re thrilled to welcome back NY Times Best-selling Romantic Suspense author Brenda Novak! Drumroll please!!
Brenda’s my long-time friend, mother of five, and wife to hottie Ted. And she’s flat-out the nicest person I know. Oh, yeah, and the author of 32 books. She also sponsors a hugely successful Online Auction for Diabetes Research.
Brenda, I know the auction is a project near to your heart. Can you tell us a little about it?
Third Auction Coupon winner is our very own Bandita CAREN CRANE – yay, Caren!!
Brenda: When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at five years old, I knew enough about the disease to realize he would require constant care, but the long list of side effects really threw me. I thought if we gave him insulin, and he suffered through the many fingertip pricks and shots, he’d be fine. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. Diabetes affects every major organ–your heart, your kidneys, your liver, your nerves, etc.
THE FIRST WINNER OF THE $25 COUPON FOR BRENDA’S ONLINE AUCTION IS . . . JANE!!! Congratulations.
Then I thought about the number of people facing the same risks and knew I had to fight back. I decided it might be smart to do an event on my web site so that my fans and publishing friends could participate–and the idea for my auction was born. This will be auction #5. Last year, we raised $252,300. This year we’re shooting for $300,000.
We have over 2,000 fabulous items up for auction, many of which you can’t get anywhere else. And this year we’ll have something new–$1 “Buy it Now” opportunities for aspiring writers. This will enable them to get their work in front of some of the most prestigious agents and editors in publishing for only $1. I will randomly list these items throughout the auction–it could be in any category–and the first person to find such an item will be able to buy it for only $1! There will be other fun $1 “Buy it Now” auctions for those who are not writers.
Jo: Wow, Brenda! I love the new $1 “Buy It Now” opportunity! I’ve participated every year in the Auction since its beginning and love the excitement of bidding and the good feeling of knowing my money’s going to a worthy cause. Can you tell us some of the items that are up for bid this year?
Brenda: One of my personal favorites is Anna DeStefano’s Coach handbags. Who doesn’t love a good handbag? LOL Or Dianne Despain’s antique jewelry. I just got an antique cameo worth $600 from Kathryn Caskie. There are meet and greets with editors and agents, a fabulous painting from my all-time favorite artist Marilyn Sears Bourbon (I own three of her paintings and want more!), a whole list of fabulous offerings from Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love and Mary Buckham, a complete collection of Christine Feehan’s wildly popular DARK series (all autographed), a stay in Nora Roberts’ inn, opportunities for people to name a character in various authors’ books (authors like legal thriller writer John Lescroart!), lunch with Barry Eisler in San Francisco, a handmade quilt from Anne Stuart, and over 100 autographed books from Booklovers Bookstore, including an autographed copy of one of the best books ever written–CLAN OF THE CAVEBEAR by Jean M. Auel.
The second winner of the $25 Auction Coupon is, ta da — CrystalGB. Congratulations!
I could go on and on. There’s SO much in this year’s auction–something for everyone. And these items make unique gifts. You could immortalize your friend, sister or mother by buying the “name a character” item. How fun would it be to give that away?
Jo: You can find out more about the auction and the items for bid at Brenda’s website –http://www.brendanovak.com/auction.shtml. Check it out! You don’t have to wait until May 1, when the auction officially starts to see what’s available and plan your strategy for bidding. The Romance Bandits have a basket up for Auction this year and we’d love one of our readers to win it!
Now, let’s hear something about your new series, Brenda. I know the books are The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar, and The Perfect Murder. The titles are so intriguing. Tell us more about them.
Brenda: I’m excited about these books! They’re all part of my Last Stand series that began last year with TRUST ME, STOP ME & WATCH ME, but they’re only loosely connected, both to the series and to each other, so they also stand on their own.
In THE PERFECT COUPLE, Zoe Duncan’s thirteen-year-old daughter goes missing from her own backyard while home sick from school and private investigator Jonathan Stivers is called on to help find her. But he’s never had fewer leads to work with–and is sure of only one thing: Sam was taken by someone close to the family. He has no idea how close until he realizes that the “perfect” couple next door is anything but…
Jo: Ooooh, I love the premise of that story! Additionally, anyone who buys a copy of THE PERFECT COUPLE in the first week it comes out and sends Brenda the receipt will have the opportunity to join her fan club and receive a Brenda Novak tote with goodies. See details at http://www.brendanovak.com/ THE PERFECT COUPLE comes out Tuesday, July 28 so you’ll need to buy it between July 28 and August 5 to be eligible.
Brenda: THE PERFECT LIAR is about obsession. After air force captain Luke Trussell goes home with the wrong kind of woman, he’s falsely accused of rape, putting his career and his reputation at stake. He didn’t force his attentions on the woman who’s been coming on to him for months, but she has the bruises–and the DNA evidence–to make her claim convincing. And Karina Harter is determined to have him, or make him pay.…
In THE PERFECT MURDER, investment banker Sebastian Costas is trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. The evidence suggests a murder-suicide, but something he heard the week before the killings won’t allow him to accept that. He believes her second husband, a cop, killed her and the boy, then faked his own death. But proving it isn’t easy–or safe.
Jo: These books sound wonderful. Look for THE PERFECT COUPLE’s release on July 28.
Okay, now for a quick personality test. Will the REAL Brenda Novak please weigh in with her answers?
1. Favorite food? Thai food–Yellow curry (spicy ) I also love pizza, but I know that would make me sound like too much of a kid, sort of like picking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
2. Preferred sleeping wear? Comfortable underwear
Jo: No need to elaborate!
3. Hugh Jackman or Daniel Craig?
Hugh. I think he’s gorgeous, but I’m sort of mad at him right now. LOL I was planning on offering a day on the set and lunch with him as part of a promotion for my next book, and his publicist got involved AFTER I had it all lined up and screwed it all up. So sad…
Jo: Ah, now, that just breaks my heart. Hugh’s quite popular in the Lair and as you can see, we’re on a first name basis with him.
4. Favorite non-romance writer?
Wow–too many to pick just one. Margaret Mitchell is probably my all-time favorite. I think she’s as good as Charles Dickens at characterization. Someone who’s still alive and writing? Philippa Gregory would be one. I read THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL while on a three-day drive to Cabo San Lucas with my entire family (yes, we drove!) and couldn’t put it down. Janet Evanovich is considered mystery, so I guess I can name her, too.
5. Most romantic place in the world?
Prague. I visited the city last year and was captivated by its beauty. More than any other European city I’d seen on this particular trip (we drove through Germany, France, Italy, Monoco, and Austria, too) it felt we were stepping back to a far more romantic time and place. The famous Charles Bridge, which connects Old Town to Mala Strana was simply magnificent. And there seemed to be such an upbeat air to it all (whereas Venice had the feel of decay and ruin that made me depressed).
Thanks for joining us today in the Lair, Brenda.
Our final winner for a $25 Auction coupon goes to . . . wahooo!! RUTH C. Congrats, Ruth.
Brenda and I have some special prizes for our Bandita readers and friends.
First, throughout the day we’ll choose 4 random posters to win a $25 off coupon for Brenda’s Online Diabetes Auction. Check back often to see if you’ve won. Meanwhile check out the auction items at Brenda’s website.
Second, at the end of the day one lucky poster will receive a free autographed copy of STOP ME, the book that was just nominated for a Rita.
Okay, readers, it’s your turn to weigh in. Ask Brenda anything you want to know about her career path, writing process, the auction, or her books.
Or, if you’d like to play the game, what are YOUR answers to the five questions above?
And don’t forget to come back to see if you’ve won the $25 Auction Coupon!
Posted by Jo Robertson Jun 27 2007, 6:18 am in guest blogger Brenda Novak, Jo Robertson
There’s a buzzword in the industry that makes almost any author sit up and take notice: branding. Everyone’s talking about it; everyone wants to be effective at it. But…what is it, exactly? And how important is it that we learn to market in this way?
An author brand is like any other kind of brand—Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Andersen Doors. The most familiar brands evoke immediate recognition and association with particular products or even a level of quality in a certain product. Basically, branding translates into a sort of shorthand. I see a Nora book, I automatically know what kind of experience I can expect by reading it, so I pick it up without having to think twice or do any research. Branding is having a reputation and a loyal following and helps with all those impulse buys that are so critical in the book business.
Branding is important because it enables the author’s name in and of itself to become a marketable commodity. James Patterson is now using his brand to sell stories co-authored by other people. He’s even expanding his brand to include many different types of stories. Now that he’s so strongly associated with a good story, he can do that.
How did he build such a strong brand? By writing consistently great stories. That always has to be first. But there’s more to it than that. Branding is an on-going process and doesn’t generally happen overnight. It’s most difficult in the start-up phase. As well known as they are, Coke and Pepsi are still out there, advertising and building name recognition. It’s like pushing a ball uphill. If you stop pushing, it rolls right back to the bottom—something else encroaches and takes the attention of those you’re hoping to reach.
Specifically, an author brands herself by developing something that is consistent and unique in her writing. I do that by making sure every book I create delivers a deeply emotional, evocative story. How is my brand different from other authors who write in the same genre? My books are known for their deep characterization in a genre that is often more plot-driven (as you drift toward the suspense side). Once you know what you want your brand to be, you establish it through your writing style and “voice,” as well as your promotional efforts, until it becomes recognizable to others.
Some tools an author can use to build her brand are:
An interesting and constantly updated Web site
Blogs and chats (See? I’m building my brand right here )
Joint-promotion with other authors and businesses
Press releases/media attention
Author response to fan letters/e-mails
Mailers to booksellers/fans
Your brand is your promise to your readers. When my readers buy my books they want to be able to count on a certain type of read. Therefore, I make sure I deliver that kind of read. Everything I do professionally is geared around building my brand and my career, so my Web site reflects that brand, my promotional materials reflect it, my charity auction reflects it, and my workshops/blogs reflect it.
Think about how solicitors make you feel. Because we are approached by so many who are trying to sell us something, the melee is deafening. We learn to filter and filter quickly, which means, in order to be effective in today’s marketplace, we have to be creative and effective marketers.
So my question to you is: How can you reach people who are already tired of the signals that are constantly bombarding them via the telephone, TV, computer, etc? How can you set yourself apart?
Throw out some ideas, and I’ll be happy to contribute. ☺
Remember to post a comment or question by Saturday night for a chance to win an autographed copy of Brenda’s newest book, “Coulda Been a Cowboy.”