AUTHORNOMICS Interview with bestselling author Bella Andre

With a publishing industry that is ever in flux, it can be hard for an aspiring author to figure out what information is relevant and what she needs to do to be successful. Recognizing this, literary agent Andrea Hurst and writer/blogger Cherise Hensley present a series of weekly interviews with publishing industry specialists. The AUTHORNOMICS Series features literary agents, editors, authors, marketing experts and more talking about their opinions on the publishing industry, writing, and what a writer needs to know.

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Bella Andre

BellaAndre_2012 Having sold more than 1.5 million books, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre’s novels have appeared on Top 5 lists at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella’s Sullivan series will be released in paperback in a major global English language launch in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia in continuous back-to-back releases from June 2013 through April 2014. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine ”Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages, and her Sullivan books are already Top 20 bestsellers in Brazil. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently in TIME Magazine. She has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America in 2012 on her self-publishing success. www.BellaAndre.com

In an article in USA Today, Joyce Lamb asked romance authors, “Why do we need romance novels?” What would be your answer to this question?

I’ve always been a big romance reader; I read a book a day when I can. Simply put, romance novels make me happy. I love getting lost in the world the author creates. I love watching two people fall in love. I suspect most romance readers feel the same way I do. Plus, at the end of a busy day, there’s nothing better than getting under the covers with a great romance.

What inspires you to write romance novels? Do you write for a specific audience?

The process of getting to know my hero and heroine and weaving a fun, emotional and sexy story around them is one of my favorite things to do. I write the kind of books I want to read.

What is your process in writing a novel? Do you use an outline or other formats?

I usually spend several months thinking about the story and making notes about the characters and the plot and the theme. Often, entire scenes will come to me, so I’ll jot those down in my outline. But no amount of pre-planning or outlining can substitute for actually sitting down at the computer and writing the first draft. I tend to write and then discard quite a bit of text during this drafting process as I dig down into my characters and the story they have to tell. After my draft is done, I’ll revise the book at least half a dozen times before I send it off to my production team of editors/copyeditors/proofreaders/formatters.

You recently signed a whopping 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA- congratulations! How is this type of deal different from most publishing deals?

Thank you. I was thrilled to be the first person in publishing to sign a print deal in which I’ve retained all digital, foreign, audio and film/TV rights. Harlequin have been phenomenal to work with on the print-side of my business. They have just begun a global launch of the first paperback in my NYT bestselling Sullivan series – The Look Of Love – in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. The next eight books in the series will be coming out in print nearly every month for the next year.

The Washington Post named you “One of the top digital writers in America”. Do you prefer digital to print? Why or why not?

I want people to read my books – whether they’re reading them on e-readers, paperbacks, foreign editions, or listening to them as audiobooks, it all works for me!

Which one of your novels or series has been your favorite to work on? Which one has been the most challenging to write?

Honestly, I’ve loved working on all of the books in my Sullivan series! It’s been really fun to get to stay with the large family for 10 books in a row, and many more on the horizon.

Your books have been read by millions.What has been your most successful avenue to reach readers? Do you do a lot of self-promotion through social media?

I believe my most successful avenue to reach readers has been keeping a consistent release schedule. Books sell books, which is why writing the next book is always my top priority.

What do you think made the Sullivan series so successful? Do you have a favorite part of your novels that you love to write?

I’ve always been a huge fan of connected series about families, and I’d wanted to write about the Sullivans for a long time when the world of Indie publishing opened up and made that dream possible. It has been incredibly gratifying to see the way people have responded to my Sullivans all over the world! I love writing the scenes where the entire family is there – and readers tell me they love those scenes, too.

Describe your journey working with both traditional and self-publishing. What was the most difficult thing and the most exciting thing about self-publishing your novels?

I wrote for three traditional publishers for seven years before I began to self-publish in mid-2010. I enjoyed working with my editors – and along the way, I really developed a vision for how I wanted my books to look and what I wanted to write about. Plus, I had grown to know my audience quite well by then, and I’ve always enjoyed reaching out to them on Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/email. Self-publishing changed my entire career – and life – in the best possible ways! It’s been a thrill to be able to reach so many readers with e-books, and now that I’m working with Harlequin on the print side, it’s really exciting to reach all of the print readers, too! I truly feel that I have the best of both worlds. On the print side, I get to work with the top contemporary romance publisher in the world. And on the e-book side, I get to see my vision for the books I’m writing through from start to finish and work directly with the fantastic digital retailers. I’m also producing my own audiobooks through ACX/Audible and I’ve been stunned by how well they’re doing in audio.

Can you tell us anything about your next books you are working on?

The second paperback in my Sullivan series – From This Moment On – will hit bookshelves June 25th. The ninth e-book in the series – The Way You Look Tonight – will be released at all digital retailers on June 19th! And I’m currently finishing up a very special holiday story about Mary & Jack Sullivan (the parents of the first eight Sullivans). Kissing Under The Mistletoe: A Sullivan Christmas will be released on September 24th in Hardcover by Harlequin, while I’ll release the e-book at the same time.

Do you have any other projects or speaking engagements, or signing events we can look out for?

I will be signing books at the RWA conference this July. If people would like to find out more about me or my books, I’d love for them to visit me at http://www.BellaAndre.com, www.twitter.com/bellaandre or www.facebook.com/BellaAndrefans.

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Andrea Hurst has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. She works with both major and regional publishing houses, and her client list includes emerging new voices and New York Times best-selling authors. Andrea represents high profile Adult Nonfiction and well crafted fiction. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.

Cherise Hensley is an English/Marketing major at Whitworth University. She has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management as well as the Rock & Sling literary journal and has been involved in the production of other print media such as newspapers, magazines, and yearbooks. Cherise is an editor and a writer, and loves discovering new books to distract her from everyday life.

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