AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Tracey Garvis Graves

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 and blogger Katie Flanagan 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.
Interview with Author Tracey Garvis Graves

Tracey Garvis-Graves is the author of the Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and New York Times bestselling debut novelOn the Island. She lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. She blogsat using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. She is hard at work on her next novel, Covet, which will be available in 2013.

Find her books or connect with Tracey:

  1. You have a very intriguing premise for your bestselling novel, On the Island. What inspired you to write this book?

I love, love, love the desert island premise and I wanted to write a book that put a fresh spin on it. I thought it would be a challenge to put two people on an island who really shouldn’t be together and then see what happened.

 2. Can you tell us about your path to publication for On the Island and how it led you to indie publishing?

I queried fourteen agents and received fourteen form rejections.  Disappointed but undeterred, I chose self-publishing and I’m forever grateful that writers have options for bringing their work to the marketplace. If not for these alternative channels, my debut novel might have languished on my hard drive indefinitely. Instead, I’ve sold over 330,000 copies and MGM has optioned On the Island for a feature film. My self-publishing endeavor has been a dream come true and my gratitude is endless.

3. What do you see as the advantages of choosing the independent route versus traditional publishing?

It doesn’t take as long to bring your work to the marketplace, but that doesn’t mean you can skip any of the necessary editing and formatting steps. There is more control over the final product and changes can be made easily; many self-published authors experiment with different covers.

4. What have you learned about the publishing industry since you first started writing? 

I’ve learned how to wear many hats: I’ve chosen cover art, written blurbs, designed a successful marketing plan, and put together a wonderful team of editors and formatters.

5. What are some of your tips for author self-promotion that worked best for you? How long did it take you to get to having rankings of  #1 book in Kindle sales in action/adventure and #2 in contemporary romance?

I urge all self-published authors to consider paid advertising. I bought sponsorships on Pixel of Ink, Kindle Nation Daily, Ereader News Today, and The Frugal eReader. Coke advertises. Nike advertises. Self-publishers need to advertise. The Kindle and Nook stores are crowded, so you have to find a way to let the readers know your book is out there. Sales of On the Island built steadily, but it took almost 7 months to reach #1 and #2 on the action and adventure and contemporary romance top 100 lists, respectively.

6. In what ways has Amazon helped in promoting your book?

In March, Amazon selected On the Island as one of the 200 books featured in their 8 day ‘The Big Deal’ promotion. The exposure was incredible and the book reached the top 10 where it’s remained ever since.

7.Why did you decide to start an author blog and what have you learned from it? What is important to keep in mind when writing an author blog?

I started blogging a few years before I wrote On the Island because I thought it would be a good way to exercise my writing muscles and get the words flowing again. I think it’s important for writers to remember that their time is better spent writing books versus blog posts. I see a lot of writers agonizing over how to increase their blog traffic, but in my honest opinion I don’t think blog hits matter or have much of an impact on book sales. This may not be true if you’re writing non-fiction where platform is key, but if novels are what you want to write, then make that your primary focus.

8. You’re currently at work on your second book, Covet. Have there been new challenges in writing this one that didn’t arise last time? Are you willing to share the basic premise of this book? Do you plan on indie publishing this one as well?

The biggest challenge is following up a desert island book. You only get to write one of those, so anything you write after that is going to be very different. With that, you run the risk of not giving the readers a similar story to connect with.

Here is the tagline and a brief description of Covet:

What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire.

Daniel Rush had it all, until a tragic accident took away everything he cherished. A chance meeting with Claire sets in motion a chain of events that will leave three people questioning their choices and dealing with the aftermath of their decisions.

I haven’t made the formal announcement yet, but Covet (and also a new edition of On the Island) will be published by Penguin. I couldn’t be happier about seeing my titles on the shelves of bookstores everywhere  🙂

9. What’s next in store for you? What are your plans for your writing career? Do you think you will remain in women’s fiction?

I would love to continue writing women’s fiction and contemporary romance. I’m drawn to stories with happy, uplifting endings, and I’m truly at peace when I’m writing them. In addition to my family, there is nothing I like more than typing on my laptop with my dog curled up beside me. I have the best job in the world!

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.

Katie Flanagan is a fiction major at Northwestern University. She is currently an editor with Booktrope Publishing and Pink Fish Press. In the past, she has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management and the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Her favorite genre is women’s fiction, but she reads any fiction put in front of her. Check out her blog about the writing life at and follow her on Twitter at @K_Flanagan.


  1. What a wonderful interview. VERY helpful since I too have self-published my middle grade book. Thank you! Love this blog and your site. I’m a frequent visitor.

  2. Thank you for for your support. So glad this post is helpful. It offers some great advice.

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