Interview with Bella Andre
about her writing habits and success1. Tell us about writing and publishing your very first novel. What were your expectations when you first waded into the self-publishing pond? Is there anything you would do differently if given another chance? I honestly had no expectations other than some of my loyal readers would finally get a chance to read my book - and that was enough for me. Meeting so many new readers and fans has been icing on a cake I had no idea was being served.
2. You're an icon in the indie publishing community. Your success is something we all aspire to. What do you believe has been the greatest contributing factor to the success of your novels? Thank you, that's lovely to hear. I've so enjoyed self-publishing these past couple of years, and I've been lucky to have the most wonderful fans with me every step of the way. There are so many things that go into success, but I think my focus and determination - along with the best readers in the world - have been the biggest factors.
3. What was your reaction when you first found out you broke onto the New York Times and USA Today best-sellers' lists? How did you celebrate? Actually, it's kind of a funny story. I was on my way to the RWA National conference last summer and was sitting in the airport in Albany, New York when I found out I had three books on the USA Today bestsellers list. I called my husband and we had a mini celebration on the phone. I flew into Atlanta where I was switching planes for Anaheim, and when we landed I turned on my phone and checked my email. An agent (not mine, I was agentless at the time) had emailed me with the title "CONGRATULATIONS, New York Times!" That was when I found out I also had three books on the New York Times bestseller list…and I started crying. On the airplane. With a very conservative woman sitting next to me. She must have thought I was losing it, because she promptly turned her back on me. :) Of course I called my husband and cried happy tears some more. That night when I got into Anaheim, all of my closest writing friends came up to my room and we celebrated. It was AWESOME!
4. You've recently shared some very exciting news—Harlequin MIRA has optioned the print rights for The Sullivans in a record-breaking seven-figure deal. Congratulations! How did this transpire? And how does it affect your writing and publishing plans? Thank you, I'm beyond thrilled about it and Harlequin have been a dream to work with. They are so incredibly enthusiastic about putting The Sullivans out in paperback in English all over the world, with a simultaneous launch in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia starting this June and going back-to-back each month with the first eight books through April 2014. My ebook sales numbers for the self-published Sullivan series had been growing bigger and bigger in the year since I'd started publishing the series, and I knew a print-only deal was going to happen soon. When so many Sullivans hit the New York Times and USA Today all at once, that was when the publishers started calling and making offers. I truly feel that Harlequin is the *perfect* publisher for my sexy, emotional contemporary romance Sullivan series. Because I retained all of my ebook, audiobook, foreign translation and film/TV rights, I am continuing to put out my Sullivans, and other future books, as self-published ebooks and audio books. I have released seven Sullivan ebooks so far and the eighth (ALWAYS ON MY MIND, Lori Sullivan's story) will be out this spring…and I have a great idea for a brand new series that I hope to start writing this year as well. I have licensed the series in Brazil, France and Portugal so far, and the first two books are already big bestsellers in Brazil, which is very exciting.
5. You write fast! Not only do you produce several novels per year, you produce several well written, polished novels per year. What is your writing process like? Do you have any advice for other wordsmiths struggling with productivity? Thanks for the great compliment. I work so hard on my stories to make sure they're emotional and fun and sexy and that they take my readers out of their lives for a little while. I write every day, everywhere, no matter what. I don't wait for inspiration or a muse to come calling. Fortunately, my favorite thing is writing. In fact, today as I was sniffling over my keyboard during a really emotional scene between my hero and heroine, I was thinking how very happy it made me to be able to write books all day…and to know that I have the best fans in the world waiting to read them!
6. In the early days, what did you do to market your books? Would you recommend these strategies to writers in today's market? I took a really personal approach. Because I had started digital publishing in response to my readers who had emailed asking me for books, whenever I released a book, I individually emailed each and every single reader to let them know about it. Now, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I can interact with my readers in other ways that let me spend more time on actually writing, and I recommend doing anything that puts you in touch with your readers.
7. How has making it big changed your approach to writing and marketing your work? Has it changed your approach? I truly believe that my fans want me to spend more time writing and less time gabbing. :) So I always err on the side of writing…and then once I've met my page count goals for the day, I go onto twitter and Facebook and answer emails.
8. You've connected with a large international fan base. Do readers abroad respond differently to your novels than those in the USA? Which countries in particular have fallen in love with your work? I'm having a love affair with my Brazilian readers, and I also love love love my Australia/New Zealand, UK and Canadian readers as well! They're so passionate and supportive of The Sullivans - but I've been really fortunate to find readers everywhere have been kind and amazing.
9. You attend a lot of conferences. Recently, you delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Book Expo America. How have conferences contributed to your writing career? Conferences are an amazing opportunity to stay abreast of what's happening in the business. I get incredible value out of networking in the lounge and hearing what people are up to and what ideas they have. The thing is, I truly love this business and everyone I've met had been wonderful…so it's really not work at all for me. In fact, going to a conference and meeting with people is always such fun.
10. My, you are a busy bee! How do you find balance between writing, publishing, and promoting your books and the rest of your life? Any tips for the rest of us? Give up sleep and sanity…and have an awesome husband who is happy to take care of absolutely everything non-book-related in your life! :) But seriously - get a good team behind you. I have a team of beta readers, editors, proofers and digital file producers, I work with great bloggers, and I also have the love and support of my family. Everyone thinks "indie publishing" means being independent, but it's not the case at all. While you get to be charge of your own career and your own vision, you also work with tons of great people to put your book out there!
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