So today, I have a little Q/A going on with one of my favorite bloggers, Cindy, from Conversations with Famous Writers. If you haven't checked out the site, do it asap - she manages to lure all sorts of fabulous and interesting authors to the site, and it's a must-read for me each week. Cindy is also the author of Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, a fun read set in the world of celebrity, and she took an unconventional route to getting published. Since I know so many aspiring writers check out this blog, I thought she might make for a bit of inspiration. Check it out!
1) You run one of my favorite blogs. What compelled you to start blogging and how did you attract such a big audience?
I started blogging for fun about celebrities in my (now defunct) gossip site, Conversations About Famous People. I got many, many hits every day, which was great fun but not satisfying to my soul, you know? It's not like I was doing something really positive by making fun of celebrities. It was bad karma.
I began Conversations with Famous Writers as a way to read and review and write about books and authors in an entertaining and casual way. I didn't want a stuffy, very literary type blog, I wanted to combine interesting, off beat interviews and inspire people to read really good books while getting to know the writers behind those books.
CAFP afforded me the opportunity to gather a big audience, some of which followed me to the book blog and helped make it successful. I still can't believe that this stay- at- home mom ran a successful gossip blog and reached over seven million viewers. Like, wow, millions of people read my work! I went to the E! channel in Los Angeles and did a screen test. It was exciting but not the direction I wanted to take my life in.
2) You interview a lot of well-known authors. Has any interview stood out as the best among others? How do you approach these authors? Anyone ever say no?
Jeannette Walls was super nice, she stands out as being one of the best. Jen Lancaster is lovely and hilarious. I adore Caroline Leavitt and Gayle Brandeis who I knew before I started my site. The fact that Pamela Anderson did an interview with me and linked to it on her website was huge for me. The majority of the authors are awesome and kind and grateful. Writers are generally speaking, a wonderful bunch.
I approach the authors through their PR people, some writers contact me directly. Paulina Porizkova wouldn't be interviewed for Model Summer and Angelina Jolie's manager said she wasn't giving interviews for her book Notes From My Travels. I was totally bummed!
Imagine me and Angelina doing an interview? We would become best friends forever and our kids could play together, we could get tattoos and were matching black clothes! She really missed out.
3) A lot of my blog readers are aspiring novelists. You refused to give up when it looked like a large publishing house wouldn't grab your manuscript...how did you then go about getting published?
I wrote two books and sent out hundreds and hundreds of query letters to agents. I received so many rejections that I seriously lost count of all of them. I could have wallpapered my whole house with those rejection letters.
When I wrote my third novel, A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, I began the process all over again and of course the rejections trickled in. It was torture! I thought maybe I should self publish. I couldn't bear the thought of one more "no". I assumed that because I had a well known website and a built in audience of book buyers getting an agent would be easy. Not so.
At this time, Ephemera Bound got in touch with me to review their books. Instead of reviewing books, I asked if they would be interested in publishing my novel. I submitted it; they liked it and set me up with an editor. I was anxious.
4) What were the pros and cons of taking this route?
The positives aspects of going with a tiny publisher was that my book would be published in less than a year, I would work with an editor, I wouldn't need an agent, I would have a say in the cover art, the book would be available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com. I would finally have a published book that people could read. My dream of being a published author would come true. Fame and success were sure to follow! Visions of Prada and a new Infiniti FX 35 danced in my head.
The downside is a small publisher doesn't have a lot of marketing or advertising money, I did not get an advance, they didn't send out review copies to the big reviewers so my book was not widely exposed.
Places like Barnes & Noble, Costco, and Target have deals with the bigger publishers to have their books displayed and/or sold there but not with a small, relatively unknown publisher. Had I held out and found an agent who could have negotiated a great deal for me, my book would be in every book store and I'd be zooming around in my silver Infiniti wearing my True Religion jeans, lunching at The Ivy and shopping at Neiman Marcus.
5) What are you working on now?
I finished the sequel to A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss which is called Fifty Cents for Your Soul. It's about the celebrity obsessed character of Barrett and it features Marilyn Monroe. I'm plotting out the third book in my Hollywood series; this one will take place in the 60's with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. I love that whole era. I wish I could wear faded bell bottoms and daisies in my hair all the time. But with MAC Lipglass and YSL mascara of course.
I'm reviewing my beloved beauty products on Hello Dollface and interviewing writers on Conversations With Famous Writers. Lately on my blog, I'm featuring movie trailers and news of novels being made into films. My goal is to have my books made into movies and somehow develop other good books into films. Angelina and I will become BFF and she can also star in my movies and we could do charity work together. It's a win/win all around.