Tag Archives: becoming a bestselling author

So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 15: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Fail, Fail Again

WEB PIX PURPLE BOOK copyWhen I was working on Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?, my documentary about the world of romance novels, I interviewed many successful authors. and one thing I often heard was how long it took so many of them to get published. I was flabbergasted. For some authors it took many years, even 10 years or more. My question is how can you even think of becoming a bestselling author if it took you 10 years to get published in the first place? Easy. You’ve got what it takes for the long haul.

Not everyone is going to get published from their very first query, or start a bidding war between publishers, or land a top agent with just one pitch. Yes we hear and read about those authors who become a huge success with their first book. Do you ask yourself – what does she/he have that I don’t? Of course you do. We all do. The point is, don’t wallow in that way of thinking. Some people become successful right away. That is the minority of course. They may or may not be able to deliver on book 2 or 3. Or they may continue their star status for years to come. But that doesn’t matter. Because you are on your path.

CarrienovelIf you believe that failure is not a good teacher then you are wrong. History shows us all the remarkable people who failed in their careers before becoming who they were meant to be, including Albert Einstein, the most famous physicist in history, and one of the richest and most successful business people in the world, Bill Gates. Check out this article in the huffingtonpost about famous people who had tremendous failure in their lives before going on to become great successes, including Stephen King, whose first novel Carrie, was rejected 30 times before he finally got published. Apparently he threw the manuscript in the trash and his wife fished it out! Now that’s a success story! The idea is don’t give up. If you have the passion, the drive, and the commitment to write then you have what it takes to become a bestseller.

And when you do get there, just imagine the great story you’ll have to share about how you became a bestselling author! 🙂

100_4277Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, great ideas, and a good story.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 11: Agent or No Agent?

Today we chat with the wonderful and amazing Michelle Grajkowski who is the founder of the dynamic 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Michelle and KelseyAbout Michelle:

From the moment Michelle Grajkowski first opened the doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000, she has been living her dream. (What could be better than surrounding yourself with amazing authors and their exciting and imaginative books?)

Since then, she’s successfully sold more than 475 projects into all the major publishing houses. Her clients include New York Times Bestselling Authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Kerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. Michelle primarily represents romance, women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction. She is currently looking for fantastic writers with a voice of their own.

When not curled up with a great manuscript, Michelle loves to spend time with her husband, children and her two crazy puppies, who refuse to grow up, Libby and Gizmo.

Tell us about 3 Seas Literary Agency and how you launched. (bad pun 😉

Well…  I really came into agenting in a round-about way!  When I was in high school, my aunt published 3 books with Harlequin.  She dedicated one of them to me, and I was hooked. I really thought I wanted to be a writer. So, I attended the UW Madison and majored in Journalism, all the time thinking I would write. But, while there, I was working as a student for the UW Hospital in the Purchasing Department and discovered my love for business. I knew I wanted to go into sales, so I changed my focus from writing to marketing and public relations.

Right out of college, my first job was selling computers to the education market in the state of Wisconsin. I loved selling – the networking, communication, problem solving – everything that came with the career, but I HATED computers.

Flash forward a year –  my aunt had suffered a health scare (and thankfully is OK!), but to get her back into writing, my mom, my grandma, my aunt and I all formed a critique group, and I started writing a romance. Let’s just say I got through one chapter . . . Anyway, I loved going to the meetings. I loved editing, brainstorming, critiquing – everything that goes into writing, but the writing itself! I told my family I would rather sell their stuff than to write my own.

And, thank God for my aunt – she told me people actually do that for a living.  I knew right then and there that agenting was the career for me.

So, I joined RWA, read the RWRs from cover to cover, learned who was buying romances, took a trip to New York and met with all the major houses while I was there. I asked them if being an agent in Madison, Wisconsin would be a problem, and thank goodness they all responded with a “no.”  They said with email, phone and FAXES (am I dating myself or what?!) that an agent could agent from anywhere – as long as they had an eye for talent and an understanding of the business.

client breakfast 2The rest, as they say is history! I officially opened my doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000. Seven years later, my amazing Aunt Cori joined my agency as an Agent.

My business truly is a family affair!  My grandma helps with office work, my mom with my computer needs, and in January, I hired my husband as my full-time business manager. He has his MBA and retired the beginning of this year after 24 years in the military. It’s been a remarkable journey, and I’m so blessed to have built a successful business that my family is such a huge part of!

Who are some of the authors that you represent?

3 Seas represents about 60 authors, including Lachesis’ own JoMarie DeGioia. Personally, I also represent NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Alexis MorganKerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. The agency also represents award-winning YA authors Jennifer Brown and Natalie Richards. And, recently, I just sold an amazing non-fiction project, PENGUIN’S CAN’T FLY, to St. Martin’s Press by nationally renowned motivational speaker Jason Kotecki. As a whole, we mainly represent romance, women’s fiction and children’s books (YA and Middle Grade), but we also represent mysteries and thrillers as well as select non-fiction titles. Our client list can be found on our website, www.threeseasagency.com. We are also active on Facebook and Twitter.

What can a literary agent do for authors that they can’t do for themselves?

This is such a great question because our role ever-changing.

As an agent, I handle each one of my author’s careers individually, and I try to cater to their individual needs. Some of my clients call with a nibble of an idea which we brainstorm. I love, love, love to brainstorm! From that point, my authors will send me their proposals and full manuscripts, which I edit and critique.

It’s an agent’s job to know the market, to know the key players and to help our authors make the best deal possible for their individual career. So, I spend a lot of time developing relationships on all levels.

An agent also needs to understand publishing contracts. It’s our job to make sure our clients are signing the best contracts possible. I send my contracts to my attorney who reads over all the fine print and together we negotiate boilerplate contracts so the terms tip to favor my authors.

We also help with marketing and publicity ideas, and use social media to get the word out about new releases, etc . . .

The most important value that an agent brings to the table, though, is advocacy. I love each and every one of my clients and am there to fight for them however they need me. If they have an icky copyedit, I call the editor to discuss it so they don’t have to have that conversation first. If there is an issue with the cover, I try to smooth it over and fix it with the editor. If royalties don’t reconcile, we are there to work with the accounting department to fix the errors.  And, if an author receives a rejection or a not-so-happy review, we are there in their corner, lifting them back up and making sure everything will be all right.

I love my job – I love advocating for my clients and helping them reach all their goals and dreams.  It’s a blessing, and I feel so lucky to be able to work in such a fun, creative business.

What do you think the role of the author is, once his or her book is released?

That’s when all the fun begins!!  Social media has changed the game face of publishing forever.  Readers are reaching out to authors in so many more ways than was possible even five years ago. It used to be that readers would send paper fan letters by the bundle! Now, with social media, a reader can interact with her favorite authors in real time! As an author, it’s so important to make those connections – through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs. It can be really time consuming, but building that relationship is so important. As we continue to see the number of books published continue to rise, it’s so important to have a presence on the internet so when an author has a new release, they have fans ready and engaged to purchase the book. Even more importantly, their fans will have a platform themselves to tell their friends about the book! Word of mouth is the best way to be discovered!

In your opinion what does it take to become a bestselling author?

First and foremost, an author must have a compelling voice! Readers all want the same thing – to be carried away to a new world. To feel like the characters in the book are alive, are their best friends, are people they can relate to, even in a different place or time. They want to feel – to be emotionally invested, whether it’s through humor or pain, they want to feel.

The second step is to find a strong publishing house that can help promote your book – to get it into the hands of readers through strategic placement, marketing and pricing promotions. A strong publisher who can help create an amazing package – from the editing to the cover to the cover copy.  A strong publisher who utilizes the media and their readers to help bolster the discoverability of their authors.

And, finally, it all circles back to marketing – an author needs to put themselves out there, to really reach out to the fans, and to discover new readers through blog tours, Facebook posts, book signings, events, conferences, writing groups, book clubs, etc.  There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan – and you don’t have to do everything.  But, you need to figure out what works for you and for your fans and to reach out in the best way that you can.

What are the top five things that every author should do when submitting a manuscript to an agency or a publisher?

1)    Be Professional!
2)    Adhere to the individual submission guidelines.
3)    Address the e-query to the specific person you are querying to.
4)    If this is your first manuscript, don’t query until it’s complete.
5)    Put in your query any important information, like contest wins, published books and other credentials.

client breakfastYou attend many conferences and take pitches all the time. What are some definite Dos and dreadful Don’ts when pitching?

My favorite pitch goes something like this:

“Hi, I’m Aretha Author and I write historical romances. I love to write American set historicals, and am a huge fan of Gone With the Wind. Today I would love to tell you about my latest project, Scarlett’s Revenge, a 100,000-word Civil War set historical romance where, even though Scarlett goes hungry again, with perseverance and a sexy little red curtain dress, she rebuilds her childhood home of Tara, and reclaims her lost love – Rhett, who frankly, my dear, does give a damn.”  (OK, that’s a huge run on sentence, but you get the point!)

From there, I love it when the author takes a break and we start to converse.  I get to ask questions about the story and the characters, and she jumps in with concise answers, leaving us with time at the end to discuss other things, like career plans, successes, etc.

Here’s the thing —  you have 8-10 minutes to “pitch” your book to an agent or editor at a conference.  And, honestly, most of the recent authors I have added to my list I have met at conferences. Not because their pitch was perfect. But, because during that pitch I had time to ask questions and to get to know them. For me, my relationship with my authors is crucial. I want to feel a connection to my clients, to really get to know them and to develop trust and a solid foundation. This pitch appointment is the first step.

I know it feels like everything is riding on this quick little appointment, but it’s not. Most agents that I know request everything they are pitched because honestly, some of the worst pitches are the best books! We can’t tell what your writing is like until we read it.

Another way to look at this is to put the power back into your court. As much as you want to find an agent, we want to find an author to add to our list. Try to think of this as an interview. YOU are interviewing US. Can you work with the person you are pitching to? Do they make you feel comfortable? Do they have the type of personality that matches yours? Take the time to get to know the agent. Pitch them the book, tell them about your career goals and successes. But, leave time to ask questions – about anything. The business, what they are looking for, if they are enjoying the conference . . . just anything pertinent. After a couple of hours of straight pitches, I promise, the conversation will be super appreciated – on both sides!

Does chocolate go with every book?

Doesn’t chocolate go with everything?  J

OK, one of the downfalls (or I guess huge benefits) of my husband being my business manager is that he feels like one of his duties is to keep my candy dish on my desk full!  It’s truly a double-edged sword. My heart loves him for it, my hips are another story. 😉

Favourite spot to read a manuscript: office, couch or bed?

My favorite spot is my front porch!  It’s so relaxing hearing the birds singing while I’m reading and sipping tea. I almost feel guilty doing my job – almost!  J

Where’s the strangest place you’ve been pitched?

Luckily I haven’t been approached in many strange places.  But, the strangest query I ever received was an email query that was written in a very pale pink script font which I couldn’t read at all on my screen. So I had to copy the entire email into Word, change the font color and the font in order to read it.  I don’t recommend that as an attention grabber when trying to find an agent or an editor!

Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us today!

Contact Michelle at Three Seas Literary Agency on their web site: www.threeseasagency.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 9: Q and A with bestseller Ruth Cardello

1525041_763874253623047_936091427_nSo happy that Ruth Cardello is our Q and A guest today. Ruth is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She is also SUPER savvy on social media and is DYNAMITE at utilizing social networking to promote her books and help turn them into BIG hits.

Why do you write?taken_not_spurred-2xer5tft36936dfnce8cne

I have always been passionate about reading romance stories. As a young girl I would stay up all night secretly reading the newest Harlequin novel. Writing became a natural way for me to escape into the worlds I loved being ensconced in. It is also a way for me to get the voices in my head to quiet down . . . or at least it gives me an excuse for them.

BeddingTheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6nll4n8vh1kd2nfw96You are known for being an Internet success story –tell us how that came about.

I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Publishers told me that the story I had submitted was good but not what they were looking for. I was determined to publish my book. I started searching on the Internet for information on self-publishing. It was still very new at that time. I methodically began connecting and networking with other authors online. Once my first book was self-published, I began connecting with my readers and sharing my knowledge with other authors who were just starting out. I’ve paid forward my good fortune each and every chance I had and I like to think that is what has brought so many wonderful people into my life. Writing a novel is a solitary process. Publishing it is not.

Some authors cringe at the idea of social media and see it as a waste of time away from their writing. What do you think about it? How much time do you spend on social media every day?

come-away-with-me-2wc5yekda8llpnwyuk1c7eI use every social media outlet possible.  I am on Facebook, where I have a personal page, a Business Page, and several other pages that are used for networking with other authors and my readers. I am also on twitter , Goodreads, Google+, Authorgraph and Pinterest.  I dedicate at least one hour a day solely to connecting with my readers and other authors.

Based on your own experience, do you think it’s a good idea for an author to invest in his or her own promotional or marketing budget? If so – what are some of the important things that an author should consider?

Yes, writing is a business and any business owner will tell you that you have to invest in yourself to grow. The initial investment can be time, but never underestimate the value of a good editor. Important things to consider are budget, target market, and finding the best advertisers within budget that will reach the most readers. A good cover and a good tag line are also important in your promotion.

What are the top three things every author needs to do to create a buzz around a new release?

MaidfortheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6mccppwzok3n7zlc7e1. The best tool for me is my newsletter.  If you have a newsletter, use it to notify your readers of your new release. Every reader who reads your book and doesn’t sign up to stay connected with you in some way may forget you by the time you release your next. Not because they didn’t love your book, but because of the sheer number of good books available out there.

2. Inform your readers of your release via all of your social media outlets. Post about your release on Facebook. Tweet about it. Share it on Google + and add it to your blog. Encourage your fans to share it with their friends.

3. If you can arrange for a Blog Blitz or a Book Blog Tour you can reach even more readers.

What do you think of the notion that you’re not only an author but you’re a business person too? Does that resonate with you?

ForLoveOrLegacy-ebook-2xcx6myyx6kxksu05bim8aAbsolutely. Wearing an author’s hat and a business hat keeps me busy! Sometimes I have to set the business aspect of writing aside so it doesn’t cut into my writing time. But I can’t always put the business aside because being an author is like running a very busy shop where you are the sole employee.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I have a lot of authors who have inspired me throughout the years.  I couldn’t begin to list them all here. Annette Blair and Sandra Marton were amazing to me when I first started out and I hero worshipped both for their writing ability.

What would I find on your desk at this very moment?

My laptop, an iPad, my cell phone, a plaque that reads “if you can dream it, you can do it – Walt Disney”, a bottle of water and some carrot sticks.

What is your favourite guilty pleasure treat that you indulge in when writing?
I don’t eat chocolate or many sweets, but I do love to start my writing day with an iced French Vanilla coffee.
 
RiseOfTheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6p8e2g6blo9p2wuf4aA great writer or a good book doesn’t necessarily translate to hitting a bestseller list. What do you think the bestselling authors do differently than authors who don’t sell as well?

It’s a whole new world out here in Indie publishing. You’re right there are many good books that don’t hit the lists. All things equal, to make a list your book has to be seen. It’s that simple. How an author gets their book in the hands of new readers and grows their reader base—that’s an individual path all the best sellers created for themselves. But the bottom line is always the same. A good book needs to find its readers. Once it does that, it’s on its way.

Connect with Ruth Cardello via her web site, on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 7: Do Your Research! (blogging and blog tours)

Authors are no strangers to doing lengthy research when it comes to writing their books, but research is something authors should also do when it comes to selling their books!

thepopculturedivas-920Today is all about blogging! I’ve been a blogger since 2006. I started my first blog missmakeamovie back then to promote and share my experiences while working on my romance novel documentary, Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings. It changed over the years to become the thepopculturedivas and morphed into a group blog that has seen many bloggers come and go! A few of our Lachesis Publishing authors currently write for the thepopculturedivas – including Alison E. Bruce (soon to be releasing a romantic suspense with us) and Christine Mazurk who is the author of the women’s fiction Passion’s Race and the novella Identity in the women’s fiction/romance Sisters of Spirit. I think group blogs are a great idea. If you don’t already blog then I suggest you either start your own group blog with authors who write in the same genre as you or find a group blog to join. The great thing about a group blog is that it is easier to maintain since you don’t have to post every day, and it increases your visibility through the other bloggers in the group.

wplogoblue-stacked-rgbI am a big advocate of blogging. I think it’s a great way to get your message out there without being limited by characters or anything else. And you can promote your blog posts on your different social media sites. If you don’t have a blog, I suggest that you set one up either through your own web site or on wordpress. The great thing about wordpress is that the more often you blog, the more often they will add you to the daily stream and the more readers and followers you will get. It takes time to build a following on a blog and there are many ways to do it – including telling all of your facebook friends or twitter friends but you can find new followers on the actual blog sites. I’ve done that with my blog therevolvingbook.com. The other thing is make sure you buy the domain name for your blog. It’s not expensive and it just looks better and more professional. And if you don’t buy it, someone else will! You don’t want that to happen, especially if you have a great blog name. BTW I always promote our daily blog posts on all of my social media sites and my blogs: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook.com.

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 10.03.28 AMBlog Tours: The other aspect of blogging is the blog tour. I am a big fan of this as well because it gets you out in front of lots of potential readers. It takes a while to convince someone to buy your book, you have to be out there on a regular basis for people to get to know you and what you have to offer. In fact, I’ll be doing one for Lachesis Publishing very soon! I’ll keep you posted about that. Here’s a great article I found online that lists some of the better blog tour outfits out there. The article is:  7 Top E-book Blog Tour Sites. The article appears on The Book Designer blog. The Book Designer is a great web site that offers lots of tips about blogging and publishing.

Hyperlinks: What are hyperlinks and why are they important? Hyperlinks make your blog interactive and come alive. They also help you promote content within your blog and on other sites. If you post an article on your own blog and you want to let readers know about your facebook page and your twitter page then include a hyperlink. You copy the url link of your facebook page and then link the words follow me on facebook on your blog (you don’t have to use those exact words. 😉 I also like to make my hyperlinks bold! You always want to make it as easy as possible for people to follow you and buy your books. When you mention your book title in a blog post (or anyone’s book title) Always hyperlink the title to amazon and Lachesis Publishing or the web site of the author you are writing about, or their publisher’s site or any other site where the books you mention are sold. So important!

Tags: I cannot tell you how much I love tags! Make sure you always tag your blog posts. Tags are key words that define your blog posts. They are also key words that people out there google when they are searching. For example, the key words for this post will include, blogging, blog tours, book promotion, promoting your book, Christine Mazurk and Alison E. Bruce. Why? Because when someone out there googles Christine Mazurk there will be a lot more links for her because I have hyperlinked and tagged her right here! Try googling your own name and see. I’ve been doing this since we started the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog. Always hyperlink and tag!! You want lots and lots of pages with your name to appear on google so it’s easier for people to find you. And because it gives your name more online real estate and therefore more visibility.

More on blogging in future posts. But for now, get blogging! 🙂

100_4277Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, a good book and blogging!

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 6 (Q and A with bestseller Cathryn Fox)

cathrynfoxCathryn Fox is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She writes sexy contemporary romance, erotica, and hot paranormal romance. New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster describes Cathryn’s books as, “sizzling, irresistible and wonderful”. USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean calls Cathryn, “The next Queen of Steamy Romance.” National bestselling author Sylvia Day says, “A Cathryn Fox book is a must-read great escape!” 

Cathryn is our guest today and she’s got a lot to say about what it takes to be a bestselling author!

What do you love about being an author?

I honestly love being able to write down the stories that are in my head.  I also love the flexibility of my job. I was able to be home with the kids when they were young, and my husband is a shift worker, so if he’s off during the week, I can take a day off and just make up for it on the weekend.

Tell us the backstory of how you hit the bestseller lists – for which book (s)?

tornbetweentwobrothers_lgI’ve been on the USA Today list three times, and New York Times Twice, and let me say, the second and third times are just as exciting as the first. My book, Torn Between Two Brothers was in the Love in Disguise boxed set and hit USA Today. Yours To Take, was in Unraveled and hit USA Today AND New York times, and in July, Torn Between Two Brothers hit both lists in the Spice Boxed set. yourstotake_lg

How long have you been writing and how long did it take you to get on a bestseller list?

pleasurecontrol_mmI’ve been writing full time since 2000.  I hit my first big bestsellers list last year with my Pleasure Games Trilogy, a special three-book bundle for Costco and Walmart! I hit The Globe and Mail top ten!

How much time do you spend on social media every day? And what are some of the things that you do on your social media sites to engage with readers and fans?

histroubleintallulah_lgI am on facebook and twitter everyday. I would say for about an hour. In an effort to engage readers, I post pictures of numerous things, such as the deer who are currently eating all my fruit trees, the fire pit we just put in, the sailboat in the harbor near the boardwalk I walk in the evenings. I think readers want to hear about the ‘authors’ not just the books. I also recently started FOXY FICTION, it’s a facebook street team where I give sneak peaks, share excerpts, deleted scenes and will soon hold a contest where the reader can get THEIR name in my book. I’m seeking new members, so if any of your readers out there are interested in hanging out with me, please come by!

What if an author is starting out in social media – on facebook and twitter etc…or what if they haven’t gotten much buzz – what are some things an author can do to create a buzz or get more followers?

There are many facebook groups that host promotional parties. Definitely try to get involved. It’s great for exposure, especially when it’s a multi-author party. During your time slot offer incentives, perhaps a draw for a free ebook, to all those who liked your facebook author page, joined your street team, or newsletter. Other facebook places offer page takeovers and this way you get a chance to interact with their readers. I will be taking part in the Twin Sisters Rockin Book Reviews page takeover on the 18th of August 7-9 Eastern. If anyone out there is interested to see how it’s run, please stop by.

Based on your own experience, do you think it’s a good idea for an author to invest in his or her own promotional and marketing budget? If so – what are some of the important things that an author should consider?
 
crashingdown_lgMarketing is so important today, especially if you are indie publishing. Without a publishing house behind you, everything is left in the author’s hands. What good is it to write a book, put it out there, only for no one to know about it?  It doesn’t always have to be expensive. (especially since most things can be done digitally today!) You can reach out to goodreads reviewers and give them an advanced copy of your book to generate early reviews. You can ask friends to tweet or post on facebook for you. You can also purchase some fairly inexpensive ad space at places like Storyfinds, Ereadernews Today, Digital Book Today, Kindle Fire Department, Romance Reads, Fresh Fiction.  If you have a higher budget you can reach out to marketing and public relations specialists like InkslingerPR.  

Do you do brick and mortar book tours? If so, do you arrange them on your own or do you go through your publisher or an agency? Why are book tours still important in today’s huge e-book market?

I have done a few locally that were arranged on my own. I think it’s important to get out there and make that face-face connection with readers. During a tour you can also sell your book digitally, so it doesn’t matter if the reader likes print book or ebook, they can still walk away with your shiny new book.
 
Do you do online book tours? If so, do you go through agencies or arrange them on your own? What do you like about online book tours?

I’ve done online blog tours and they were arranged by both me, for my indie books, and my publisher for my traditional books. Goddess Fish is who I used. I enjoy it because I can do either, questions and answers, or write a blog post on a topic of my choice. My work/name gets put in front of many, many readers.

What do you think it takes to become a bestselling author?

knockingondemonsdoor_lgHard work, dedication, drive, ambition, knowledge of the industry, and a little bit of luck! It also takes a good book, good cover and a great support group behind the scenes who is willing to read and reread that book until it’s perfect!

A great writer or a good book doesn’t necessarily translate to hitting a bestseller list. What do you think the bestselling authors do differently than authors who don’t sell as well?

You are right. I’ve read lots of excellent books that have not hit bestseller lists. I think bestsellers study the market, are always evaluating the changes in the industry and are willing to change with it. I also believe they are prepared to try new things, even at the risk of failing.

Thank you for stopping by!

Thank you for having me!

You can connect with Cathryn Fox online at her web site and on facebook and twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? (part 3 of an ongoing series)

How to Become a Bestselling Author: The inside scoop from a personal assistant to the romance writing all-stars.

10003159_10152282263439854_5663918089959658826_nKim Castillo is personal assistant to New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Eloisa James. It’s fitting that these two ladies work together since they are both fabulous and amazing.

Kim has worked with many talented bestselling authors over the years, so if there is anyone who knows the inside of this biz, it’s Kim!

What is it like working for Eloisa James?

Bliss! Imagine meeting your idol, then finding out that they are even more fabulous than you thought and then getting to work with them every day. That’s what it’s like.

ELO_Ugly_DuchessEloisa is just so incredible. Don’t get me wrong, she is tough and a perfectionist, but she’s also the most amazing teacher and is open to hearing everything. I go to her with any idea I have no matter how big or small. We toss it back and forth and then decide together if we want to go forward. Lots of times she’s all for it but she has shot me down a few times. Like this graphic I made for The Ugly Duchess, it was rolling around in my head for weeks. Finally I put it together, sent it to her and asked for her thoughts. She loved it and posted it to her Facebook page and that thing went wild! It was shared online tens of thousands of times, it was crazy. When she doesn’t love an idea, she tells you in the best way. She never makes you feel bad at all. She gives the best constructive criticism.

We have a great time chatting on the phone and brainstorming ideas. I can’t go into detail but there is an aspect of her upcoming novel, Four Nights With the Duke, I can’t wait to see. It came out of nowhere during one of our talks and she just flew with it. Readers are going to love it!

Together we do everything we can to make Eloisa’s books the best they can possibly be and to make her releases as successful as possible. She lets me feel very much a part of her magic. When she won the RITA for Seduced by a Pirate, I felt . . . there aren’t enough words to describe the feeling, but it was pretty amazing! We celebrate her successes wildly and when things don’t go as well as we plan, we go over it bit by bit. We try to pinpoint what could have been done better, what should have been done and even what shouldn’t have been done.

To sum it up, working with Eloisa is very satisfying. She allows my creativity to soar. If anyone had ever told me I would be this happy in a job, I never would have believed them.

What can a personal assistant do for an author in terms of helping to build his/her career?

Have initiative. People always ask me to help them become an assistant, they want to do what I do. It’s not that easy. There isn’t a formula to this. You have to have great instincts and be in tune with your author. I don’t care where Eloisa is in the world, I know if she’s not feeling well or is having a very rough time. I know her and I know what she needs. Most importantly, I take care of what she needs.

For myself, I can’t make a decision to save my life. Honestly, anyone who’s gone out to dinner with me can attest to this. But when it comes to Eloisa James Inc., I make decisions in an instant without hesitation. Going along with that you also have to be accountable. You have to say “yes, I made that call” or “crap! I missed that”. With Eloisa, I have the luxury of knowing she isn’t going to rail at me.

More specifically, learn social media. Pay attention to the trends of the moment. Your author will get the most benefit of being in on a trend from the beginning, not the end. I get a lot of my inspiration from current celebrities. Taylor Swift has given me more than one brilliant idea.

Do everything you can for your author so she has time to write and focus on the stories she needs to tell.

For the authors who can’t afford a personal assistant – what are some key things that every author should do to promote her/his books?

Social media. You don’t have to do it all. There are so many! Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Do what you enjoy, but do it well. Be genuine and converse with your readers. Trust me on this, readers will know in a second if you’re not being yourself or if you’ve hired someone to do your social media. Don’t talk at them, talk to them. No matter what platform you’re on you need to treat it as if you’re with a group of friends having coffee and fun.

Treat your booksellers kindly! When Borders and Waldenbooks closed, it was the independent bookstores that stepped up. They are on social media, they have author events and they believe in you so much that they are hand selling your books. If you are traditionally published, send them bookmarks or other swag to share with their customers. Get to know them and ask them what you can do to help them do their job. It is up to us to support these small businesses. They truly love what they do and that deserves our help.

Given your experience working with so many authors over the years what are some of the stand-out qualities that many successful authors have in common?

Kindness. The most successful authors I know are just plain kind and supportive. They give back, they don’t take success for granted. Look at the workshop line up for any writing conference. You will see some of the biggest names imaginable sharing what they’ve learned. Karma, baby! You get what you put out there.

Self-awareness. A good author knows their writing process, how long it takes them to write a book, etc. They also surround themselves with good people who are supportive and accent them.

Where is the first place you go when you want to look for a new author or something new to read?

Eloisa! She reads at an incredible speed and shares what she really loves. This past spring she completely glommed Abby Green and Kresley Cole. We love to talk books but I can’t keep up with her at all. She’s got bionic eyes or something.

It is every author’s dream to be a huge success and at the top of all the bestseller lists. As an author, you need to drive yourself towards that in the best way possible for you. Most of you are perfectionists and the thought of handing off something to someone else makes you break out into hives. Get over that! Everyone can use help even if it’s just asking your teenager to teach you how to use “the Facebook”.

For the authors who feel that they can’t afford help, think again. When I started out, I charged $11 an hour and was available for any amount of hours. If you only needed two hours a month, that was fine with me. Look around, I’m sure you can find something in your budget.

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I started out was from Jeanne Adams. She helped me create a mission statement. I encourage all of you to do that. Put your goals on paper, print it out and tape it above your desk. Keep focused on those goals.

CHALLENGE: Let’s work on that together today. Share one of your writing goals and how you plan to achieve it.

Connect with Kim Castillo on facebook. You can see some of Kim’s wonderful marketing ideas on Eloisa James’s facebook page.

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