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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Perfect Writing Triangle - Love, Food and Laughter: Author Interview with Barbara Oliverio

I love the sub-title of your book…a tasty romantic comedy. It’s a perfect triangle – what every woman wants –romance, food and laughter. How much of this book is taken from your own life?
Years ago the spark of the idea came from recipes that I actually did collect in my own dating years from relatives of my long-forgotten suitors. My friend Nancy suggested that I write a cookbook with those recipes along with the cherished recipes that I had from my mother. I thought it would be more fun to share the recipes by creating a funny story that incorporated my Italian background, my Catholic faith, and, of course my love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What made you think you could write a novel? I have always been a writer in some form or fashion, ever since I was old enough to put pen to paper. One of my undergraduate degrees was in Journalism, and my professional career has incorporated that training whether it was press releases or web content or curriculum design. I never doubted that if I took a leap of faith that I could write a book of some sort.

In addition, my family is noted for our storytelling abilities -- our motto is "never let the truth get in the way of a good story". While my brothers concentrate on oral storytelling, I think my writing skills naturally led me to creating written fiction.

Who or what encouraged to actually write the book?
It was a latest in a round of layoffs in my last job -- high tech marketing is notoriously volatile -- that made me think that it was the time finally to commit the story that had been germinating to paper. In addition, I looked around at the trend of popular literature and noted that young women, specifically young Catholic women, don't have a lot of role models in popular books. My husband agreed and encouraged me to give voice to Alexandria, a witty interesting "good girl" who lives in today's world..

How many rewrites did you do on it? Who helped you with the editing?
I gave myself a task of writing 1000 words a day, and sometimes rewrote along the way, but after the book was done, I only tweaked portions here and there. I didn't do any major rewrites. My best advice to any author is to hire a professional editor once the work is complete; mine was indispensible.

How did you go about trying to find a publisher? How many sources did you pitch?
At first I pitched the book in the traditional fashion to agents and publishers. I have a very nice collection of responses to my query letters, by the way. To summarize: "Great character development, strong writing, overall good storyline....but....just not what we're looking for right now." After about a year and a half, and many discussions with the real buying public who heard my story concept who said they'd buy a book like this one, I looked into self-publishing as an alternative. I feel that I made the right choice.

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
I studied my genre (chick-lit) to understand it fully. Then, I created the personas for all of my characters and "interviewed" each of them so that when I wrote them, they could flow naturally from my keyboard. I learned their favorite colors, songs, foods, where they grew up, etc. In addition, I made a chart of how each one knew each other so that I didn't accidently create illogical discussions.

Then I did a basic outline. At THAT point, I started writing 1000 words a day of the actual story. Occasionally, my characters would take me down a path I didn't plan and I'd let them. Sometimes that turned out better than the original plan and sometimes I'd have to back them out of that path.

What has surprised or frustrated you the most in marketing your book? With a background in marketing, I knew that I wasn't going to just be able to launch the book and wait for the people to rush to buy it, so I'm not totally surprised by the amount of work that I am putting in to publicize it. I also understand that the markeing mix includes many avenues.

My only slight frustration is when people who promise to review it don't follow through. This industry (along with movies, etc.) depends on reviews.

What type of promotion has worked best for you so far in generating sales? 
My best sales came from my book launch party where I sold out of the stock that I brought to the party -- nearly 100 books. I also did a giveaway for a Kindle at the party to collect names/emails for a mailing list.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
Hmm. Perhaps I would have started the marketing earlier, but before the work actually was published I think I didn't want to over promise. Now that I look back on it, there was nothing that was going to stand in the way of this book being published.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing you would like to pass along?

Two pieces of advice stay with me:

1) If you are going to be a writer, READ. Read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from the best, but don't be afraid to read other things as well.

2) If you self publish, invest in a great professional editor and a great professional cover designer. Don't believe people when they say that homemade is just as good -- you are competing with the big houses and you need to look like you fit in.

Are there any other books in the works that you would like to tell my readers about?
I'm working on the sequel to this book, title to be decided, which follows Alexandria's best friend and her story. In addition, I am working on a YA novel and another comedic novel.

Hope this has whetted your appetite to learn more about Barbara's writing and maybe even buy her book. Here's a few links to help you along the way.

Facebook     Barbara's Website      Amazon       Goodreads

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