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Friday, February 9, 2024

Don't Write to the Curve: Interview with Publisher and Author Jennifer Conner

Amazon lists you as having 105 published titles. How many books did it take before you could do this as a full-time career? 
The writing profit is always up and down for us mid-list authors. Most of us, if you want to make millions it's not going to happen.  I write because I love to write and tell stories for readers.

I noticed that several of your early books were book sets with other authors.  How did those book sets come about? 
Many of those early book anthologies were fun and I am still friends with many of these authors. That includes Angela Ford who lives on the other side of the country in Nova Scotia. We have written at least 8 books together but had never met in person. I flew there last September and we were able to meet in person and go to the Titanic museum! How fun is that! 

But, anthologies can be difficult for bookkeeping and royalty payouts, breaking it up. And if one author wants to leave the anthology it's a lot of work. We have started doing more boxed sets with just that author instead of boxed sets with multiple authors.

Besides writing, you also publish books for other authors. When did that come about? 
When I started seriously writing in around 2007 I had won 3 national writing contests, and got a one on one with a big publishing house. After 6 months, all that I got back one line that said "there is no such thing as a bikini barista". That was when I knew I had to take my career into my own hands and started Books to Go Now book publishing. I wanted myself and others to be treated with respect. 

What will make you pass on a book submission (besides not being in your genre list)? 
Mainly it's purely written material and not the genre that we look for. BTGN mainly publishes shorter novella length. If it's 150k works we won't accept it, but we are open to all genres from sweet to sexy. We have carried 300 authors and 4000 titles over the years.

I noticed on your publishing site that you are looking for short Christmas stories of 10k to 15k words. What’s your tip for completing a story in that short length? 
BTGN takes short books in all genres. You need to learn to write a tight story line which helps when you move into longer works. Get in, tell your story, and then wrap it up. Do you need 600 pages to tell that story or can you tell it in 150? I read a lot of other authors and genres, many I think can cut out a bunch of stuff that is not needed. Also, make sure that it is edited and not a mess when you send it out.  

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your own writing? 
Don't give up. Don't listen to negative feedback (especially online). Get into a IN PERSON critique group.  I have been with my critique group for 14 years. We write all different genres and add to the ideas of the others books even if we don;t write that. If you need to correct something in your story ask them why, don't let them tell you your story or writing sucks. 

One of the best examples I've heard was from Debbie Macomber who lives down the road from me. She was called out by an agent at a BIG writing conference who told her not to give up her day job and she might as well stop writing. She has now sold well over 200 million books. Guess it was a good thing she didn't listen to that twit.

Marketing is the biggest key to making sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produced more sales rather than just clicks? 
Bookbub if you can afford it. Facebook ads but learn how they work first. Online presence. Branding of your titles if it's a series. It's an always changing field listen to other authors as to what works. One thing that worked last year may not work now.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? 
Again, don't listen to negative people. They want to tear you down to feel better about themselves. Put your best forward with a professional product. Get into an in-person critique or writing group.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? 
Get a professional book cover and a good editor or you will look back and regret your early works. 

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add? 
Write the story you are passionate about and don't write to the curve. Don't write the next Fifty Shades or Hunger Games, it's already been done. Write what you want, it will show.

I’m intrigued by your newest book Diamond in the Rough. That cover looks like the poster for an animated movie. What made you decide on such a unique cover? 
I thought that the cover design from Romance Novel Covers Now was fun and I liked the vibe of it. I thought it summed up Darian and Kassidy. 

Can you give my readers a short synopsis? 
A modern workplace romance about a piece of antique jewelry that can break a heart, save a business, and bring love.

Darian Laird's girlfriend just broke up with him by text. Rough. This isn’t the worst of it. It wasn't his fault that he had to come back to London to run Laird's Custom Jewelers after his father became ill. This forces him to leave his dreams of owning his own business in the rear-view mirror

He orders his jewelry designer, Kassidy, to melt down the antique engagement ring he'd bought for his ex and make it into something to help save the business. Kassidy and Darian have known each other since they were kids, and she doesn’t take orders well. When she learns the history of the beautiful ring, there is no way she is going to destroy it.

Maybe the setting for love could be sparkling right in front of him.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about that book or buy it, here are some links to do so.

Here are the links to all her other books and her publishing company.

And here's a bonus for my readers. Leave a comment on this post. Make sure it includes your name. Next Friday, we'll choose 5 winners who will get e-book copies of Rescued for Christmas : Sweet Holiday Short Stories - Dog Tags for Christmas and Christmas at Central Bark

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the idea of shrugging off negativity sounds rough. I'm not sure I'm ready for this! (I'm publishing my first book in June.) I'll definitely take into account the notion of creating a tight storyline creating a professional presentation—covers, editing, the whole shebang. It's both inspiring and a bit daunting. Jennifer's advice on marketing, especially navigating the ever-changing Facebook ads terrain, is very relatable. But we do it because we love it! Conner's journey is both inspiring and a reminder that every successful author started somewhere, even if it was with uncertain, baby steps.

    I'm looking forward to taking the leap!

    Congratulations on your successes, and I wish many more successes for you!

    I A M Watson