In a recent blog post I covered just how successful romance authors can be, so it seemed like a good idea to interview one of the best. Bella Andre is the prolific author of the bestselling Sullivan Family series, as well as the Bad Boys of Football books, along with many others, and she kindly sat down to give me her view on digital publishing, and what lies ahead for her.
MP: Doing a bit of research on yourself, it seems like your enthusiasm for writing really took off when you started exploring the Romance genre. It's something that I've spoken about on the blog before, but why do you think Romance is so compelling for readers?
BA: I've always loved reading romance novels. I can remember, as a very small child, watching my mother read them and as soon as I was old enough, I naturally gravitated to the genre. There's something so wonderful about stories that revolve around finding and holding onto true love. I also think that romance writers are so smart and savvy - I write contemporary romances, but there are so many other great sub-genres for readers to choose from: vampire, regency, scottish, suspense, and time-travel are a few of them. What's more, romance readers are voracious! I'm a one-book-a-day girl when I can find the time and I know I'm not the only one! There's nothing more fun that finding a new author and then getting to devour their backlist - the bigger the better! Fortunately, romance authors are often quite prolific.
MP: Is there anything that you try to do to separate yourself from the crowd or do you find that keeping things formulaic works?
BA: Honestly, I rarely think about formulas or "rules" when I sit down to write my books. What I enjoy most is figuring out the heart and soul of my characters and following that. I love tearing up as a write a scene - I love laughing, too! Hopefully, if I'm feeling that way as I write, my readers will react similarly. For example, in my latest contemporary romance, From This Moment On, my heroine, Nicola, is a pop star who has a wild image that isn't at all true to who she really is. My hero, Marcus, is the oldest of eight children and helped take over the reins of his family at a young age when his father died unexpectedly. Both of these characters have a different set of issues and beliefs about life and love than my other heroes or heroines and I really enjoyed delving into who they were as people and what experiences had shaped them as they headed toward their happily-ever-after.
MP: Whatever you're doing, it seems to be working, in both digital and print. Which distribution channel do you think is best for your books? Which gives you most exposure?
BA: It has been a really thrilling year, with a half-dozen of my ebooks - FROM THIS MOMENT ON (Sullivans #2), THE LOOK OF LOVE (Sullivans #1), GAME FOR LOVE, CANDY STORE, LOVE ME and ECSTASY - regularly hitting the Top 50 bestseller lists at Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. With regards to exposure, there's no question that the ebook revolution has made a huge difference for my books. I own a Kindle, Nook and iPad, so I know first-hand how easy - and enjoyable - it is to buy and read ebooks. Of course, I also offer print versions of my self-published books through Amazon - and Random House UK will be publishing my Hotshots firefighter series back-to-back in paperback in 2012. (The ebooks launch their new "Rouge" digital imprint this October, November, December.)
MP: Can you see a time when you might be an exclusively digital writer, or do you think your audience demands print versions? Have fans been supportive of the move?
BA: My fans have been great, and I'm willing to move wherever they want me. If my fans want me to sky-write my books, then that's how I'll do it!
Case in point, for years, they had asked me to write a sequel to my first book - TAKE ME. Unfortunately, while I desperately wanted to write that book, my publisher didn't think there was a big enough market for the sequel. Fortunately, last July, when I realized self-publishing on kindle was a viable option, I sat down, wrote that book and published it myself as LOVE ME. Not only did that book hit all the ebook bestseller lists, but it was a real thrill to be able to give my readers the book they wanted.
MP: Is there anything that concerns you about digital publishing? How do you find competing against a market that anybody, for better or worse, can contribute to?
BA: I find the changes in publishing to be absolutely fascinating and spend every morning soaking up the latest news. I have to-do lists a mile long and while it's sometimes daunting to look at all I want to accomplish with my books, I can't help but be excited about it. (Well, perhaps at 2 in the morning when the rest of my family is sleeping and I'm still at the computer just like I was the night before and the night before that, "excited" isn't exactly the right word....) For me, the truth is that any concerns that might pop up from time to time simply get buried beneath the work involved in publishing 13 titles in the past 18 months - creating the covers, writing the descriptions, soliciting author reviews, distributing the ebooks, marketing & promoting, etc. (Note: Many were backlist titles I got the rights back to, but I have also written four brand new self-published books in that time, in addition to writing books for a publisher in the US under the name Bella Riley.)
MP: You've had some great press interest over the years, and obviously had a strong fan base before you went anywhere near digital publishing. Is there a stand-out moment in your career so far?
BA: My first book signing was pretty spectacular. Getting to meet fans in person - fans who read my book - and liked it! - was a dream come true. And every time I open my email or twitter account or facebook page and find a note from a reader who has enjoyed one of my books, I couldn't be happier!
MP: Writers usually say their inspiration comes from their own lives. If that's the case for you, then you have a pretty exciting life filled with six packs and football players. Is that where it comes from, or do you have to look elsewhere for inspiration?
BA: I had to share this question with my husband! And while his six pack is pretty darn impressive, we had a good laugh over it. I have a feeling I'm going to be quoting you for some time to come! :) But while I'm certainly inspired by everything around me, my imagination is pretty good at supplying what my real life doesn't.
MP: Are there any other genres you'd like to explore? Potentially cross-overs between say, Romance and Fantasy?
BA: I love trying new genres and formats. Under the pseudonym Lucy Kevin, I recently released a young adult paranormal retelling of Gigi titled Gabrielle about a high school music student under a family curse to only find love as a courtesan. It's an enhanced ebook with songs that the title character writes and sings at emotional high and low points during the books.
MP: Lastly, it'd be great if you could let everybody know what you're working on at the moment.
BA: Can't Help Falling in Love, the third book in my bestselling Sullivan family series, will be launching in December! I will also be releasing my Bad Boys of Football series - GAME FOR ANYTHING, GAME FOR SEDUCTION and GAME FOR LOVE - as special UK edition ebooks within the next month. I'm very excited to introduce UK readers to this series, featuring football playing heroes and the women who tame them. For more information about my titles or to contact me, I invite people to visit my web site at www.BellaAndre.com. Thanks so much for the fantastic interview!
MP: Thanks to you! Bella's books are available through Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Goodreads and AllRomance.
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