Q&A with a Bestselling Author
"A fresh, funny treat for anyone with a weakness for dishy desserts or reality TV." -New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner
Read more about The Next Big Thing here, or order it from your local independent at Booksense, at Amazon.com or at Barnes and Noble.
I caught up with Johanna on The Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit.
MOC: How did you get the idea to write a novel about a reality show?
JE: I’m a big, big fan of reality shows (ducks head in shame) and I loved the idea of using one in a book. I think they’re so ridiculous and so melodramatic and I figured that gave me a lot of material to work with. Truthfully, I had the idea for a reality show called “From Fat to Fabulous” and I wrote a book around it.
MOC: Your press release says you sold the book based on just a few chapters! This flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which says to query only after you have a finished book. Would you recommend this tactic for other authors?
JE: I would definitely NOT recommend doing this. I sent out query letters before my book was finished and I really could have shot myself in the foot. I’m fortunate because I was able to pull the book together in a very short time frame. I wrote the ending very quickly, which is why the book ending up selling on a partial manuscript. (My agent wanted me to rework the last couple of chapters and, since it was right before Christmas, she felt we had to move quickly. So she decided to shop the unfinished manuscript and synopsis. I rewrote the final chapters after I had a publishing deal.)
MOC: What has been the most rewarding thing about the publishing process so far? The most frustrating thing?
JE: The most rewarding thing is just knowing that my book is out there in the world. It’s an incredibly surreal feeling to walk through a bookstore and see your novel on display. There are no words to describe it. The most frustrating thing is the pace of publishing. You sell a book and then it’s nearly a year and a half before it hits shelves. It felt, at times, as though my life was in a holding pattern waiting for this book to come out.
MOC: What kinds of things are you doing to promote the book? Do you find it hard to focus on marketing while you are trying to get the next novel done?
JE: It’s very hard to focus on marketing while working on the second book. I’m pretty introverted by nature, so I really hate having to get out their and sell myself and my book. But it’s a very necessary part of the process. I’ve worked every local and national angle I can think of, and I’ve hired an outside publicist to complement the work my in-house publicist (who is just fabulous, btw) is doing.
MOC: Do you plan to continue writing about the same character?
JE: I have a two-book deal with Berkley and my second book is a stand alone. My publisher was initially interested in a sequel, but I didn’t want to write one. For about a year and half now I’ve said I’d never revisit the characters from The Next Big Thing. I felt like their story was finished. All of that changed a few weeks ago, when I was struck with a killer idea for a sequel. So stay tuned…there may be one in the works, yet!
MOC: What is your next novel about?
JE: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Just kidding! Seriously, though, my publisher has asked me to keep it under wraps until further notice. I’m not even allowed to reveal the title.
MOC: What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
JE: Don’t be intimidated by the process. I know the odds are very daunting, but I truly do believe the cream rises to the top. If you believe in yourself and believe in your work, I think you’ll eventually find publication.
There you have it, some words of wisdom from a bestselling author. Thank you so much, Johanna!