By now, this incredibly gorgeous cover might look familiar, because as you might’ve noticed, my awesome friend Jessa Russo, author of paranormal YA EVER, is one hell of a publicity genius. If you haven’t already checked out the earlier stops on her EVER tour, you must, especially this interview with the fabulous Megan Whitmer!
Because Jessa had such awesome advice to offer fellow writers the first time around, I did a “part two” of sorts and picked her brain on topics from how to publicize yourself to her new gig at her publisher, Curiosity Quills. So pull up a seat and get to know the woman behind EVER!
As many authors have to do, particularly with a small press, you’ve really taken control of your own publicity and marketing. What have you found to be the most effective forms of marketing, and what advice do you have for other writers in the same position?
I don’t know if I have any priceless wisdom to impart on other authors – I’m winging it and learning as I go. But, I have found that when it comes to advertising, word-of-mouth is still the tried and true best way to go. But how do you get word-of-mouth advertising for your book when you are an author no one has heard of? Well, for one, you put your book in the hands of readers and reviewers. Though I didn’t understand this concept at first, and I was confused about how on earth I would ever sell books if I was always giving them away for free, I have to admit that having the book up on NetGalley was a huge help in getting it into the hands of readers all over the world. This helped me reach readers far outside my personal circles and even far outside my online writing community.
Also, putting the blog tour together, and hosting the flash fiction blog-hop, online giveaways, etc, are all things that I’ve done on my own (and in my own free time), that are getting my name and book introduced to people I’d never met otherwise. So my biggest piece of advice where internet advertising is concerned would be to ask your friends for help, plan your tour, and get to as many of your friends’ blogs as possible. You just never know who you will reach that you wouldn’t have reached before.
Oh, and start building your brand now. Build your online presence. Without even meaning to, you are creating relationships and contacts in the industry, just by being yourself and interacting. These connections are priceless for both parties. One day, you will be called upon to help out a fellow author. Do it with a smile and enthusiasm, and they will do it for you. You’ll find the writing community is a generous and caring bunch of awesome. Don’t miss out on this awesome group of people just because you swore you’d never join Twitter.
How long did it take you to go from book deal to publication, and what were your favorite and least favorite parts of the process?
Let’s see … I’ll start at the very beginning, so you can fully grasp the speed of working with a smaller publishing house. I found out I was a runner-up in the WILDE’S FIRE contest (hosted by Sharon Bayliss), on 5/31/12. I sent Krystal Wade my first three chapters for critique (my prize for being a runner-up) on that same day. That evening, she requested the full. I received my offer of publication from my soon-to-be-editor Krystal on 6/4/12. I took about two weeks to consider my options and nudge other publishing houses and literary agents, and then made my final decision and signed on 6/15/12. The release date was set for 10/1/12, but as many of you know, we had an early release date of 9/19/12. So all in all, from contract signing to publication, it only took a bit under three months to see EVER in print!
I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the process, except maybe the revisions. And that’s only because Krystal asked me to change the tense from present to past … or active to passive, depending on who you talk to. That part was long and tedious, and by the time I was done with all of my revisions and proofreading, I was sick and tired of reading the same story over and over again.
My most favorite part of the process was the end product – holding my book in my hands. I am also thankful for the friendships I’ve built along the way – Curiosity Quills is a very supportive group.
How did you go from writing for Curiosity Quills to working for them, and what exactly is your role there?
I don’t recall exactly how that came about, but I do remember Krystal asking me if I knew anyone who would be a good fit for acquisitions. CQ was looking to expand and wanted to find trustworthy people – people someone on the inside could vouch for. I immediately thought of two of my girlfriends, both with English degrees and strong backgrounds in literature, and put them in contact with Krystal. One of them didn’t work out because of scheduling conflicts, so I said I’d be interested. At first it was just to pick up a little slack, should the need arise, but after seeing my proofreading abilities and “trying me out” so-to-speak, I became a full-time Acquisitions Editor.
What that title means: I read manuscript submissions in the categories of young adult and new adult. Aside from reading submissions, I also proofread the occasional CQ property. Though I don’t have much time for personal reading, I am introduced to so many authors and stories I may not have read otherwise. Aside from that aspect, I get to have a part in watching someone else’s dream become a reality, so I’m getting to pay it forward in a sense. That’s an awesome feeling. And wow, I have read some really amazing manuscripts.
Paranormal romance is a tricky genre to get published these days. What do you think helps a manuscript – particularly EVER – stand out in a genre that’s supposedly so oversaturated?
I don’t know what it was about EVER that caught Krystal’s eye, but I will say that before her, and the other small pubs that took notice, a lot of agents rejected my story. And they were form rejections at that. The frustrating part is that I hear all the time how paranormal romance is dead. DEAD. That statement irks me to no end. I have been a paranormal romance fan for as long as I can remember, and I don’t see that changing. Almost all of my friends are die-hard paranormal/supernatural fangirls. There’s always going to be a new vampire to love, a ripped werewolf to swoon over, or a mesmerizing ghost story to pull you in and haunt your dreams. With the emergence of each debut author, there’s going to be a new twist on an old classic. So how can an entire genre/sub-genre be dead? I’ll never understand it.
It was crushing to continue hearing this while querying. “Write what you love” … “unless you love paranormal romance.” lol
Stubbornness, pride, and my love for all things paranormal kept me going. Eventually, I not only found a home for EVER, but I found the right home.
As an author, and especially as an Acquisitions Editor, I truly believe in paranormal romance, and I have yet to grow tired of it. So for other paranormal writers, I say keep on trucking!
If you could impart any wisdom to someone considering a small press, what would it be?
Like anything else in life that matters to you, take your time and do your research. This is your career. Whether looking for literary agents or publishing houses, you have to find the right fit for you. What works for your best writer friend may not work for you. There are many ways to research, and it’s up to you to put in the time. Ask questions. Dig deep, and always trust your gut. In the end, you’ll know what to do, and you’ll make the right decision.
Jessa on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessarussowrites
EVER on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EverTrilogy
EVER on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13625388-ever
When not consumed by reading or writing young adult fiction, Jessa Russo enjoys spending time with family and friends, painting, and planning her next trip to The Big Easy. Jessa will always call California home.