Tag Archives: A Summer in Europe

Ebook Giveaway + Why Do Traditional Authors Self-Publish?

There’s something incredibly surprising going on. For starters, according to the recent data collected on the reading habits of Americans, people are reading more books now that Ebooks are available. As a result, Ebooks and self-publishing have come together to create the perfect climate for writers. It’s now very easy for writers to publish books and short stories by themselves. And because more people are reading Ebooks, they’re self-published books are reaching more people than ever before.

But it’s not just aspiring authors who are self-publishing, many authors whom already have an agent and several books published traditionally, are also self-publishing their additional stories and books. So the big question I have is why? Why would a traditional author choose to self-publish?

Award-wining women’s fiction author and avid member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Marilyn Brant is here to answer that question!

Marilyn has three novels under her belt including her debut novel, According to Jane, which won the Romance Writers of American’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award. Every year since she became an author (check out her story into becoming an author here) she’s been churning out fabulous book (Friday Mornings at Nine) after fabulous book (A Summer in Europe)! But what surprised me the most was when I noticed she self-published 2 novels as a series of fun and flirty contemporary romantic comedies: On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping.

These two novels made Marilyn into a #1 Kindle bestseller and she’s here today to give us the scoop on why she chose to self-publish:

 1. As a best-selling published author, why did you choose to self-publish 2 Ebooks?

There are a number of reasons. In part, it was because it’s a long time between my print books (14 months, in my case, between Friday Mornings at Nine and A Summer in Europe), and I wanted to give my readers something fun to read in the interim. My self-pubbed romance books both touched on some of the themes I wrote about in my print/women’s fiction novels, particularly with A Summer in Europe, but in a shorter, lighter way. I hoped if new readers found me digitally first, they’d get to enjoy an inexpensive sample of my writing and, perhaps, they’d be interested in reading more.

Aside from all of that, though, my very first love was romantic comedy. I wrote several purely lighthearted romances prior to getting my first traditional book contract, and a few of those novels were quite close to being published in their own right. In the case of On Any Given Sundae, an editor really liked it, but the line she was considering it for was discontinued just two weeks after I finished writing the book and a new line was never created to replace it. So, for six years, I waited in hopes that a print publisher would appear, looking for books of that tone and length, but one never did.

I try to bring a fair amount of both romance and humor into my longer books but—as a reader myself—sometimes I’m just in the mood for a story that’s a short, entertaining read. Like wanting to watch a half-hour sitcom one night rather than a two-hour feature film. If both the sitcom and the film were written and directed by the same person, there would certainly be similarities in writing style and favored camera angles. But the sitcom has to be less complicated and faster paced than the film, and it has to be structured in a way that delivers the humor and the closure the viewers have come to expect from a half-hour comedy. The movie, of course, has different rules and more flexibility, needs to be longer and have multiple layers or subplots. For me, writing romantic comedies vs. women’s fiction is a lot like that. Different lengths, different expectations, but it’s all still in my voice.

2. How did you do it? What did you do for editing? And how to you get such fabulous covers?!

I’m thrilled you like the covers! Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs was the one who helped create both of mine. Kim and I have known each other for several years and, after I saw the lovely work she did for several other authors, I knew I’d want her to design covers for me when I was ready to self-publish my romantic comedies. We emailed back and forth about ideas until we had the images that I thought best represented each story, and she worked quickly and efficiently in bringing them to life. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

As for the other details involved in formatting and uploading the manuscript, I did all that work myself. I followed Mark Coker’s excellent guide for Smashwords and made sure to pay attention to every step. Initially, it was time consuming because I hadn’t had any background in formatting ebooks before this, but the directions were straightforward and, I think, anyone interested would be able to learn the process as painlessly as I did.

3. What did you like about self-publishing?

On the macro level, the challenges a writer faces between publishing traditionally and publishing on one’s own are exactly the same: Getting noticed by readers and staying noticed by them. On the micro level, however, there are some differences. With a self-published project, you have to learn how to handle wearing all the hats. You’re the one in charge of editing, proof reading, back cover copy, front cover design, marketing, advertising, pricing and distribution. You can hire people to help with all of these, but you’re still the one that needs to research a great cover artist, for instance, and you still have to be prepared to give a lot of input to your designer so he/she can craft just the right image for your story. The autonomy, however, is wonderful. With traditional titles, there’s a publishing staff in place to help you do all of those things, but having less responsibility also means having less control. You’re on the publishing house’s timetable and you can’t really move things along faster—or slow them down overly much—without it creating a problem.

On the financial side, there are no cash advances when you self-publish a book—it’s a pure leap of faith. One benefit to a traditional contract is that you’ll get some (typically small) amount of money upfront. But, with self-publishing, you do get a larger share of the royalties on what you sell and you can check your sales record at any time, day or night. (Still not sure if I should call this a “good” thing or not, LOL. The ease with which an author can become obsessed with his/her indie sales numbers is frightening!) With a traditional house, you usually don’t get a good picture of your opening month’s sales for six months to a year. I do think gaining the attention of readers and reviewers remains the biggest challenge for self-pubbed novels, but that’s a struggle with print titles as well. The thing I keep telling everyone is that BOTH methods are a lot of work. There aren’t any shortcuts to publishing a well-written novel. Period.

4. Do you have any tips?

The advice I’d give to ALL writers, whether planning to release digitally or submit to print publishers or do both, is actually the same:

1. Write what you love.

2. Polish it.

3. Figure out how to market it as effectively as you can.

4. Be as considerate and supportive of other writers as you’d like them to be toward you—online and off.

5. Make sure your inner circle is populated with people you trust and who genuinely care about you because this industry is full of a lot of ups and downs, and you need to know there will be friends and family who’ll be there, both to lean on when you need it and to celebrate with you.

5. Wow! Those are probably the best tips I’ve heard! So tell me all about On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping:

I’d be happy to do that! On Any Given Sundae is a light romantic comedy about a shy dessert cookbook writer and the talkative ex-football star she once had a crush on as a teen. The unlikely pair find themselves left in charge of a small-town ice cream parlor for the summer, but can two people—who may have grown up practically next door to each other but who have next to nothing in common—create the perfect recipe for love? Maybe with a little help from their friends and a few sweet toppings…

As for Double Dipping, it’s a new contemporary romance that was inspired by my years as an elementary school teacher. Opposites collide when a dedicated second-grade teacher fights the school’s new financial director in order to reinstate a much-beloved autumn festival. But secrets, ambition, attraction and meddling family members complicate matters in this small Midwestern town. The book is part light mystery, part romantic comedy and entirely packed with delectable sweets—including a step-by-step recipe for making homemade chocolate-cherry ice cream!

6. What’s your favorite all-time dessert?

I have MANY favorites (I love sweets, too much, actually…), but I particularly adore gelato! There is nothing like the flavorful creaminess of Italian ice cream. YUM!

Thanks, again, for asking me to visit, Brittany! It was a pleasure to be here. ~Marilyn

You’re very welcome Marilyn! Thanks for stopping by The Write Stuff!

*To Enter for a chance to Win a Digital (pdf) Copy of Double Dipping:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (May 27th)Those who comment will be entered to win. When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winner on May 28th! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to respond to me as an acknowledgment of being a winner. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*What’s your favorite dessert?

For Example: Mine’s cheesecake! Chocolate-covered ANYTHING ties in at second place though. P.S. The picture to the right is a slice of Maple Sugar Cream pie (click here for the recipe)! 

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Update with Author Marilyn Brant + Giveaway

Award-wining women’s fiction author and avid member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Marilyn Brant is here again to discuss her latest novel, Friday Mornings At Nine. I had the wonderful chance to meet Marilyn while at an author event in St. Louis, MO. I have to tell you. She is one of the sweetest, funniest author’s you’ll ever find. Her fabulous personality is reflected into every one of her novels. Her debut novel, According to Jane, won the Romance Writers of American’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award.

The Write Stuff is checking back in with Marilyn, to rave about her new novel which I loved reading.

1) Friday Mornings at Nine revolves around 3 middle-aged women who always meet for coffee. First off, what’s your favorite coffee drink?

My favorite coffee drink is anything warm, sweet and preferably laced with chocolate, like a mocha latte with swirls of whipped cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on top…yum!

Now that I’ve bought the exact drink you described because I couldn’t resist… what do you feel is the significance of the role of friendship in a woman’s life?

I think it’s one incredibly important component for most women’s happiness. Not everyone needs lots of friends or constant activity (personally, my inner circle is pretty small), but I don’t know any woman who doesn’t need someone trustworthy to confide in at times, someone to sit with and just chat about daily life, or someone with whom to share good/bad news or triumphs and fears.

I don’t think there’s any situation that a good friend or two can’t help you through, even if it’s just taking the time to listen to you or to run through a list of pros and cons with you. There’s no price that can be put on a genuine and supportive friendship. And I do think, as women get older, their friendships get even better — they’re deeper, more honest and, I think, truly valued as the priceless gifts they are.

I will say that this is something the women in the story are still in the process of learning, though. To get the gift of a genuine friendship, one must also *be* genuine. And to be capable of being honest with others, one must also be honest with oneself. In my opinion, a willingness to be compassionate but truthful is at the heart of every good friendship — and every good marriage, for that matter.

2) The three gal pals, Bridget, Tamara, and Jennifer are struggling with feeling stuck in their lives and marriages. How did you come up with the story line and idea for this novel?

Years ago, a woman I knew had been telling me about how dissatisfied she was in her marriage. Despite having two children she loved, the differences between her and her husband were growing steadily, and they eventually got divorced. I also knew there was a man from her past that still haunted her memories and there was a new guy as well that she eventually had an affair with… All of these factored in to my wondering about the logistics of infidelity and the mindset leading up to why and how a spouse might stray.

This woman wasn’t the only person I knew who was having marital issues, though, and I could see how tempting it could be for someone who had regrets about a past relationship to interact with old boyfriends via email or Facebook or, perhaps, have an encounter with some hot-looking man she’d met through work or some other activity. Even though I had no interest in reconnecting with any guys from my past (trust me, several of those relationships ended so terribly that I *really* didn’t want that!), I was fascinated and a little freaked out by how easily I could hunt down people I used to know online and, also, how relatively simple it would be — if motivated — to have emotional affair with someone, even if nothing physical happened between us.

About 4-5 years went by, however, between first getting the idea for the story and beginning to draft the book. It was a premise that needed to simmer for a long time in my head before writing…to give me time to observe lots of other relationships and, in fact, to hear from other women about their own experiences with infidelity and their fantasies about men outside their marriages. I do think it’s one of those topics where, the more we’re open to discussing it, the better it is for women — either to know that what they’ve been feeling is normal or to know where there might be a real problem in their relationship.

3) These women also discover they each have secret crushes in their lives and cannot help but wonder about it all: crushes, their lives, and their husbands. Can you give us some juicy details for each character?

Sure! Bridget loves cooking and always dreamed of being a chef, but she put those ambitions aside to raise her three kids. She’s now back in the workforce as a part-time secretary at a dental office. There she meets Dr. Luke, a man who appreciates different cuisines and also sees her freshly in a way she feels her sports-obsessed husband no longer does.

Tamara is the wife of an affluent but frequently traveling lawyer and the mom of an only child who just started college. Without their son at home, she’s not sure what she has in common with her husband anymore, but she seems to have made a conversational connection with Aaron, the divorced younger neighbor down the street. It doesn’t hurt that he looks very hot without his shirt on.

And Jennifer is a stay-at-home web designer with two teen daughters, married to a high-school Spanish teacher. She’s the techie and he’s the poetry guy that she married on the rebound after David, her computer-programming college boyfriend, dumped her. A part of her is still convinced that David is her soul mate. Now, thanks to the Internet, the he’s resurfaced and wants to meet up with her again at a college reunion.

4) What do you think is at the heart of this novel? What message do you want readers to take away from it?

At its heart, this is a story about *choosing*, not *cheating*. One very consistent thing I’ve found is that most women recognize the fact that there are other attractive men out there in the world, but we tend not to act on that attraction — or even fantasize about it overly much — unless there’s a disconnect in our primary relationship/marriage. When we know ourselves and know our significant other and we feel we’ve really chosen to be in this relationship (despite our partner’s inevitable faults — and our own), then we’re not living in regret or self-delusion, and our attractions to others are both kept in check and are, typically, fleeting fantasies.

The trick is to really know oneself, though. To really see the people around you clearly. To really listen to what they’re saying. And, after taking in this awareness, to turn that same attention inward and make sure your inner needs and wants are in sync with your outer environment. I don’t think people can fully, honestly be in a relationship (be it marital, friendship or otherwise) unless they know why they’ve chosen to be there. So, I wanted to write a story where, over the course of the novel, these three women have to come closer to learning who they are, what they want and which relationships they’re genuinely able to commit to seriously.

5) Tell us about your upcoming novel, A Summer in Europe, because The Write Stuff wants all glamorous hints yesterday:

Being a very impatient sort myself, I’m more than happy to spill! I *just* got the cover art (it’s up on my website for anyone who wants to take a closer peek: http://www.marilynbrant.com) and in my publisher’s book catalogue they described the story this way:

On her 30th birthday, Gwendolyn Reese is given an unusual gift by her eccentric aunt: a summer grand European tour arranged through her aunt’s Sudoku and Mahjongg Club. Gwen reluctantly leaves her “almost fiancé” and heads to Europe with her aunt and a collection of offbeat club members.

Abroad, Gwen is slowly but surely transformed. She has conversations she’d never expected, is spellbound by London theater, touches a glacier, races through the Louvre, and shares a passionate kiss with a wild young physics professor. And when her old life comes calling again, she must choose between the practical choices she’s always made, and a world open to infinite possibilities…

I’m really excited about this novel! It has a lot of my favorite things packed into it: traveling, musical theater, physics, Sudoku, art, romance at all ages and gelato. (I am *very* fond of gelato!) The Mahjongg, however, took a little getting used to…LOL.

Thanks, again, Brittany! Wishing you and all your readers a wonderful day.


Thank you Marilyn!!

*To Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Friday Mornings at Nine:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (April 10). Those who comment will be entered to win. Giveaways are U.S. only (sorry!) When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff or Facebook: 26 Countries and 1 Kitchen!

*Follow me on Twitter or Cook26Countries on Twitter.

*Tell someone and have them comment here! (Make sure you have them point out they referred you!)

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winners on April 11th! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*What’s your favorite coffee or (gasp! I promise not to be offended…) tea drink?

For Example: I live for my custom coffee drink: Iced 1/2 pump white mocha and 1/2 pump Vanilla Latte!

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