We’re back with another installment of the DIY MFA Self-Publishing Insights series. Today we talk to Bella Andre, who not only has taken the self-publishing world by storm, but also turned the typical publishing model on its head by negotiating a print-only deal with Harlequin. This is a huge step in the industry, where once upon a time eBook rights were automatically packaged together with print rights.
I had a chance to meet Bella at Book Expo earlier this year and her energy and entrepreneurial spirit is–in a word–contagious. As you’ll see from her answers below, self-publishing is a lot of work but it can be incredibly rewarding and exciting, if a writer is really dedicated.
1) Why did you choose to self-publish?
I had been traditionally published for 7 years when self-publishing suddenly became a viable path for authors because of the rise of e-readers and e-books.
2) Tell us the story of how you took your Sullivans books from self-publishing traditional? What is it like to navigate both worlds?
I originally came from the world of traditional publishing when I began self-publishing three years ago. In the past three years I have sold nearly 2 million self-published ebooks.
Once three of my romances about the Sullivan family debuted on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists in the same week, many of the New York publishers contacted me to see if they could work with me on the print-side of my Sullivan series. I was thrilled to agree to a fantastic seven-figure contract with Harlequin MIRA to publish my Sullivans in the English language around the world in print.
3) What factors played into that decision?
I was thrilled to sign the first ever print-only deal in U.S. publishing, and Harlequin MIRA is simply the best in the world at contemporary romance, which is what I write.
4) Contrast between self-publishing and a traditional book deal
a) What was your favorite part of self-publishing? Traditional publishing?
I love being in control of all the aspects of putting out a book — hiring the editors and proofers, making the covers, writing the book descriptions, choosing the title.
With traditional publishing, I really love their print distribution and reach to the readers.
b) What took you most by surprise?
I’ve always been a hard worker, so I wasn’t particularly surprised by how much work it all is. I really love having so much direct contact with my readers on Facebook, Twitter, Email and Goodreads. They’re amazing!
5) What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a writer who is deciding between self-publishing and traditional?
Regardless of which way you choose to publish, the most important thing is the book. Always the book.
6) For your next creative project, do you plan to self-publish or go the traditional route? Give us a hint about this project. We’re dying to know, what’s next?
I am continuing to self-publish all of my ebooks, audiobooks and many of my foreign translations. Harlequin is taking care of the print side of my books. My next release is KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE, in which I go back in time to tell Mary & Jack Sullivan’s love story (the parents of the first eight San Francisco Sullivans). KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE will be put out by Harlequin in Hardcover on September 24th and I will release it in ebook and audiobook the same day.
Bella Andre is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, and has sold more than 1.5 million books. Her books have appeared on Top 5 lists at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. After signing a groundbreaking seven-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella’s Sullivan series will be released in paperback in a major global English language launch in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia in continuous back-to-back releases from June 2013 through April 2014.
Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages, and her Sullivan books are already Top 20 sellers in Brazil. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently in TIME Magazine. She has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100-year-old log cabin in the Adirondacks.