guest today needs little introduction. MJ Rose has become an icon in the
publishing world, a true success story, starting with her first novel, LIP SERVICE, which
she self-published as an experiment, to her ninth, the amazing and complex THE
found it difficult to be objective in this interview – MJ has been more than
just a writer to look up to in the past year – she’s given advice and solace,
inspired me to work harder and learn the business, gave me insights into how to become a more disciplined, has shown me how to celebrate
being a writer and reap the rewards when a satisfactory goal is met. There’s a
word for people like this, the ones who profoundly affect your life. Mentor,
advisor, teacher – all these words come to mind when I think of MJ. Most of
all, I’m honored to call her my friend.
sit back, glean, enjoy, and learn. For those are the gifts MJ gives us every
time she writes a single word.
Thank you for taking
time out of your insanely busy schedule to talk to us!
(international Thriller Writers) has been a shining beacon for both the most
established bestsellers AND for new authors with no track record. What do you
think is the common denominator?
had two goals when it began that were slightly different than the goals of
other writers organizations: to help
raise the level of awareness of the genre and to find a way to help get books
in front of readers even if it meant creating those ways. That made us outer
directed. We weren’t just saying join ITW. We were saying join ITW and let’s
attack the problems we’re facing as authors and try to do something about them.
gives us a common ground whether we’re starting out or high up on the ladder
because even the most successful author among us has to take on a lot himself…
or herself… just ask James Patterson.
You’ve been an
inspiration to all us this year. You are a writer, a marketer, an all-around
business guru, a friend and a mentor. HOW in the world do you fit everything
you, I’m flattered. I just got asked that in an interview that’s posted at
The answer is I don’t. This last year I took on a bit too much and found I gave
up almost all my free time. My work didn’t suffer but I fell behind in movies,
art galleries, museum exhibits, dinners with friends. I don’t sleep a lot, I don’t
have kids, and I love to work, but still… this was one crazy year.
working at balancing things better now that ThrillerFest is over. I’m staying
on the board of ITW for another year but the amazing Jon Land has taken over as
head of the marketing committee and I feel like I can breathe again.
Many new authors are
getting small advances. What’s the most important marketing aspect for a debut
who is looking for bang for the buck — website, advertising, book tour?
a debut my advice is learn as much as you can about the business of being
published. Then keep your day job – or get one – and spend as much as you can
on marketing your book.
don’t do it alone.
down with your publisher – specifically ask your editor for a meeting with him/her
and the marketing and pr people. Be a grown up, tell them in the meeting you’re
a realist, you know not every book can get everything… but they have 100 books
coming out and you only have one and you need to do everything you can to
ensure that one succeeds. To do that you need their honesty.
are they doing for your book? What aren’t they doing? What can you do? Can you
work as a partner? What don’t they want you to do?
you do this right, they will be thrilled to have you as an author and they will
give you an idea of what they’re doing and what you need to do.
terms of money: the website should be simple and inexpensive. Readers don’t go
searching for websites for authors they never heard of anyway. You need a
website like you need a business card. But no one buys a book because of a fancy website.
tour is great if… and there are a lot of ifs.
don’t just want to fly around the country and show up at bookstores, sign some
copies, and fly out again. It’s cost prohibitive.
goal is to go to bookstores in cities where you can get media coverage. You
can’t get an article in the LA Times if you are a New Yorker staying home in
NYC. But if you are going to be on tour
at Dutton’s and you have a good publicist who has a great pitch, you might be
able to get in the LAT.
a ten city tour with ten bookstores would include ten TV shows and ten radio
shows and some book reviews in those local cities and stock signings that would
get autographed copies of books on the front tables.
very few debuts get that kind of tour. Or anyone else for that matter except
for the mega sellers.
you can get a few cities like that if you work it right with the right people
kind of tour that works well is the mystery bookstore tour. Get to as many as
you can, get to know the owners of the stores. Most of them have newsletters or
write reviews. A lot of these folks can help more than anyone else in the biz
to get your career started.
there’s the driving tour you do on your own. Get in the car and meet as many
booksellers of all kinds as you can and sign as much stock as you can. That can
work too, if you’re the kind of person to charm and engage.
I’d never spend all my money on a tour and not do any marketing.
problem is it takes more than 12 times for someone to see the name of your book
or your name before they remember it. So you have to do a lot of things – some
in person, some on line, some off line – before you even start to get any name
one thing works when it comes to selling books. Reviews, interviews, websites,
ads, pr, TV, radio, magazines, appearances… they all work, but it’s better all
why it’s so damn hard.
You’ve been getting
amazing reviews and press coverage for THE REINCARNATIONIST, it seems to be the
ultimate break-out novel. What did you do to make this happen? How much of your
publicity campaign is from you, and how much is from Mira?
have a wonderful relationship with my publisher. We’re definitely partners in
this. They knew who I was when they bought The Halo Effect in 2003 (the first
book of mine they published) and have been great to work with ever since. This is unusual, but it’s also unusual that
before I was an author I was the creative director of a top NYC ad agency, and
that since ‘99 I’ve been creating some solid marketing solutions for authors
very grateful they treat me the way they do and I’m very proud to be published
by a group of people who care so much about what they do and have put so much
faith in my book.
for who did what, we did a lot together like the TV commercial that’s been
running. For the price of a 1/4 page ad in a national newspaper, I produced the
spot (co-written with Chris Grabenstien and produced by Expandedbooks.com) and
Mira bought the media and ran the spot on national TV, reaching over 2 million
people in the exact targeted audience we thought would be interested in the
can see the commercial and read all about that at my blog – Buzz, Balls and
for what I did on my own – I’ve used every single service that I sell through
AuthorBuzz.com (my marketing company) for this book plus have done a few new
ones that if they work will be part of AuthorBuzz.com next year.
Where did Josh Ryder
come from? Do you like writing in the male POV?
was born in New York City – his father was a photographer and his mother was — but
you don’t mean that do you?
I first thought about writing this book the main character was an entirely
different person. As I started doing the research and thinking about the book
the original character started to morph. I don’t remember when exactly he stopped being the other person and
I loved writing from this very different point of view. It was a great change
for me and a great challenge.
Reincarnation is a
fascinating theme. You’ve talked about your past having glimpses of the
possibility of reincarnation. If you were to forecast a future you, what do you
think you’d be like?
think I’d like to be pretty much who I am except more inclined to go to the
What inspired you to
put your successful Dr. Morgan Snow series on hold to do something new? And is
it on hold? Do you plan on returning to Morgan?
on hold. And I want to return to Morgan. I have a contract for three more… but
I’m not sure when I’m going to go back to them.
those who don’t know, Dr. Morgan Snow is a NYC sex therapist and the books are
psychological suspense. Very gritty. I
wrote three books in that series and each of them required extensive research,
a lot of which haunted me. But the most disturbing was the third, The Venus
Fix. I worked with a lot of teenage boys who were addicted to internet porn and
the girls who interacted with them and it was heartbreaking.
wanted to take a break after Venus and wanted to write something else. So the
idea was I’d do two books a year. One Morgan – in paperback – and one in this
new reincarnation series – in hardcover. And then I started writing the
Reincarnationist and realized that it was a crazy idea.
I’m not a fast writer to begin with and the
historical research I needed to do for this new series was very time consuming. As it turned out, the
Reincarnation took almost two years to write.
was time to take a break.
If you had a full day
off, with no deadlines, no expectations, no interviews or commitments, what
would you do?
I get to magically wake up somewhere and get that day? I’ll assume yes. Paris.
Get up early. Go swimming at the Ritz hotel. Then go shopping on the left bank all morning. (I assume on this day my
wallet is constantly replenished.) With lots of shopping bags in tow, I’d meet
my husband for lunch — sitting outside at Café Deux Magots. We’d spend the
afternoon at a museum, whichever has the exhibition I’m most anxious to see.
Winding up at Café Palette at five we’d have a glass of wine and then wander
into the wonderful art galleries there. Later we’d have dinner at Chez L’Ami
Louis and then take an endlessly long and magical walk by the Seine watching
the city of lights reflecting in the river.
What an amazing day!
MJ, we know how busy
you are. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, and for
always being the most graceful and gracious author we know. And if you missed my post at Killer Year Wednesday about seeing MJ’s review in People Magazine, click on over here and read it.
Wine of the Week: Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…
Angoves Nine Vines Rose 2007
JT & MJ, great interview!
M.J. has been a trailblazer on many levels and is now truly reaping the rewards of all of her work.
J.T.,Thanks for this illuminating interview.
M.J.,Thanks for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and stories with us.
M.J. is a genius.
Excellent interview, J.T. Those first two questions (and answers) are absolutely golden for newbies.
Hi M.J. and J.T.,
This must be “Women With Initials Day.”
Great interview. Congratulations on THE REINCARNATIONIST, M.J. I’m so glad to see that you’ve slowed down for at least one deep breath.
I took an online “Buzz Your Book” seminar, and it was a real eye-opener. It made me realize that I must do marketing as well as writing. Very worthwhile!
Terrific interview, JT.
And congratulations, MJ! It’s extremely cool that this book is getting such great reception.
What an awesome People Magazine review! I just saw it in a waiting room this afternoon.