Blog Book Tour & Giveaway: Elisa Lorello, Author of “Faking It”


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Today, please welcome first-time novelist, Elisa Lorello in her book blog tour for Faking It.

Originally from Long Island, NY, Elisa is a full-time instructor of academic writing at NC State University and a member of the Raleigh Write2Publish group. She has appeared on *The Artist’s Craft*, a local Raleigh television show, and is currently on a blog tour for her first novel, FAKING IT. In addition to writing and teaching, Elisa’s passions include reading, music, chocolate chip cookies, and reciting lines from *This is Spinal Tap* with her siblings.

Elisa is giving away a copy of her book Faking It to one random winner!  You must leave a comment or question (following the interview) by 12 midnight tonight for a chance to win!  Winner will be posted tomorrow!  So, kick back with your notepad, cause you’ll want to jot these tips down, then pick up a copy of Faking It for a fun summer read!

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

Tell us about Faking It.faking it cover 2

Thank you so much for hosting me today—it’s an honor to be here!

Faking It is a romantic comedy. Andi, a 30-something writing professor, meets Devin, a handsome, charming escort (is there another kind?) who catches her attention. She proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons in writing in exchange for lessons in how to be a better lover. When the two break the rules of their contract that forbids each other from seeing each other socially and become friends, problems ensue. I always pitch the novel as *When Harry Met Sally* meets *Sex and the City*. It’s witty and fun, but also poignant at times. The perfect summer read!

What made you decide to go the self-publishing route with your book, Faking It?

I had queried about sixty agents, and even though I received and responded to several requests for manuscripts, I wound up with all rejections, albeit encouraging ones. Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes with the querying process, including not doing enough research about prospective agents and writing queries to a specific audience as opposed to a form letter, to name two examples.

I listened to the feedback that these agents had, however, and made the necessary revisions. I always believed that the novel was worthy of publication, and I knew I had access to an audience in terms of networking, so after doing some research and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to self-publish. I was also very fortunate to catch the wave of social networking (such as Facebook and Twitter), which has been instrumental in Faking It’s success.

What steps did you take to find the “right fit” with a self-publishing vendor?

I attended many panel discussions organized by author Stacey Cochran through the Raleigh Write2Publish group about self-publishing, and did some internet research as well. I probably didn’t do as much research as I should have at the onset (mainly because I didn’t know where to look or what to look for), and know a lot more now than I did then. There’s a lot more information available now (at least it seems that way), and a lot more competition, so you have to be careful.

I chose Lulu.com because they allowed me to maintain creative control as well as the rights to my book, the technical support was very helpful (especially for a first-timer like myself), and I liked that it was a local company (they’re currently located in Raleigh, NC). And while I’m not disappointed with Lulu, some of my criteria has changed, so I’m not sure if I’ll stick with them for my second book. As I said before, I’m in a better position now to make a more informed decision.

Can you tell us about the steps of self-publishing, i.e. do they offer editing services? Marketing? Book cover design?

Great question. Lulu offers all of the above services, and has especially kicked up its services in terms of marketing and cover design. Another nice thing about Lulu is that you can pick and choose which services you want or need. If you want to hire a graphic designer outside of Lulu, for example, you can, and use your own cover art. I edit my own novels, but some people may have neither the time nor ability to do so.  Keep in mind, however, that these services cost extra, so you need to determine what’s feasible for you. But, also keep in mind that all of the above elements are crucial to the success of a book—the more professional your finished product is, the better.

Was there anything that surprised you about the writing and/or publishing process of this novel?

It took me five years before I even started writing this novel because I kept telling myself that I wasn’t a fiction writer. All of my previous attempts at writing fiction (namely short stories) were horrid, so I just kept trying to push the idea for Faking It in the back of my mind. But the idea wouldn’t go away—it needed to be born. So I finally sat down to write it and told myself that I was the only one who had to read it—thus, if it was garbage, no one would ever know! My mantra while writing it was “I wrote the book I wanted to read.” And lo and behold, it wasn’t coming out like garbage—quite the contrary, and when I showed it to people, they responded positively. Then the dam broke, and now I can’t see myself as anything but a fiction writer (or, a fiction writer who occasionally writes nonfiction essays).

The writing process can be slow and tedious at times, but I like those times because it gives me time to listen to the characters’ voices and to do a lot of mental composing.

What has surprised me about the publishing process is how time-consuming it is, especially when it comes to promotion—it never stops. Everything takes longer than I think it will take. And I’m not the most organized person (I blame this on being Italian), so I’m sure that doesn’t help.

What happens if a big publishing house now comes a-callin’ for Faking It?

Hello! Bring ‘em on! Seriously, since I own the rights to my book, that’s not a problem. If the right agent and the right publisher/publishing deal come along for Faking It, then I’ll go with it. I’m still on the lookout for a literary agent and/or a traditional publisher mainly because they have the resources to reach a much bigger audience than I do, and because, unfortunately, self-publishing still carries the stigma of being an outlet that produces poor quality works. That is perhaps the greatest obstacle to overcome. But I stand behind the integrity of my novel.

I also have more confidence now than I did when I started this whole process of getting published three years ago. I’ve learned a lot, especially from my mistakes. When my next manuscript is ready to be queried, I feel quite confident that I’ll have more success finding an agent. If not, then I’ll continue to self-publish.

Have you experienced any back-lash from authors who are “traditionally” published?  If so, can you offer any tips on how to counter these attacks.

The majority of authors and independent booksellers I’ve personally encountered have been nothing but supportive, be they traditionally published or independently published. And yet, I’ve attended panel discussions in which traditionally-published authors insist that that’s the only route to go if I want to be taken seriously. I also recently read and participated in some discussion forums in which readers were downright mean and discriminatory against indie authors. And I already know that know major retail chain booksellers won’t touch my book with a ten-foot-pole because of the aforementioned stigma (and because they don’t really make money from self-published books unless it really breaks out).

Here’s the best and worst thing about self-publishing: anyone can do it. With digital technology and POD companies like Lulu, anyone who wants to write and publish a book can do so, and make it available to the masses. That means there’s a lot of poor quality work out there and, as a result, readers are going to have to sift through all that sand to find the gold.

The best piece of advice I can give is to maintain integrity about your work and yourself as an author. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, then treat yourself like a professional, as if you’re drawing a monthly or weekly salary. Treat your work professionally. That means get feedback and be willing to accept criticism. Form a writers group so that you maintain accountability. Get an editor if you need one. Hire a graphic designer or a publishing consultant if you need to. Be a go-getter, but also know what’s appropriate and inappropriate in terms of approaching an independent bookseller or scheduling a reading or a blog tour. Know the protocols.

As for those who continue to slam all indie authors as hacks, well, they’re not people I want reading my book. Don’t waste your breath trying to convince them otherwise.

Tell us about any of your current writing and marketing events/tours/appearances and what is on the horizon for future writing projects!

Gladly! I’m currently in the middle of a 30-day blog tour for Faking It and would like to do at least one more reading at an independent bookstore to wrap up the promotional tour. I’m also in the process of getting Faking It into at least two more independent stores: one on Long Island (where I’m from), and another one in MA (where I lived for eleven years).

ALSO:

If you have a book club, I’m offering a special: order four or more copies of Faking It from me directly (you can email me at elisa@elisalorello.com, subject: book club) and not only will I discount the order price, but also sign the books. What’s more, if your book club is local to Raleigh, NC, I’ll attend your discussion meeting. If you have speakerphone, I’ll participate in the fun that way.

I’m also preparing to release Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It. I was originally planning an end-of-summer release, but now I think it’s going to take longer than that. I’d like to get more of a buzz going about it first (enlist previewers, possibly give away sample chapters as teasers, etc.). Meanwhile, I’m working on a third manuscript, this time with a writing partner, which has been a fantastic experience. When that novel is finished, have us back because that is a great story! I don’t think I could collaborate with anyone else.

Faking It is currently available at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC; Baker Books in N. Dartmouth, MA; Lulu.com; and on Amazon Kindle. For more information about Elisa’s blog tour and other events, go to her blog “I’ll Have What She’s Having” or www.elisalorello.com.

Thanks again!

Be sure to leave a comment or question for Elisa for a chance to win!

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20 Comments

Filed under Author Interviews, books, Fiction, Get Published, Novels, Platform/Marketing, writing inspiration

20 responses to “Blog Book Tour & Giveaway: Elisa Lorello, Author of “Faking It”

  1. Hi Mary Jo,

    Thanks for the great interview. Very interesting. I want to read Faking It – congratulations to you Elisa!

    Judy

  2. MaryJane Cook

    Hi Elisa,
    I enjoyed your interview. You and your main character are both writing instructors. How much do you identify with Andi?

    • Hi MaryJane-

      Thanks for the great question. I was fresh out of my grad program at UMass Dartmouth when I wrote the first draft of FAKING IT, so I was full of all this great rhetorical and composition theory, and quite idealistic with how I was going to apply it all. I was also brand new to novel writing and relied a lot on what I already knew (I still use a lot of what I know and like in my novels, but not to the degree that I did w/ FAKING IT).

      Originally, I had decided to make Andi a writing professor because I was. I even used it as a line in the novel. kind of like, well yeah. I know this; might as well use it. But this wonderful, magical, happy accident came out of that. The novel is extremely rhetorical, especially the way Andi and Devin diaolgue w/ each other. There’s also this wonderful layering effect. As she’s teaching him Plato, for example, she’s sort of sorting out her own truth and not even realizing it.

      I identify w/ her in other ways — having overprotective brothers who are musicians, being a New Yorker, etc. And yet, this is her story, not mine. It’s fiction and it explores things in ways I’ve never experienced. I don’t have her extreme insecurities. And truth be told, she has a much more interesting life.

  3. Thanks so much for hosting me today.
    I just wanted to clarify something, however, in reference to querying agents — I made it sound as if the form letter was the good thing and writing for a specific audience was the bad thing. Not true!! The mistake I made was sending out form letters. Querying agents is like writing a cover letter for a job. You want to know everything you can about that one particular agent, and tell them why you make a good fit. It’s not all about what the agent can do for you; it’s what you can do for that agent.

  4. Thank you Elise for sharing such great information especially in regards to self-publishing. The book sounds fabulous!

    You mentioned that you have a sequel coming out and also are working on a third manuscript. How long does it take you to complete a manuscript from start to finish?

    I really relate to your beliefs about writing fiction. I feel exactly the same way right now. I hope that I will have your same courage to step into fiction some time in the future.

    Again, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Sarah

    • Thanks for the question, Sarah, as well as the plug on Twitter!

      Manuscripts take a while for me to finish. It usually takes about a year to write a first draft, and then another year to revise it, sometimes longer. FAKING IT took the longest because I spent a year querying agents and did a lot of revision as a result of their feedback. I also revised based on reader feedback.

      I wrote most of *Ordinary World*, the sequel to FAKING IT for nanowrimo 2006 (met my 50K word quota, too!). The problem is, it was a lot of bad, passive, wordy writing and took me extra long to get rid of all the wordiness. (I’m still tweeking it — so many semi-colons!) Never again, nanaowrimo!

      I’ve been collaborating on the current manuscript for almost a year and a half, but this writing process has been very different from the other two because we’ve done so much peer reviewing and revising along the way. Much of it is already finished. We’re hoping to finish the entire manuscript by the end of this year and stary querying agents in January.

      As for “stepping in” to fiction — just dive right in! Write it for you. Write it as if no one is ever going to read it — thus, if it stinks, no one will ever know! Seriously, that was my attitude. I really thought no one was ever going to read FAKING IT when I started writing the first draft. I was about halfway in when I said, “You know, I think this is actually good…” and showed snippets to people.

      Good luck! Have fun!
      Elisa 🙂

      • Elisa,

        Thank you so much for the terrific advice! Reading through these questions and answers is fantastic. I have learned so much. This is one of the best interviews/reply & answers I have read. I really appreciate your taking the time to do this. I, too, am a fan of physical books. I love the way they look, feel, and smell. I have not been able to move over to digital and cannot imagine not having a book to hold in my hand.

        Sarah

        P.S. Sorry for spelling your name incorrectly on my first post 🙂

  5. This interview has been extremely helpful! It’s great to hear directly from a self-published author about the steps you’ve gone through to see your book in print! Great interview!

    When it comes to self-publishing your book Elisa, I’m curious what your biggest concern was. I am interested in self-publishing if I don’t find an agent for my YA novel and my main concern is selling the book. Where to sell it? Who will sell it? How can I get it in stores across the U.S.? Did these questions concern you too?

    I hope I’m the random winner, but if not I would like to order your book! Thanks Mary Jo for a great post on your blog 🙂

    • Hi Kimberly — I’m so glad you found the interview helpful!

      I was concerned about all the factors you listed, but, as I mentioned in the interview, my biggest concern was the *stigma* of self-publishing. I was most afraid of not being taken seriously. Self-publishing has always had the reputation of being the place for untalented, wannabe authors to go when no one else will take their book. And at one time, rightfully so.

      Thanks to digital technology and POD companies like Lulu, however, publishing is going the way of the music business. That is, talented authors who got rejected simply because competition is so steep are now able to get their works published and out to the masses. Of course, it also means that less talented writers are going to do the same thing. There’s more of everything now, and so it’s that much more challenging to get your book to stand out.

      Booksellers, however, are still reluctant to embrace self-publishing for business reasons. They simply don’t make money from indie authors. The average indie author sells about 100-150 books. I don’t know if that statistic is for the entire run of a book, or per year. Either way, it’s an insignificant number by industry standards. Unless you’ve really broken out — guest spot on the Today show or Oprah — and you’re selling books by the thousands, and readers are flocking to the stores demanding your book, they’re not going to pick it up. Independent booksellers are usually more willing to support local indie authors, but even there the competition is steep.

      I got my book into several independent bookstores because of my ties to those communities. And yet, even then, it wasn’t a “given” — above all, the quality of my writing had to speak for itself, and my books are in those stores on consignment. In other words, I supply them with 2 or 3 copies of FAKING IT (the expense comes out of my pocket), and take a percentage when the books sell. If they don’t sell after a year, then I have to take the books back.

      I don’t recommend you try to get your books into “brick-and-morter” stores. Rather, focus on establishing an online presence first. Social networking right now is so hot, and it’s the number one factor in my success. Use Facebook to promote yourself and your book (I have a Faking It Fans page). Join Twitter and acquire followers. Start a blog. Follow others’ blogs. Participate in forums not to plug your book, but just for fun. Eventually they’ll want to know more about you. Create what’s known as an online storefront where you can sell your books. Organize a blog tour in which you appear on sites like this to promote yourself and your work. Everything I’ve suggested can be done for free.

      Getting back to the stigma and my fear of not being taken seriously, I ultimately decided not to listen to those who spoke in the negative and to take *myself* seriously as a published author. More and more, that’s becoming my number-one piece of advice. Treat yourself like a professional, like you’re getting paid, like you’re published with a big-time traditional publisher. Even if you’re selling one or two books here and there. Attitude is everything. If you believe in limitations, then the biggest limitation is you.

      Good luck w/ the drawing for FAKING IT!

  6. Liz

    This sounds like a great book – what an interesting idea to barter these two types of “lessons”. I’m always curious if authors start with the end in mind. Did you know your last scene when you began writing, and do you use an outline, or do you let the story take you where it will?
    Thanks for the great interview, Mary Jo and Elisa!

    • I am just loving these questions! Thank you so much, Liz.

      I think the writing process is a mysterious one — there’s no one place to begin or end. JK Rowling had the very last chapter for Harry Potter long she wrote the final book. With FAKING IT, the ending was the very last thing I wrote. It seems so obvious now, but at the time I struggled w/ how to end it. My writing partner and I only came up w/ an ending to the current manuscript last week! We wrote the last couple of paragraphs w/out even writing the last chapter just to get the gist of what we wanted it to be.

      Also, there’s so much revision that’s part of the process. Sometimes the introduction in the final draft is completely different from the first one. Sometimes one idea morphs into another, but that original “what-if” usually remains intact.

      I typically don’t use an outline, but w/ the novel I’m co-writing, we talk a lot of it out, and started making an outline after we had much of it already written because we were writing a lot out of sequence. I don’t usually write that way, but it worked for this one.

      Every writer is different. Some use notebooks full of outlines and sketches and character descriptions, while others just write it down and let the story and the characters take them along for the ride. Ideas come from anywhere at anytime. I jot an idea when it comes to me, regardless of what part of the story I’m working on.

      I’ve had experiences where it feels like I’m just taking dictation — the characters whisper the words to me, I don’t tell them what to say.
      It’s mindblowing sometimes, to create from thin air like that. Sometimes I even get tears in my eyes when it’s done. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect writing. Other times it’s very deliberate and very hard. I tend to think a lot of it through before I write any of it down.

      For me, the process is always the best part about being a writer. You never know where it’ll take you or what you will learn.

      Thanks for the question!

  7. I am heading out to see David Sedaris at Quail Ridge Books (woohoo!!), but will be back later this evening to answer your questions or respond to your comments. Keep ’em comin’! I’m having a blast!
    Elisa

  8. Congratulations Elisa! I just wrote my first novel and I’m currently editing it, so your advice and story of how everything came about for you really helps. I can’t wait to read your book! :o)

  9. Joy

    Hello Elisa

    It’s so great to meet you. This is the first “blog tour” event I’ve been to and I picked a winner!

    Your book sounds incredible and I love your energy and style. I am also an author but took a break from the fiction market for several years. I’m now jumping back in and find so much has changed!

    For example I’m seeing more and more fiction (like yours) going POD. I love having that as an option and agree with you that as writers we must ensure we publish the highest quality product so it is competitive with work from a publisher. As a reader, I want to support indie writers but it can be challenging. It’s not like I can pick up the book and read a chapter like I can in the bookstore.

    Here is my question. So many serious readers are moving to the Kindle or Sony digital readers and now download their books. Is your book available for download? If not, have you researched what it would take to do that?

    Thanks so much for the valuable interview and best of luck with your books!

    Joy

  10. Hi Joy-

    Thanks so much for your kind words! The answer to your question is yes, my book is available for download on both Kindle and at Lulu for under two bucks. In fact, I’m having lots of success w/ the Kindle version — at one point I made the Top 100 bestselling Kindle books in Contemporary fiction and Humor genres, I think. (It stayed there for 2 days!)

    Of course, I’m sure the price has a lot to do w/ it — I mean, a whole novel for under two bucks!! My goal w/ the digital books is not to make money but to get it in as many hands as possible, especially of those who maybe would’ve passed it over in print. Then, of course, I’m hoping they’ll like it and tell their friends about it, or they’ll buy the print version of the next book, and so on. It also doesn’t cost anything to make a book available on Kindle. Amazon takes a chunk of the royalties, though. I only get 35%, but I get it off the list price and not the discounted price.

    One thing I’ve learned, however, is that formatting is tricky. Make sure you learn how to format your book for the Kindle.

    Naturally, I’ve been plugging the Kindle sales like crazy. And yet, I kind of feel like I’m biting the hand that feeds me when I do because independent booksellers have been very good to me, and Kindle sales are the number-one threat to the indie bookstores right now. And I’m a fan of the tactile book — I love holding them, touching them, smelling them. etc. In terms of business, however (because I still want to make money, even if it’s not my #1 priority), I’m hedging my bets. I have to, because it’s up to me to distribute and sell my books. No one else is going to do it for me.

    I don’t know much about the Sony reader, but it’s something I’m going to look into. I’ve also got Google Book Search on my to-do list this week. You can put a sample of your book there.

    I recommend any indie author to make their books digitally available and think carefully about price. There’s a great discussion forum on the Amazon Kindle website called Books under 2 bucks that my friend Stacey Cochran started. Scroll through and read how the word of mouth spreads like wildfire on a forum like that.

    But remember, you’ve got to promote it like everything else. Don’t just publish your Kindle version and expect others to find it. And some genres do better than others. I find that commerical sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, etc., do much better on the Kindle than, say, chick lit (aka romantic comedy).

    You’re jumping back in at a great time — best of luck and have fun!!

  11. Pingback: Book Cover Design : Designing A Cover For Your Book - A guide for self publishers | Self Publishing Companies

  12. Pingback: What I learned… « Writers Inspired

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