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
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Be sure to leave a comment or question for Elisa for a chance to win!