Bella Andre On Using a Pen Name+ Revisions + Whether Romance Novels Are Harmful to Women

bella andreName: Bella Andre
Author’s Website , Facebook Page

Hometown: Northern California

Briefly: Having sold more than 2.5 million books, my New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling novels have appeared on Top 5 lists at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, my Sullivan series is being released in paperback in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia from June 2013 through May 2014. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), my books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine ”Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages, and my Sullivan books are already Top 20 bestsellers in Brazil. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called me “One of the top digital writers in America” and I have been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently in Time Magazine. I has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America.

Favorite Read: Anything by Maeve Binchy and Jennifer Crusie.

Pet Peeves: People who need to be nicer. [Smiles]

If You Weren’t a Writer-Entrepreneur You’d Be…A writer-entrepreur. Really, I love it that much.

What You Have Lined Up Next: It Must Be Your Love (The Sullivans #11) releases this week and I am madly writing Just to Be With You (Ian Sullivan’s book, which will be out Spring 2014).

One of the things that people always wonder about prolific romance novelists like yourself is, among other things, how do you manage to write all these great books in such short time?

My natural writing speed has always been pretty fast. I find that I can sink better into a story when I write 10-20 pages a day. I’m also really big on revisions. The first draft is a great way to get the story bones down. Revisions are where I flesh the story and characters out and make sure it all makes sense.

Do you think that romance novels have played a detrimental role in elevating women’s expectations about marriage and relationships in general? Expectations that some say are not altogether realistic.

No way. If anything I think it’s the opposite. I want every woman to hold out for a man as great as my Sullivan heroes. My husband is that great. I know lots of men who are that great. Why shouldn’t every woman love a great man?

That publisher that decline the option on the book that led to your self-publishing success…have they invited you to re-discuss things over lunch?

I’m actually really, really good friends with that editor. We talk all the time about absolutely everything. And we both agree that what happened couldn’t have been better for my career. When that door closed on traditional publishing, the entire wall blew off for me with indie publishing possibilities. And it completely changed my life.

It must have been pretty self-esteem-bruising for you to experience that rejection. And I’ll wager, it wasn’t any less hard hitting, because you had been published before.

It sucked. [Smiles] But again, it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m thankful for that turn of events every single day.

What advice would you like to give to other authors—aspiring or published—about facing rejection, and getting through discouraging moments and times?

If you really love to write and feel that you have great stories in you, then just keep writing and writing and writing and reading and reading and reading. If you never give up, you will eventually succeed. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

You became one of the first self-published authors to get a print-only deal. Would you say that has been one of the smartest business decisions you’ve ever made?

I was thrilled to be the very first person in publishing to sign a groundbreaking English language print-only deal. I’ve been really, really pleased with how it’s gone – Harlequin have done a truly fantastic job of getting the Sullivan paperbacks out absolutely everywhere in the English reading world.

Did you almost pass out the first time you found out that you had hit Amazon’s Number One List?

It was a very good day! [smiles] It was fun to see my name at the top of the top 10 list with JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, James Patterson and Stephen King!

I didn’t realize until recently that Bella Andre is actually a pen name!

Many writers use pen names. Honestly, the reason I chose one ten years ago was because I thought I had to. By the time I later realized that I could have published under my legal name, Bella Andre had stuck. And I really do think it’s a perfect romance genre pen name.

What sort of creative environment do you favor the most?

Any, really. I can and do write anywhere. But I most enjoy writing outside on my deck or porch.

When you were writing The Look of Love, the first book in what became The Sullivan series, did you imagine it would be such a hit with your readers?

While I thought readers would enjoy the books, I honestly didn’t forsee that millions of Sullivan ebooks and paperbacks would sell all over the world in 2 years! It still blows my mind every day. I have the best readers in the entire world. They’re amazing and they spread the word about the Sullivans to everyone they know every day.

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Do you have a favorite Sullivan?

All of them! Although I do tend to be pretty partial to the one that I’m currently writing about…

Some aspiring authors feel pretty intimidated with self-publishing…having to do the writing, then turning around to find a copy editors, in some cases development editors, book cover designers, author website designers….and so on. What tips do you have on selecting these services?

Do you research. Spend time on places like Kboards.com and ask a lot of questions. Go to conferences and meet other authors and talk with them about it.

Now, for self-publishers who want to get published, but may not have a whole savings account reserved to spend on their book, what’s the one aspect of the book publishing process would you recommend that they spend the money on, without fail?

Copyediting and proofreading.

Word is, you have a new series in the making….

I do, and I’m very excited about it. In addition to continuing with the Sullivans for, hopefully, a very long time to come, I will be launching a New Adult series about another family in Spring 2014. I can’t wait for everyone to read the first book, which is super emotional and sexy and fun all at the same time.

You’ve experienced so much success in your writing career. Do you ever think that there will come a time when Bella Andre will retire for all times from writing?

I sure hope not! Writing is the best part of every day for me. I just love it. Thanks so much for having me!

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