Jennifer Probst is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her novel The Marriage Bargain exploded up the charts earlier this year. It’s also up for Goodreads Romance Novel of the Year! Congrats, Jen!
I’m so excited to have her here today. She’s giving away a copy of The Marriage Mistake. See below for details.
1. Other authors must ask you about your remarkable success with The Marriage Bargain all the time, but I’m curious—other than writing a stellar story, what did you do to help make the book such a success?
I’m asked this question a lot. On one panel my answer was quite disappointing to other authors: “I don’t know!”
But seriously, there were a lot of things I did to help raise my chances of my book being noticed. I completed a 20 blog stop tour around the release, Entangled did a lot of great promotion to get a buzz going on the new series, and I had build solid relationships along the way.
I didn’t start marketing my book when Bargain came out –I started over a year before that. I received some good reviews for my erotic stories, and followed many blogs, leaving comments, and forging good relations with reviewers. I had a solid twitter base, facebook and website. I did my homework, and I think that’s important to a writer today.
2. I love the story you share on your website about meeting your husband, and how he said he’d buy your book if he could buy you dinner. Which book did he end up buying, and what did he think of it?
Uh, oh. I’m in trouble now. It was actually Heart of Steel at the time, that just got reissued in paperback and is also in ebook. He bought it, and we had dinner, and ended up getting married, but he never read the book! He takes a lot of heat for that, but I have to say he’s extremely supportive in my career but doesn’t read my books.
To be completely honest, I love that! I feel like I have more freedom without worrying if my hubby is going to be thinking I’m lusting after the lawn guy – haha!!
3. You’ve released three books in the last few months and you’re working on book four in the series. I recently read an article you wrote for Savvy Authors a year ago about how you used to struggle to find time to write. How do you balance your time now?
I think we all struggle with time. I’ve heard many stories about the more time you have, the more you waste, and I believe that. I have a busy family life, but I’m lucky to write full time now so when the kids are in school I write. I don’t shop, clean, cook, or answer phones. Yes, I do twitter but that’s to keep sanity in the midst of word count. I write every day, and squeeze in evening hours when the kids are watching a DVD and settled. But when I had my day job, I wrote on my lunch hour, plotted during my commute, and wrote late into the evenings and every weekend. It’s not easy – you just have to find time and do the best you can.
4. I love a good marriage of convenience story, but they can be really hard to do convincingly in contemporaries. What do you think the “rules” are for doing it well?
Marriages of convenience push the realistic button a bit, but I think it can still be done well. A reader is looking to be engaged, whether or not the idea may not sound like it can happen every day. But a writer’s job is to make them care about the characters enough, and make the situation come alive for them.
I’ve adored soap operas but let’s be real: can a person really come back from the dead? No. But when the actor or actress rocked the role – I was hooked anyway!
I try to keep the situation modern, and there are still many situations where marriages of conveniences do happen. Mostly in family situations. I”ve created a strong traditional Italian family in the Contes, with a ruling matriarch, so that has helped bump up the realistic feel to the books.
Rules? No rules. Like Tim Gunn says, “Just make it work!”
5. I know you’re looking for readers who can be part of your street team to help promote your books. Want to tell my readers more about what you’re looking for?
Oh, how wonderful to mention this! I have been overwhelmed by readers who love the books and do so much for me. I decided to make it more organized so I can also give back a bit. I’m creating a team where I can correspond to them on releases, events, and things I need help with along the way. All they have to do is get the word out in any way they are comfortable. Some use twitter, some don’t. I don’t care. Whatever my readers/fans want to do for me I’m grateful. I ask for twitter, facebook, referrals, recommendations to book clubs, reaching out locally if they know someone who would like my book, helping me get reviews, etc. I’d be happy to be hosted on their blog also, for posts or interviews and I’ll come with giveaways.
And what do they get? I’ll send them swag, give them sneak peeks of the stuff I’m working on, first dibs on everything that comes out, including deleted scenes, or new blurbs. It’s a work in progress but I plan for everyone to have fun and it should not be stressful !!
Jennifer’s giving away a digital copy of The Marriage Mistake to one person who leaves a comment here. I’ll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday November 27th. Good luck!
Jen: Thank you SO much for having me here today, Kat, it’s truly a pleasure!
Carina Conte has had a crush on her brother Michael’s best friend, Max Gray, since she was a teenager. Now she’s earned her MBA and come to work at Michael’s new venture, America’s fastest-growing bakery empire. But some things never change: her family still treats her like a child. With three drop-dead gorgeous siblings, she’s still the ugly duckling of the bunch. And Max, the company’s new CEO, still barely notices her.
Max knows Carina Conte is strictly off limits. But hot-blooded lust wins out at a conference when the two share a scorching one-night stand—and are busted by her mother! Now, forced by old-world Italian tradition into a marriage he’s not ready for, Max is miserable—and Carina is furious. Her new husband is about to realize that hell hath no fury like a woman transformed….