CM: Welcome to Collected Miscellany. Can you tell us something about
M.J. Rose: I’m the author of five novels, Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh
Tones, Sheet Music and most recently The Halo Effect. I’m also is a contributor
to Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, Oprah Magazine, The Readerville Journal,
and Pages. I’m the co-writer of How to Publish and Promote Online with Angela
Adair Hoy of, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book.
I graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. I was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and have a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I live in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and our very spoiled dog, Winka. You can contact me here
CM: Your first novel was self-published. How did you find a New York
Getting published has been an adventure for me. I self-published Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit
into any one genre. Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a
readership for my work, I set up a web site where readers could download my book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.
After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format)
Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by
the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club and then my agent got back into the process and sold Lip Service to Pocket Books making Lip Service the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.
Since then I’ve been called the “poster girl” of e-publishing by Time magazine and have been profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek, Poets & Writers and other publications, both in the U.S. and abroad. I’ve also appeared on The Today Show, Fox News & The Jim Lehrer NewsHour.
CM: You recently completed a Virtual Book Tour. How was that experience?
MJ: After three weeks of planning, on Monday morning, July 26th at 8AM, still in my robe and slippers, with a cup of coffee at my elbow, I logged on and
started blogging. I didn’t get up to take a shower or get my second cup of coffee till noon and Winka, the pooch, had to wait way too long for our usual mid morning excursion.It was exhausting and exhilarating. And very rewarding. I really loved it and can’t wait to do it again. Blogs rock.
I wound up writing over 12,000 words preparing for The Halo Effect blog
appearances and I’m still answering the email I got – up to 250 responses from blog readers.
CM: A follow up to that question. Has the tour resulted in sales for The
MJ: First let me say, I didn’t expect instant sales. No one thing makes a book sell. But a combination of several things motivates a person walking by a table in the bookstore to notice one book out of twenty and say — “Hmmm, I’ve heard of that book” — and pick it up. That’s what I’m hoping will happen to my book thanks to Kevin Smokler and the tour he set up for me. But — I will tell you that based on numbers I’ve gotten over 300,000 people saw something on one of twelve blogs about The Halo Effect. That’s huge. Plus based on my Amazon numbers it looks like I did sell close to a hundred books over the last three days and I had over 15,000 hits on my webiste. I consider that a huge success.
CM: Your main character is a sex therapist. Tell us about Morgan.
MJ: Dr. Morgan Snow, is a hard working therapist, loving mother and recently divorced woman who is very real to me and has both professional and personal conflicts that give me a lot to work with in the book. She has some issues with intimacy. (My research showed me that it is an issue for a fair number of therapists in real life. Also, it’s not uncommon to find therapists who have become therapists because they’d rather help others than help themselves.)
The Halo Effect is the first in a series and I think as it goes on, Morgan will deal with these issues more and more. She’ll resolve some. And then have some setbacks. Or what fun would it be to read about her — or write about her?
CM: What role will literary blogs play in the industry?
MJ: It’s too soon to know. Everything happens so fast because of the Internet. And things that we think are here forever are gone so soon. When I did my first virtual book tour in 1998 and 1999 for Lip Service I did almost a dozen live chat room interviews. Now chat rooms are passe and blogs are hot.
I’d like to think blogs will stick around a lot longer because I find them so
exciting and they offer so very much to both bloggers and readers. And since
authors are writers and blogs are written, there’s a really wonderful fit and
it seems there is a lot we can do for each other.
CM: Do you write with a specific audience in mind?
thoughts about that?
MJ: I’ve read an insane number of series and knew that I didn’t want to do one based only on Morgan forever — but rather on the place where she works. My biggest influence was Lisa Scottoline — not in tone, tenor or style as she’s
much lighter and brighter than me — but the way she focuses her series on a
law firm and how she alternates main characters who all work at the same law firm. That’s why the subline on the book cover says “A Butterfield Institute Novel” instead of “A Dr. Morgan Snow Novel.” In the first three books, Dr. Morgan Snow is the main character and the book is told from her point of view, but as the series goes forward I plan to write additional books from the points of view of other therapists at the Institute.
So far the challenge is not to tell the main character’s whole story in the first book, but to keep focused on the fact that she has to evolve and grow from book to book. The other big challenge is not to retell too much of her story when writing book two — so you don’t bore the readers of the series — but to tell enough so you don’t confuse anyone who hasn’t read the first in the series. The best part is that I don’t have to say good-bye to characters I’ve fallen in love with, which is something I’ve always had to do before. To stay with Morgan and Noah and Dulcie has been really wonderful.
CM: Is it your sense that editors and agents understand the marketing
potential offered by the Internet?
MJ: Like anything else – some do, some don’t but I don’t think the innovations in internet marketing are coming from traditional publishers or agents.
CM: What do you enjoy reading?
MJ: I’m a very eclectic reader. Here’s a partial list of old favorites and what I’m reading now:
Possession: A Romance – A.S. Byatt
Damage – Josephine Hart
When Nietzsche Wept – Irvin Yalom
Perfume: The Story of a Muderer – Patrick Susskind
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Portrait of Jenny – Robert Nathan
The Eight – Katherine Neville
The Birth of Venus – Sarah Dunant
Confessions of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella
Right now on my TBR list pile is:
Strange but True – John Searles
Queen of the Big TIme – Adriana Trigiani
Killer Smile – Lisa Scottoline
CM: How do reviews impact you?
MJ: I’ve found that reading reviews very often discourages me from reading the book. Too much information. So I don’t read them all the way through anymore. I just read the beginning and the end and try to get the flavor of the book. Or I read very short ones. Sometimes very negative reviews really make me want to read the book – just to see if the book is really that bad. I’m also annoyed that the same books are reviewed everywhere while so many deserving books get no media attention at all. I love bookreporter.com for reviews and get word of mouth from the great readers at Readerville.com where I hang out much too much.
CM: Tell us what’s next for you.
MJ: I just finished the second book in the series – The Delilah Complex and am about to start on the third in the series.
CM: Finally, thanks for spending time with us. Is there anything you’d like to add?
MJ: Yes, there is an excerpt of The Halo Effect on my website and I hope readers here will go and take a look. I’m also offering a Reader Rewards contest on my website with goodies that 9 lucky readers will win.
There you have it. Thanks, MJ, and we’ll have you back for another interview in the near future.