Monday, March 06, 2006

Pro-File: M.J. Rose

//////Ed here: If you have a mystery or crime novel that has appeared in the past thirty days or will appear in the next thirty days, this blog will begin publishing New Books pieces in which writers talk about their books in 800 words or less. Why you wrote it, what it's about, interesting insights into the writing process, etc. We need name of publisher, price, on sale date. If you have a New Books piece e-mail it to No e-books or self-published books please. Regular trade houses and small press houses only. Thanks.////////

Pro-File: M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose, is the author of half a dozen novels, Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music The Halo Effect and The Delilah Complex. She also is a contributor to Poets and Writers, Oprah Magazine, The Writer Magazine, Pages Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in Pages Magazine, The Vestal Review and several anthologies including Best American Erotica and The Auntie's Book.

Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book.

Getting published has been an adventure for Rose who 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 her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her 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 as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Rose has since been called the "poster girl" of e-publishing by Time magazine and has been profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine.

Lip Service has been published in seven countries. In Fidelity is in its fourth printing and was chosen by Cosmopolitan Magazine as the July 2001 Book of the Month.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L'Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the '80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

She lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka.

M.J. Rose:

1 Tell us about your current novel.

The Delilah Complex is the second novel in my psychological suspense series about NYC sex therapist Dr. Morgan Snow.

In this book she works with a group of women who belong to a secret sex club and are grieving the death of one of the men who was also a member. And then a second man is killed…

The book explores sexuality’s power and looks at some unconventional and often taboo issues – while at the same time – delivers – I hope – a page turning, thrilling read.

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

The third, THE VENUS FIX, will be out in July and is even more controversial that THE DELILAH COMPLEX. It has to do with teenage boys who are addicted to internet pornography. So now I’m starting the fourth in the series and trying to shake things up a little.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The hours that I get to spend lost in creating stories, seeing them unfold and come to life.

And hearing from readers who are moved or transported or entertained.

Is anything better than finding out you did your job well?

4. Thegreatest DIS-pleasure?

What happens once a book is finished. Publishing isn’t broken but its navigation system is. At the same time that we see declining readership, more books than ever being published each year. The industry is being irresponsible in how much they buy versus how little they support. We desperately need new marketing initiatives so that we can expose more readers to more books and get more people excited a greater number of titles.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Only become a writer because you love the process of writing. Don’t get in it for the money or the glory. For the greater percentage of authors, that never comes.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

With all the out of print venues on line to buy used books, there’s nothing that is out of print that I haven’t been able to find fairly easily.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

By 1998, despite having a great agent and two almost sales, my novel was rejected because it crossed several genres. Suspense, erotic, too literary to be commercial, too commercial to be literary and psychological.

A marketing nightmare the publishers told my agent. (At the time the term “psychological suspense” wasn’t being used, it would have solved everything.)

Frustrated and against all advice, I self-published LIP SERVICE and marketed it online in an effort to test my theories about how a cross genre book could and might be positioned and promoted.

Cut to six months later.

My significant other was in kidney failure, on dialysis, awaiting a transplant. Life had gotten very complicated and the only thing that distracted me was going online and marketing the book. From home, from dial up connections when he was in the hospital, it didn’t matter. I didn’t even care about the book or getting published anymore but I was needed something to think about beside life and death.

LIP SERVICE it turned out, had generated some buzz. Up till then no one had really exploited the web to get attention for a book, reach readers, offer free downloads and excerpts. And Erika Tsang an editor at the Doubleday Book Club and Literary Guild came across the novel online.

She read it and emailed me and made an offer. The clubs wanted to buy the book and make it a featured alternate selection. The first time they’d found a book online or bought a self published novel. Not to mention one that had started its life as an electronic download for sale for $9.95 from a website.

Twenty-four hours later, my agent sent out the books to six NYC editors. Three weeks later, she held an auction.

I was at the hospital with my significant other -- on one of his many stays -- when my agent called to present me with the offers.

It was very bittersweet. I remember sitting by his bed, knowing that this was an incredible moment, that I needed to focus on it, that it was what I had waited for, for so very long. But in the face of the illness we were dealing with, the book sale just couldn’t compete.

What really matters is that he got his transplant 10 months later and it’s still a bestseller. And, oh yeah, I’m still getting published. I don’t write happy endings, but I sure appreciate them when they happen in life.


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