What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?
How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend came out this summer. Like most of my books it's a light, fun, romantic comedy--guarenteed to make you laugh or your money back.
Giovanna's life is far from perfect, but she does have one thing going for her: her sweet, caring, and incredibly handsome boyfriend Jesse. The rest of her existence is filled with fighting with her step-mom and doing community service for a crime she did not commit, although the recovered evidence points to her. Things go from bad to worse, though, when her twin brother Dante challenges the most popular boy in school, Wilson, in the upcoming student president campaign and Jesse becomes Wilson's campaign manager. When she presses him for an explanation, all Jesse will tell her is that Wilson called in a favor. Furious at Jesse for being used by the opposing candidate, Giovanna breaks up with him and agrees to be Dante's campaign manager. After a few days, Giovanna begins to regret her rash decision as she realizes she still wants to be with Jesse. Now Giovanna and her friends must help get Dante elected while trying to get the opposing campaign managers back together.
Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.
I first got published in 1996-- twelve books ago. But you know what, it's still just as thrilling every time a new book comes out. They're sort of like babies, the first time you see them whole and complete you're awed, proud, and really tired of whole process.
Do you still experience self-doubt regarding your work?
Absolutely. Everytime I start a new project there is a little voice in my head that tells me, "This isn't a real book and it doesn't have enough strength to make it 200 plus pages." I just keep plugging away though because I'm used to those sorts of doubts. Luckily there comes a time with every book that I find I love the main character and her/his story. I want to finish it even if no one else likes the story and the editor rejects it. I want to finish it for me. That love is absolutely essential to keep me typing. Otherwise I don't think I'd have the stamina and energy to put in the work required to finish a novel.
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?
Research your publisher thoroughly. Make sure you get a reputable, honest one that has the power to put your books in book stores. It does you very little good to publish a book and then only sell copies to your friends and family because no one else knows your book exists.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?
Read a lot of writing books. They can help you avoid a lot of mistakes and can actually make the difference between publishing a book and forever remaining in the slush pile.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Don't worry about marketing your book--that's what publishers have marketing departments for. Oh yeah, you have to market your book. Every year thousands of new books come out and most of them are completely overlooked. The only way anyone is ever going to hear about your book is if you get out there and tell them about it. This hasn't been easy for me, but I'm trying to be better about it. So all of you out there reading this: Hey, I've got a new book and it's really, really good!
What’s something you wish you’d know earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
See the answers to the last three questions.
Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?
There are always hard, bad moments in writing. Those are called: Getting revision notes from your editor.
No, seriously I’ve definitely had some dark days. I think all writers write for the love of it. We write because we have stories and ideas inside of us that we want to share with the world. It’s a labor of love. I mean, think about it. In what other profession do you spend years devoting yourself to learning your craft and writing a novel before you ever even know if you’ll ever be paid one cent for it? Truck drivers would not haul things around for years just hoping that someday someone would appreciate their efforts and pay them something. But we do it all the time. So after devoting so much of ourselves to our craft it’s easy to get our feelings hurt when your publisher or the world in general doesn’t seem to appreciate you.
What are a few of your favorite books?
Um, all of mine. They all end exactly how I hoped they would. But besides Janette Rallison and Sierra St. James books, I like a lot of different books from different genres—from classic to new. Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Wizard of Earthsea, The Harry Potter series, (well, most of the books anyway) The Book Thief, The Doomsday Book, Monster Blood Tattoo, there are too many to mention.
What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?
All of my novels. Really, I couldn’t pick a favorite.
Do you have a pet peeve having to do with the business?
Oh yeah. I could write a whole book about things I don’t like about this business. Luckily the things I do like—writing, school visits, networking with other writers, going to conferences, connecting with readers—outweigh the bad in this business. In a nutshell I don’t like the marketing and self promotion that authors have to do. Publishers seem to have this catch 22 attitude about helping authors. They say (well usually they don’t say it to your face, they just think and act accordingly) we will only put our marketing dollars behind you if you’re a big author that will sell us lots of books. But how is an author going to become a big author without a publisher’s help? It seems like publishers choose a handful of authors to help and then everybody else is left to sink or swim on their own.
Take us through your process of writing a novel briefly—from conception to revision.
I get an idea. I grab some chocolate and eat it while I turn on the computer. This is probably the most important part of the creative process. I try to write between 2-4 pages a day. I've found (sadly) that I really only have about 2-4 pages worth of ideas per day. I'm hoping to one day be more creative. I think this will involve more chocolate.
Eventually after months of writing and rewriting and think my novel is perfect. Then I send it to my editor and my editor tells me that no, indeed it is far from perfect. I spend a complete day fuming and cursing his/her ignorance. I eat more chocolate.
Then I go about rewriting things in the novel to meet his/her revision comments. (It is easier to just do things their way than to argue with them about it. Trust me, I’ve tried.)
Surprisingly, amazingly, I find that after I’ve made changes the book is actually better. Hurrah! I send it back and eat more chocolate.
Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?
I’ve got a lot of novels on the back burner that I want to write. I will be completely happy if I can write them all before I die. Eventually I’d like to try and write some screen plays too. But that’s a different form of writing and one I’d need to research and practice before I felt comfortable submitting anything.
Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?
Oh yeah. I’ve come close to throwing in the towel a couple of times. One was just a few months ago. (Not really a good thing to contemplate when you have book contracts.) On some days an 8-5 job seems really tempting. On some days flipping burgers at Wendy’s seems like a viable alternative.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?
How much marketing/publicity do you do? Any advice in this area?
I don’t do nearly enough, but I’m trying to change that. My advice is to figure out what can be done in your genre, because for every genre it’s different.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response?
Reader response is one of the things that keeps me going. I get a lot of emails from girls telling me that I’m their favorite author and that I’ve inspired them to become a writer. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Write because you love to write.
Here is a list of available books Janette has written. Click on them to purchase.
The Revenge of the Cheerleaders (Oct 2, 2007 Available for Pre-Order)
How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend
It's a Mall World After All
Fame, Glory and Other Things On My To-Do List
Playing the Field
Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free Throws
All's Fair in Love, War and High School
Janette, thanks for dropping by and visiting with us. Good luck with your new book coming out in October!