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Andrea Hurst and Associates - Authornomics Blog
by:  Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst and Associates; Andrea Hurst Literary Management
Interviews with those in-the-know about what an author needs to know.
July 21, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Indie Reader Founder Amy Edelman

Amy Holman Edelman, whose background is in Public Relations/Marketing, founded IndieReader in 2009 as a resource for consumers looking for great self-published books. Since that time the brand has expanded to include the IR Discovery Awards (IRDAs), IR Publishing Services (IRPS), IR Publishing, IR Reviews and the just-launched IndieReader In-Store (IRIS), a distribution service for indie (authors) to indie (booksellers).

Can you tell our readers a little bit about, “the essential guide to self-published books and the people who write them”? What inspired you to embark on such a lofty endeavor?

Back at the end of 2008 I read a piece in the book section in The New York Times about self-published authors being signed by traditional publishers. A few weeks later I read the same type of story by Lev Grossman in Time magazine. Then I sat down at my computer thinking there must be a place for readers to find great indie books. To my surprise there wasn’t. This was back in early ’09. So I started IndieReader mostly as a hobby (no aspirations to a “lofty endeavor”!).

What are the benefits of participating in the IndieReader Discovery Awards and what types of industry professionals are involved? Are more established professionals eager to judge the IRDAs for up-and-coming indie authors?

Authors who enter the IRDAs are looking for different things. Some are staunchly indie, so for them we offer the opportunity to be read by bloggers and publicists and media exposure via the winner’s coverage (resulting, of course, in more readers!). But most overwhelmingly, what authors want is an agent to pitch their books to a traditional publisher. For those we offer publishers from the Big 5, in addition to our first-look arrangement with the amazing Dystal & Goderich Literary Agents.

The industry professionals involved include publishers from the Big 5 (so far we have three signed up for the 2015 IRDAs), publicists, bloggers and reviewers. For a full list go to

As far as the second part of your question, yes, they are totally eager since no one—not even the lit agents—know where the next bestselling author is coming from. We offer them the chance to read and discover a book before anyone else does

The site recently announced the IndieReader Discovery Award winners. How difficult was the judging process this year?

The winners are totally based on the final ratings numbers. But in the three plus years we’ve been doing the IRDAs, we’ve discovered some great books which has led to a brand new (no charge!) curation program for books that have received a 4+ star review. Right now we’re working with Scribd (, the new subscription-based book site (like Netflix for books!) but we plan to expand to other services once we’re established there.

What other services does IndieReader offer to authors?

Lots! IndieReader started its Publishing Services (IRPS) shortly after IR was launched because we had authors asking for help with formatting, editing, etc. Next came paid-for reviews, because we were getting inundated with books that we didn’t have time to review.

We recently created an App for finding curated books (in addition to other indie titles for sale), followed by a whole (no fee) curation program for books to which we’ve given 4+ star reviews.

And then there’s IndieReader In-Store (IRIS)…more info here……the first-ever indie (author) to indie (bookstore) distribution service.

What are some effective things an indie author can do to ensure that his or her book can be “discovered”?

To tell the truth, there’s really no way an author—indie or trad pubbed–can “ensure” that their book is discovered and, if it is discovered, that it will do well.

Crown published my novel, Manless in Montclair in ’07. I was a guest on The Today Show and People magazine did a positive, almost full-page review. You would have thought that would have been enough to get me on The New York Times bestseller list, but it was not. Fact is, there is really little correlation— especially these days—between cause and effect, particularly when it comes to something “lightning in a bottle” like a book.

That said, an author can help…putting their contact info on their website (you have no idea how many don’t!), submitting their book to the IRDAs and purchasing reviews. They can schedule on-line media tours, reach out to BookBub, do give-aways. They can make sure that their book is distributed everywhere, not just via Amazon’s KDP (nothing against Amazon, but why would you limit where your books are sold?).

Authors can also think beyond ebooks, putting their titles in the IndieReader In-Store program, the only service that gets indie books in front of indie booksellers (more info on that here…

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

July 2, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with best-selling author M.L. Gardner

M.L. Gardner is a best selling author currently living in Northern Utah after spending a decade in the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up a Navy brat, she’s lived everywhere and considers no one place home. Gardner is the author of The 1929 Series and currently blogs about her homecrafting adventures on her website. She collects cats and dreams of opening a no kill shelter in her backyard where she can be surrounded by her feline friends all the time, despite their love of sitting on her keyboard. She is married with three kids and three cats and writes full time, living on cheese and Bing energy drinks.

M.L. Gardner can be found on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

You are probably best known for your multi-book series, 1929. What attracts you to the historical fiction genre?

Historical fiction is my favorite to read, and having a love of the depression era for many years, it felt the most natural to write.

What drew you to focus on the 1929-1939 Stock Market Crash & Great Depression?

I didn’t so much decide to write in that era, it chose me. When our own market crashed in 2008, ideas started swirling. Originally, 1929 started out as a modern “how to” book for surviving hard times based on the lessons from the Great Depression. It evolved from there, wanting to be something more.

Writing historical fiction takes a lot of research. What are some of your strategies for compiling and organizing your research?

I started with what I already knew, stopping to research what I needed to know. Probably the most helpful books were Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940 by David E. Kyvig and Rainbows End by Maury Klein. They were very helpful with the technical side of things.

How long of a process is it to sketch out, research, and write a book in the 1929 Series? Can you walk us through your creative process?

My best friend, Lisa is a large part of the creative process. While I do all of the actual writing, I cannot take credit alone for the books. Lisa and I spend a lot of time working on book and plot ideas. She contributes some great ideas that either stand alone or blend perfectly with mine.

I started with the base characters. I got to know them and their personalities. I like to have a road map for a book. Working together from half way around the world, Lisa and I tried to hash out a storyline to follow which proved difficult. We ended up just flying by the seat of our pants and realized that there would be more books. When it came to something I needed to research I would stop, learn, take notes and write it in. So the writing and researching happened simultaneously. It took six months to finish the first book. With all the books since 1929 I have a road map. We start with a basic idea, write a blurb summary with beginning middle and end, then an expanded two page summary catching more details. After that we sit down and do a scene breakdown that is somewhere from five to six pages long. I make a note of all the things I’ll need to research along the way.

Some people think we are vulnerable to another major financial crisis like 1929 here in the USA, or possibly even worldwide. What do you think?

Based on research and history, everything is cyclic. I do believe we will, at some point, see another devastating crash. While I don’t think we will be thrust back to loincloths and starting fires with sticks, I expect it will bring hardships similar to the depression that most are not accustomed to. The better one can prepare for a dramatic economic shift through alternative incomes, homecraft skills and a circle of good friends, the better off they will be.

Is this part of why you went to the country in Northern Utah and practice homesteading?

We moved to Northern Utah for the economy. (We were on a path to complete homesteading in Alaska and realized we were not ready.) There is a lower cost of living here and it is very family friendly. Honestly, everywhere you go people are so nice! We pseudo-homestead. I garden, decorate on a shoestring, use oil lamps, build my own rustic furniture and cook a lot from scratch. In all honesty I have to say these are skills I keep up on, rather than live daily. When I’m compulsively writing, they take a backseat to modern conveniences that allow me to be more productive.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

April 30, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Tracey Garvis Graves

Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. She is the author of On the Island, Uncharted, and Covet. She blogs at using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. She is hard at work on her next book.

For readers new to your books and author career, can you give us a quick overview of the biggest challenges and successes you went through trying to get On the Island published before choosing to self-publish your novel?

I queried fourteen agents and received fourteen form rejections for my debut novel, On the Island. I was devastated because I couldn’t even get an agent to agree to read part of the manuscript. Six months after deciding to self-publish the book, it hit the New York Times bestseller list, made it as high as #7 on Amazon, and was optioned for a feature film by MGM. To date, there have been over half a million copies sold.

What kinds of changes did your debut novel, On the Island, go through once Penguin picked it up?

Penguin puts any books they acquire through a light copyedit. There were no other changes made.

Do you have any updates on where MGM would like to go with the film rights?
A script is currently near completion. I’ll have much more to share on this front in July. My fingers are crossed.

How has your life changed since becoming a best-selling author? In what ways has it affected you as a writer?

When I wrote On the Island I was working full-time. Now I’m a full-time writer. This means a lot more flexibility for me (and a little more sleep). It’s actually been wonderful for our household. Mom is no longer burning the candle at both ends!

What draws you to write contemporary-romance in particular? Have you ever thought about dabbling into other genres?

I am drawn to love stories and anything I write will have a romantic element. However, my latest novel – Covet – is women’s fiction and the book I just finished writing will probably be categorized as romantic suspense. The one I’ve just started outlining is part coming-of-age and part romantic women’s fiction. I’ve always said that I will never write the same book twice. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, because my readers may never know what to expect from me

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

April 16, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with voice talent J. Christopher Dunn

J. Christopher (Chris) Dunn is a voice actor living and working on Whidbey Island, WA who enjoys early morning walks, trying new and interesting foods, and photographing the natural beauty around the Salish Sea. He's an audiobook narrator and producer with titles available on and also spends time in his studio recording voiceovers for commercials, web videos, podcasts, product demonstrations, on-hold messaging and documentaries. When not in the studio, he creates character voices for radio dramas and can occasionally be spotted in stage performances.

His voice is described as friendly, warm and trustworthy - the guy next door or the voice of high-profile corporate presentations. He delivers voiceovers that sound authentic, confident and experienced. Chris excels at understanding client needs and welcomes direction. Comfortable creating voiceovers for a wide variety of audiences, he is capable of quickly evaluating scripts and creating a voiceover that gives life to any project. Follow him on Twitter @JCDunnVOX and visit him at or

Can you give us an overview of the ever-expanding voiceover field?

Voiceover is anything that deals with spoken word audio. Commercials, web videos, product demonstrations, corporate presentations, documentaries, trailers, and audiobooks are a few of the genres where spoken word audio is used.

We are surrounded by voiceover work. Besides the obvious movies, radio and TV, every telephone voice tree, every prerecorded announcement at airports, and even SIRI on Apple mobile devices…they are all produced by voiceover talent.

How did you first get into voice work?

I started out working in a number of radio stations in Washington and Montana, first as a Production Assistant then an on-air personality and Production Director. The job included producing hundreds of commercials and radio promotions. Part of the production process was reading scripts, either written by a salesperson or me.

What’s one thing people incorrectly assume about your line of work?

So many things come to mind. The biggie is that there are buckets of easy money to be made. The work is not easy! There’s more to it than connecting a microphone to a computer and reading. I’m not only the voiceover talent; I’m also the audio engineer, contract negotiator, marketer, and my own business partner. I find my own work and make sure I’m paid.

There are many spinning plates. It’s hard to make a living when just starting out. The first year or two I didn’t break even. The constant rejection can be a huge downer and drag on the creative process: and not at all fun to deal with. That alone, is difficult for many people entering into voiceovers. There is money to be made. Easy money? Nope. Clearly not

In the voiceover business, how important is having a regional accent? The ability to do accents?

Many of my clients are not on the West Coast or even-Midwest. Most are on the East Coast or in other countries. My accent is neutral, although I’ve been accused of sounding “too American”.

Most often, I’m hired for the lack of accent as it has a wide audience appeal. If a client is looking for a regional accent, they’ll hire somebody from that region.

Audiobooks are different. A narrator can be the voice of several different characters, all with a different ‘sound’. It takes practice to be able to switch convincingly between them. Toss in an accent, and the challenge increases. Some talents are very good at accents. They can adjust their read and delivery to the tastes of the copywriter. Accents don’t have to be spot on; they do have to be convincing, though.

What are some characteristics of your speaking voice that make clients choose you for their projects?

The tonal qualities of my voice match well to long form narration, such as corporate presentations, documentaries, e-learning and audiobooks. It sounds confident, smooth and warm. The registry of my voice is baritone and is flexible enough to handle projects that target a variety of demographics.

Are there particular things clients look for in a voiceover professional?

Clients like talents who listen and ask questions and are willing to bring words to life. Clients rely on voiceover talent to take the script and interpret it in a believable, listenable way. Being able to take direction well is also important.

Sometimes a client doesn’t know what they are looking for and finding a talent that can provide options will improve the chances of the client finally hearing their ‘right’ voice. This also increases the chances of the talent landing the next gig.

What is the most challenging part of being a voice talent? What’s the most rewarding?

The challenge is to bring the listener into the theater of their mind. Voiceover is acting without being physical so a voice talent needs to find ways to emote with their voice instead of relying on body movement or facial expression to portray what’s being said. Apart from an occasional sound effect, there are no props. A voice talent needs to set the stage, act appropriately (or inappropriately!), and engage the listener into believing what’s being said.

For me, the most rewarding part is working with interesting clients and fulfilling their voiceover needs. A close second is having my client return with more projects. It’s a good indicator that I’ve done what they were looking for or gone beyond their expectations. I like happy clients.

Is there a recommended training that a person should go through in order to become a successful voice talent?

Success could depend on a number of elements in voiceover. What makes one successful may not make another as successful. What is success, really? The meaning can be quite different from one talent to the next. Is success measured by income? Does an amazing client list make a talent successful? It’s hard enough breaking into the business that even a talent’s first client could be the definition of success.

Now, with the philosophical part out of the way, before training come the basics. Reading is the primary function of a voice talent. Add to that, the skill of acting. One of the most beneficial things a voice talent can do is continue to learn. Working with a voiceover coach, taking workshops and participating in theater are helpful in developing as a voiceover talent. It might even make success more tangible.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Marcia Wells
originally posted: April 2, 2014

A New Hampshire native, Marcia received her master’s degree in Spanish literature from Middlebury College. After living in Spain and Colorado, she returned to New England with her husband and two children. She first became interested in writing books for kids while teaching math and Spanish at a middle school. "Mystery on Museum Mile" is the first in her Eddie Red Undercover series. Find Marcia on Facebook, Twitter-@WellsMarcia, or on her website

With a Master’s degree in Spanish literature, how do you feel your educational background influences your writing?

My degree taught me how to analyze plot, voice, themes, etc, and I try to use that critical eye when it comes to my own work. Literature from the Spanish-speaking world has been a key component in writing Eddie’s detective stories. The idea of Eddie came to me while teaching a high school AP Spanish literature class. We were studying the crime stories of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, one in particular involving geometric patterns on a map. Very inspirational! And in Eddie’s next adventure, he travels to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

As a teacher, how do you encourage your students to be better readers and writers? What can parents do to foster a love of reading in their own children?

At home I read to my children, and they read to me. The key is having fun with it and not making it a chore. Discovering the joy of reading- whether it’s a Garfield comic strip, a joke on the back of a cereal box, or an inspiring book such as “Wonder”- is what’s most important. In the classroom, I like talking to kids about books that matter to THEM. I love reading MG and YA books, and always ask for recommendations from the students. Kids feed off enthusiasm, and love an adult who listens and respects their opinions. The best is whole-classroom book debates, things like arguing about which fantasy series is better, Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings.

What inspires you to write middle grade books? What are some of your techniques for relating to younger readers?

My seventh and eighth grade students have been the biggest inspiration! When I left teaching a couple of years ago to become a full-time writer, I worried that my muses might dry up. But now my son is 10, and I’m right back in the tween-zone. It’s a fun and complicated age, one that lends fabulous stories and characters. My techniques for relating to readers are the same as my teaching: have fun learning, be silly, and explore with an insatiable quest for knowledge. I read a ton of books for kids to see what’s out there, and examine what other authors are doing to connect with younger readers.

Eddie Red Undercover was released quite recently. Can you tell us a little bit about the process you went through to get it published? How do you feel about the finished product?

I worked on it for three years before signing with my ninja agent Kristin Nelson. Those three years were filled with writing classes, kid lit conferences, contests, critiques from agents and editors, and revisions, revisions, revisions…I never gave up. After I worked on revisions with my agent, we sent it to ten major publishers. Houghton Mifflin said yes- a miracle! The final product is amazing! It’s a far better book than I could ever have created on my own. The art, the graphics and design…not to mention all I learned from my editor about pacing and cleaner, tighter writing. It has truly been a team effort and I’ve learned so much.

How did working with a professional editor help you shape the book and get it published?

My editor Ann Rider is amazing. Not only does she know exactly how to smooth my words and cut unnecessary stuff, but she makes suggestions to flow and pace that add such a richness of detail without bogging the plot down. She is a true artist who gives me a ton of freedom, always telling me to “trust your instincts” and “let Eddie take you where he wants to go.” I’m so lucky to work with her!

What is it about Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, aka “Eddie Red”, that makes him such a compelling protagonist for readers?

I think Eddie is very likeable; he’s a boy that kids can relate to, a boy they might know in their own class. He’s smart and funny without being arrogant. He’s human- he makes mistakes, even with his so-called “perfect” photographic memory. He’s eager to solve the case, and is well-intentioned even when making poor choices like snooping through a detective’s desk or pulling out a Taser to ward off whatever evil lurks in a dark alley.

You’re already working on the next Eddie Red book. Are you hoping to focus your writing energy on this series solely, or also branch out into other books?

Eddie two is almost done, and I’m brainstorming ideas for Eddie three. I love writing his adventures but I have too many stories in my head to just focus on him. For the past two years, I’ve been working on an MG/YA fantasy that my publisher is currently considering (fingers crossed!). And I’m starting another MG fantasy this coming month, a story idea that’s been with me for a while. Both fantasy stories star girl protagonists.

Have you ever considered writing novels for adults as well? Why or why not?

I’ve considered it but never had much luck with it. I’m more drawn to YA and MG in general. Even when I try to write a YA story, the feedback is always the same: “You have an MG voice. Make this an MG story.” So I’m going with it!

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Bharti Kirchner
originally posted: March 17, 2014

Bharti Kirchner is a multi-genre author of nine books—five critically acclaimed novels (including a mystery), four cookbooks, and hundreds of short pieces for magazines and newspapers. Her essays have appeared in ten anthologies. Her short story has recently been included in a “Best of Noir” anthology titled USA NOIR: The Best of Akashic Noir. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including a Fellowship from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and has been honored as a Living Pioneer Asian American Author. She teaches at writer’s conferences nationwide and as a guest lecturer for creative writing programs. To learn more, visit her website at

You’ve written hundreds of short pieces for magazines and newspapers. How is your writing process for a short story different from writing a novel?

The processes are entirely different, whether they’re short fiction or magazine pieces (which I do more often, but will not bring up here for lack of space). First, consider the usual length of a novel, 350 or so pages and contrast that with 20 or so pages for a short story. Because of its size, every word in a short story has to count, whereas in a novel, you can develop the situations a bit more leisurely. Also, I make sure my novel stands on a bigger idea, has a more complex plot, and that there is far more at stake. In a short story, in general, I deal with fewer events taking place over a brief period of time, usually in the context of a single setting.

What would you suggest a writer who is interested in writing short stories concentrate on to get their work published?

Write the story, have it read by your critique group, rewrite and revise as many times as necessary. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. To get published in one of the more prestigious outlets, you have to have that extra spark in your work, which will emerge when you fully grasp the meaning of the story and are able to express it.

Your latest book, Tulip Season, is your first mystery novel. What were some of your techniques for writing a mystery? Do you find it more challenging than other genres? Do you plan on writing more Mitra Basu mysteries?

It’s not easy to switch from one fiction genre to another. Each has its requirements and one must study extensively and understand the conventions before proceeding, which is what I did.

With Tulip Season, as is the case with my other novels, I didn’t outline or consciously follow certain techniques, I began with a single sentence and kept writing until I reached The End. However, certain questions were always in the back of my mind: Have I created the right atmosphere? Introduced the villain early enough? Do I have red herrings? Did I play fair? And so on.

I also tried to humanize the villains, whenever I could do so. “A weed is nothing but a flower in disguise,” so said the protagonist of Tulip Season in a gardening context. It can also apply to a villain.

Mystery fans are voracious readers and they’ve read just about everything. You must, therefore, constantly come up with fresh new twists to keep them glued to the page. This is one reason why writing a mystery can be challenging. Also, in a mystery novel, certain elements such as action, pacing, and character motivations are more crucial than, say, in a literary novel. You can’t, for example, have your protagonist lounge at the dressing table for an hour and ponder which color of lipstick to choose, as you could in literary fiction. Unless, of course, she’s contemplating murder and the lipstick is a murder weapon!

Readers have given an enthusiastic reception to Tulip Season. They frequently ask me about the sequel, and I am now busily working on it.

As an author of cookbooks and various articles on the topic, why do you think food is such a compelling and marketable subject? Does your background in food spill over into your novels?

Food is our common language, so to speak. You can hook the reader in simply by describing the color, smell, and texture of food: a plate of ravioli, a piece of almond cake, a glass of watermelon smoothie. In today’s globalized world, we can savor dishes from other cultures on a regular basis. Eating out has become a ritual for many. At the same time, people are more aware of what real food is and what the benefits are of home cooking. All of this can help make your manuscript more compelling. In fiction, food is a symbol of caring, of deepening relationships, desire, warmth, and appreciation. You can also make the setting of your fiction seem more realistic by mentioning dishes that are famous in that area.

Although I no longer write cookbooks, I am still a foodie. When I start a novel, instead of doing a character chart, I sometimes do a food chart. What does the protagonist have for breakfast? For dinner? What childhood dish is she nostalgic about? Her eating habits can provide valuable clues to her character.

I don’t, however, like to overdo food references. I only sprinkle names of dishes here and there on the pages, unless of course the novel is food-themed, as was the case with Pastries.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Andrea Hurst, President, has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. In addition to our work with high-profile authors and mainstream publishers, our team of industry professionals now offers assistance to writers we do not represent, but who are in need of expert literary guidance in their quest for publication. Whether you need help polishing a query letter or evaluating your manuscript, are curious about custom publishing or on the hunt for a top ghostwriter, we provide the tools and the expertise to succeed in today’s marketplace.