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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.
March 31, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with bestselling author Brenda Novak

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.4 million. For more about Brenda, please visit

You’ve written over 50 books and sold more than 4 million copies. To go from being a loan officer with a background in business to a bestselling author is quite the change! What first sparked your interest in writing novels?

I caught my daycare provider drugging my three little kids (I have five now) with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day so that she could watch soap operas. Once I figured out what was going on, I couldn’t trust anyone else to take care of them, so I quit my job as a loan officer to stay home with them myself. But I had to figure out a way to contribute financially. So I was looking for something I could do from home when I was reading a great book—Jude Devereux’s Knight in Shining Armor. I just loved it, and when I closed the book, I remember thinking, “I wonder if I could do this!” That was when the idea first hit me. I set about it the very next day—and have never looked back!

How long did it take for you to build your fan base? What methods worked best for you marketing your work?

This is a touchy question to answer. I think building a fan base is an ongoing process—drip by drip. I’m trying to build it bigger with each new book. Fortunately, authors now have many more tools to help us do that. We have the Internet, with Facebook and Twitter and websites (when I started the Internet was new). So I mostly focus my efforts on social media and spend quite a bit of time interacting with my readers.

As an author, your books can be found in the contemporary romance, romance suspense, and historical romance genres. What draws you to romance in particular? Do you have a favorite subgenre?

I love the underlying theme of most romance novels—that love conquers all. I’m basically an optimist, so that coincides nicely with my outlook on life. I also love a happy ending, and I enjoy watching two people fall in love (getting to experience that magical rush vicariously over and over).

I don’t think I have a favorite subgenre. I’m an eclectic reader, so I’m an eclectic writer. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a fabulous period piece, sometimes I want the chill of suspense novel, and sometimes I just want a good old contemporary romance.

What does your process look like in a day-to-day sense? What is the most difficult part of the process for you? How do you stay motivated?

I work five days a week from eight to eight, usually. That doesn’t mean I don’t take breaks here and there, but I put in a lot of hours. I have tight deadlines, and am now writing for two different publishers, so I don’t really have any choice.

The most difficult part of the writing process is all the juggling. I’m a hard worker, and I don’t like interruptions, so stopping to handle promotion along the way, and writing several different novels at the same time, can be a challenge.

I’m not sure what keeps me motivated beyond a love for storytelling. I feel very lucky to enjoy my work so much. It’s like that saying—something like, “If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.”

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

March 14, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with marketing consultant Rebecca Berus

Rebecca Berus is the founder of 2Market Books. She works with a variety of authors on strategic and promotional services to help them find and engage with their audience, improve their platform, and gain visibility. She works to help authors get seen and get read.

Rebecca graduated from Loyola University, Chicago, magna cum laude with degrees in Advertising/Public Relations and English. She is also an avid reader and loves to help readers find great books.

Rebecca has worked on marketing several books, including The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst, which made it in the top ten Kindle Bestsellers on Amazon in February of 2014, and was named a bestselling self-published title by Shelf Awareness and

How did you first get interested in book marketing?

I have always loved books and reading, but I wasn’t focused on marketing until I received an internship at Sourcebooks, Inc. as a publicity intern. I really enjoyed this internship, especially the writing and generating new ideas to publicize the books.

I didn’t get into marketing seriously until I became an intern at the Andrea Hurst Literary Management Agency. One of my jobs was to help Andrea Hurst market her self-published titles, and I found that I enjoyed using my skills to help authors find their audience in the midst of all the other books out there. I liked trying to find new avenues for books to be seen by their readers. It’s so rewarding each time my authors sell really well.

As a marketing consultant, you specialize in working with fiction and nonfiction. What is the first thing you suggest authors do to market themselves? And, when should they begin?

The first thing authors should do is to develop a platform. This means they should create an author website and social media pages where they can interact with and attract readers. This means creating whatever social media pages make sense for interacting with their audience. I often suggest that authors have an author Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a Goodreads author page.

This should ideally be done in the three months leading up to the launch of an author’s first book, once it is known when the book is coming out, who the audience is, and what brand the author wants to convey. Ideally, authors want to have a professional website and up-to-date social media pages when the book is launched.

How is marketing different if you are a self-published author versus a traditionally published author?

The two biggest differences between a traditionally published author and a self-published author are control and reach.

Traditionally published books have the reach that self-published books—even in 2015—just do not have. What I mean by this is that there are still many organizations, blogs, magazines, and websites that exclude or charge self-published authors. Traditionally published authors still have an easier time getting any kind of pre-publication review, such as Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. Also, even when it comes to blogs, many traditionally published authors will be favored over self-published authors.

The upside for self-published authors is that they have more control of their books, so they can easily and quickly set up a price promotion. Self-published authors can change their keywords, product description, and even book cover, whereas a traditionally published author is unlikely to have much if any say on these things. Self-published authors also can change the price of their books and more readily set up a great price promo with advertising. Traditionally published authors are rarely going to have much, if any control, over the price of their book and won’t be able to make their book free, which is often a great way to draw in new readers and get way more reviews.

What does your average day look like working with clients?

My average day is often spent online, since a lot of the marketing I do is on the Internet. I help clients book blogs, set up promotions with advertising, utilize social media, and gain reviews. Some days, I will spend time on the phone consulting with clients. Most days, though, I spend my time online researching new marketing tactics, exploring social media, reading articles, and finding blogs.

What are some of your best strategies you use for marketing your clients?

One of the best strategies I use for marketing my clients is price promotions. A price promotion is when an author deeply discounts a book, most often either to $0.99 or free. Then, an author will book ads such as BookBub, BookSends, or BargainBooksy to draw readers’ attention to the promotion. Price promotions give authors lots of places to advertise and draw attention to their book. They also are a great way to help an author build a fan base and often readers will go on to to read more books by an author they like. Price promos also often lead to more reviews of the book, which is important in selling it to readers.

If authors only want to focus on a couple of social media sites, which ones do you think an author should focus on? Why?

Three of the most important social media sites for authors are Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Twitter is the second most popular social media site after Facebook and can be great for getting out tidbits about books or connecting to an interesting link. To get the most out of Twitter, an author should use hashtags so that a tweet is visible to everyone who searches for that hashtag, not just people who follow them.

Facebook is the most popular social media network with over 900 million estimated unique monthly visitors. Because Facebook is the social media site that most people are on—whether they spend a lot of time there or not—this is a great starting place for any author. Facebook also allows authors to post longer content than Twitter.

Goodreads has over 20 million readers on its site, which means it’s a great place to find and to interact with your readers. Goodreads also has groups where you can interact with fans based on genre. Goodreads also allows authors to create giveaways, and set up a read and review.

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

February 10, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with ghost writer Kim Pearson

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and the owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of polished, professional, and compelling books. She is the author of many books, including Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life; Dog Park Diary (ghostwritten for a dog!), Eating Mythos Soup, three short story collections, and the 7-book series The Haiku Book of Days. Her Author page on Amazon is: She has ghostwritten (for people) more than 45 non-fiction books and memoirs, which tell the stories of a wide variety of people and cover a broad range of topics, from saxophones to finance, city histories to hypnotherapy, psychic horses to constipation, and many points in between. Her online program “Learn to Ghost” teaches others the fine art of ghostwriting: Her blog From the Compost shares her musings about the writing and ghosting life: To learn more about her books or services, visit

You have a strong background in ghost writing with over 15 years experience and more than 40 titles! How did you get into this intriguing career?

The first book I ghostwrote, about 20 years ago, was for my own grandmother. I wrote the story of how she came to America as a child, her experiences as a “flapper” in the 20s, her housewife life in a tiny logging town during the Depression, and her volunteer service in World War 2. I interviewed her and recorded our conversations, and she lent me a box of old letters in spidery handwriting, plus about 30 photo albums full of pictures of people even she couldn’t remember. My grandmother was delighted with her book. She showed it off to all her friends, and one of these friends raved about the book to her own daughter, who then called me and asked me to do the same thing for her mother. That was my first paid ghostwriting job. I charged a tiny amount considering the time and energy I spent on it, but it was a great learning experience. For the first time it occurred to me that I might be able to make a living doing what I loved – writing – and had been doing “on the side” since I was a kid.

For those who are unfamiliar, can you give a brief overview of what you do as a ghostwriter? What does an average day look like for you?

There’s no such thing as an average day, because the ghostwriting process is unique to each project, and varies each time. I could be researching the topic, which I usually know little about at the beginning of the project; constructing interview questions; interviewing and recording my client; reviewing interview transcriptions; organizing the materials; writing a chapter; or responding to my client’s questions about the last chapter I sent them.

How long does it usually take to ghostwrite a book? What does the process look like? Do you work with both nonfiction and fiction?

Since each project is unique, there is no one answer to how long it takes to finish it. An average lead time for me for a book of around 200 pages is about 9 months — about the same time it takes to make a baby. But I’ve written books in less than 6 months. It depends on the length of the book, what else is on my plate, and the quality and speed of communication with my client. And other factors.

Regarding the “typical” process, here’s a brief idea of how it might work if a typical client did exist: My client lends me anything that will help me get inside their head, which may be anything from marketing materials to scribbles on napkins to videos of them speaking. I’ll then do some research online on their subject (I do not ghostwrite fiction, only non-fiction and memoir), prepare interview questions, and conduct and record interviews with my client (or others), usually on the phone. I have our conversations transcribed, then pore over all the accumulated materials. I’ll develop a tentative structure and write one chapter. I send the chapter and the structure to the client for feedback to make sure I’ve included what they want included, and have their “voice”. Then I’ll focus the topic, identify “holes,” and create titles, sub-titles, and so on, and finally write the book. I send the rough first draft chapters to my client to make sure I’m continuing down the right path. Then when the book is done I self-edit and rewrite, and send them the second draft, or third draft if necessary.

What are some of the challenges of writing for others?

Besides the challenge to your ego (you have no say about what happens to the final product you sweated blood over), a practical difficulty is that it can be challenging for ghostwriters to market their services. Even if you are an experienced ghostwriter, your portfolio of past work is often hidden from view. Many of your clients will be protected by confidentiality because they don’t want to admit they hired a ghostwriter. This is even tougher when you’re a novice. The basic problem with marketing ghostwriting is that ghosts are supposed to be invisible. But if you’re invisible, how do people know you’re here? How do you say Boo? This is one of the subjects I cover in my course “Learn to Ghost”

How do you choose which projects to take on? Does one project draw your interest more than another?

Ghostwriting requires intimate collaboration – you must move into someone else’s head and learn how to think like them. Not easy. So of course no ghostwriter can be a fit with everyone. I identified my niche early on. My #1 favorite genre to ghostwrite is memoir, preferably inspirational. My second favorite is to highlight small organizations, especially service organizations, and help them build their brand by authoring a book. I also identified who I don’t fit with. I don’t ghostwrite medical or technical books, unless they’re written for laymen, or ghostwrite scholarly research papers. I also won’t take on projects which espouse causes or beliefs that are drastically different than mine.

What I think I’m best at are books rich in storytelling, especially stories with historical elements. I’m simply a sucker for good stories, and I find it hard to turn them down.

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

January 26, 2015

An Interview with Andrea Hurst – CHANGING WITH THE TIMES

As most of my readers know, the new year 2015 brings exciting changes to Andrea Hurst & Associates and our literary management division. After thirteen years as a high-profile literary agent, I am semi-retiring from the agent division of my business. The agency will still retain a few of our bestselling authors, including Dr. Bernie Siegel, Hannah Jayne, Penny Warner, James Fraioli and our James Beard Award-winning chefs among others. But beginning January 15, 2015, we will no longer be accepting new queries or clients for representation.

With almost 30 years’ experience in various areas of the publishing and entertainment business, I will continue to work with new and seasoned fiction and nonfiction authors as a developmental/content editor, publishing consultant, and a self-publishing expert. Many of my current clients are referred through major publishing imprints and literary agents. My expertise as a writer, editor, and agent allows me to see the whole picture with a keen and sensitive eye when editing a manuscript.

Following one of my long-time passions, I will continue to pursue my own writing career. My first novel, The Guestbook, is an Amazon bestseller, with the second book of the trilogy, Tea & Comfort, to be released in 2015. After years of working within the traditional publishing system, writing, self-publishing, and marketing three novels over the last few years has given me a true education on the many options in today’s publishing world.

I encourage every writer out there to do the work and follow your dream to be a published and well-read author. When I put out my first novel, I would have been happy to have 10 people read it and like it. I now have almost 1,000 reviews on Amazon. People write me every day asking for the next book, and it still amazes me. The years of finding time, polishing my craft, taking chances, and never giving up have paid off for me with a rewarding experience. I was lucky enough to find an incredible team of editors, designers, and marketing experts to work with and to have my books supported by fellow authors.

Times are changing in the publishing business, and for many of us it is hard to keep up and know what is coming next. A few years ago I was asked to fill out some questions for a guide to literary agents. One of the questions was: What would you be doing if you were not an agent? I wrote that I would be living on Whidbey Island and be a bestselling author. I currently live on Whidbey Island and bestselling author is certainly in sight. With change comes excitement and new opportunities, and that is the direction I am choosing to follow.

To Contact:

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

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Anna Michels
originally posted: December 23, 2014

Anna Michels is an Associate Editor at Sourcebooks, an independent publisher located outside of Chicago. Over the course of her three years at Sourcebooks she has worked on a wide variety of projects, most recently focusing on acquiring fiction and memoir. She is looking for commercial literary fiction with interesting settings and a strong narrative voice (such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman); mystery (particularly historical and crossover literary—think Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger) and psychological suspense; and memoir by writers who connect the events of their lives to readers through incredible storytelling.

Can you tell us a little about your role as an Associate Editor for Sourcebooks? What does your typical day look like?

As unglamorous as it sounds, my typical day starts with email—everything from internal communication to new manuscript submissions from agents to questions from authors. I try to get small projects out of the way in the morning so I can focus on editing or tackling more involved projects in the afternoon. I work closely with Shana Drehs, the editorial director for our fiction imprint, Landmark, so I’m constantly touching base with her. I also forward manuscripts to my personal email account throughout the day and then will read through those at night when I get home. As an associate editor, I have the freedom to acquire my own projects while also supporting Shana and her books, so my job is a great mix of independent creative work and more administrative tasks—and I get to work on a ton of different projects, which is amazing!

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?

I think the most challenging part of my job is probably the most challenging thing for everyone who works in publishing—trying to figure out how to make our books as successful as possible. There are so many elements that contribute to a book’s performance, including the title, cover, positioning (how the book is presented to the marketplace), and about 100 other things. Books that break out in a big way manage to get all of those elements right, but there is no magic formula for how to make a book a success, and no two books are ever the same. The most rewarding part of my job is definitely working with authors. I’ve been lucky to work with some amazingly talented authors so far, and developing relationships with them and working together on their books is a real privilege.

How did you first get into editing? What recommendations do you have for others looking at editing as a career choice?

I think the most important quality that any aspiring editor has to have is an all-consuming LOVE of books. You need to have read a lot of books, you need to have opinions about the books you’ve read, and you need to be excited about the opportunity of taking a good book to the next level and making it great. There are a lot of other qualities that are helpful in the editorial field as well—strong organizational skills, being a fast reader, having a degree in English or communications—but the love for and commitment to books comes first. After college, I attended the Denver Publishing Institute, a four-week summer graduate course in publishing, which gave me a great foundation for pursuing a career in the field. I would highly recommend DPI or any of the other publishing institutes to anyone seriously interested in working in trade publishing.

What’s one thing you wish all authors knew before they submitted their work to you? What is the biggest mistake you see authors make? Do you have any “pet-peeves”?

I don’t really have any pet peeves when I’m reading, but I do wish that authors would take a bit more time to learn about the types of books Sourcebooks publishes before submitting. Too often we receive submissions that fall into categories we don’t publish, which ends up being wasted time for us and for the author.

What makes a submission stand out and get you to request a read?

I’ll always sit up and pay extra attention to a story I haven’t heard before—one with an unusual setting or stand-out characters, or a plot that I just need to read to see how it plays out.

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

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Catherine Ryan Hyde
originally posted: December 8, 2014

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 27 published and forthcoming books, including Take Me With You, Where We Belong, When I Found You, Walk Me Home, Second Hand Heart, Don’t Let Me Go, and When You Were Older. She has three new novels forthcoming from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing, including The Language Of Hoofbeats in December of ’14 and Worthy in the summer of ’15. She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How To Be A Writer In The E-Age: A Self-Help Guide. Her best-known novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.

In your career so far, you have written over 25 novels and 50 short stories, and many have been best sellers. When did you first start writing, and what do you think has helped you the most to persevere as an author?

I started writing when I was very young. When I was 14, I had an English and creative writing teacher who told me I could write. In front of the whole class. And he told my other teachers, later, in the staff lounge. So that was when I decided I wanted to be a writer. But I have to look to the year 1991, because that’s when I got serious. I was laid off from a job in January (in a tourist town!) and I wrote that novel I always swore I’d write “if I had the time.” Only this time I joined a workshop/critique group and really buckled down to try to get something published.

Back then what helped me persevere was the mentorship I found at the Cambria Writers Workshop, and later at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. There were several authors there with a lot of experience. They told me I was good enough, that all writers face rejection, and that I shouldn’t give up.

These days it’s hearing directly from readers, especially the ones who tell me a little about themselves, and tell me what my books meant to them. That makes it all worthwhile.

Can you tell us about your latest novel, The Language of Hoofbeats? What inspired you to write it? Have you noticed your writing evolving over time?

I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember, so I was overdue to write a book with a strong horse character again. My earliest novel, Funerals for Horses, was the first. At the time I had a horse of my own. I’m thinking seriously of having one again, which may be why it came up again in my work.

My former horse, Cody, was thrown in with the deal when a local riding instructor went to buy a lesson horse. The seller said, “Take that one, too. I’ll practically give him to you. I don’t even dare take him out of that pen.” The pen was nailed shut. And of course the horse had quite a bit of energy stored up, to put it mildly. It’s funny how those images stay with you and crop back up in the work.

I do think my writing has evolved. At first I think it was darker, because I was darker. I had two years of recovery from alcohol and drugs when I started writing for real. Now I have almost 26 years. You know that’s bound to make a difference. I think my newer work is more positive and more emotional.

I also notice that the more novels I write, the more they come out—at least substantively—the way I want them. This is not to say I don’t revise; I do. Obsessively. Just that I don’t remember the last time I had to throw away the whole second half of one and start over. Also, I feel that the quality is more consistent from one novel to the next.

What does your writing process look like? Is it similar with each book? How long does it usually take you to complete a novel?

I write very fast. So fast that I tend not to admit how fast, because people think something you produced that quickly must be rushed and can’t be your best effort. But that’s just how I write, and how I always have.

My process is a bit feast-and-famine. I’ll go weeks without writing, and then I’ll often write ten pages a day for ten days running. Then I have to stop to breathe, and let the work develop. And tend to my life, which can be largely ignored when I’m on a roll.

When writing a new novel, what do you consider the most important aspect of your books? Prose? Plot? Characters? Tone? What’s the easiest for you to craft? What challenges you the most?

Definitely character. People are what I really care about when I craft a story. As a reader, I don’t care what happens unless I care about the character it’s happening to. So I always start with a main character whose emotions I understand, and who has a story to tell. I think that’s the easiest part. Finding the character with the story.

The hard part, often, is in deciding how to tell it. From one point of view, or more? First or third person? In chronological order, or starting in the present and then delving into the past and back again? I usually try a few things on until the story opens up and lets me in.

What prompted you to release a young readers’ edition of your bestseller, Pay It Forward? What was the process like to edit the content to a younger audience?

Well, the short version is, when I first wrote the book, I had no idea it would be perfect for kids. So I wrote it for adults, with some adult language and material. And that kept it out of all schools except high schools. I got tons of requests for a version kids could read. And the more I saw kids latching onto the Pay It Forward concept, the more I realized that writing the book for adults only was an error that needed fixing.

Paula Wiseman at Simon & Schuster was the one who took on the project with me. I don’t write for kids that age, so I was not all that familiar with what’s appropriate for an 8-year-old. I edited out everything I thought should go, sent it back to her for more input. I think we did that for about three rounds.

Can you tell us about the book and what inspired you to write Pay it Forward?

I had an experience in which a couple of total strangers saved me from an engine fire, putting it out by hand. In the confusion of the fire department showing up, they took off before I even had a chance to thank them. So I carried this idea around for a while: What if you owe a favor but you can’t pay it back? What do you do with it? I found myself stopping for people who were broken down by the side of the road, even though I never had before. So that felt like my answer. It evolved from there.

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.