Give a shout for Elana Johnson and SURRENDER!
Forbidden Love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control.
Ah, the ending of POSSESSION. I’ll tell you this: I did not realize people would hate the ending so strongly. Honestly, I didn’t. Because to me, it was perfection. I don’t outline or plan too far ahead, and when I wrote the end, I remember sitting back and going, “Is that how this just ended?” and feeling like it couldn’t be any other way, because it was exactly right.
But yeah. There are some who want their fiction to end up in a neat bow, and that’s definitely not POSSESSION. So yes, I think negative reviews about a book that doesn’t end happily affect sales for people who think that’s important.
Honestly, my sales aren’t in the best-seller status. My publisher has yet to commit to publish the third book in the series. I’ve blogged about being midlist before, so this isn’t a huge surprise to people, and I don’t feel like I’m throwing anyone under the bus. The truth is, I wrote a book my publisher expected to be a “commercial success” because of the upward swing in the dystopian trend, and it’s just turned out to be, well, midlist.
Because of the ending? Because of the reviews? Because the market is too saturated with dystopian? Because of a white cover that got dirty easily? Because of [insert whatever you want]? I don’t know.
I just keep trying to write better books.
2. I want to talk about marketing and social media a bit. You host a fantastic blog with tons of great followers all drawn to your honesty and vulnerability. In the long run, how much do you think social media helped in sales? I’ve seen you pulled back a little from blogging – as have a lot of people. Sometimes I think how well a book does comes down to what people are looking for and what clicks with them; and blogging just keeps us visible. What do you think?
Okay, going for transparency here again. Like anyone expects anything less, right? Ha! Anyway, I think social media helps. Some. There’s only so much an author can do with his or her own network. Then they have to rely on people in their network to spread the word to their networks. (I realize that sentence made no sense.) Maybe there’s someone in Laura’s network who isn’t in mine—yet. You know?
My personal opinion is that an individual author with a blog, twitter, and Facebook, who has a reasonably large family and a pretty wide group of real-life friends can influence about 200 sales.
And here comes the truth: My publisher did very little for SURRENDER. It’s already on their “Oh, crap, should we continue this series?” list, and they certainly aren’t going to sink any more money into something like that. So it’s my personal opinion that a vast majority of the sales I’ve seen for SURRENDER so far have come from my marketing efforts.
And it’s higher than 200, but it’s not best-seller status, and it’s not even as much as POSSESSION—because the fact is, the buy-this-book!-influencing hoop from a big publisher is going to kick the trash out of anything I do. It just is.
3. If you could pull the heart/theme out of all your writing/novels: what would it be? If we pulled away the dystopian, the cool sci-fi gadgets, the romance – what is Surrender really about?
SURRENDER is really about two people finding the strength to do what they believe to be right. It’s a fight I think a lot of us fight every single day.
4. Through publishing two novels now, what is the biggest lesson/advice you’d pass on to other writers just publishing their first?
You get more than one chance at this. I think a lot of times we think that if our first book tanks, that’s it for us. That’s not true. Write another book. Make it better.
Wow, thanks Elana. Such hard, truthful answers. Another reason why everyone feels connected to and loves you. All I can say is that I absolutely loved SURRENDER. I loved the writing and turns of phrases and I completely fell in love with both Raine and Gunner.
If you haven’t read these books and you enjoy getting to the heart of a character’s struggle, then you’ll enjoy these books. Thanks Elana for opening a vein and sharing your soul.
If you haven’t read either of these books, now’s your chance! POSSESSION and SURRENDER
Ways to keep up with Elana!
Elana’s work including POSSESSION, REGRET, and SURRENDER is available from Simon & Schuster wherever books are sold. She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query, which can be downloaded for free on her website. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and is a member of SCBWI, ANWA and LDStorymakers.
She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.
This is an awesome interview and thanks Elana for being so honest like you always are.
I think it’s such a shame people didn’t like the end to Possession because I agree it’s perfect and I see a lot of ends to first books that don’t end well for the main character. And so sad your publisher isn’t supporting Surrender enough. In my opinion it’s even better that Possession.
So interesting your take on blogging and how it affects sales. I think you’re probably right. It’s a lot of effort to spread the word that may or may not pan out. But we’re a great, supportive writing community. And that’s the best part of blogging for me.
Elana, you are such an awesome writer. I love your writing style, your character development, plots, so definitely keep your good attitude and don’t give up.
I couldn’t agree more, Natalie.
Thank you so much! I may or may not have started weeping a little, both at this comment and Laura’s support at the end of the post. 🙂
Laura, what a great interview with Elana! I always love reading “the truth.” I think that is why the ending of Possession worked for me. It rang true.
Also, Elana, reading your bio at the end, I’d love to read a book by you about someone getting to experience their first kiss again and telling the mean girl to shove it. just sayin’
I agree, Shelley, that would make a terrific story! First kisses and telling mean girls to shove it would be awesome!
Oh, that’s coming. Just you wait… LOL!
Oh wow yes that’s an amazing hook: “getting to experience your first kiss again and telling the mean girl where to shove it” – oh, brilliant!!!! implies a touch of time travel
I just love your honesty!!! And your never surrender determination – write another book, make it better.
Lots to ponder here, including this interesting thought: “Sometimes I think how well a book does comes down to what people are looking for and what clicks with them; and blogging just keeps us visible”
Yep. That’s what it’s about. Visibility.
Thank you Elana for sharing your heart so freely! And thanks Laura for another great, informative post!
I love how your theme–finding the courage to do what’s right–can be hung on almost any genre. Such an archetypal theme, and yet you’ve found a way to make it fresh. Yikes–can i do that? (beginning writer here)
Thanks everyone, I’ve been gone swimming most of the day! Elana is always so brave in her answers. I really don’t know anyone else who is as honest as she is in her blogging through the good and the bad.
And yes, Margo, that thought really puts perspective on things!
Love this interview. Elana is always authentic and I love that about her. And I totally agree with Shelley — write that book about the first kiss and telling the mean girl where to shove it!!
Thanks for posting this interview with Elana. This is one of things I love about her: her honesty and giving out advice to other writers.
For the record, I liked the way Possession ended. Didn’t see it coming. I devoured Surrender. I am totally invested in Elana’s world and its inhabitants. There HAS to be a 3rd book.
Thanks for a great, honest author perspective, Elana, and for great questions, Laura.