Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She is now a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance.
Jennifer is a master at series writing and has crossed genres to write a children’s book and the popular A Life Worth Living, a touching story as told from the viewpoint of a shelter dog.
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Books by Jennifer Probst
Jennifer Probst Transcript
Tim Knox: Hi everyone, welcome back in to another edition of Interviewing Authors, Tim Knox here. As always, another great show for you today. Jennifer Probst is my guest. Jennifer wrote her first book when she was 12 years old, put it in a folder, took it to school, let her classmates read it and she hasn’t stopped writing since.
These days Jennifer is a New York Times bestselling author, also on the US Today, Wall Street Journal bestselling lists and she specializes in what’s called sexy and erotic contemporary romance.
She’s a really versatile author. She’s also written a children’s book and one of my favorite books, A Life Worth Living, which was written from the viewpoint of a dog at the dog pound, a rescue dog and everybody knows that’s near and dear to my heart. Turn down the lights, light some candles and get ready for a truly romantic interview with Jennifer Probst on this edition of Interviewing Authors.
Tim Knox: Jennifer, welcome to the program.
Jennifer Probst: Hi, Tim, it’s so wonderful to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Tim Knox: It’s wonderful having you. I mentioned this during the pre-call; you are my very first romance author.
Jennifer Probst: And I must say I am quite proud to be the first.
Tim Knox: For those that aren’t familiar with your work give us a quick background on you.
Jennifer Probst: I’ve been writing for a very long time but it’s just really in the last two years that my books took off. I write sexy and erotic contemporary romance. That’s my main theme but I have written across genres also. I’ve written a short story showing the point-of-view of a shelter dog. I’ve co-written a children’s book with my 12 year old niece. I love any type of writing so I love the short story, the essay. The written word, I just have a love for it so I like to experiment in a lot of different genres.
Tim Knox: How did you start focusing on the erotic romance genre?
Jennifer Probst: To be honest the erotic romance was the one that hit the market fairly quickly. This is before 50 Shades of Grey really became popular. Erotic romance was not in bookstores at the time. You could only get it online and the market started to surge. So I was not seeing much success in publishing a regular contemporary romance with like the Harlequin series – series category romance they’re calling it. I’ve gotten rejection after rejection.
Tim Knox: Are those the Fabio books?
Jennifer Probst: Yes, Fabio is definitely retired.
Tim Knox: What is he, about 80 now?
Jennifer Probst: Probably, yeah. I think it’s no longer your mother’s romance. The romance novel has taken great strides and it’s so different from years ago.
Tim Knox: How did you get into that? You’re really diverse. I want to talk about the different kinds of things that you do right but how did you end up in that genre and did it surprise you that you ended up being such a great writer of erotic romance?
Jennifer Probst: No I will be honest; I wrote my first romance when I was 12 years old. It was a young adult romance. I have always known I was meant to be a romance writer. I literally took a pen and took a binder and wrote 300 pages in my binder and I took it to school, a young adult romance novel about the outcast of the high school and the really smart girl who wasn’t dating so it was kind of like the good girl, bad boy even at 12 years old I was writing. I passed it around to my friends and that was my first book. Then I got my first typewriter and I wrote my second book and then at 16 I wrote my third book. So I always knew in my soul that I was meant to write romance. I love everything about the genre. So it was kind of my true north. I didn’t have to go experimenting too much to find my fit.
Tim Knox: Now when you wrote that book at 12 years old was that autobiographical? Was it all out of your imagination?
Jennifer Probst: It was all out of my imagination because I was the shy nerd girl, so in my imagination I was able to experience these things that made me brave and out me out there socially. In a way I was able to take those books and take those writings and experience something that I wasn’t experiencing before.
Tim Knox: So you started writing very young and you just continued that on. Talk to us about getting initially noticed by others. When you wrote something that you thought was good enough perhaps to even market and sell, how did you go about that process?
Jennifer Probst: Yes, this is an interesting story because of course it started with my mom. I would pretty much write essays or write short stories or creative writing and I would show my mom. She knew that I had a talent and she would read it and give me feedback. Then it was my girlfriends and then at 14 when I wrote my second novel Avon Romance – they had a young adult, teen romance with Avon – had a contest for unpublished writers and teenagers. I remember thinking to myself, well this is it. I’m going to get published. This is a great book… even back then at 14. So I sent it in and this was in the old days when you had the actual manuscript pages of 300 typed and I sent it in the envelope and about 6-8 months later – yes, they still take a very long time to get back to you – I received my first rejection letter.
Tim Knox: How did you handle that?
Jennifer Probst: I’ll tell you this is the seed for a lot of people, especially if you want a career as a writer. I took it and I posted it over my wall because, to me, it was the sign that I was a writer because I tried. I sent it out, I had the bravery to send it out and that one rejection to me was just more motivation to do better the next time.
Tim Knox: So really it wasn’t rejection; it was motivation. That rejection letter validated in your mind, “I’m a writer because I’ve been rejected.”
Jennifer Probst: Exactly and that’s how I took it. I could have gone either way. I could have gone to bed, and not to say that I haven’t, I’ve gotten probably over 100 rejections my entire life and some sting more than others depending on where you are in your life and your career. But that time I think was key and it was pivotal for my future, is not to go to bed and say I can’t be a writer, I’ve been rejected but to look at it and say, okay, well I’m real and I’m going to make this work the next time.
Tim Knox: So it really did push you on. Rather than getting despondent and depressed you’re like okay this validates that I’m a writer. They may have rejected me but at least they took the time to look at the work and this is going to motivate me. You and I both know writers who… I’m like you. I could paper the walls with rejections. Some writers get one or two and they’re like, that’s it. This is God telling me to go do something else.
Jennifer Probst: Tim, I’ve got to tell you that is huge. This is what I say – if let’s say 75% of people want to be writers, there’s only 10% that really are because usually the majority have to go through rejection after rejection and I cannot tell you how many people on the way told me they’ve given up. That was a big thing for me. I’m going to die before I give up even if I’ve never been published. I was a writer and this was going to be part of who I was and it wasn’t going to be easy. I kind of knew that. I think it’s also the mindset that you have if you need to do this and you love it.
Tim Knox: Exactly. So you got past that rejection at least at some point. Your work was noticed. What was the very first thing you sold?
Jennifer Probst: Okay so what happened is I went through college and then I started adult romance – 22, 23, 24 and I think it was around 24 years old that I finally sold. This is a funny story because this is what I would people not to do. I signed a terrible contract. At this point I was so desperate to be published. I’m going to put it right out there; don’t do it.
Tim Knox: You were excited to have a contract.
Jennifer Probst: I was so excited to have a contract. I had written this book at 22. I revised it many, many times and this publisher called, LionHearted. At the time they were not in stores. They were only online. You could only order them online. It took two and a half years for the book to go into print and I think I sold 25 copies to my friends and family. My rights were gone. The royalties were not good. But I will tell you, the good news is that when I saw the book in print with my first cover and my first name it validated that I can do this. Still don’t sign a bad contract because it does go to haunt you, but that was my first experience so it’s a little good and a little bad. Then, as we were talking, that would be erotic romance. After that did not sell, two years later the erotic romance became very, very popular and I started to tailor my stories to novellas with the erotic romance theme and I sold two back-to-back.
Tim Knox: Explain the difference between let’s call it your mother’s romance novel and the modern day erotic romance novel. What’s the difference?
Jennifer Probst: Okay so for sexy contemporary romance there is more of a breezy feel and there is sex in it; there’s love scenes in it but they’re not, A, as graphic and, B, sex does not drive the story forward. The sex usually comes later and it’s part of the romance. With an erotic romance novel the sex gets them together and if you took the sex out of the book, the characters would fall apart. That does not mean that there’s not huge plot, emotions, character growth. I think that’s where a lot of the audience thinks oh it’s just about sex. No, a good erotic romance is the sex drives it forward but it makes it more exciting, it’s more graphic but all the other elements are still there.
Tim Knox: Doesn’t it also make it more real life? Don’t we all love a good erotic romance period in our lives?
Jennifer Probst: Exactly. It’s an adult romance with the door open. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing wrong with inspirational romance, sweet romance. I think this is another reason I love the romance industry. There’s so many different genres that you can enjoy whatever it is that you like. For the erotic, I like bringing a gritty feel and a little bit more of a oneness to the characters. That being said, I also love to write a really funny, laugh out loud, comic, sexy contemporary romance. I never get bored.
Tim Knox: Here’s a good question for you, because my wife tells me that I am, after 20 years of marriage, the most unromantic person. I argue with her I’m the same guy; I think your perception of me has changed. Of course that argument doesn’t get me very far, Jennifer. Can men write erotic romance?
Jennifer Probst: Yes, I have met a few romance writers that are men. Their work speaks for themselves. I think there’s a different element that they bring to it, being a male versus a female point-of-view, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. I think, again, you have to have all the elements there but the main thing in a romance is you have to bring emotion. It doesn’t matter if it’s erotic, contemporary, sweet. There’s got to be a lot of emotion in a romance novel and it’s driven by characters.
Tim Knox: You mentioned 50 Shades of Grey which was like the 8,000 pound gorilla over the last couple of years. Your thoughts on I guess that book but why that book took off the way it did.
Jennifer Probst: Well what’s interesting is the book connected with readers because if you read it you can have whatever opinion you want. Some love it, some hate it but it drew you into the story. Again it was a character-driven story. It was an erotic romance because there was, you know, sex was driving the romance but at the same time this had been written… there was a huge genre with many, many fans that supported it. So in my way I say kudos. It’s wonderful because it just brought it to the forefront. It was always there and we’ve always had the fans but it brought to the forefront more public perception of what’s there. I will tell you one of the best things about 50 Shades of Grey in my genre is the massive amount of readers that have told me that they had given up reading, they weren’t interested anymore. 50 Shades of Grey made them pick it up and it was different. It was fascinating. It made them excited again and then they started gobbling up all sorts of novels, not just romance, but all sorts of novels again. So to me that’s a great book because it makes people want to read. Whatever you’re reading, you’re ahead of the game.
Tim Knox: As someone who was actually before the game, you were writing erotic romance previously, how do you feel about those that jump on the bandwagon? Now there’s 50 Shades of everything, 50 Shades of Blue, 50 Shades of Red. It’s kind of one of those things whenever some cool trilogy hits everyone wants to ride on that bandwagon.
Jennifer Probst: Yes, yes and we’ve got the new adult genre that is very, very popular right now which 50 Shades of Grey is kind of new adult in a way. That’s the more type of college romance. But that being said the readers drive the market and you can have 100 different outtakes on 50 Shades of Grey but each writer writes a different story that’s unique and if it works, it works. Readers will gobble them up. Then eventually the genre moves and flows in so many different ways that if readers discover something else that they’re excited about, we’re going to see another surge of that. So, to me, there’s room for everybody. If you write really well and you’ve got a fantastic story, readers will find you. That’s what I believe as long as you’re doing your job right to be found and if you write a great book.
Tim Knox: So really there’s no ill will there because that just opens up the market, it got readers interested, got more folks probably buying your books as well, right?
Jennifer Probst: Yes, The Marriage Bargain actually became huge and it was right after 50 Shades of Grey. It had been selling very, very well on the market. So again, I don’t think it’s good for writers to look at oh this market is gutted with this or gutted with that. I think there’s always room. There’s always people saying historicals are dead or the empires are dead. It’s just not true. It’s just a matter of the readers are out there. It’s connecting with the right amount of readers and maybe like certain things are hot at different times.
Tim Knox: You write a lot of series. You don’t really just write a standalone book. It’s more of a series. Talk about how you do that because I have talked to some authors who for some reason they just can’t imagine writing a series of books. They have a hard time either carrying the characters through or they have a hard time extending the story. How do you, especially in the beginning if you know you’re going to be writing a series, how do you approach the work and what do you do?
Jennifer Probst: I’ve written two series. I’m on my second long series. Actually, no, there was one other one in the erotic. I always loved standalones but when I wrote The Marriage Bargain, a book that I had rewritten I’m going to say at least 25 times and was rejected all over the world for years and years before it was finally published and hit The New York Times and took the world by storm. Again, you never know but I believed in that book. After I wrote that book I knew that I wanted to give my heroine’s best friend her own book. So that was seeded already. I just kind of new my heroine’s friend, Maggie, kept overtaking the book and writers will say that. Sometimes a character dives in and they want to take over the book. I remember Maggie being a very strong character for me and I kept pushing her back. Finally I said, look, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you the second book but you have got to back out of my story because you are not the heroine now. And so we made that agreement and she did. She said, fine, as long as you give me my own book.
So when I sold The Marriage Bargain originally to Entangled they wanted a three book series. I already knew that my second one was going to be the best friend so I decided, you know what, let me play a little bit. I had never done that before. I don’t outline. I’m a panther. I write organically. Outlining gives me the cold sweats. But I’m a business person too and in order to make that sale I needed to come up with a three book series. So I had already knew what was going to be book number two and so I sat down at my computer and basically for, you know, about two days I just pounded out some ideas for the series and I sold on it. So that worked out really good and that always revolved around marriages of convenience. That was my theme. I think when you write series it’s very important to make sure your secondary characters are very vibrant because secondary characters will carry their own book later. Readers will fall madly in love with a secondary character; be careful. Then I’ll get emails saying, “I loved this character. Are you going to hook them up? Are they going to have their own book?” So readers are very hungry for that already as a series.
My second series, the Searching For series, I decided instead of marriage I wanted to do it around dating. So it revolved around an Upstate New York town with a matchmaking agency, three best friends that graduated college and decided to make their own matchmaking agency. I thought how much fun can it be with the dating wars going on right now and online dating and Millionaire Matchmaker? It was very rich with ideas for characters. So that’s how I did. I took three best friends. I researched what type of characters they wanted to be and it really just started with the heroines. I had no idea who I was going to hook them up with.
Tim Knox: I find that really interesting. The characters were almost telling you what to do and you actually negotiated in your head with a character. If you shut up I’ll give you your own book.
Jennifer Probst: Yes, always. I’ve had secondary characters… in Marriage Merger I had a 19 year old boy that stole the stage. He came out of nowhere and I didn’t know what to do with him. I was like why is this book going in this direction? I’ve learned to trust my subconscious. My subconscious knows what it’s going to be. Sometimes I don’t realize it until later. I’ll tell you what, in the next series three books later, that 19 year old is all grown up and I’m writing his own story because the readers clamored for it like crazy. So sometimes you write these things, you don’t know what’s going to happen but they’re nuggets of gold that you have to make into their own books.
Tim Knox: So sometimes the characters will just evolve and surface.
Jennifer Probst: Yeah and I think you need to be a little flexible in always… you never know what’s going to come next. To me that’s half the fun. When I sit at the page I don’t like to know everything that’s going to happen. So yes I’ve got to plot out certain things and have my characters known but half the fun is finding out what happens. That being said, a lot of writers are plotters and God bless them. They know everything that’s going on, that’s their process. I can only tell you what’s my process and what makes it work for me.
Tim Knox: That’s one thing I’ve found that’s so interesting in doing this show. I’ve interviewed a couple of dozen of authors now and everybody’s process is different. I asked one author let’s talk about the characters. Do the characters drive the story? He goes, I write the characters; I’m in charge.
Jennifer Probst: I wish I was.
Tim Knox: So maybe those are just voices in your head, Jennifer.
Jennifer Probst: It could be. They do say when writers take some kind of analysis, psychological analysis we’re on the borderline of schizophrenic so I’m not surprised.
Tim Knox: I know in my own writing there have been times when the situation would cause a character to do something that I didn’t think he was going to do. Where did that come from? It ends up the story flows. Let’s talk a little about your process because I know you probably write all the time but are you very regimented? Do you get out of bed in the morning; you’re writing by 8 o’clock, you write ‘til noon. Is there a schedule or do you just write whenever? What do you do?
Jennifer Probst: I’m actually very lucky. I have to say that that schedule has changed over the years because I’ve only been writing full-time for the last two years. I’ve been very, very lucky to change my career to be able to get out of having a day job. When I had a day job and I decided that this could not be a hobby for me anymore, that it needed to be a career I would write, I would plot… I had an hour and a half commute one way and I would plot during that commute. I would write on my lunch hour. I would stay late and write after work. I would go to bed very late after the kids were asleep and write and I would get up early in the morning and write. I’d write weekends. If I could write for 15 minutes I wrote for 15 minutes. That was the only way to write and to survive with two kids in diapers, a full-time job, a three hour commute once a day, two rescue dogs, a husband, bills. It’s just the way it was.
Now I feel like I’m in the Taj Mahal here because I get to write full-time. It’s different. I had to make a lot of adjustments but I put my kids on the bus. My kids are in school now. For about an hour, hour and a half, I do marketing work – social media, I answer my emails. I do blog posts. I do Twitter, I do Facebook. There’s a lot of PR work that has to be done with it. Then I sit down and I just write. I write, I take a small break for lunch, I keep writing. I pick up the kids from school, settle them like for another hour. We do dinner, bath time, homework and then I’m writing until about 9 o’clock. So I write all day. Now on deadline I can write all day and all night and sometimes if I’m in between books and I’m brainstorming I’ll watch a lot of TV and read a lot of books when I need to refill the well. It’s pretty much I write every single day for a number of hours.
Tim Knox: Are you typically working on one thing at a time?
Jennifer Probst: Yes but what’s happening is I will… it’s very common now where I will be in deep with a story – this just happened to me two weeks ago. I was in deep for a story that I just reached 50,000 words on and I have a new release that just came out this last Tuesday so I was being really hit hard with a lot of promo. I had to write 20 blog posts, articles for different things, lots of social media stuff. Then my editor sent an edit for an anthology coming out in October that needed a quick turnaround time. So I’m literally doing three things at once and that will happen a lot when you’re a full-time writer and you’re on deadline you have a lot of projects to get out.
Tim Knox: Tell us about the book that came out on Tuesday.
Jennifer Probst: Oh I’m so excited about that. That’s Searching for Perfect. That’s the second book in the Searching For series with the matchmaking agency. I did something really different. I’m very well known in the genre for writing very tortured angsty billionaire alpha heroes. So you have a very rich, tortured, isolated man who meets his match in a very… I like to write heroines who really match my heroes so they usually have their own money, which I adore. They have their own career, which I adore. I write late 20s, not early 20s so they’re already secure in their thing. There’s a lot of sass and humor and conflict there.
With this one, Searching for Perfect, I wrote my first what’s called a beta hero, which is a nerd geek. He’s actually a rocket scientist, aerospace engineer that’s retired from NASA and he’s in the private space industry. My heroine is a matchmaker and he is a walking social disaster. It opens up with a speed dating event that he completely tanks in all directions and insults women. He’s just a walking disaster and she takes him under her wing and it is literally a twist on My Fair Lady, the Eliza Doolittle with the man. There’s a lot of comedy in it and what I did is I made my heroine the tortured one. She’s got weight issues. She was bullied in school. There’s a lot of depth there because I think people judge other people on the surface but when you dig deep you see a lot of people who are just dealing with issues from their past and sometimes it never goes away and I love writing characters like that.
Tim Knox: What’s funny is I live in Huntsville, Alabama. This is the rocket capital of the world. We have a ton of NASA engineers here. In fact, my wife works with NASA engineers and she would tell you if you could make one of these guys romantic, you must be a hell of a writer.
Jennifer Probst: You have to buy this book. It’s not a pitch. I’m just so interested because I just got an email from somebody who worked for NASA and said she just read my book. My heart was pounding. I was like what did I screw up on, because there was a lot of research into it? She said it was absolutely brilliant. She goes you didn’t make any errors. I just slumped in the chair with relief because that’s another thing. You got a lot of smart readers out there. You can’t just fake it. You’ve got to do your research and make sure that you know what you’re writing about.
Tim Knox: This is just an aside – my wife’s sister married a NASA engineer and God love him, he’s as smart as they come but his social skills were a little… he needed some molding as well. Her sister was – this was years ago – she was a party girl, she was a fun girl and then she met this really shy, reserved engineer and now 20 years later, 3 kids, he’s still a nerdy engineer but they’re just as happy as they can be.
Jennifer Probst: I love it, I love it, yes. Too bad we didn’t know each other, Tim. I could have called you and had all my research with one shot.
Tim Knox: Let me tell you, if you want any kind of nerd, engineering – I’m your guy to talk to. I actually worked for Boeing Aerospace for years and they are a different breed so I’m glad that you could at least take one of them and make him a romantic subject.
Jennifer Probst: You do, you have to twist it up and make it fun for readers and do stuff that is different. It was one of the most fun books that I’ve ever written. I loved it.
Tim Knox: One thing I like about your work, and you mentioned this, your heroine is not always the 5’10”, 110 pound blonde bombshell, blah, blah, blah. You are writing real people.
Jennifer Probst: I have to write real people because that’s what’s interesting. If I wrote people who are just one-dimensional… I love writing about women who always feel overweight because I think women always do feel overweight or the issues that we deal with in our past – bullying issues or sexual abuse or right now in the book I’m writing I’m dealing with emotional abuse in a domestic relationship. There’s just so many pieces to us and isn’t that what makes us interesting? So that’s the kind of stuff that needs to come out and just because I’m writing romance doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t real.
Tim Knox: Gotcha. You also write in other genres. We talked about you’ve written a kids’ book. You’ve written a book about a dog from the dog’s perspective, and you and I are both dog nuts. I’ve got eight here, you’ve got a couple there. Talk about how do you write a book from the perspective of a dog that’s in the pound?
Jennifer Probst: Well I’ll tell you what happened. I was writing a romance novel and I have two rescue dogs. My older one had a very bad situation where they rescued him from a house with like over 100 dogs and he’d been abused. He was special. He had gotten through that, just like humans go through certain things, and he survived and he thrived. Being in my house and watching him go from a little bit broken, because he was always strong, to this complete overhaul was amazing. But he was getting older and I’m writing my romance novel and all of a sudden a dog’s voice was in my head and he was telling me his story. I just didn’t know what to do with him and I kept telling him to go away. He would haunt me at night and I was like I don’t know what to do with you. This is not going to be a book. Where am I going to publish you? This is a nightmare. I don’t have time for this.
So two weeks he’s been in my head and I tell my girlfriend I can’t get this dog out of my head. I don’t know what’s happening to me. She said, “You need to write the story. I don’t know what it is but you need to write it.” I wrote it and when I tell you it poured out in a matter of three hours, this was a story that just poured out of me. I was in this dog’s head and I just knew what was happening to him in this dog’s perspective. I didn’t know what to do with the book at all. It was a short story. It was 13 pages. What was I going to do with it? I started reviewing dog magazines. Can I send it here? Can I do it there? Then it struck me, what if… the self-publishing thing was becoming very popular. This was I think three years ago. It was becoming pretty explosive and people were self-pubbing and I said you know what I’m going to do? I am going to self-pub this short story. I’m going to put it up on Amazon for $0.99 and I’m going to donate the royalties towards my pet shelter where I got my dog. This way the dog’s story is out there, I’m helping my shelter and his story’s being told. That’s exactly what I did, very little marketing. This was something that I needed to do. The story was out there.
A library called me and said, “Would you like to come and do a talk for all the volunteers at the rescue animal places and talk about your book, your short story?” I said yes. I did that. They put out a newsletter to like 10,000 people. The talk was very successful and, Tim, when I tell you this really happened – one week later I went to Amazon just to check and I was number one over Cesar Millan in the dog essay section. It was raking in money and it was like a number one Amazon bestseller. I called my husband and I said what happened? Where did this come from? It came out of nowhere. Then I was getting emails from rescue shelters saying they wanted their volunteers to read it, that they cried. I was connected to this entire readership who like us love rescues, love whatever. That was like a Cinderella moment for me.
Tim Knox: And that book was A Life Worth Living. Is it still available on Amazon?
Jennifer Probst: Yes, A Life Worth Living. The proceeds go to my local animal shelter. It’s $0.99 and all on digital. It was a way for me to give back but this is another thing that writers need to look at. Sometimes the story is not going to be your New York Times and New York is not going to buy it but if you need to write it maybe there’s another reason you need to write it and just being flexible.
Tim Knox: You mentioned that when you were writing this book, self-publishing was kind of becoming the hot thing to do. What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing? Is there a better way for different authors? What’s your thoughts?
Jennifer Probst: Well I partner with Bob Mayer and Jen Talty of Cool Gus Publishing. They’re more of a partnership than a publisher. They said something that’s resonated me forever because to me this is the cornerstone of where we are. There are many roads to Oz and I consider myself an indie author. I like to write in traditional because it gets me in print and it will get me into Target and it will get me into Barnes & Noble and Sam’s Club. I love to self-publish my books because I have control over everything. I can do it last minute. I can do a book in like three weeks and say okay I’m going to put it up in July. I don’t have a year ahead of time. Traditional publishers, there’s a scheduled agenda. You can’t just throw a book out there and say, hey, can we get it published in a couple of months? I have also been known… my career was built on digital press, small digital publishers like Entangled, Decadent Publishing, Wild Rose Press. There’s a ton out there and it depends on what works for you. That would take my story, edit it, get me a cover, get me an editor, put it up online digitally – again, not print but it would be in the digital market.
So my advice is you really need to look at your goal, what you want. It’s a long road. Usually with self-published, you usually don’t break out until the third or fourth book. That’s usual. Sure there’s a lot of people putting out that first book and then, you know, look what happens to it. A lot of people from fan fiction have self-published their books and become very popular. There’s so many different ways to go that my opinion is there’s no bad road. It’s about what is working for you. If it’s traditional that you want and print, you want to go into the bookstore then maybe that’s the way to go. There’s nothing wrong with going that way. If you want more control and you want to be more fluid and you want to just hit the digital world, go that route.
Tim Knox: So really it comes down to why are you writing? Are you writing just because you can’t help but write and you want to get the work out there or are you writing to make a nickel? I think a lot of authors, especially the first timers, okay I’ve written this book and I think it’s great, my mom thinks it’s great – I’m going to send this to Random House and I don’t want anyone else to touch it but some big publisher, when in the real world that’s just not how it works.
Jennifer Probst: Yes, but it could work like that. If Random House rejects it and Penguin rejects it and then maybe St. Martin says, oh my God, this is great. Again it can happen in the old fashioned way but you’ve got to have a business plan and know if you’re going that route it could take some time. The bottom line is there’s one piece of advice I have for whatever you follow – be working on your next book. You are not a writer until you keep writing the next book. You cannot write a book, think it’s the best thing since 50 Shades of Grey or War and Peace or Stephen King and just sit on your haunches and try to sell that. While you’re selling that make sure you’re writing your next book because the first thing that will happen, that happened with Marriage Bargain, is I got inundated with where’s your backlist? I only had four things on my backlist because that was… you want to have enough backlist so if that one book hits or your eighth book hits, you already have a platform, social media together, your blogging together and your books together. Does that make sense?
Tim Knox: It does. The best advice that I’ve gotten from you and a lot of other authors is just keep writing. Keep plowing through. I have talked to several authors who just hit it right out of the gate. They wrote something, put it on Amazon, it got some attention and then publisher and authors started sniffing around them. I asked them, how did you do this? I don’t really know. I just put it out there. You know, if it was easy everybody would do it. I think that’s the moral through the story. Jennifer, this has been wonderful. Tell everyone how they can get more information about you and your work.
Jennifer Probst: I encourage good stalking. I am everywhere. I am on Twitter under @JenniferProbst. I am on Facebook. I have a website, JenniferProbst.com. You can go on my website and I’ve got a newsletter, I’ve got an awesome street team if you wanted to sign up for it and they get lots of fun giveaways and sneak peeks and cover reveals. We have a lot of fun on there. I’m everywhere on social media so just connect with me and definitely if you hear this interview online, drop me an email, drop me a Twitter and say, “Hey, I heard you on Tim’s show. It was great,” and I’ll hook you up.
Tim Knox: And we’ll donate $0.99 to the animal shelter near you, how about that.
Jennifer Probst: That’s terrific, yeah.
Tim Knox: One more time give us the title of the book that came out on Tuesday.
Jennifer Probst: The new release is called Searching for Perfect and it is everywhere. You can find it in print everywhere; you can find it on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo. The first one in the series is having a nice price reduction with Amazon for $3.99. They’re standalones so you don’t have to read any of my other books to know what’s going on. You can go right in to Searching for Perfect and dive in. If you like it then you can read the other one.
Tim Knox: Who’s your publisher?
Jennifer Probst: Publisher is Gallery at Simon & Schuster.
Tim Knox: Super. Jennifer, this has been wonderful. It really has.
Jennifer Probst: I had a great talk with you, Tim. I probably could have gone for another hour.
Tim Knox: Maybe we will do a part two. You just never know. I’m the boss; we can do whatever we want. If it wasn’t time to let the dogs out we would just continue.
Jennifer Probst: I think mine need to be let out too.
Tim Knox: Jennifer Probst, we sure appreciate it. We will put links to your website. I hope to see you on social media. Let’s do keep in touch.
Jennifer Probst: Sounds good, Tim, definitely. Thanks everyone.