Catching Up

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Last February, I had a chance to talk to Julianne MacLean, a USA Today bestselling Romance author from Bedford, Nova Scotia.   We discussed her career development, her move to a new publisher, and her connection to the writing community.  Julianne was about to see the release of a brand new trilogy, all three books of which were to drop in quick succession.  She was also planning some independent e-publishing ventures.

So here we are almost a year later.  I wanted to follow up with Julianne, to see how everything had shaken out.  Turns out:  pretty well.

CS: You had HOW many books come out last year?

Julianne MacLean:  All three books in ‘The Highlander’ trilogy with St. Martin’s Press (Claimed by the Highlander; Captured by the Highlander; Seduced by the Highlander).  Then Harlequin reissued my first four books (Prairie Bride; The Marshal and Mrs. O’Malley; Adam’s Promise, and Sleeping With the Playboy).  I self-published two novels:  The Color of Heaven and Taken by the Cowboy.   And I self-published a short story prequel to the Highlander Trilogy.  That’s ten!

(CS, privately:  Holy crap!  That’s… a lot of books.  Move over Nora Roberts!)

CS (publicly):  Let’s start with the two titles you published yourself, as e-books.  Why the pseudonym for the first?  For the second, why not?

Julianne MacLean:  I decided to take a pen name for The Color of Heaven because it is written in a very different style and voice from my historicals.   I didn’t want to blindside my readers with something unexpected. I kept my name for Taken by the Cowboy because it is consistent with my voice and storytelling style as a historical romance author.  Readers who enjoy my historicals will enjoy the same reading experience with Taken by the Cowboy, even though it has a paranormal time travel element.

CS:  Did the success of Color of Heaven inspire you to release Taken by the Cowboy?

Julianne MacLean:  The success of Color of Heaven was wonderful and completely unexpected, but most importantly, I enjoyed the overall experience of having full creative control with the publication of my work.  I was able to make the decisions about the packaging and cover design, and I could release it very quickly as well.  Also, I value the higher royalty rate an author receives when she self-publishes.  We are paid 60-70% of the cover price, vs approximately 17% with a traditional publisher.

CS:  I notice that the cover of Taken by the Cowboy changed a couple times.  What happened there?

Julianne MacLean:  Originally, I had a fun, contemporary cover designed for the book, because again, I wanted my readers to know it was different from my regular historicals (the heroine is a modern woman who travels back in time to the wild west, and she loves shoes and misses her cell phone).  I launched the book in June under the title The Sexy Girl’s Guide to Cowboys.  It was unlike all of my previous covers, however, and it stuck out like a sore thumb on my website.

To make a long story short, the sales were not what I had hoped for, and I quickly realized that the majority of my long time readers were shying away from the book because it looked like chick lit.  I had essentially alienated my readers, which meant I was starting from scratch to target a new and completely different readership – yet the story had the same voice and historical setting, and the same emotional heartbeat.

That’s the beauty of self-publishing an e-book.  You can make changes if something is not working.  I immediately re-hired my cover designer, and I had the new version uploaded (with the new title).  It has been selling very well since then.

CS:  Did you enjoy the process of being your own e-publisher?  And contiguous to that, do you still enjoy working with your print publisher?

Julianne MacLean:  I love every aspect of self-publishing, because I enjoy having full creative control over a project, but it’s a lot of work, especially in the promotion department.  For that reason, I value what my publisher can do for me in terms of “discoverability” and also getting print editions into the retail outlets.  Whether or not I will continue to self-publish will depend on the project.  Right now, St. Martin’s Press is doing a fantastic job with my historical romances, so I’m very pleased.  But if I want to write something different that may not appeal to New York, I will self-publish.  Right now, I’m enjoying the best of both worlds, and I hope that can continue.

Julianne’s ‘Highlander’ trilogy landed her back on the bestseller lists.  Her e-pubbed books are selling strongly.  She accomplished so much this past year that I was almost intimidated to ask what was up next, but frankly, she’s just so darned nice that I couldn’t be nervous.   Her next major project is another trilogy with St. Martin’s.  Be My Prince, the first book in the ‘Royal’ trilogy, will hit store in late April 2012.

 ~~~

Chris Szego has fond memories of Bedford.

 

 

 

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