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Book Publishing Secrets: A Conversation with Holly Bush

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We’re talking to authors from all walks of life about their experiences in publishing their book. Some have smooth paths, some rocky, but they all share a common goal – to see their name on the cover of their creation. It’s interesting to read what path they decided to take to get there and my guest today is here to tell everyone what he/she did in order to make it all happen so that other writers will learn a little something from the experience.

Today we are talking to Holly Bush author of the historical romance, Reconstructing Jackson.

Holly was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.

Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group. Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, and was the vice-president of her local library board for years. She loves to spend time near the ocean and is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

Thank you for your time in answering our questions, Holly. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to write a book?

Hello Caroline and thanks so much for having me. I’m not sure if I decided I wanted to write a book or my book decided it needed written and I was the one to do the writing! I see characters in my head and they really don’t let me go until I’ve told their story. It is a strange and wonderful experience.

Is this your first book?

This is not the first book I have written. My very first book is in a drawer and will stay there. Reconstructing Jackson is the third historical romance that I have made available for sale.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?

Hmmm . . . I wish there was a more dramatic tale to tell. I began writing seriously about fifteen years ago. I followed the traditional format of querying agents and editors and sent literally hundreds of letters and emails. I attended writing conferences where I was able to meet agents and attend seminars as well as being active with a writer’s group in my area. I listened and learned and wrote and edited. And wrote and edited some more. But I never was able to get an agent interested in my work. Many said that ‘American’ historical romances do not sell. Some said my word count was too big or too small for the category I would fall in to. About a year and a half ago, I had this dreadful realization that my books would never be read by anyone other than my family and my uber readers. It was thoroughly depressing. I decided then and there to self-publish and I’m here to say that I was wrong and so were many of those agents. All three of my books have been very successful, based on both independent reviews and from sales numbers. I have been very, very fortunate to have found readers who love to read my books.

What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?

I have learned that marketing and selling my books is at least as critical as writing a good story.

If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?

I would have certainly preferred to have the experience and organization of an established publishing house and agent behind me however I have truly enjoyed the journey so far and have met many writers and readers that have been generous with their time and expertise. So we’ll call it a toss-up!

Did you credit any person or organization with helping you get published?

My husband has been a great partner for me in so many ways. He works on my website, keeps the accounting organized, helps with cover art and lays the ground work for most of my advertising. But more than any of this, he’s always believed in me, in my writing and my success.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Grab any amount of time you can and get some words on paper. It’s amazing how stories grow from just those first few words. Don’t let it be drudgery. Writing is joyful and hard work and amazing when the words are coming faster than you can type. Join a writer’s group. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Find folks you can talk to about your writing and hear their stories. I learned more about my own writing listening to others read theirs than I did anywhere else.

Thank you so much for having me!

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