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Interview | Jaycee DeLorenzo

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Jaycee DeLorenzo is a woman on a mission: write the best books ever and introduce the world to New Adult. She is succeeding on both fronts. Her book, The Truths about Dating and Mating is fantastic and fun, and her website NA Alley is one of THE central hubs for all things New Adult. It’s an incredible resource for both writers and readers.  She hails from Tucson, Arizona and is a member of Romance Divas, Romance Writers of America and The Saguaro Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America, and a contributor on group blogs such as Indie Ignites. Whew! That’s a lot to be a part of! And I’m so glad she agree to be a part of this site! Enjoy the interview!

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Hi Jaycee! Thanks so much for being on the site today. First things first, congrats on all your success! Your book, The Truths about Dating and Mating is wonderful (I started reading last night!) and you are a contributor to one of the most exciting blogs out there today called NA Alley. So let’s start there first. Can you tell me what exactly NA Alley is all about?

First, thank you so much!  At NA Alley, we consider ourselves kind of one-stop resource for all things pertaining to the New Adult category. We provide lists of publishers and agents who accept new adult submissions, resources of use to all forms of publishing, and we’re on a rotating schedule where we post weekly about topics of interest to New Adult readers and writers.  We also host contests at times, sponsor NA related event such as the New Adult Sleepover Weekend, and recently hosted the New Adult Crush Tourney, which was a huge success.

How did you come to be a part of the blog?

It was actually my idea to create a blog strictly about New Adult.  Victoria Smith and I were both NA authors in a time where NA wasn’t being recognized as a valid category in the industry.  We had been working together as critique partners for a while, and had teamed up to do several successful blog hops.  As we were planning our last one together, I brought up the idea of starting a group blog that’s focus was on NA.  I had a vague vision of where I wanted something like this to go, but didn’t know many NA authors, so Victoria jumped in and got everything moving.  She contacted five other ladies who she knew wrote NA fiction (Juliana Haygert, Carrie Butler, LG Kelso, Bailey Kelsey, and Summer Lane) and things progressed swiftly from there.  We took about a month to get things organized, choose a name, come up with a mission statement, design a blog, and make plans for our grand opening.  Since then, we’ve lost Bailey due to her hectic work schedule and planning a wedding, and have added Lynn Rush (a.k.a. Reese Monroe), E.J. Wesley to our contributing authors, and the fabulous Diana Lane as our social media coordinator, who we couldn’t live without.

Why New Adult? Why now and not five years ago or ten? What do you think it is about right now that has so many people excited about reading works about this time period?

Because it’s the story I wanted to tell, for me personally.  On a grander scale, it was a category that was considered no-man’s land in the publishing industry.  If you wrote a character in that age group (typically 18-25) you were told either to age the characters up or down.  I know this from personal experience and the experience of others.  Ebook technology and the success of self-publishing suddenly became an option, and authors were putting those books out there after being told there was no audience for NA fiction.  And they were proving the industry wrong.  Not only were the books selling like hotcakes from those who had been waiting for books about this age group for so long, but they were hitting bestseller lists, thus proving that there really were a whole lot of people hungering for books that hadn’t been available for so long.  Now, quite a few of those industry folk who thumbed their noses at the category a year ago are actively acquiring NA fiction, because they’ve seen the numbers and know it’s selling.

You’re very involved in the book industry, so I must ask: what do you think will happen to this category in the next few years? Will it grow to include all sorts of other sub-genres, like in YA?

Interesting question.  I hope so, and I see it having staying power as more people branch out into other genres.  The market is saturated with NA contemporary romances right now, which are still selling, but sales are slowing down a bit in general.  Trends and genre popularity move in phases.  The audience snapping up NA contemporary romances now may be interested in reading  speculative or paranormal books in a few years, and there are plenty of those books out there right now, waiting to get read and recognized.  It’s kind of a wait and see game, but I never see audiences tiring of books about this age category.  It’s something that’s been missing for far too long, so there’s a lot to be explored.

Alright, to switch topics a bit, let’s talk about your own NA title, The Truths About Dating and Mating! Great title and fantastic cover! How did you go about deciding on such a title and then choosing that particular cover?

Thanks.  I get mixed reviews. Some people hate the cover and title, others like it.  Some people prefer the original cover I had, others say it’s horrible and incredibly cheesy.  I just kind of take it all in stride, and have tried to learn from what people liked and didn’t, and apply it to my next book.  As for the title, I thought it was a fun title for the radio show, but it was also an ironic twist or commentary, if you will, on  how much my characters thought they knew everything about how relationships should work, but were completely clueless (and hypocritical) when it came to their own budding relationship.  Because the real truth was, they didn’t have any idea how to apply what they knew to be true about relationships to their own lives.

You wrote a wonderful guest blog post about your journey to publication. I love how open you were about it. You had a dream to get your book read, and now it’s being read. What lessons did you learn most on that journey?

Thank you.  Okay, the biggest thing I learned is that I could write, edit, revise, network, and publish a book all on my own.  That may sound like a simple lesson, but throughout most of the process of getting the MS beat into shape, I wasn’t actually sure it would ever happen. I wasn’t sure how I would handle horrible criticism, or if it would just flop, or if the only people who would buy it were my relatives.  But in the end, I still did it, so I’ve learned that I could.

In the same interview, you said you had to be in complete control of the entire process of self-publishing your book. What are some tips and tricks of the trade you learned?

My tips:  Do you research, not just on your subject, but on the market.  Look at what’s been successful and what hasn’t.  Don’t try to do everything on your own.  Get unbiased opinions on your story and cover before you put anything out.  Remember that your investment in your work will have an influence on your return.  Don’t sweat the reviews…heck, don’t read them.  Don’t compare your career to others and don’t let jealousy get in the way.  It’s counterproductive.  But most of all, write the story you want to write, despite it all.

Did you hire outside editors and artists?

I did the covers, as I run a freelance cover design business (http://sweetnspicydesigns.com), but I did hire someone to do first-round edits.

Okay, I’ve got to ask: is self-publishing as daunting as some people say? 🙂

It can be, for some of the reasons I listed a few questions back.  When taking the self-publishing route, you have to realize that everything depends on you.  You’re responsible for every aspect of that book, from the writing, editing, choosing a cover, getting it ready for publication, and marketing it before and after its release.  Knowing your career rests completely on the effort you put into can be downright scary, especially if you don’t have enough time to dedicate to doing it all and are uncomfortable with putting yourself out there.  As writers, we’re pretty solitary creatures, so we have to push past our comfort zones and take the plunge, know some are going to love our work, some are going to think it’s a steaming pile of you-know-what.  Plus, even when our self-worth may be low and we have no confidence in ourselves, we still have to advertise our own work, without coming across as obnoxious or off-putting.  So, yeah, it’s daunting, but the sense of accomplishment that comes with it all is really rewarding, as well.

On your website, you’ve listed some works in progress. How are they developing, and when can we read more!

I’m hoping for a December release of the next book in my Riordan College series (A Love Less Perfect), and have two or three more planned for 2014.  It really depends on how well the next two months go on whether I’ll reach my goal or not.

Finally, it’s the last question which means I need some advice! What advice do you have for all writers out there who are thinking of self-publishing?

Just do it!  Okay, honestly, I would say you need to make a business plan and assess your goals.  Publishing isn’t just about writing, and it’s even less so when you self-publish.  If you want to be taken seriously, you have to put more work into it than most people realize.  It’s more than a full-time job, because it never stops.  There’s networking, marketing, touring, doing guest posts, responding to fans, attending conventions, and so much more.  That aspect of it alone is a full-time job.  Add it to actual writing time, and day jobs, family, and other responsibilities, and it can get really overwhelming.  But as I said before, if you’re determined enough and willing to accept the very true reality that your success (or failure) depends completely on you, and are therefore willing to put the work in to make yourself successful, you’ll do well.

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