She’s just published her 7th book, Security – lies hurt but the truth can get you killed! – about a sassy pop superstar and the bodyguard who is maybe more dangerous than the trouble he’s protecting her from!
Here Mandy tells us more about –
– How she got her publishing deal
– How to make social media work for you – from the lady who won an award for it!
– And how you could win a signed copy of her latest book.
We all love a success story! And Mandy’s recent journey to best-selling author began with self-publishing her first four books. Now since that’s a subject dear to my heart – and because I love the look of her books and the subjects she covers (like pop stars and dangerous heroes), I couldn’t resist asking Mandy to be this month’s featured author!
Enjoy the interview, don’t forget to leave her a question or a comment at the bottom of this blog, and follow the links to buy her books or find her on tour. Plus how to win the comp!
Ooer – ok! How about this –
‘Mandy is a self-confessed Twitter addict who also likes to show off her singing talents on YouTube – check out Lady Gaga! She has auditioned for X Factor, appeared on ITV1's Who Dares Sings and longs to duet with Bryan Adams. She also has a fondness for white wine, mashed potato, country music and World's Strongest Man.
Mandy lives near Salisbury in Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and two cats called Kravitz and Springsteen.’
That’s the blurb from my website!
Seriously, I work full-time as an author now and thank goodness for that! Now that I’m aiming to produce two books a year I really don’t know how I would have managed having another job at the same time. I used to work as a paralegal at a firm of solicitors creating Wills and dealing with Probate when people die. How much far removed from writing romance could you get?! I brought out three novels alongside that job but realised if I wanted to really make a career out of it then I had to really take a leap of faith and make it happen.
I had a tough first year. My husband, Mr Big was bringing home the bacon while I built up my following and tried to establish myself in the writing community. I’m so lucky to have met so many lovely friends through the Romantic Novelists Association (like you, Debbie!), the Festival of Romance, Loveahappyending Lifestyle and just through Twitter and Facebook connections. Without that social media friendship there is no way I would be as prolific as I am… I am prolific aren’t I? LOL.
So I don’t have a housekeeper or a nanny or anything flash like that. When I’m not writing you will find me in leggings and a t-shirt on the school run or doing the washing and ironing or trying to work out Pinterest!
I am a bit of a workaholic if I’m honest but when I do shut the computer down and hide my phone I like to go to concerts (rock/country/pop), drink wine (white or fizzy mainly) and travel (usually to my beloved Corfu if I’m lucky!). Good job that Mr Big – and the children Amber (coming up 8) and Ruby (coming up 6) – are very supportive!
Ok then – here you go –
‘Mandy Baggot is an author of strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with. Having successfully self-published four novels (Excess All Areas, Breaking the Ice, Knowing Me Knowing You and Strings Attached) she signed a traditional publishing contract with US publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing in January 2012 for fifth novel, Taking Charge. She has been a best-seller in both Contemporary Romance and Humour charts on Amazon, plus she was featured in 'Woman' magazine’s ‘Hot Read of the Week’ for Taking Charge. Then in November 2012 Strings Attached was shortlisted for a ‘Best Author’ award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, which was where Mandy also beat Fifty Shades author E L James to the ‘Innovation in Romantic Fiction’ prize for her innovative author marketing.’
Security is my seventh novel and it's probably the one I'm most proud of right now.
It's a little shift in genre to romantic suspense and is the novel with the deepest, most complex plot.
I had to keep my wits about me with all the double-crossing and lie-telling!
Q. So give us the low-down – it’s certainly been going down very well in the online community since it was published last week!
Yes and there have been some lovely reviews so far on Amazon! It’s a cross between an episode of 24, and Spooks. Security is the story of pop sensation, Autumn Raine a platinum-selling superstar who doesn’t have anyone to share it all with, and her newly-appointed bodyguard – rough, tough, Northerner, Nathan Regan. Autumn’s been targeted by a terrorist group because of her mother’s political career and it’s Nathan’s job to protect her. Neither being used to being told what to do, the situation sparks a turbulent relationship as these two powerful figures fight for control. But behind their differences are there a lot of similarities? And will either of them let their masks slip and let the other see their inner self? Does her record producer know more than he's letting on? What is her mother, the British Foreign Secretary's involvement in the situation? And can Autumn put her faith in a forty-something Jamaican woman who handles an automatic weapon as expertly as she cooks? Eluding kidnap and trying to stay alive, can Autumn find the strength to become the person she longs to be? And can two people, poles apart, forge something strong enough to survive anything?
Watch this to find out more –
Q. I love how nowadays authors are doing book trailers to promote their books on YouTube! I do like the pic of Nathan Regan and am looking forward to reading the book! So come on then – everyone loves a case story – what’s yours?
Well I'd sent submissions to four small publishers in the UK and hadn't heard back from any of them so I was preparing to self-publish Taking Charge in a few months’ time. Then I saw a tweet from a new American publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, who had just opened for submissions. I got a good feel from them straight away – I don't know why, instinct probably – and decided to send Taking Charge to them for consideration. Then, within just a fortnight, two of the other publishers I submitted to, came back and wanted to sign me, and so did Sapphire!
I'd never been in that position before so I had to think long and hard about which one to go with and whether I really wanted a traditional contract now I was so used to self-publishing. I chose Sapphire because they seemed so professional and switched on from the outset and like me, they really get the importance of social media, branding, mutual support etc. Also, Taking Charge is set in America and I thought placing it with a US publisher would be a good way to test the American market with my work. Could this Wiltshire girl survive amongst the big fish across the pond? It was completely the right choice!
I love working with Amy, Katie, Devyn and the rest of the team and couldn't be happier. It's funny, as although I was completely thrilled about signing a traditional contract, the market has changed so much, it isn't the only way to make it as a writer nowadays. Before, if you didn't get signed you had little chance of making money self-publishing books, but that isn't the case anymore. I wanted to experience being traditionally published and I'm loving it so far but I know where I came from! There's still a little indie in this writer!
I didn’t set out with the dream of being self-published even though some people do. Like most, I wanted that lucrative contract, a nice fat advance and loads of royalties. But after a few years of knocking on virtual doors and being told my manuscript wasn’t quite good enough I decided to take control of my own destiny.
All I really wanted was a chance to get my stories into readers’ hands. Self-publishing allows you to take control. With Amazon’s Kindle program now you can have your novel uploaded and for sale online within hours. Although I am now traditionally published, I also have my self-pub titles for sale and I read a combination of indie and traditionally published authors. Research which way is best for you and your book, and don’t be afraid to combine the two. Experience in all spectrums of the industry can be beneficial.
Q. You’re also one of the most pro-active people I know! Not many can boast over 30,000 tweets! How important is social media to an aspiring author nowadays – after all, we’re talking to an innovation-award-winner here!
Oh how proud was I to receive that award! Much celebrating going on that night, I can tell you! Well I’d done a very pro-active campaign for Taking Charge, and a lot of that involved online activities. It helps to have nearly 8,000 Twitter followers with another almost 1,000 on Facebook. Plus I write for LoveA HappyEnding Lifestyle (click here for more info).
It’s a new on-line magazine you can sign up for, run by a group of writers, myself included, and contributors from the UK as well as Canada and the US. We have all sorts of topics, from gardening & home design, to celebrity news etc., plus there’s a brilliant team of book reviewers giving their opinions and tips for the top. Mutual support in the writing business is absolutely paramount and the idea behind LoveaHappyEnding is that working as a team gives you a much better chance of success. We all write such different books – paranormal romance, military fiction, chick-lit, romantic suspense – being part of the group has certainly increased the genres I read and it makes our articles and the book reviews interesting to a wider audience. At the moment we have our core team but in the future there may be a chance for other writers to join… watch this space.
Q. It’s certainly a good place to find new suggestions for what to read. And special promotions help too, don’t they?
Yes absolutely. For instance, Taking Charge has just been riding high in the free charts! A free weekend promotion saw it soar to #1 in Germany, #2 in France, #4 in the UK and #12 in the US for contemporary romance. But once people buy it and like it, they want to read your other books, so the more you have available for them the read, the better – as long as they’re good of course! And blog tours are key nowadays.
I love blog tours! A blog tour is where your book goes on tour. This means it visits book review sites all over the world and is rated by the blogger taking part. There are also giveaways, guest posts about writing/reading/interesting facts, and interviews.
For an author these are vital to spread the word about a new release. Security actually has two blog tours going on. One organised by Sapphire Star through Reading Addiction Blog Tours and the other organised by my good friend Sharon Goodwin of Fiction Addiction Book Tours.
If you’d like to visit, I will be popping in to each of them on the day live online to answer questions and there will be e-copies of Security to win. Here’s the link to the Tours and Events page of my website:- http://www.mandybaggot.com/toursandevents.htm
Q. You’re also appearing in person at other promotional events too?
This year I have spoken at a book club, a networking group, been on TV on Loaded Chicklit! and last year I was on a panel at the Festival of Romance talking about size (publishers rather than men’s naughty bits). It always freaks me out when people want to hear me speak. I am starting to enjoy it now though and hope people ask me to do more!
This year I am attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Sheffield in July. This will be three days of informative talks and workshops followed by lots of wine drinking in the bar.
I’m also taking part in the 2013 Festival of Romance in Bedford in November.
The best thing about being a writer is being able to share my stories with such a wide audience.
I used to write just for me and perhaps a couple of friends would read my stories. Now I literally get paid for doing something I love and for making readers happy!
I love getting emails and messages from people who've read my books telling me how much they loved the story or how the main character had been in a situation they had been in and I had written it well and truthfully.
The not so good parts… there aren't any really! I just need more hours in the day.
Q. So what does a typical ‘day in the life’ look like? Any tips for our would-be writers out there?
Being a writer is such a varied job. It isn’t just sitting down in front of the computer and producing fiction all day every day, there are lots of other things to keep on top of too. I love doing the social media part of the job I must admit, in particular Twitter, (hence the 30,000 tweets!) so the first thing I do after the school-run is set up my business tweets for the day. You can automatically schedule the promotional tweets to go out at certain times so they’re well-spaced and don’t annoy people! Then that means when I dip into Twitter later in the day I can spend it chatting with friends and readers and other authors and talk about food! Once I am up to speed on social media I will start writing. That’s usually about 11.00am and then I have three and a half hours before the school run in the afternoon. I will usually work for another three/four hours once the children are home – in between cooking and doing homework/trumpet/keyboard practice with them! I’ll finally stop working about 9.00pm but don’t be surprised if I’m still tweeting by iPad! A writer never switches off!
My biggest tip for would-be writers is just to keep writing. You might think that sounds a little obvious but you’d be surprised how many people get disheartened either by knock-backs from the industry or maybe writer’s block. If you keep the passion for the story and keep getting words on the page you’re making progress. Persistence and passion will pay off. And good luck!
Thanks Mandy, it’s been a pleasure to hear from you! See below for more info about Mandy and her writing, plus find Security online here
Member of Romantic Novelists' Association
Signed with Sapphire Star Publishing
You can also find Mandy at all these places:-
This week’s competition follows the usual format – to win a signed copy of Mandy’s new novel Security (delivery end of May), just leave her a comment below, along with a clear note that you’d like to enter – eg #Mandy’s competition, or ‘please enter me’! One lucky winner will be drawn at random to win. Entries close on Monday 22nd April and the winner will be notified and posted here shortly afterwards.
See the full terms and conditions here
Hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Mandy – watch out in my regular blog at the end of this week, for more news about Hawaiian Affair – my own first novel! I have also been finding out a lot of info about how to actually self-publish as well. More soon.