I’d like to introduce you to Brandy Bruce. Brandy and I went to the same college and interned together in book publishing at Focus on the Family in 2003. She is a special friend of mine and an up-and-coming Young Adult Fiction writer. She recently published her first book Looks Like Love with Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson.
I thought her writing journey would be helpful to those of you interested in publishing/self-publishing, and of course, I wanted you to get to know her and her book. If you have any questions for Brandy, leave them in the comment section below.
Samantha Krieger Interviewing Brandy Bruce:
Samantha: So, tell us what your book Looks Like Love is all about.
Brandy: Looks Like Love is about a twenty-something marketing consultant, Kasey Addison, who’s starting over. After a devastating break-up, everything Kasey thought she knew about love suddenly feels like a lie. So she takes off on a journey to rediscover life and faith and love. Her adventure begins in London while she’s visiting her best friend. When her little whirlwind trip to England is over, she comes home to find herself suddenly on the marketing team for LETA, a growing cosmetics company. When LETA decides to release their very first fragrance, Kasey’s challenged to find out what love looks like and find a way to sell it. Along the way, Kasey learns that love looks like what she least expected
Samantha: What is the main takeaway for readers after reading your book?
Brandy: That love doesn’t always come wrapped in neat little packages. It can be messy; it can be painful; it can be hard. But it’s worth it. And that no matter what we go through in life, God’s love is always available to us.
Samantha: When I read and edited your book, I saw a lot of your preferences in the main character, Kasey Addison (coffee and cheesecake just to name a few!). Was this intentional? Explain a little bit about those similarities.
Brandy: I’m sure some of my personal characteristics come through in Kasey, but it wasn’t intentional. My characters weren’t inspired by real people or anything like that–just small characteristics. For example, I used to know a guy whose eyes either looked blue or green, depending on what he was wearing. I gave that quality to Lincoln. Once, when my dad came home from a trip overseas, he brought me a Toblerone bar of white chocolate. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make Kasey a white-chocolate lover. Little things like that were inspired by real experiences. But the story as a whole and the characters were all just dreamed up.
Samantha: Talk a little bit about your publishing journey.
Brandy: I actually wrote Looks Like Love several years ago. Once I finished it, I showed it to an agent (Chip MacGregor) who liked it and signed me as one of his authors. That was a great day. Then came the hard part—selling it. We came really close with a couple of publishers and got some great feedback, but just weren’t able to sell it. Because I’d received such positive feedback from editors I know and respect, I really didn’t want to give up on my book. So I told Chip I wanted to self-publish it, and he was totally supportive. Working in the industry myself, I know how difficult it can be for new people to break into the business. So I self-published with WestBow Press and it’s been a wonderful experience. I had a few authors come alongside me and give me some great endorsements. I had editorial help from fellow editors (like my wonderful friend Samantha!) as I polished my story. So I felt really blessed with all the support and encouragement I received. Now the book is out there and I am thrilled with the final product.
Samantha: What advice would you give to Christian writers/bloggers interested in both traditional publishing and/or self-publishing?
Brandy: I would say “Go for it!” But understand that it’s a tough business to get into and you’ve got options if it seems as though doors are closing for you. Try traditional publishing first. Create a spectacular book proposal and go to writers conferences. Pitch your proposal to agents and take their feedback seriously. Join a critique group. And really think about what your goals in publishing are. Do you want to make a living from writing? Is publishing a book just one goal on a bucket list you have? Are you hoping to be rich and famous and see your name on the New York Times’ best-seller list? Do you just have a story in your head that you love and would like to see in print, regardless of how many copies are sold? Are you doing everything you can to build your platform now (such as blogging and being active online)?
Samantha: So with being active online via Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other forms of social media, do you think it’s easier than ever for writers to build a platform and brand for themselves? How so?
Brandy: I definitely think those outlets are good for building a platform, but it takes work. Lots of time spent online, which can be hard to come by when you’ve already got a busy life. But being an active blogger and making your presence known online can definitely help get your name out there to people who might not otherwise hear of you.
Brandy: Well, as an editor, I’m currently juggling two book projects. That takes a lot of my time. But I’m also working in a little time to write. My sister and I have been working together, co-authoring a fantasy YA (young adult) novel. I’m super excited about it!
Brandy Bruce holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Liberty University. She currently works as a developmental book editor for Focus on the Family. When she’s not chasing after her two-year-old daughter, she spends much of her time reading, editing, working with authors, and trying to keep up with deadlines. She’s the author of the newly released contemporary novel Looks Like Love. Brandy makes her home with her husband and daughter in Colorado Springs, Colorado.