Author/Editor Interview: Brandy Bruce

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.

Samantha: And finally, what projects are you working on for the future?

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.

Check out the book

Have you thought about Self-Publishing?

1067843_29644623Well, I’m at the very very beginning stages (that means everything is in my head and not on paper) of writing a book proposal- the treasured manuscript that’s required to “sell” yourself and sell your book idea to an agent/editor. Cause you know, publishers have to make money off what you write. It’s how the world goes around. And as always, it’s a competitive market.

I follow several blogs but the only person whose blog posts get sent directly to my email via google reader is CEO of Thomas Nelson, Michael Hyatt. He consistently has great posts on publishing, leadership, and other great thoughts.

Well on Tuesday he announced that Westbow press, a division of Thomas Nelson will be offering quality self-publishing services (this is a really big deal). Here’s what they say:

  1. We think there is huge growth potential in this category. Increasing numbers of people are moving from being merely consumers to being creators. They want to express themselves creatively. Just witness the phenomenal success of user-generated content sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Scribd.
  2. We want to offer a legitimate alternative to traditional publishing. Why should all the power be in the hands of publishers? If prospective authors are convinced their book should be in print and are willing to fund it, they should be able to do so without the fear that they might be ripped off.
  3. We want to find the new voices for tomorrow. Publishers aren’t omniscient. We miss numerous opportunities every year. Finding the next bestseller is like searching for a needle in a haystack. WestBow Press provides us with a kind of “farm team.” We intend to watch the sales of these titles carefully. We will offer traditional publishing contracts to those authors whose self-published books begin to gain traction.

As a writer, one who’s attended several writer’s conferences, networked with respected authors and agents, and actually works in publishing, I’ve had a slightly negative bent towards self-publishing. Traditional publishing has always been the way to go (and I still believe it’s what I want to pursue).

But West Bow Press intrigues me in regards to where we’re at today in publishing and what it will look like in the future. And I think they are on to something.

Have you heard about it? Would you ever consider self-publishing your book?

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