Art In Fiction

Diamonds Are Forever: An Interview with M. J. Rose, Author of Cartier's Hope

July 18, 2020 Carol Cram & M. J. Rose Season 1 Episode 6
Art In Fiction
Diamonds Are Forever: An Interview with M. J. Rose, Author of Cartier's Hope
Chapters
0:48
Welcome to M. J. Rose
1:36
Overview of Cartier's Hope
4:10
Inspiration for Cartier's Hope
6:30
History of women journalists in New York's Gilded Age
9:35
Social issues in Cartier's Hope
13:19
Process for writing a novel
16:50
Inspiration for Tiffany Blues
22:01
Advertisement: AuthorBuzz.com
23:01
Research process
25:30
Marketing advice
Art In Fiction
Diamonds Are Forever: An Interview with M. J. Rose, Author of Cartier's Hope
Jul 18, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6
Carol Cram & M. J. Rose

Welcome to Episode 6 of the Art In Fiction Podcast!

My guest is New York Times bestselling author M. J. Rose. Tune in as M. J.  talks about her novels Cartier's Hope and Tiffany Blues, her writing process, and marketing advice every author needs to hear.

The
Washington Post describes M. J. Rose as "an unusually skillful storyteller. Her polished prose and intricate plot will grip even the most skeptical reader."

Highlights:

  • Inspiration for Cartier's Hope and Tiffany Blues
  • The role women journalists played in Gilded Age New York, the setting for Cartier's Hope
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany and how his fabulous glassworks and Lauralton Hall mansion are portrayed in Tiffany Blues
  • Writing and making a living
  • Excellent marketing advice based on M. J. Rose's experience as the owner of AuthorBuzz, a marketing service that helps authors reach readers

Press Play right now and be sure to check out M. J. Rose's novels on Art In Fiction.

Cartier's Hope
Tiffany Blues
The Hypnotist
The Library of Light and Shadow

Novels mentioned in this episode
The Bells by Richard Harvell

M. J. Rose's website: www.mjrose.com 

Link to AuthorBuzz: Mention Art In Fiction and receive a discount on book marketing services.

Music Credits

The intro music on the Art In Fiction Podcast is from Symbolist Waltz from the album Alive in Seattle and the ad music is from The Fever from the album Full Moon. Both pieces are composed by Gregg Simpson and performed by Lunar Adventures. Follow the links to download the full tracks.

This website contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you. 

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to Episode 6 of the Art In Fiction Podcast!

My guest is New York Times bestselling author M. J. Rose. Tune in as M. J.  talks about her novels Cartier's Hope and Tiffany Blues, her writing process, and marketing advice every author needs to hear.

The
Washington Post describes M. J. Rose as "an unusually skillful storyteller. Her polished prose and intricate plot will grip even the most skeptical reader."

Highlights:

  • Inspiration for Cartier's Hope and Tiffany Blues
  • The role women journalists played in Gilded Age New York, the setting for Cartier's Hope
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany and how his fabulous glassworks and Lauralton Hall mansion are portrayed in Tiffany Blues
  • Writing and making a living
  • Excellent marketing advice based on M. J. Rose's experience as the owner of AuthorBuzz, a marketing service that helps authors reach readers

Press Play right now and be sure to check out M. J. Rose's novels on Art In Fiction.

Cartier's Hope
Tiffany Blues
The Hypnotist
The Library of Light and Shadow

Novels mentioned in this episode
The Bells by Richard Harvell

M. J. Rose's website: www.mjrose.com 

Link to AuthorBuzz: Mention Art In Fiction and receive a discount on book marketing services.

Music Credits

The intro music on the Art In Fiction Podcast is from Symbolist Waltz from the album Alive in Seattle and the ad music is from The Fever from the album Full Moon. Both pieces are composed by Gregg Simpson and performed by Lunar Adventures. Follow the links to download the full tracks.

This website contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you. 

Carol Cram:

Hello and welcome. I'm Carol Cram, host of the Art In Fiction Podcast. This episode is called Diamonds Are Forever, and features my interview with M. J. Rose, author of Cartier's Hope, one of her many novels that have made her a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY and international bestseller. M. J. Rose is a founding member of International Thriller Writers, founder of AuthorBuzz, the first marketing company for authors, and cofounder with Liz Berry of 1001darknights.com. 

The Washington Post describes M. J. Rose as "an unusually skillful storyteller whose polished prose and intricate plot will grip even the most skeptical reader." 

Welcome to the Art In Fiction Podcast, M. J.

M. J. Rose

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Carol Cram:

I'm thrilled to have you and really excited to chat with you today about your new novel, Cartier's Hope, that I recently listed on Art In Fiction along with several of your other novels that involve the arts. 

So we're going to start talking about Cartier's Hope. I really enjoyed this novel. It was my first novel of yours that I'd ever read. And what I loved is how you brought together two arts. I originally listed it in the Decorative Arts category on Art In Fiction because of the jewelry design, and of course the Hope Diamond, but I could have chosen the Literature category because your main character is a journalist. 

So could you give us a short summary of what Cartier's Hope is about?

M. J. Rose:

Yes. It takes place in New York in 1910. Most women reporters, which is what my main character is, were still delegated to fashion and lifestyle pages. Her name is Vera Garland, and she was set on making her mark in a man's world, doing serious journalism. In 1910, the world-famous Hope Diamond was acquired by Pierre Cartier. So shortly after the world famous Hope Diamond was acquired for a record sum, Vera began investigating rumors about schemes by its owner, Pierre Cartier, to manipulate its value. She was determined to find the truth behind the notorious diamond and its legendary curses, which are still famous to this day. Even better, the exposé put her in the same orbit as a magazine publisher whose blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father. So appealing to a young Russian jeweler for help, Vera was unprepared when she began to fall in love with him and even more unprepared when she got caught up in his deceptions and found herself at risk of losing everything she had worked so hard to achieve.

Carol Cram:

It's wonderful the way you bring together fact and fiction because of course the Hope Diamond is real and all those legends are real too, aren't they?

M. J. Rose:

Yes. What I love about historical fiction is combining facts and fiction.

Carol Cram:

Exactly...

M. J. Rose:

Taking things that are real. And normally, I mean, up until Cartier's Hope, I've had famous people, famous real people in the books, but they've never been main characters. They've always been on the sidelines, which is kind of interesting. It centers me, but it also gives me a huge canvas to invent stories upon.

Carol Cram:

In this one, Pierre Cartier is in it, but the jeweler, the Russian jeweler, is he fictional?

M. J. Rose:

Yes. Everybody's fictional except for Cartier. And there's a much lesser character. Who's the lesser character? I can't think, Oh, of course who it is. It's the woman who eventually buys the Hope Diamond from Cartier.

Carol Cram:

Oh, really!

M. J. Rose:

She's not a character, but Evelyn Walsh McLean is mentioned in the book and her mother is in the book in a couple of scenes. And her mother was very much real. Obviously, she didn't interact with my fictional character, but her mother's position was real. Her mother did not want her to buy the Hope Diamond. She was petrified of the bad luck. So nobody else was real.

Carol Cram:

So what was your inspiration for writing the novel?

M. J. Rose:

Well, usually what happens to me is I'm researching some other novel and I stumble across some piece of information. So I was actually in Paris taking classes at a jewelry school when I was doing research for a book called The Secret Language of Stones, which is a book that I really love. Usually writers don't have a favorite book or they pretend they don't, but I do. And it's The Secret Language of Stones

And one of the things I did to research it was I spent two weeks in Paris at L'École, which is a jewelry school that's owned by van Cleef and Arpels, and they give classes to jewelers and non-jewelers, not like how to make jewelry, but the history of jewels, stories about jewels. It's just like a way to immerse yourself in the world of jewels. In one of the classes the teacher was talking about the early 1900s and she was talking about how around 1900 to 1920, women started flaunting the idea of good luck. And it became fashionable to invite bad luck into your life in a kind of frivolous way. And they were taking jewelry like horseshoes and hanging them upside down on their necklaces, which you're not supposed to do. And buying charms for the number 13 and putting them on their charm bracelet and lots of things like that. 

And one of the things she said was, as a matter of fact, it was the way that Pierre Cartier elevated the price of the Hope Diamond by exaggerating the bad luck associated with the stone. And it got the stone a lot more attention than it would have gotten otherwise. And that's part of the legend of how he sold it. And I was just so fascinated by the idea of people inviting bad luck and the fact that the Hope Diamond, which I'd heard about my whole life and always knew it was so cursed, that the curse wasn't all real. I started doing some research on it. So that's what inspired the book.

Carol Cram:

Okay. So it started with the diamond and then from there, I presume you ended up with your main character who was a wonderful character. I wanted to talk to you about how you portrayed women journalists of the time. And this is 1910. And one thing I was personally gratified to find out there were so many, as you said, the women were generally relegated to fashion pages, but can you tell us a bit more about the role that women played?

M. J. Rose:

I had read a book about Nellie Bly, which really fascinated me. She was a very famous journalist at the time still, who really broke a lot of rules. And she went undercover in New York's Bellevue Hospital, which was for the mentally insane. And she was actually allowed herself to be incarcerated and put in the hospital and could have stayed there. I mean, you know, the failsafe to get her out could have gone wrong, but it started a whole group of women journalists who went undercover, who changed their names, who pretended to be the characters that they were investigating, who moved into tenements, one joined a circus, one got abortions. 

I mean, they really threw themselves into their work. And I started doing research on them and also Edna Ferber, the famous novelist at the time, wrote a book about what life was like for female journalists that was fiction, but it was based on her own experiences in trying to get into that world. And that was very, very helpful to me in creating Vera's personality and what her work was like. 

What it was like was, it was very, very hard to be female journalist and taken seriously, unless you were what was called a sob sister or one of these women that went undercover or you wrote for the fashion pages. A sob sister was, women—I agree with this, women have more empathy than men, especially these days. They seem to have more empathy than a lot of men. And so the newspapers started sending the women to cover trials because they covered them in a more empathetic, emotional way. And the readers really loved them. So Vera is completely based on what life really was like for a reporter at the time.

Carol Cram:

Yes. And that's why I found it so fascinating. Were they the first women to sort of do the undercover thing?

M. J. Rose:

It's sort of, yes, it really was the beginning. I don't know that there weren't men going undercover, but I know that women going undercover was how women kind of became serious journalists. That's how they broke in was by going undercover.

Carol Cram:

I guess you could say, too, that for centuries women have gone undercover in some ways that they pretended to be men in order to access things. And my first novel's about that actually. But the other thing I really enjoyed was the role that activism plays. I started reading the book thinking, Oh, it's all about diamonds. And then I realized, Oh, this is really interesting. And, and quite a bit deeper than I actually had expected simply because I hadn't read any of your work before. And I really enjoyed how so many issues that Vee Swan or slash Vera Garland got herself involved in. She's so passionate. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the social issues that she did involve herself in?

M. J. Rose:

Yeah. I didn't even realize when I started writing it how many social issues she was going to get involved in and also how much of it was going to be applicable to today. I was really very surprised, totally surprised, by that to the point that it was my editor at lunch, after he read the first draft who said this, everything that she's going through was so current. And I was like, huh? And then he told me, he said, look, and, and he made me realize that it was true, I guess it was just subliminal. 

So she gets involved with... there's antisemitism in the book, there's racism in the book, there's feminism in the book, there's blackmail, there's bias against homosexuals in the book. Did I cover them all?

Carol Cram:

Ah, there's abortion...

M. J. Rose:

There's abortion in the book like, yeah. So there's poverty and tenements and the way that different classes of people are treated. 1910 in New York has amazing similarities to the world right now. Great poverty, great riches. A lot of factions who were, you know, abortion was a major issue then, and I can't believe it's still a major issue now,

Carol Cram:

I know...

M. J. Rose:

...but a lot of very strange comparisons to today,

Carol Cram:

It was remarkable. I mean, this was 110 years ago. And a lot of the time I was thinking, Gosh, I'm reading about this in 2020. I mean, a lot of what she says and does is still so applicable. So I presume that's why you were attracted to they call it the Gilded Age, right? 1910.

M. J. Rose:

Yeah. Not, not really. I like writing about this period of time...

Carol Cram:

Why?

M. J. Rose:

Mostly because I like escaping into history. I like being able to write about a time period that I can look at photographs of as, I mean, I've written about earlier time periods. I also, as I mentioned before, I'm working on one novel and it sort of leads me to the next. And so I started with a book that took place in 1880 a couple of years ago. And I sort of have been slowly working my way up from 1880 to 1890 to 1900s, 1910, or in fact to 1924. 

And so I've been just in that period because once I learn it and do all the research, the research takes so long, it sort of would be really difficult to really jump around too much in periods and still write a book every year to 18 months.

Carol Cram:

It is a fascinating period because it's just, before the first world war or just after it, is such a seminal period in our history. Now, so much of what we're doing now dates back to then, as, as you found out when you were looking at all the issues she's involved in. 

From a writing perspective, why first person. Both of your novels that I read are in first person.

M. J. Rose:

My next novel actually has two time periods in it. And one is in first person and one is in third person. I've written in both. I like the immediacy of first person for me, not, not so much for the reader, but I have a better time connecting to the story and the character if I'm writing in first person. And sometimes when, when a book is in third person, I've written it in first person and gone back and changed it, which is what the next book, the one that's coming out next year. 

I wrote both sections in first person and then went and made one in third to separate them because I didn't want two first persons in two different time periods fighting with each other. There's no actual reason other than my comfort level.

Carol Cram:

Okay. Yeah. Well, I think, and I think that's really important as writers, you have to write however you want to write. Now, the big thing in your novel or the two that I've read is how you handle character development. I mean, really, it's a lot about Vee Swan's personal journey and lots of plot. There's lots of things going on, but really the heart of it is her. So what do you want to say about character development and what the role that it plays?

M. J. Rose:

I don't separate all those things. I know that a lot of authors or a lot of classes try to talk about plot versus character versus language. And I don't do any of  that. I didn't study writing and I don't have training in it. It was on the job training. The way that I, I usually approach a novel with an idea for a story, not a person. And then I create the people who are going to, like I said, I wanted to explore, did Cartier exaggerate the luck behind the Hope Diamond, not much of an idea, is it, but that was the idea. 

And then I started reading about the period and thinking about who I wanted to involve in the story. And then she sort of grew, and then I sort of go crazy because I find it very, very, very hard to create characters. You know, you're making up a person out of thin air and based on nothing. I mean, I, I do a lot of research, I get a lot of photographs of the people from the time and I start creating them. And at some point they start to come to life, but I never find it easily.

Carol Cram:

No, I don't think it's ever easy, is it? I mean, you've written, how many novels have you written now?

M. J. Rose:

20, 20-full length novels.

Carol Cram:

Oh, my goodness me, you're so productive. It's very, very inspiring. Actually, when I was looking back over your output, I thought, wow,

M. J. Rose:

Well, it's been a long time, I've been writing for 30 years.

Carol Cram:

But do you find that it's still a struggle?

M. J. Rose:

A couple of friends of mine and I have discussed that it actually gets much, much harder. First of all, you know more, you have readers by now who've complained about things in your books. So that's always in your mind. And also you've explored the things that come naturally to you already, the first couple of novels are subjects and people who you personally have issues with or interest in. I think that they're much more personal; there’s not another word. And then you get past a certain point and you've kind of written out your own brain and now you really have to find stuff you haven't written before. But I find that every time I sit down to write, it's like I've never written a book before. Seriously? I mean, I'm going through it now. I'm just starting a new book. And it's like, I can't believe I still don't know how to do this. And it's no easier. And this is now I'm on book 22. And it's like, Oh my God, it's just as hard as book number one was. Or it's no, it's definitely worse. 

Carol Cram:

It's sort of heartening for me to hear that. I'm on my fourth, and I've been on my fourth for, like, three years. I can't seem to move past number three. And I've got four different ones that I've been on.

M. J. Rose:

The people who tell me that they have an easier time are people who write series because they've invented the characters and the characters become part of their lives. And each time they write a book, they're writing a new story, but they're not writing new main characters. And so they seem to be not quite as miserable as I am.

Carol Cram:

Yes or me too. I totally get what you say about how the first few novels you're kind of writing out your main story. And then from now on, we have to kind of come up with new ones and yeah, it's interesting. I, way back in the day, I used to think it would get easier. Oh, all I have to do is publish my first novel and everything will be easy. Yeah, no. 

So I want to talk a little bit also about Tiffany Blues, which I just finished. And of course that one is all about Louis Comfort Tiffany, well, it's not all about him, but it's around his work. Can you tell us just a little bit about that novel.

M. J. Rose:

It goes all the way back to the 1970s, when I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my mom to see an exhibit called Laurelton Hall. Laurelton Hall was Louis Comfort Tiffany's country estate in Long Island, kind of where The Great Gatsby, well that's fiction, but it's where The Great Gatsby would be 'cause The Great Gatsby is easier for most people to think of than the actual place on Long Island. So Tiffany had this gigantic estate there that was over 600 acres. The house was filled with stained glass and amazing gardens and waterfalls, and just the most beautiful, from what I've read and the pictures I've seen, the most beautiful place ever. It cost two million dollars at the time which, if I remember correctly, would be 90 million dollars now. 

So it was quite something and he built it in 1902, and in 1918, he turned part of it into an art school over the summer for existing artists, not young students but people who were adult who were already working artists, to come and have a place to commune with nature and refresh themselves. And that went on until World War Two. 

He died in the 1930s, but the school lasted up until World War Two and then it was closed. And after World War Two, the Tiffany family started selling off parcels of the land and they eventually sold the parcel that the house was on in 1950. And the people that bought it didn't do anything with it. They were planning on renovating it. 

And in 1957, the house and the land around it caught on fire. And it was the largest fire that had ever been in Long Island. It took five days to put out the fire, and firemen came from all the surrounding towns and they took water from the Long Island Sound and pumped it up into the house. And they never found who had started the fire. They never knew what had started the fire and nobody lived in the house at the time. 

So one of those students who had been at one of those summer sessions, who stayed friendly with Tiffany and who loved his work, went to the burning site and saved as much as he could of what was left. That's actually all in a museum now in Winter Garden, Florida. And it's a beautiful Tiffany museum that's just absolutely gorgeous and has whole rooms recreated of things that were salvaged from the fire from Laurelton Hall. 

But in the 1970s, the Metropolitan Museum had an exhibit of those pieces that are in Winter Garden as the Laurelton Hall exhibit. And they published a book about Laurelton Hall and it was fascinating and it was just beautiful. And that kind of stuck with me. And at some point, I don't know how I came up with the idea of what started that fire? Like, what if I wrote a book about what happened in 1924 that made someone burn down that house in 1957? 

And so that was the idea behind that book. And that book takes place in 1924, about a group of artists who go to Laurelton Hall and spend the summer there and what happens to them and why, all those years later, there's a fire.

Carol Cram:

Talk about tragic too, that that wonderful house was burned down.

M. J. Rose:

You can see a lot of pictures of it. It really was just incredible. Although the pictures are only in black and white, there are no color pictures of it. I.

Carol Cram:

Yeah, I was going to ask you that because one of the things I loved about the book was all your descriptions of Laurelton Hall. And because I kept thinking, it was such a shame that it's not there anymore.

M. J. Rose:

There are people who were there who had written descriptions of it, and it was profiled in the Architectural Digest of its time. And so there were a lot of articles about it, so that I could read what the colors looked like. And I think that there were two color photographs of two of the rooms. A lot of the windows survived. You could imagine what the colors looked like based on, these wisteria windows were in this room. Or these daffodils were in this room. So you could kind of picture the colors, but you never, there aren't really any fabulous photos of it.

Carol Cram:

That's too bad. And of course, one of the things I love about historical fiction is it always leads me to research and or read about what I just read about.

M. J. Rose:

Yeah.

Carol Cram:

So, you know, now I want to go look at pictures of Tiffany's stuff. We know who Tiffany is. And, uh, but I didn't really know the extent of his work. So that, that was totally fascinating. I just love all the beauty in there. And it's such a great contrast with your main character. Her secrets in her past. I think secrets seem to be something that are in both novels, and the darkness of her, and then set against this gorgeous light and beauty, that that was done extremely well. I really enjoyed that.

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Carol Cram:

So we talked a little bit about research. How do you do your research?

M. J. Rose:

Well, I get as much source material as I can from the period. So newspaper articles and nonfiction books that were written at the time. I even read novels that were written at the time by authors at the time. So if somebody was writing a novel in 1910 about 1910, that's like reading Edith Wharton, and I also do Pinterest boards for each book. I also make a journal for each novel. I call it procrastinate your way into writing a novel that, during the months that I'm doing the research, I'm keeping a journal of the main characters, what interests him or her and notes that I take. And sometimes they get scrap-booky. Sometimes they don't, but I'd say it's about three to six months of research before I start writing.

Carol Cram:

So how long does it take to write a novel?

M. J. Rose:

Oh, every book is different, but generally between a year and 18 months, I don't think I've ever spent longer than that or much shorter than that.

Carol Cram:

I'm interested to talk a little bit about the process of writing. Do you have any tips for writers?

M. J. Rose:

No. Usually what I tell people is if there's any way for you not to become a writer, you should not become a writer, even more than ever now. I mean, it's just an incredibly difficult way to make a living. Most writers sell less than a thousand books a year. Very few people do make a living from it. It's definitely a one percenter business. Don't quit your day job until you have enough money in the bank to live for 10 years. But I'm, I'm not a big advice person. But the only thing I like to tell people is the only reason you should write as if you can't not write

Carol Cram:

Exactly. It's just something that you absolutely have to do. And I think that's good advice that if you're looking for a career and a way to make money, probably not your best choice.

M. J. Rose:

And you'd be doing really well for a few years. And then what you're writing becomes unfashionable for no reason of your own, like, you know, science fiction becomes less fashionable or Gothic becomes less fashionable and then editors don't want it, no matter how good it is, because it's just not what people are reading or ChickLit becomes everything. And then nobody wants ChickLit anymore. .

Carol Cram:

Yeah, you have to write what you want. You can't write to trends, can you?

M. J. Rose:

No, you absolutely cannot.

Carol Cram:

And I gather you don't do that because you're, you have quite an eclectic output. I think you have to do that. I think you probably write better books doing it that way.

M. J. Rose:

At least you write what makes you happy.

Carol Cram:

Now, of course, these days, all authors have to do quite a bit of marketing regardless of how you're published. So do you have any tips for marketing?

M. J. Rose:

Yes, but that would be, like, 17 hours.

Carol Cram:

That's what I thought. Short tips!

M. J. Rose:

So the basic thing to remember is nobody can buy a book they've never heard of,. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says I want to buy a book that no one's ever heard of, that I've never heard of. And that I won't be able to find. And even more important and worse is nobody needs another book if you're writing fiction. 

There are millions and millions of books and any single day of the week, you can get them for free or 99 cents written by major New York Times bestsellers on BookBub or Amazon Kindle, or just so many free books out there. And it really started to totally ruin this field, which is part of why I tell people that it's so hard to make a living because in the last 10 years, e-books have really. I can't even get into it. It's really an hour conversation, but it's very hard because of the plethora of free and cheap e-books to sell full price e-books when nobody knows who you are and you don't have a following. 

So the most important thing in terms of marketing is to realize that you need to do outreach advertising and marketing, which means going where readers are and not really invest any time in inreach advertising, which is expecting people are going to find you, as in don't buy a $5,000 website until you're a New York Times bestseller, because nobody's going to wake up in the morning and say, I'm going to go find a website of someone I never heard of see if they have a book I never heard of that I might want to read. 

You need to be patient. You need to be logical. You need to be devoted and you need to read everything and not assume that anybody wants to hear about your book, because there are so many books out there. 

So one of the biggest mistakes people make is they get a Facebook page, they spend a lot of money to buy followers, and then all they do is talk about their book and they don't sell any copies. Nobody wants to hear about our books until they've already read us.

You need to do other things to get people interested in what you're writing. The fastest way to get a book sale is to have someone tell someone they loved the book. There was a big study done. The basic question was, how did you discover the last book you read by someone you'd never heard of before? The top answer? 

There were four answers, basically all at the top was, word of mouth, browsing in a bookstore, an ad or a review. They were each between 20 and 15%. And at the very bottom of the list at less than 1% was the author's website, Facebook page, Instagram account, or Pinterest board, because nobody knew to go there. Those things exist once you've had a book published, you'll have those things so fans can find you and sign up and follow you so they can buy your next book. 

And even then, the goal is to keep getting new readers. So even top New York Times bestsellers are still doing major investments in marketing their books for tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep building their fan base. 

So the other two tips: one is, when you talk to people about marketing and PR for your book, if it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true. Nobody can make you a bestseller except your publisher, if your publisher does certain things and they're desperate to make you a bestseller and you'll know that, your agent will know that, but all the marketing people who want to take your money and the PR people that want to take your money, they talk a really good game and they can't make you a bestseller. 

What I tell people is when I, somebody hires me is what I do is I try to get you more readers than you had before. That's it, that's all I can do is get you more readers than you had before. If you're brand new, try to get you some readers. And when they push me on how many, I go, more than one, because there's just no way of knowing. 

And here's the other thing. This is the most important thing, which authors don't want to believe, including me, but here's the thing. You can't judge the quality of your own book. So every author thinks their book is great. And every author thinks their book should be a bestseller. This is how a reader decides whether or not to buy a book. They see an ad or review, or somebody else tells them that they like it. You can pay for that. Like, you can buy, let's say, $1,500 worth of ads from me. And I will send a thousand people who read in your genre to your Amazon page and that's all anybody can do. Because once the reader gets to the Amazon page, we did this study and we asked them how they decide whether or not they buy the book and everybody reads the excerpt and they read the reader reviews, unless they've already read you before, unless they're already a fan. So this is, this is non-fan buyers.

Carol Cram:

Yes.

M. J. Rose:

It could be the best ad, the best PR pitch, the best review in the world. But when they get to the page at Amazon and they read the excerpt, they either fall in love with your book or not. And that's not because it's a good book or a bad book, or it's about some ineffable appeal that we don't understand. 

And it's the reason that a book called The Bells by Richard Harvell is not a book you've ever heard of, but it's probably the best book I've read in the last 15 years. And the reason that E.L. James, which is certainly a book you've heard of, which I would be hard pressed to discuss the quality of the writing of, is one of the bestselling books of the last five years. And I'm not saying anything bad about that book. I'm just saying she has an appeal to that book that has nothing to do whether or not it's a good book or a bad book. It's a book that had appeal and we can't judge that.

Carol Cram:

No, no, we don't, we don't know what makes a bestseller because if we did, we would write them. Actually, we have Richard Harvell's book The Bells on Art In Fiction. I haven't read it yet.

M. J. Rose:

Oh, you do? You have it?

Carol Cram:

Oh yes.

M. J. Rose:

Oh, it's so good. Oh, my God. You're the only person I've ever talked to who's ever heard of it before.

Carol Cram:

And I saw that you run a business called AuthorBuzz.

M. J. Rose:

It's my marketing company. That's my ad agency.

Carol Cram:

Because I was looking at it myself, I'm thinking, Oh, that sounds interesting what you do. And I liked what you're saying that you can get it out to readers, but you can't guarantee they're going to read it. You know?

M. J. Rose:

Right. It's the biggest thing people ask me is, like, if we hire you, how many books will you sell? And I'm always surprised, but it turns out that they've always talked to somebody before who's lied to them. And I'd rather tell somebody the truth, which is that I have no idea and have you walk away happy with the experience of working with me than lying to you and having you go all over God's green earth telling people how much of a liar I am.

Carol Cram:

And I appreciate that honesty because it is, it is very true. There's no magic bullet in this business, is there?

M. J. Rose:

No.

Carol Cram:

It's just, you know, write a good book and try and get it into the hands of readers because it's readers who actually do the work for you. And ultimately that is what I'm trying to do with Art In Fiction, bring together a lot of books in one particular area, which is about the arts, which it turns out is pretty big.

M. J. Rose:

And it's a great site. And I love it. And I mean, I only, my preferable reading is art in fiction. So it was very happy to see it.

Carol Cram:

It's sort of like you write what you like. And when I was looking around to create a new website, I thought, well, all three of my books are about the arts. I like books about the arts. I wonder if anybody else does? And so that's really the genesis of it. And uh, and it's been fascinating when you say, you know, how, how do people find their books? 

Well, we read the blurb, we read the reviews, we have a quick read of the beginning of it, you know, because I can't read all 1200 books that are on the site right now. I'm getting there, slowly but surely. But yeah, there's just something about it and something to do with the arts that you think, okay. I think other people might enjoy that. So what's next?

M. J. Rose:

Well, I don't actually usually talk about the plot and what I'm doing next because I want people to focus on what I am talking about by what's already out there. So I have a new book coming out in February.

Carol Cram:

Okay.

M. J. Rose:

And it's called The Last Tiara, but that's it and the cover's not up yet at Amazon, but there is a little description.

Carol Cram:

Good. And I presume it has something to do with jewelry.

M. J. Rose:

Yes. It has. The, I'll tell you that much. It has to do with a tiara, a real tiara, that's been lost since 1922.

Carol Cram:

Oh, fantastic. I look forward to listing that on Art In Fiction.

M. J. Rose:

Thank you.

Carol Cram:

Well thank you so much, M. J. I have been so looking forward to talking to you because as I said, I had not seen your books until I started Art In Fiction. It's one of the things I like about this. I'm discovering all of these amazing authors and...

M. J. Rose:

Yeah, you're doing a great job. I've told a lot of people about it.

Carol Cram:

I really appreciate that. 

I've been speaking with M. J. Rose, the bestselling author of numerous novels, including the wonderful novels we've discussed today, Cartier's Hope and Tiffany Blues. You'll find these novels, along with The Hypnotist and The Library of Light and Shadow listed on Art In Fiction at www.artinfiction.com

Be sure to check out M. J. Rose's AuthorBuzz website at www.authorbuzz.com. Mention Art In Fiction and you'll receive a discount on book marketing services. 

Please follow Art In Fiction on Twitter and Facebook. And don't forget to give the Art In Fiction Podcast a positive review or rating wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks so much for listening.











Welcome to M. J. Rose
Overview of Cartier's Hope
Inspiration for Cartier's Hope
History of women journalists in New York's Gilded Age
Social issues in Cartier's Hope
Process for writing a novel
Inspiration for Tiffany Blues
Advertisement: AuthorBuzz.com
Research process
Marketing advice