I was introduced to Cookie O’Gorman years ago when I worked as a reviewer and I was enchanted by her debut novel, Adorkable, which had a sort of magic I had rarely seen in YA romance, though it was one of my favorite genres. I picked up her next book, Ninja Girl the moment it came out in ARC review. This one surprised me even more, and from that point on I was a fan for life. I found Cookie again on Instagram last year and was delighted to become reacquainted.
On her website (http://cookieogorman.com), Cookie has a brand of humor and heart, and she describes her stories as “Tales of Happily Ever After” and “Cookies for the Soul” (with her newsletter even called “The Cookie Jar”, an apt name since there is an addictive quality to her universes). With her fifth book recently released, and her debut novel featured in Target, I’m honored to introduce you to an author who is sure to leave you smiling, even if you don’t normally read YA.
Interviewer: Joanna Celeste
Q: You went from self-published to indie/hybrid publishing. Can you share with us the pros and cons of each type?
A. All five of my books have been self-published, however, my debut YA romance Adorkable was later picked up by a publisher.
The pros to self-publishing are the freedom and input that you have in your own work. Everything from the cover to the plot, characters and scenes, to the editing and marketing, is all up to you! I think along with this pro comes the con of having all the responsibility rest on your shoulders. Whether anything succeeds or fails, it’s on you. Another pro from a business standpoint is that any profits you make from your books are yours; but again, the con is that any and all of the expenses for your books are yours, as well.
When you are indie/hybrid published, the responsibility is shared and you have a team working with you to help get your book out there and give it opportunities (like getting in stores, marketing, selling foreign rights etc.). That’s a definite pro of being indie/hybrid, the knowledge, expertise and connections they have within the publishing world. The con, of course, is less control over your book. Another con from a business standpoint is that you do not keep all of the profits from your books and earn a smaller royalty; however the pro is the indie publisher may be able to get your book in front of more readers as well as in stores and pays for marketing (but they have the power there and may decide how much or how little to promote your books).
In other words, both self-publishing and indie/hybrid publishing have their drawbacks and are awesome in their own ways.
Q: Your works were recently published internationally! What was the process of translation and publication in other markets like?
A. Three of my books (Adorkable, Ninja Girl, and The Good Girl’s Guide To Being Bad) have been published in Hungarian! My experience has been wonderful! Basically, the publisher approached me; I sold the Hungarian foreign rights to them, and they translated the books (sending me questions if they needed any clarification). They also are wonderful about sending me the Hungarian covers and letting me know how the books are doing.
Q. What advice would you give to new writers?
A: My advice to new writers would be: don’t give up. Finish your book. Learn as much as you can about writing and publishing, make your book the best that it can be, and then decide how you’d like to proceed (traditional or self-publishing). Also, just remember you have the power to validate yourself. You don’t need anyone’s permission to write. Some people will love your books and some won’t, but it’s the ones who do that you should focus on. A lot of writers complete and publish their books, and you can do it, too.
Q: Please share some of the common misconceptions about YA romance you have encountered.
A. Hmm…this is a tough one. I think people sometimes think of YA romance as fluff and, therefore, less important. There’s a stigma attached to romance, in general, but I think YA is even more discounted because it features teens and their experiences. This mindset is absolutely not true! The world has far too many tragedies. We need more happy endings, and that is one of the reasons I write romance. Another misconception is that YA romance can only be enjoyed by young adults, which is just crazy. YA romance is for anyone and everyone who enjoys love stories and happily ever after.
Q. What are some of the best elements of YA romance?
A: I love how YA romance allows you to get inside the character’s head and examine their emotions. YA romance often explores firsts (first love, first kiss, first heartbreak, etc.), and I love writing those. The fun banter, the friendships, the swoon-worthy and hilarious moments, those are all things I love about YA romance.
Q. You wrote four YA novels and just published your fifth, as a New Adult novel. What was different in your process, writing for the New Adult market?
A: My New Adult sports romance, The Best Mistake, just came out. It features the O’Brien Brothers, and I love, love, love it.
The process for writing NA versus YA was a bit different because:
1) NA is set in college, so the characters are older.
2) I knew my characters would no longer be living at home, so they’d have more freedom/autonomy than in YA. I also wanted to get the living situations right, so I researched that.
3) The New Adult market’s readers are also a bit older; NA romance is written for adults 18+, so I knew the books included more mature romantic interactions. My YA romance has always been PG-13, and none of my characters were ready to do more than kiss (though there were some swoon-worthy, steamy kisses). But my NA romance features older characters, and I knew I wanted to allow them to go as far as they wanted to go.
4) I had to make sure my characters for my NA read like mature college kids (my two main characters were seniors in college). They couldn’t sound too young, so their thoughts, views and experiences of the world, had to be right.
5) My New Adult romance features the O’Brien brothers, and I knew that I wanted it to be a series, to write stories for each of them—which I had never done before. So my approach to The Best Mistake, knowing I wanted it to be book one of a series, was definitely different.
Q: How do you define New Adult? (In case readers are unfamiliar with the genre and associate it with a totally different “adult”).
A: There are probably better definitions out there, but I define New Adult as books that feature characters who are college-aged, dealing with the transition between being a teen and becoming an adult and all of the experiences that may come during that time (such as: leaving home, living away from parents for the first time, having more autonomy, being more financially responsible, internships, jobs, college parties, clubs, drinking, having sex, falling in love that leads to engagement or marriage).
Q. You manage to write, keep up your blog and post regularly on social media. How do you juggle it all?
A: Very badly. I don’t think I’m very good at juggling everything, but I try my best.
Q. After signing on with Entangled Teen you had your Adorakable novel in Target for the first time. What was that process like?
A: It was amazing. I don’t think I could’ve ever done that on my own. Getting Adorkable into Target and Barnes & Noble was all Entangled Teen’s doing, and I’m so thankful. Seeing Adorkable on actual store shelves, it was truly a dream come true.
Q. Please share your best practices when requesting reviews and setting up book blog tours.
A. For each book I write, I try to book at blog tour. That is where the bulk of my early reviews come from. The hard part (for me anyway) is getting the timing right. Book blog tours are usually scheduled far in advance, at least a month or two, and you need to have your cover and blurb already completed (as well as your properly formatted book, of course). I would say plan ahead; get your cover done and manuscript properly edited and formatted; and contact blog tour sites as early as you can.
Q. Any other marketing tools you recommend?
A. Not really. I’m not the best at marketing, still learning. I know a lot of people don’t recommend them, but I like having a cover reveal and blog tour for my books. If you can, get a featured deal on BookBub™, I definitely recommend that. I had one for Adorkable, and it was very successful.
Q. How do you deal with writer’s block?
A: I cry in a corner, convinced I’m not a real writer/author. But seriously, I just try to get back into it. If writing comes naturally to you, that is awesome. I have to make the decision and then force myself to sit down and write. Then I just keep doing that until I reach the end (usually with a lot of writer’s block in there). But the point is to keep going.
Thank you for your time with us today, Cookie.
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