Monday, July 23, 2012

Dee Ernst

My guest today is Dee Ernst. Welcome, Dee.

Where do you live, and how has your environment affected your writing?

I live in Northern New Jersey, which gives me access and knowledge of NYC and the Jersey shore.  Both of my current books take place in NJ, as does my Work-In-Progress.  By having familiar settings, I have less to worry about as far as the where and how of my my characters.  It’s tough enough to think about dialog, action, what they’re wearing, how they’re thinking – if I had to think about how the street looks or what the weather might be like in October, it might be too much!

How many books have you written?

The first book I wrote, called (how funny is this) Shades of Gray, never made it past countless rejections.  I have self-pubbed two novels, Better Off Without Him, in 2010, and A Different Kind of Forever in April of this year.  I’m about a third of my way through the next project.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

A Different Kind of Forever is a romance between a forty-something divorced mother of three and a 27 year old rock star.  It’s not just a cougar-type romance.  These two people have to work a lot of things out, including a returning old boyfriend.  It’s got some spice to it, and I’d like to think some humor as well, but I wanted it to be realistic too.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

In Better Off Without Him, as all my friends read it, they told me over and over again that the main character, Mona, sounded just like me.  My life is much different than hers.  I’m a struggling – not successful- author, and am happily married, but we think and react much the same.  My protagonist in A Different Kind of Forever is not me at all.  She’s much more practical and independent.  Smarter too. But we both love roses, have daughters, and dance by ourselves while cleaning the house.

Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

Both my books are available in print and as eBooks.  Right now, I’m with a program at Amazon where the eBooks are exclusive with them, but that will be changing in September, and the eBook versions should be available for Nook. Sony, and at the iTunes store. The print versions are available at Amazon and B&N.

I’m also working to get Better Off Without Him out as an audiobook.  A wonderful voice-over artist named Gillian Vance is working on it now, and I hope that will be available mid-August.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give other writers?

Writing, as hard as it is, is still much easier than selling.  Finding readers is hours and hours of work. I’ve been very lucky to have a few great promo opportunities on Amazon, and I’ve actually started getting an audience.  But Better Off Without Him was first published in October of 2010, and it was only this past spring that it really took off.  That meant a year and a half spent trying – and often failing – to find readers through reviews, blogs mentions and give-aways.

For other writers?  Do your homework.  If you’re going to self-publish, hang out with other self-pubbers and ask questions.  Figure out a marketing plan before you publish.  Get professional editing and cover art.  Have realistic expectations, because there’s a lot of disappointment built into being a writer.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I have lots of paragraphs/scenes/conversations/chapterson my computer.  I have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast these days, so if something strikes me, I try to write it out as soon as possible.  Some stuff has been here for a couple of years.  Some projects are over a hundred pages long, still sitting there unfinished.  Some of it I know I’ll never use in its original form, but may be a springboard for something else.  I’m not the kind of person who has hundreds of book ideas a week.  It takes me a while to fully form a book in my head.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

Finding reviewers is first and foremost for me.  I spend a LOT of time looking for suitable blog sites, then I look to that blogger’s Blogroll and go to those sites,,,it’s hours on the computer. Many reviewers aren’t taking any new books, some take your copy and never write the review, most just ignore the original request because they’re so overwhelmed.  I try to do guest blogs and interviews whenever I can.  I’ve done blog tours and give-aways on Goodreads.  I’ve given away over 50,000 free copies of Better Off Without Him on Amazon as a promo.  The best thing about those Amazon freebies is that they resulted in lots of reviews and readers who emailed me about how much they liked the book.

Getting readers to write reviews is tough.
I have also donated paperback copies of both my books to local libraries.  One reader emailed me about how much she loved my book, but was sorry she couldn’t lend it to her sister because it was an eBook, so I sent her a paperback.  I don’t mind losing a sale if I can get a reader who may tell a friend or two.  With a zero promotion budget, my readers are all I’ve got.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

I’m getting my own website in the next few months – I actually own  It’s kind of exciting.  But I do have a blog where you can check in to see what’s going on – I only post there about once a month, so it’s not too hard to keep up with.  

Dee, the best of success to you!


Sandy Nachlinger said...

I've enjoyed both of Dee's books -- they're full of humor and have become favorites of mine. I especially like the post chicklit characters. Their histories and approaches to life have depth and make sense to me, and besides, they're just plain funny!
By the way, you'll also enjoy following Dee on another blog that she contributes to: Boomers and Books.

Susan Whitfield said...

Sandy, thanks for visiting and commenting. I recently joined Boomers and Books as well since my latest book, Slightly Cracked (not yet released) is about two Boomers.

Beth Bares, Romance Author said...

After reading Better Off Without Him, I fell in love with Dee's writing. I am a huge fan of humor and wit with some romance thrown in and she captured all of that in this book. I have the her second book waiting. Hopefully, I'll get to it soon. I totally recommend Better Off Without Him. You'll be glad.