Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

WB S1E6: Ron Block with MJ Rose and Pauline Hubert

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK: MJ Rose talks about her journey to publishing and her expertise in marketing, while Pauline Hubert discusses the growing importance and influence of Book Clubs. They both also explore the involvement of publishers and authors to the community of book lovers.

...the most exciting part was the time magazine article was Stephen King is the king of the publishing. An M. J. Rose is the Queen when lip service came out via Simon and Schuster. I was on the Today Show which was really kind of wild. Yeah. Mhm. Welcome to the Friends and fiction writer's Block podcast. Five new york times, bestselling authors, one rock star librarian and endless stories join mary Kay andrews, Christine, Harmel, Christie Woodson, harvey paddy, Callaghan, Henry, mary, Alice Munro and Ron block As novelists. We are five longtime friends with 85 books between us. I am Ron Block. I am so glad you've joined us for fascinating author interviews along with insider, talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world you're in the right place. Friends and fiction podcast is sponsored by Mama Geraldine's bodacious foods. Cathy Cunningham was a successful but unfulfilled radio executive in Atlanta one night while sipping wine and snacking on expensive cheese straws. She realized her mama Geraldine's own tree straw recipe was far superior. The idea for Cathy's company was born Mama Geraldine's cheese straws now come in six varieties and they are the best selling cheese straw in the US, plus the cookies are melt in your mouth, Delish yummy snacks and a woman owned empire. Now that's something we can really get behind and Friends in fiction. Try them. You'll be glad you did get 20% off your online order with the Code. Fab five. Mhm. Welcome to a new episode of Friends and fiction Writer's Block podcast. Today we'll be chatting with two powerhouse book influencers, pauline, hubert and M. J. Rose each has had an interesting journey to reach the top of their game. I'm Ron block. And first up we'll be chatting with Polly Pauline has been in the book Business since 1995 as an English major at Barnard College. She worked in the editorial department of Artisans, a division of work. After graduating she joined the William Morris Agency, first in the literary department and then in the new media department. Along the way, she saw an opportunity to aggregate book clubs online. She learned from traveling to book festivals around the country and interviewing over 1000 book club members based on their insights. Book movement was born to give clubs a better way to communicate with members and find great books based on ratings of other book clubs. Her company has now grown to be huge and is perhaps the biggest book club site and app. So in order to help grow the company. However, along the way she went to realize her full potential, she went to business school at NYU. and received an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship in 2009. There's a lot there. Welcome to the show Polly. Thank you and thank you for that wonderful introduction. Always. I'm so impressed. I'm so impressed all the time. So can you tell us a little bit more about what book movement is and where the original idea come from? Yes. Well, way back in 1995 when I was at William Morris, you know, I saw that book clubs were creating bestsellers, but there was no way to reach them. And the only websites available on the internet where editorial websites and no website was kind of leveraging the power of the internet to connect these book clubs together. So that's what led me to go to book festivals, travel around the country and interview book clubs at book festivals and ask them what they wanted in a website and they told me they wanted to know what other clubs were reading. So I invented a...

...system of private web pages that can facilitate a book club meeting in person. Book club meetings. Said that reminders and give them reading guys and discussion questions. But then on the back end we can rank The books that clubs are reading nationwide and provide this ranked list of top 100 book club Picks, which is updated every week. That's fantastic. And I've done a lot of looking at the website and there's just something for everybody there really. I think that you have grown into an amazing website and congratulations on that. Thank you. Yes, I'm always fascinated by the top pick slips. I mean, I'm always interested to see what's popping and what clubs have noticed and there's a lot of dynamics in the list. So it's really interesting to look at. Even for me after all these years, there is and as a librarian too, I think I know what people are going to want and stuff that some of these titles that may seem obscure, but they really latch onto. And then when they start sharing information and talking about it, it just brings it right up the ranks. Yes, exactly. So tell me about the process of actually getting it off the ground. I can't imagine it just poof happened. It had to be something, I think you're financing entrepreneurship background had something to do with it. Yes, it did. But technically I was very lucky. I found a developer that was also a designer. His name is Gabriel, but he was kind of my angel Gabriel, and he really was kind of the technical brains and we helped give birth through it together and you know, when we built an app um, and launched it several years ago and I had a similar really technical genius. So you know, you really need the technical aspects for it. Um, and you know, consistently talking to, to book clubs and to customers and seeing what they wanted and, and then also, you know, changing as people's tastes have changed. I mean I've noticed, you know, I've noticed in the last several years that the dynamics of book recommendations have changed in terms of what book clubs want to hear from. And I think readers as well, you know, it's turned from this kind of crowdsource lists and even though the top club sex is still a great resource, I think that people have gravitated more towards, um, kind of the instagram model as uh, not just celebrity book clubs model, but kind of the personal testimonials about how books have affected you. So I think that's why, you know Jenna Jenna um, Book club is so powerful and recent book club is so powerful, particularly Jenna, Jenna has a wonderful way of describing the books and saying how it personally affected her. So it's really kind of gravitated more towards that. So in terms of um, so the sponsored book promotions and giveaways that we do, we really try and gravitate towards um, facilitating that as well as, as well as uh, other other types of promotions that um, are both useful to authors and publishers in terms of introducing books to the book club audience and also exciting and interesting for book clubs um, to help them discover books, but also wind books um, as book clubs, which is very, which is unusual. It is, it is, and I think people are more into all of this than they ever were before. Do you think that has anything to do with the last year of the pandemic? Yes, I mean, certainly the reading went, went off the roof. Um But also, you know, we there was a there was a bit of a lag in terms of people kind of facilitating towards online and I helped, I really wanted to try and actively bridge that gap for people. Um so I really encourage them to use zoom and we started hosting kind of virtual book event and now, even though people can meet in person again, you know, we're slowly getting there. Um I think people are remaining, at least my book club is with the virtual book club because we can now have members that have moved away locally, but we can have them um they'll meet all across the country. So it's kind of an interesting dynamic. I I think you're right, some of the events that I've hosted really just gained new followers from everywhere. So it's, I think it's it's here to stay. How do members actually join and...

...participate in book movement? Well, I mean, most of the state has really grown from word of mouth, um which is really extraordinary. Um people just either they look for for reading group guys or discussion questions, or they're looking for a way to manage their websites. Um or they're looking for an app to help manage the website. And so that's how they, you know, the membership is free and you sign up and you get a free web page and you list your upcoming elections or you look at the top Club six or, you know, we entered to win and give away. It's it's that easy just download the app. It's a book lover's Paradise. For sure. How you seem to grow into a one stop shop for readers, but also you are creating partnerships with authors and publishers to do you think did you ever think that you'd be such an influencer in all aspects? Well, thank you for saying that. I mean, I don't think of myself as an influencer, but really it's a facilitator as as kind of magnify the voice of Book Club, both collectively and individually. You know, I think it's really special to be able to um trying to be able to have a collective voice of what book clubs are reading through the top club picks list, but then also in the virtual events, I love seeing my members and I love hearing from them and I love being able to see kind of the book clubs being able to connect with the authors. It really is very special. So I like that I've been able to um make it easier for for authors to reach book clubs and and vice versa. So I think I really don't think myself as an influence, but more of a, like a Fairy Godmother book close maybe. Fair enough, and Fairy Godmother fits perfectly perfectly. Um so I'm imagining that you probably have a big team behind you that helps keep the content and the access and the technology brush, you know, it's it's a fairly, fairly small team, but, you know, we keep it lean and me basically, um were there when we when we need to be, but we are we are definitely um lean and say, yeah, it's nice, efficient, compact and efficient. Okay, so let's dig in a little bit. Um I always like to know about people's backgrounds. What was your reading and book journey growing up? Oh gosh! Um Well I would say yeah, from a very young age um It's the learning curve, the learning to read was a bit of a was a bit of uh I had a kind of an 80 year old woman who was trying to teach me to read before I entered first grade. And um I would throw books across the room in frustration, but then when I got it I was off to the races um and dropped out of the Brownies to join the Great Books Junior Great Books program and just went from there and um you know, it was an english major and once I went to Exeter and wanna want an english awards there, so it kind of got honours at Barnard and started working in publishing at Barnard and and kind of continue from there. Um and you know, love the editorial process, but the, the enticing element of being at an agency, kind of seeing all the different kind of media interact and seeing the deal deal flow. Um and seeing how kind of the sausage gets made from a different perspective was really interesting. Um but then I really was drawn to this kind of opportunity that the internet presented. Um and this opportunity to kind of um magnify the power, the voice of book called. Nice. Yes, it did. Um So can you tell us what are some of your all time favorite books are? Oh gosh! Uh in the last year, and I hosted a a six week virtual book club. It sounds it sounds very involved, but it was really more to um kind of help us. I really loved the splendid in the vial by eric Larson. Um Yes, I was really drawn to...

...when the pandemic first happened. I was really looking for kind of um a voice to kind of lead me through this this time. And I thought of Winston Churchill and I looked at the speeches and um through the Winston Churchill Society and the website I found that funded in the bile, and I kind of threw it out there to the membership saying, you know, I'm looking I'm going to read this and kind of, it sounds wonderful. And I was looking to put some Churchill's words to help guide me through this and if you're interested, join me. And we had a really great time. Um and I compiled a slide show based on the research, so we could see all the figures um in the, in the book and all of the, you know, all of this um characters around him. So it was really, I mean, I really loved really loved that book. Um but I also love The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is all one of my all time favorites. Um Shantaram is one of my all time favorites. Uh, yeah, I think he's going, yeah, well, couldn't we all, I keep thinking more, Oh, that was, I forgot that one. Yes. So what's what's next for Book Movement? What is next for Book Moment? Well, actually in this last year, Born really from the, from the virtual book event. Well, we've got two things going on. One is um born from the virtual book events. I noticed that clubs were just really loving to here. If they if they want to, if they loved one of an author's work, they want to know about all of them. So, we launched a new kind of book giveaway and um we did, you know, introduce books, the book clubs called The Deep Dive. So we have a give away and then we have we list the anti author authors, entire works or the mysterious, we list the series and orders. So it's super easy to see read the books in order read the books in the series and author's work chronologically, which I think is always fascinating. Um And then secondly, we I have commissioned an illustrator who I found interviewing an author, um Elizabeth Weitzman, who wrote Renegade Women in film and television. Um this wonderful illustrator who illustrated her book called Austin Claire, I commissioned her to do an illustration as kind of a love letter to books. And so she did a wonderful illustration of a bookshelf um with kind of these um spirit, animals and talismans, to what everything that books give us like casinos there and I call her Lady Athena, you know the kind of patrons in a book club. Um she's the goddess of wisdom and um David is there and and jade horses and ginger jars and really wonderful. So we have a series of um products that we put it on, so it's on mugs and its on air phone cases and it's done and all sorts of things. So I'm really excited about that. We're launching it in a couple weeks. Oh my God, they're going to eat that content up. It's great. What a great new twist to it. Are there any other trend trends that you're seeing in in general and publishing? You know what? I think M. J. Is really the person for that. Um, I think she'll be able to tell you a lot more than I can. I rely on her intelligence to really tell me what's going on. Gotcha. Okay, next I'll be talking with the fascinating M. J. Rose M. J. Rose grew up in new york city, mostly in the labyrinth galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She believes magic and mystery are all around us. But we're too often busy to notice books that exaggerate mystery and magic, draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it. And Rose is the new york Times Wall Street Journal and USA today bestseller as well as an international best seller. She has published more than 19 novels and three books on marketing. She's been published in more than 30 countries and sold over 1.5 million books. The Fox tv show Past Lives. They were all based on Roses novel. The Reincarnation Ist...

Roses Co president and founding member of the international thriller writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, author Buzz, which we're going to take a deep dive into today. She also runs the blog Museum of Mysteries in 1998. Her first novel, Lip Service, was the first e book and the first self published novel chosen by the literary guild doubleday Book club, as well as the first e book to go on to be published by a mainstream new york publishing house. Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the 80s in advertising. She was the creative director of Rosenfeld, Sura wits and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in new york city. All of that to say welcome, welcome MG. I'm so thrilled that you're here with us today. Thank you so much for having me. My first question for staying all those things that I did. I forgot they're so fascinating. And I just I had to say them all. My first question for you is when do you sleep? I do I sleep? I sleep six hours a night. I don't have kids. I've never had any kids. So I have a lot of time. There you go. Okay, so, I really want to start out with this story about Lip service and how it came to be in your path to publication. It's just so fascinating. And it sounds like it's taught you so many things. Can you share that journey with us? Sure. Um, it was all an accident. I had an agent in 1994 and she submitted my book, not lip service to a lot of people. And we got back rave rejections, but all the rejections basically said that my book crossed too many genres. It was to literary to be commercial was too commercial to be literary. It was too much of a mystery, But not enough of a mystery. It was erotic, but it wasn't erotic enough. And in 1994, cross genre books where nobody was doing that and I only knew about good books and bad books. I didn't know anything about genre books. I was in advertising. I was very, very well entrenched in advertising at the time. So she suggested I write another book and try to stick to a genre. So I tried and the exact same thing happened and we get all these rave rejections for the same reasons. And she said I should try to write another book. So, um I started to write another book and I realized that I oh, no! So I wrote another book. I did. I write, wrote the third book. The third book was lip service. So she showed lip service around and got exactly the same responses. And now we're like in 1998 and the internet had started to be a thing, and I was doing a lot of research and work on the internet and um finding out a lot about it. And I was sort of fed up at this point with what publishers were saying. I didn't know publishers, I didn't know the industry at all, but I knew what I read and what they were saying made no sense. So I told my agent, I was gonna do a marketing experiment. I was gonna put the book up on a website as a downloadable pdf word file. There was no such thing really as e books. There were no e book readers, nobody was talking about e books. And I was also going to make and make a click where you could buy the book. And I would go to Kinko's and I would all 350 pages copy it and send it to you. But I wasn't trying to publish the book. It was a marketing experiment because that's what I and that's what I was, was a marketing expert. And the goal was I was going to ads for the book and put them on the internet and show the publisher that you could take a crush on your book and you could market it correctly and you could sell it. And then I was going to give the results to the agent and let her go back to the publishers. She fired me because she said I was self publishing the book, which at the time was pretty much like murdering a dart um in the literary world. And I was like, fine I'm doing this experiment because we're not...

...getting anywhere any other way and this is what I write. So I didn't add that was can an erotic book be intelligent. And I had the book cover designed by a friend who was fabulous. And we put the I started putting the book on websites and I put it up on amazon, which at the time was the only place that would sell quote unquote a self published book was the only place that as long as you had an I. S. B. N. Number, which is a code um number for people who aren't in the business. They had a program called the advantage program. And it was, Jeff Bezos was amazon was a small company at the time, Jeff Bezos said he they only sold books and he said he wanted to level the playing field for anybody who had a book. So you could put your book up at amazon, they would buy five copies, they didn't sell the books, You buy five copies of the book. And if anybody ordered them they'd reorder one of the copies of your books. So in order to do that, I had to print some books. So I printed some books. I, you know, went to found a small printer and I printed some books and everything was going really nicely. And then somebody told somebody about the book And all hell broke loose. And I got 3000 orders for the book and the double day book Club in literary guild somehow heard about the book and contacted me because I had come up with the name of a printing of a publishing company just so I didn't publish it. As M. J. Rose. I had Lady chatterley's library which I still own as a name. And Lady chatterley's library published lip service. And so I got this letter this email from somebody at the doubleday Book club saying we read your book, we bought it on amazon and we want to make it a featured alternate selection at the doubleday Book Club can you please contact us? So I of course thought that was a joke and um but I called the person and sure enough it was a real person and they had heard about it from somebody and read it and they offered me a book deal and I took it and it was because I was an advertising, I asked them I said I told them it was self published, I told them this is a marketing experiment and they said well we don't care. So I said well if do you ma have you ever done this before? And they said they'd never bought a book that they discovered on the internet before and that had started life this way. And they never bought a book that wasn't from a novel that it wasn't from a publisher. So I asked them if they minded and they said no, and so I put out a press release, they sent it to Bloomberg and ap and I just I knew what to do, so I did it all and it got picked up and it was basically it became the first e book discovered on the internet to then go on to get picked up by new york publishing because of course my agent contacted me and offered to represent me again and sold the book to one of the people who had rejected it originally at Simon and Schuster. And since then I've published 21 books with Simon and Schuster or with Uh two Other publishers, traditional publishers. And then this year, um a couple of years ago I opened a company with Liz Berry, which is a publishing company. It's a marketing publishing company. And this year I decided that since I owned a publishing company, I should start publishing my own books. So I turned down my contract, my new contract from Simon and Schuster. And we're now publishing my books through Blue Box Press, which is our publishing company. So that's the story. That is unbelievable. You are a pioneer and I guarantee you there's so many people that are so inspired by you. It's like opened the floodgates. Yeah. Actually the most exciting part was the time magazine article was Stephen King is the King of E. Publishing an M. J. Rose is the Queen. Because at the same time he did a serialized e book In 2000 called or 1999 writing the bullet. And so the two of us had had this cover...

...story and when when lip service came out via Simon and Schuster, I was on the today show which was really kind of wild. Um and there was Jeff Bezos hired a PR company to get me Pr because I was the was also the first book discovered at amazon. And so Jeff was really excited about the fact that he leveled the playing field and he had created a platform where somebody could use that platform to launch their career and launch their book. The company has become a little bit bigger now. It sells a few things more, but it was very exciting. That's fantastic. Oh my God, what a story. So let's talk about your books a little bit more. How do you categorize that you said they've crossed genres? And I know that they're not always about the same thing and they do they do expand beyond that. But how do you categorize them? There's sort of two different kinds of books I write I write suspense in um contemporary suspense or I write historical suspense. So um the last 12 books have been historical suspense, but at the same time I write novellas with steve barry. I've written four of them that are very much contemporary thrillers. And I have a new series of novellas coming out with C. W. Gardner that take place in the 19 fifties that are old fashioned capers like jewel heist books. So I still am writing all over the place. There's not really a genre where I fit or a category where I fit much to my publishers. My old publishers dismay it's easier to sell an author that fits in the slat. But I never wanted to fit in a slot because I thought it was boring. And I always said that if when I got into publishing, when I sold, got my first contract from Simon and Schuster and it was a two book contract and I was no, I quit my job in advertising and I was going to just be a writer. And I said that the minute I had an editor who told me that if I changed what I was writing, I'd sell better, I'd go back into advertising because I didn't want to write to the marketplace. And it happened after my fourth book or I hadn't. The editor said, if you do this, this and this, we'll publish you no matter what. But we know we can sell you better if you're willing to change what you're doing. And I opened author Buzz and I went back into advertising because by then I had I skipped a step which was that when I did get published, when when I did self published the book, I also went to wire dot com and got a job being the e publishing columnist. Because for those of us who remember 1999 was like The Wild West. And in publishing all of a sudden e publishing became a thing and became enormous and wired, needed a reporter to cover the industry and basically my whole career is a result of having it. How involved I got as a reporter real briefly, could you just give everybody the down and dirty about author bus? Yes. Author buses in advertising marketing agency. And I work with authors, all kinds of authors directly and we create marketing plans and advertising and promotion for their books. We also work with publishers and we exclusively sell promotions at book movement dot com at pauline site. And we do very extensive um, plans for how authors can get their books to book clubs as well as other targeted audiences. And you can reach me through author buzz dot com. Really easy to find. We've been in business since 2000 and five and we worked with everybody from debuts two best sellers. Amazing. And it's such important work and I don't think everybody benefits from that. Um, let's talk about your books. Let's go back to their where tell me where you find the inspiration for your plots and characters. Um that's always such an interesting question. Every book is different. Um,...

I focus a lot on the arts and I seem to go in stages for a while I was doing. Um I've always been fascinated by reincarnation, and I've written six books that touch on reincarnation. And um and then I got one of those lead to um when I was in advertising, I worked on a lot of perfumes and I was fascinated with perfumes. So I have three books that take place in paris and new york, and the lead characters, a perfumer. And then um I went from perfume to jewelry is another fascination. And so I've written 37 books that have to do with jewelers or jewelry or a piece of jewelry that catapults the whole story and gets it started. I seem to need an object or a thing, rather than a person like the reincarnation books started with the idea of the butter of the butterfield, the phoenix foundation, which is a place that studied reincarnation that I made up, but was based on a real place at the University of Virginia. And so all the books centered around the phoenix foundation. Before that I was writing about a new york city sex therapist who worked at a place called the butterfield Institute. So I seem to like find a place and then work around it. And one of the weird things about me is that I always have to buy something that belonged to my main character. And I've written a lot about that online and anybody who wants to write me at M. J. Rose dot com, I can send you an article about creating um creating books through an object and buying something from my main character. In the last book that I wrote, The last tiara was inspired by an article I read About how in 2012 Uh it was discovered that there was a Tiara that had belonged to the Russian Romanov family and that that Tiara had been missing since 1920 and nobody has any idea where it has gone to or where it went or what happened to it. And that became the idea for the last er like what would happen if A woman in 1948 discovered the skeleton of that Tiara meaning the Tiara without any of its stones in her mother's estate. Like how what would, what would it mean? How did her mother get the tiara? And that's how that book started the book before that was Cardi is Hope. And that one was inspired when I read a little article about how Pierre Cartier of the Cartier family owned the Hope diamond for 11 months And that during those 11 months he was a master marketer and he made up a lot of stories about the bad luck, about the Hope Diamond. That it really wasn't that much bad luck at all, but he was such a marketing genius. He thought that the bad luck would help him sell it. So things little things like that become like an impetus to write a novel. Yeah, it sounds like they jump in there. I obviously get the sense that I think anybody who's read your work knows that you're such a student of history and you're really tied to a lot of historical events and objects. How do you do research to put the books together? Well, the thing that I try to do the most is to get source material from the period, because I find that that's very hard to throw yourself back into another period. So I tried to get a lot of source material. I read newspapers and magazine articles from the period. I get novels that were written during that time by people who were living during that time. And then I find research, you know, if I have to go to a university and find um a student, you know, somebody who's doing graduate work in that part of of Russian history, I do that too. So, a lot of different, varied ways. That's really fascinating. So, I always hear about authors getting like, ah ha moments as you're doing your research, things kind of pop out at you that you incorporate into the...

...story. Does that happen for you? Or do you kind of have it all set out before you begin? No, I I know where I'm starting and I know where I'm going and I don't know the journey that I'm going to take to get there and sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn't go well. Uh every book is like, you've never written a book before, A lot of my friends who are authors say this and the more books you write, the harder it gets, because I think that we're depleting Or what's in our minds, we've used that plot, like I'm I'm working on my what is it, my 22nd book now, and it's like, I keep coming up with ideas and like, but I did that in, you know, the witches painted sorrows and I come up with another idea. No, but I did that in the hypnotist, so it's becoming more and more difficult. But um I have a weird way of writing. I write very early in the morning, I listen to Gregorian chants and I sort of don't, I'm not aware that I'm writing, I start writing and then I sort of get lost. I see what I'm writing, like a movie in my head and I just write down what I'm seeing. I don't really feel like I'm coming up with it as much as the characters are putting on a little performance for me. So there are tons of ah ha moments where somebody does something that I didn't know they were going to do, I write the whole book through without rereading any of it. And then when I get the first draft messy draft done, I go back and I read it and I don't remember most of it. I really did write it in the semi unconscious state and I'm like shocked by things that happen in the book and like what? And it's a very strange process, I feel like I'm inhabited by other people. That is a great weight. A lot of authors will say, well the character has just taken away from me, but this sounds like a little bit more mystical and I love it. It's almost a book of its own. Yes, I guess it could be. Uh um so I want to uh bring pauline back in and ask to have a couple of questions for both of you together because I do know that, as I said, both of your work intertwines, but how did the two of you meet and decided to begin working together? Yeah, I'm just go ahead. Um well, when I started author Buzz in 2005, um, I was looking around for, I wanted to be able to do everything and author needed and one of the things I wanted to be able to do in that group of things was to get the right if the author had a book that was a book club, book that had the potential for appealing to book clubs, I wanted to be able to um cell them that piece of marketing And I believe that, you know, pulling I'm not positive, but I think we had met before in 2001 because you'd interviewed me for something you were doing for your graduate work or an article you were writing and you'd interviewed me. And so when it was time to look for a book club site, I went back to you and asked you if you'd be interested in partnering in Author Bus, is that right? It's possible. I don't remember that part. I remember meeting you in like 2004 because the site launched in 2004. I spoke about it in 1995 when the Internet was invented, but that was just I was just speaking generally. So sorry, I'm just saying I kind of miss book about that to it anyway. Um 2000 yeah, I think we met at Virginia Festival at the book. I remember that and then I think shortly afterwards And that may have been earlier than 2004. Um, and then you contacted me, which is great. So how did the convergence of the two manifest itself? Like what did you hope would happen for readers and authors together? Well, when I um contacted polling, if I remember correctly, it was once a month, it was once a month newsletter or Yeah, newsletter. And we just work together creatively brainstorming to figure out how we could enlarge the newsletters and the site so that I could sell marketing on the site. And we changed the number. We changed it from once a month to once a week. And um, Polian...

...came up with add add um, blocks on the site that I could sell. And it was pretty much, it was pretty seamless. I mean, we just started working together and it just started working and we've introduced so many things over the years. Book of the month, author of the month, now, Deep dive, the virtual book launches. Um, just a lot of fabulous creative things that we've just added. And what I said was, you know, I was thinking about it from the Book club point of view, which was, if it's going to be a book promotion, I wanted to be in an authentic way. So, um, I wanted the promotion to be in the form of a book club giveaway. So if the books went a club or if, sorry, if the clubs win books or if clubs read it in the newsletter are interested in about it, they're going to add it to their possible club pics, or there as a book club selection and then it will make its way up the top club pick slip. So if we have a promotion that makes its way into the top club picks list, that means it's basically an authentic vetted book club recommendation from book clubs, which I think is really powerful for both book clubs and authors and publishers. It's great. And that was my next question is talking about how book clubs seem to have gained a lot of influence over the book loving community. Can you talk about that a little bit? I think last week's virtual book event it was said that women in particular book clubs are saving novels, which I think is fiction. It's absolutely true. I mean, statistically they by 40% of books sold in bookstores, wow. So yeah, they don't just read 12 books a month. They read 30 plus books a year. Right. And that's not even counting the books that they buy for their friends, that's not counting the books they buy for their family. So women are single handedly propping up and I think book clubs in particular are propping up the fiction industry. So you know, I mean if you're if you're if you're looking at the new york Times bestsellers list, guaranteed its book clubs that put it there, you know, I think that's amazing. We talked a little bit about the pandemic already, but how did it impact your business in your collaboration between the two of you? I thought that it was going to have a greater impact than it did. It started off having an impact, everybody got nervous and they put their promotions on hold. But then as people, I kept telling people you're all crazy because people can't do anything but read. So I think that every author should put extra money into their promotions right now and publishers didn't do it, But all of our authors did and our authors saw enormous sales increases and publishers have seen even without marketing, a lot of these books sales have never been better. The pandemic was a huge boom for the publishing industry, with sales going up 30% or more for all publishers. And a lot of people, first of all had income to buy books because they weren't doing anything else. And authors had income that they could spend on marketing their books because they weren't going on tour and they weren't doing anything else. So there was a lot more interest activity and excitement around books during the pandemic. And it hasn't really slowed down as far as I can tell. And we launched our virtual book event series, right? I mean, it really helped keep people connected and combat the loneliness and isolation of the pandemic. And then it gave us a new way to have a really immediate dynamic, both interview but also conversation between my Book Club audience and authors. Yeah. And I did a survey very early on the pandemic and I and I asked book clubs my membership, are you going to read less more? Way more or way way more? By far, the answer was way way more, way more. Yeah. I think over at Friends in Fiction to we've seen that thing, it mirrors exactly what you're saying. People have just felt so much more connected. And I think the love of reading has just grown deeper and deeper and I just think it's amazing. What do you think the trends are? What do you think the past year has meant for the future of publishing authors...

...and book clubs? I'll let pauline answer the part about the book clubs as far as trends in publishing. One thing I'm noticing is that there's going to be a lot more diversity in the books that are going to be published in 2022 and 2023. But other than that, I don't really try to stand top of what publishers are going to be doing. I just have noticed that and what I've been reading in terms of readers, I think that we're in a golden age of reading, I think that the pandemic got everybody reading again, and I don't see anybody walking away from it too fast. So I think we're in a really good spot for promoting terrific books and introducing them to readers and having readers fall in love Well said, Well said. And I think in terms of book clubs, I mean, I wouldn't say it's really a trend, but I mean, through the past year we really have rediscovered if it's even possible, all of the gifts that books and reading bestow upon us in terms of being transporting and comforting and giving us wisdom and just great stories, and also kind of being able to take a closer look at authors in their work, at least in terms of our virtual events. And so yeah, I'm just I'm just looking at this illustration and thinking, yes, you know, books books books and all those wonderful gifts that they give us. I think it's one of the good things, always members right to me after the events and say it's one of the good things that come out of the pandemic is it's what books have given us. I couldn't have said it better. Thank you both for joining me today. I know our listeners will be fascinated and they'll be awed by your passion and your insight. Just as I was, I've learned so much. I so appreciate you joining me today. Thank you so much for having us. Thank you. And just to remind everybody, if you're an author and you want information, you can go to author buzz dot com and if you're a reader and you want me to send you any articles about my books, you can go to M J Rose dot com and if you're interested in book movement, you can go to book movement dot com. It's all really easy. Yes, well, I think you're both going to get a deluge of requests and I'm very happy about that on behalf of the fab five mary Kay, Kristen, Kristy patty and mary Alice. Thank you all for listening. It means the world. Please be sure to subscribe. So you get new episodes every friday and tell a friend, have a great week. Thank you for tuning in to Friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe rate and review on your favorite podcast platform, tune in every friday for another episode. And you can also join us every week on facebook or Youtube Where you can see our live friends and fiction show that airs at seven p.m. Eastern Standard time. We are so glad you're here.

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