Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am thrilled to have my friend multi-published author Dana Mentink as a guest on The Borrowed Book today. Dana lives in California where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Her family includes two little girls (affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo.) Papa Bear works for the fire department and he met Dana doing a dinner theater production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Ironically, their parts were husband and wife.

Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and an award winner in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, is a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nominee. She spent her college years competing in speech and debate tournaments all around the country. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching Sunday school and working in an elementary school. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle and a gaggle of fish.

Welcome, Dana. I know you are a multi-published author in CBA, but you recently self-published a book on Amazon.com's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook. Had you tried to sell this book to a traditional publisher?

Yes. It was a full length, fully edited romantic comedy that had made the rounds and been declined. “There’s just not a big market for inspy romantic comedy,” I heard repeatedly from the various houses, so I decided to make my own market. Power to the people!

What made you decide to take this approach to publishing?

A full length, fully edited book sitting in a desk drawer is painful to a writer, no? Also, don’t tell anyone, but my natural inclination is towards humor and I feel frustrated that there are so few avenues for humor in Christian fiction. I have Christian friends with FABOO senses of humor. I am quite sure there are plenty of people who enjoy a good laugh as they read. This book is for those people. I seem to be branded in my print life as a suspense writer, so this is a way to entertain my inner comic. Laughter is good medicine, after all.

I'm with you on that. I love to laugh, and I enjoy books that appeal to my sense of humor. Publishing a book that didn't sell sounds like a great idea. The material belongs to you, and you don't share the royalties with a publisher. What kind of a process did you have to go through to acquire the copyright on your book?

Well, I applied for an ISBN number. There are many sites where you can purchase one. Sadly, they aren’t cheap, but I felt it was worth it to protect my work. That’s about all I did.

I’ve looked on the Amazon website, and it offers a guide to formatting your work. Did you do your formatting?

I’ve got to fully disclose here. I TRIED. I REALLY did, but I do not understand HTML. It’s like reading tax forms or something. Completely baffling! I even downloaded a handy guide and read all the Amazon instructions, but I couldn’t get that silly book to format correctly. I guess I’m a perfectionist, because I paid a freelancer to do the formatting for me. Wham bang! She had it done in 24 hours. We’ve all got our gifts.

Once you have the formatting done, how difficult is it to upload your material to the site?

Once it’s formatted, the uploading is easy peasy. Barnes and Noble and Amazon both walk you through the process.

How have you marketed this book? Has it taken more time that what you’ve done with your other books?

I’ve just done the same marketing efforts that I do with the print books. Too early to tell if that’s been effective!

What is the name of your book?

The book is called Desert Desperate.

Please give us a blurb about it.

The Arizona desert is lovely in August. If you’re a cactus. If you’re not green and prickly it’s like standing in the bottom of a volcano hoping your SPF 15 will do the trick. So how does Simone Greevey, a twenty something e-zine editor from San Francisco wind up wearing a duck costume in sweltering Seepwillow, Arizona? In Desert Desperate, Simone loses her job and her fiancĂ© in one fell swoop and runs to the arms of her eccentric aunt, owner of the Ruddy Duck trailer park, a hundred miles from nowhere.

There she meets Chaz Tagliola, a guy who doesn’t know Jimmy Choo from Jiminy Cricket, a man with a passion for God and the one thing Simone has tried to forget about for the decade since her father’s death. Before her suitcase is unpacked; Simone’s aunt disappears, leaving Chaz and Simone to lead a five day junior high school Bible study camp. Bug lightings? Hot dog roasts? Cactus jam recipes? It’s a whole new world for a San Francisco girl. Throw in a mysterious park tenant and a breathtaking natural discovery and the stage is set for Simone to learn a divine lesson that will rock her world in a big way.


I purchased the book for my Kindle, and I LOVED it! Your keen sense of humor makes each page sparkle. In fact, I laughed out loud over and over. And I really liked your hero and heroine. The scenes between Simone and Chaz show their differences, yet you know they were meant for each other. You also wowed me with your knowledge of the Arizona desert. How do you know so much about that part of the country?

Awww, that’s so sweet that you bought a copy! I’m electing you president of the Dana Mentink Fan Club. I’m glad you liked the book. I think deserts are facinating. Not so fascinating that I’d actually move there or anything, but I appreciate the desert in a theoretical sense. I enjoy researching and have visited a few deserts in my time.

I'd be honored to be the president of your fan club. I want to read more of your romantic comedies. What do you have planned next?

I’ve got another one finished and edited that will go ebook soon. It’s called Falling In Ferocious.

Would you recommend this alternative to traditional publishing to other authors who’re struggling to make a first sale?

Tough to say. I didn’t get around to epubbing until I had many print books under my belt. That lends a whiff of legitimacy to the book, I believe. It’s sort of a buyer beware when you purchase an e-book because there are less quality controls. I still think it’s a better use of time to work on publishing short articles and stories for traditional venues to build credentials rather than self pub right off the bat.

Do you have any other advice for readers who also want to become published authors?

Develop a thick skin and share your work with more experienced writers. You really do learn much more from gentle critique than from Grandma Nellie’s glowing praise. Trust me on that one. (No offense, Grandma Nellie!)

Thank you for dropping by today, Dana, and sharing your thoughts on an alternative to traditional publishing. I'm sure our readers have learned a lot.

What about it? Do you have a book that you haven't been able to sell and think this might be your answer? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

13 comments :

  1. Well golly! Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate being hosted on this lovely site!

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  2. Great post, Dana. The book sounds fun - unfortunately, I don't have a Nook or Kindle. I'm a print kinda gal.

    It irritates me that a handful of people sitting in offices get to decide what the majority of people want to read. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the difficulty of being a publisher and trying to pick works that will sell. Still, I read ABA romantic comedy because I can't find it in CBA. I'd be happier reading Christian/Inspy romantic comedy any day. I hope your ebooks sell TRILLIONS so the publishers will see their error. Plus, you'll get to reap the benefits! I may even bite the bullet and plunge into the electronic book world just for this book :D

    Blessings,
    Tammy

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  3. Great interview! My daughter and her family live in Arizona. Those towns plunked right down in the middle of the desert. They have rocks and cactus for landscaping--a whole different world.

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  4. Tammy, thanks so much. Confession time....I don't have an ebook reader either, so someone will have to tell me how the book ends! Ha! Yes, it is frustrating being told what will and won't please readers but I try to remind myself that publishing is a HARD business and if a book doesn't sell out, it's a loss for publisher and writer. That said, I STILL think there's a bigger market for CBA humor (perhaps squeezed in amongst all those Amish books?) Thanks for your comment!

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  5. Oh cool, Merrillee! As I said, I'm kind of a theoretical desert fan--love to research and visit, but I don't have the fortitude to live there! :)

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  6. Dana...absolutely wonderful interview. Thank you SO much for the information!

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  7. Tammy, Kindle offers an app for your PC! You can download Kindle to your computer and begin reading in seconds. Here's the link:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311&tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=8403591349&ref=pd_sl_68gf1oywpl_b

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  8. Well I wish there was an app for the weather. It's pouring here in Northern, CA. I saw a sign on a local church that said, 'Noah? Did you keep those blueprints?'

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  9. Hi Dana. Thanks for the great interview today. You may have given us all an idea on what to do with those gems we've written but can't sell. I hope you become Kindle's best selling author.

    I have the Kindle app on my cell phone, and I read a lot of your book there. And I also have an app for the weather. The only problem is, it just tells you what's happening. It won't change rain to sunshine.

    Sandra Robbins

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  10. Hi, Sandra. What a world we live in where you can read a book and get the weather from your cell phone! If you figure out an app for changing the weather, let me know! ;)

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  11. Ooo, ooo, ooo...I have that one! It's called the Move to Texas App. If you don't like the weather, blink. It'll change within 10-15 minutes.

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  12. I was made to see this website today...I have a friend with a wonderful book on widowhood and self publishing may be for her so I'm sending her to this site in a few min. thanks

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