Bette with her banner at BEA

Interviewing Authors features Bette Lee Crosby

Such a great interview with Tim Knox. I love talking about my characters all most as much as writing about them. I explore that in this new interview as well as the avenue I took to get my books published. Tim asked great questions and I hope you learn from my answers!

CLICK HERE to listen to the interview.

Tim Knox: Do you remember the first thing that you wrote that you thought was good enough to be published or you wanted to publish?

Bette Lee Crosby: Yes.

Tim Knox: What was it?

Bette Lee Crosby: That was a story called Beneath the Snow. It was a novel and it’s still not published. I have it in the drawer upstairs but I sent it out and I had an agent accept it and represent me for about six months but they never sold it to a publisher. Looking back I’m not really surprised because I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as the work I do now.

Tim Knox: Is that something you think you might pull out and dust off someday?

Bette Lee Crosby: Possibly but, you know, my voice has changed so much in the way I write. I think that with each novel I wrote I got deeper and deeper into the development of the characters and when I really got to the point where I could develop the character I would physically feel everything they’re feeling; I could run the gauntlet of emotions right along with them.

When I got to that point I had stories people would believe in, that they would love, that they would care. I’ve read books where I’m reading the book and I’ll get a third of a way through and I say I don’t really care what happens to these characters.

I guess I was fighting myself on that and it took that long to really get to the point where I could honestly say that it’s really, really good enough. This is as good as anything else that’s out there. Then I felt confident about it and I felt like I could go ahead.

Tim Knox: Did you go back with your agent on that and go traditionally published?

Bette Lee Crosby: No I didn’t. I went to a publisher, Publish America, and they accepted it and they published it but they priced it very, very high. I was such an ingénue at that point. I’d written to several agents before and had a whole packet of rejection letters. Actually they used to ask me, well I really like the story but you don’t have a platform. I didn’t even know what a platform was. I was just focused on the writing itself.

So when Publish America published the book they released it and I started doing some speaking engagements locally and the word started to spread a little bit and the book started to do reasonably well considering. I mean it was overpriced to start with. Luckily those were the days before eBooks were out.

When the book started to sell reasonably well they increased the price $5. It was high to start with. It was priced at $19.95 and for an unknown author that’s just way, way, way too high for a paperback. Then they raised the price to $24.95 so then I just quit promoting it. I had a seven year contract with them. I said, you know what, I’m just going to let it run its course and whatever they sell they sell.

So about two or three years into the contract I had quit publicizing it or working on it at all. I went back to writing again and about three years into the contract they wrote to me and said we’d like you to give us the rights to do the eBook.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice. So of course I said no way. I knew they’d overprice the eBook and when I wouldn’t give them the rights to the eBook they offered me the opportunity to buy the book back and I did.

Tim Knox: Good for you. What book was that?

Bette Lee Crosby: It was actually Twelfth Child but when I first went with them they changed the name. They said they felt it was a little bit of a conflict and they changed the name to Girl Child. So it’s been re-released now under Twelfth Child.

Tim Knox: Well congratulations on getting those rights back.

Bette Lee Crosby: Yeah that was very lucky. I was very fortunate. I think it was only because of the advent of the eBook.