aboutpic1An Interview with NY Times Bestselling Author Leanne Banks By Tina Gabrielle
As Appeared in the The Heartline Herald, August 2010

1. What genres do you love to write?
Series contemporary, contemporary single title. I’m also playing with a historical idea!

2. How long have you been in the business?
I started writing in November 1988 and set a goal of writing and selling a book within two years. It was a very naïve goal, but I did it! I sold my first book to Kate Duffy at Meteor Kismet and used the advance to take my family to Disney World.

3. Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing The End?
I do most of my revising as I go along, but leave notes if I need to return to something for research, names, a word that just won’t come. I have tried to do book in a week and I keep wishing I could do it, but I haven’t been able to pull it off yet.

4. Did you have an agent when you sold your first book? What’s your take on agents now?
I sold my first book without an agent, but immediately asked an agent to negotiate that contract. I think having an agent is a mixed bag. I also think having a bad agent or an agent who isn’t on your side is worse than having no agent at all. In terms of dollars and cents, having an agent can be an expensive proposition these days, especially if you’re publishing with Harlequin. If you have an agent who is talking about you to editors, then that’s something totally different. When I first started out, I noticed a lot of people who got sidetracked and spent more time trying to get an agent than writing their book.

5. What kind of promotion do you do and why?
I have a website with writerspace and they do quite a bit of promotion. I also blog with babesinbookland, eharlequin and riding with the top down. In the past, I’ve bought ads and I would consider doing that again. I’ve put money into bookmarks and mailings to bookstores. I think these are less effective now than they once were. I’ve attended conventions and bookfairs as a guest speaker. My publishers have sent me on mini-tours and to regional bookseller meetings. I’ve also entered contests to increase visibility and I think that may help some. I’ve also been known to do drive-by signings where I pop into a bookstore, sign books and put autographed copy stickers on them. That’s helpful. My priority is writing the book. Promotion comes after that. The best promotion is to write a great book, with a great hook, with a great title, a great cover and have your publisher totally behind it.

6. Do you feel pressure to writer faster and produce more books per year?
Sometimes. In fact, I have five books coming out in 2010! That said, I negotiated more time to write the books for my most recent contract. I also know I need to protect myself and my creativity. One of my career goals is longevity.

7. How do you balance writing with the rest of your life (i.e., day job, family, etc.)?
Not as well as I would like! Ha! When my children were very young, I wrote when they napped and during mother’s morning out. Then I wrote when they were in school and nine times out of ten, I put my laptop down when they arrived home and gave them my undivided attention for at least an hour when they arrived home. Listen to them debrief from their day, fix a snack, then help them with their homework, drive them to their lessons and activities, etc… I am most productive when I write in sessions. First session in the morning, then break. Second session followed by another break. Third session followed by another break. When I’m on deadline, I also write in the evenings. I sometimes still use an egg timer and force myself to write until it dings! And no picking up the cell phone during that time! Even though I have written 55 books, I STILL STRUGGLE with self-discipline.

8. Since there have been so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?
I think we’re going to see more epublishing although print will never go away. It makes sense to me that we may see more “reality” publishing based on the trends in television. I think the idea of family will need to be expanded. We have different kinds of families and we turn to books to help us feel good about our families even if they are different than what is considered “optimal”. I’m thinking of the television show “Modern Family” with the father who has married a much younger Latino woman with a son, the brother who is in a committed homosexual relationship and has just adopted a daughter, and the so-called normal family with the mother and the odd father.

8. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Finish the book. Develop your voice. Study the market. If you’re writing any kind of fiction targeting women, never forget the heart and emotion of the characters. Write about characters and stories that arouse your curiosity and passion. Don’t give up. Use self-affirmations to keep you going. Think of selling as a multi-prong effort. Go to a pitch session and ask questions instead of talking about your book. At the end, ask to submit your book. You will rarely be turned down. Enter contests. Do online pitch sessions. Learn which editors are buying the kind of books you are writing. Don’t let your book sit on anyone’s desk for six months. Multiple submit. Writing series romance can be more financially profitable than writing single title.

9. What projects are you currently working on?
My Silhouette Desire CEO’S EXPECTANT SECRETARY is currently #1 on the Border Series Best-seller list. I have a Special Edition ROYAL HOLIDAY BABY coming out in October. I’m writing another Special edition right now, and tinkering with a single title and a historical.

10. What do you know now about writing/publishing that you wished you knew before selling your first book?
a. *Most peoples’ careers do not move in a straight up trajectory. There are ups and downs.
b. * If you’ve decided to bend over backwards for someone or something, it’s good to know how far to bend without breaking your back… or your spirit.
c.* We all need to break some rules.