Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Interview with Jeff Rivera, novelist

Forever My Lady is the award-winning novel that tells the story of a Latino juvenile delinquent that turns his life around. Originally self-published, the book was picked up by Grand Central and is now available in bookstores or on his website at

Q: You took a very unconventional route to get your novel out there. What challenges did you encounter along the way?

A: I would go to the Self-Publisher's Hall of Fame webpage on your site and I would visualize myself as one of those people who got picked up by a major publisher. I typed in my name on that list and printed it out because I wanted it to happen so bad. I had no idea the prejudice that some people had to self-published books, but strangely enough not from the publishing industry. It was more from the literary snobs and writers that were against non-traditional ways of publishing. I think the greatest challenge was sticking with the book when I didn't see the results I wanted to see right away. But I was passionate about the story an believed it had to get out there.

Q: Why do you think Warner Books/Grand Central picked it up so fast?

A: I knew my market. I knew exactly who the book belonged to. In my case it was Latinos, but more specifically those interested in urban Latino literature. Once I figured that out I was able to gear my pitches to people who were interested in serving that market as well. Also I really worked to make the book the best it possibly could be. I would take walks along the beach and visualize people reading the book and feel them really getting into it. I did the same thing when visualizing the right editor. And quite frankly I had what they were looking for.

Q: You have received thousands of fan letters and emails about Forever My Lady from people all over the world, why are so many people excited about the book?

A: I think it's a universal story that everyone can relate to. Everyone knows what it's like to love someone so much or want something so bad -- and that person or thing doesn't want you back. And in terms of my particular market, I think they felt like, "Finally, there's a story for us."

Q: Would you suggest people self-publish as a way to break in? If so, why?

A: Absolutely, it's not the best way necessarily but neither is traditional publishing. I would say, try traditional first. If that doesn't work, go for it. Know the pros and cons. Then go for it 100%.

Q: What would you do over again if you could?

A: In retrospect nothing, because I learned so much along the way and I can help people now and tell them what to avoid. The whole thing has been a rewarding experience even when I was in bed crying from not selling a million books in the first week.
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