by Amy Evans
Stefanie’s Publishing Journey
It all began when Stefanie published her first novel at age five. It was about cats, and she also illustrated it herself (how cute). She dreamed of becoming a writer, but outside pressure led her to human resources. On her honeymoon, Stefanie devoured romance novels, and told her husband about her dream to write. He told her it was the perfect place to get started, and Stefanie returned to her passion at long last. Stefanie’s first book got picked up by Harlequin, and since then she has published over 20 books.
The Writing Routine: Staying on Task
Stefanie uses the morning to do lower level tasks and exercise, then starts writing at 11/11:30 when she has fully woken up. She does her first draft writing earlier in the day, then copyedits and line edits are done later when her creativity has exhausted itself. When she transitioned from writing part-time to full-time, it took six months for Stefanie to establish a routine and stay focused while working from home. She now uses a spreadsheet to schedule her day and what she wants to accomplish using the Pacemaker application. This program provides a breakdown of daily word count requirements based on novel length, due date, and an extra week to give the manuscript a full working over. This system reduces anxiety, particularly because she juggles multiple publishers and deadlines, on top of working on her own projects. The energy levels for one project may exhaust themselves in a day, then when she switches to another project, she has renewed energy. This is why having multiple projects to work on makes Stefanie more productive.
Tips on Writing Your First Novel
Stefanie says not to worry too much about what other people think. One of the most important things when you get started is to finish it. It doesn’t matter if your first draft is a “hot mess.” This is part of the process, and when you finally finish your first manuscript, your brain knows that you can do it! Stefanie also suggests that all new writers attend conferences. Going to a conference and meeting other writers “makes it feel real.” Stefanie continues to attend conferences, both in learning and presenting roles. This is important for networking, building connections, and “refilling the creative well,” because she always leaves feeling inspired.
How Do You Write a ‘Delectable’ Romance?
“The richness of the story is about bringing every element of the novel to life. A novel in my Bachelors series took place in New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn), and the setting itself felt like a secondary character. So it’s nice to pick up a book and feel as though you are in NY with all the descriptions. Sometimes you can lose that richness of setting and culture when you are working on books, so I try hard to bring that to the forefront and create an immersive experience. I went to NY a few times and it epitomizes big city America. So it was a city that I felt drawn to writing this series, as it matched the vibe I wanted to establish. My editor was a New Yorker and it helped me hone in my research, since my Auzzie vernacular sometimes comes through.”
Australia: The Central Setting of Stefanie’s Romance Novels
Stefanie was born in Australia and most of her novels are set in Melbourne. She has to negotiate on ‘Auzzie-isms’ used for her North America publications, both in terms of spelling and vernacular. The whole point about writing a book set in another place is to learn about that culture, so there is a balance between authenticity and accessibility.
International Publications and Working with Editors
Stefanie’s books are translated into 14 languages other than English. In non-English territories, Germany is the frontrunner. Germany has a voracious romance market, according to London. She works with different editors depending on the book or series she is working on. The editors she works with at the developmental stage are not the same as the copyediting stage. With each stage there is a different style, level of direction, and type of communication with editors. Overall, editors have made her a more well-rounded writer. Stefanie pushes back if she feels that editors are intruding too much. It is important to understand the difference between strengthening the writing versus the editor having a different vision or artistic style.
Most editors have been extremely collaborative, giving suggestions but ultimately guiding in a certain direction versus changing the story. For indie authors looking to find an editor, London suggests that they get an editorial sample. Testimonials should also be consulted, and writers should reach out to other writers the editor has worked with to get more perspective on the editor’s style. Even if you have to pay for the writing sample, you want to get the clearest sense of their tone in relation to feedback early on. You might want an editor that is more collaborative, or one that is firm with their feedback, depending on the stage you are in the writing process.
Author Marketing Through Social Media
Some marketing is done by Stefanie’s publishers, while she runs her own Facebook and Instagram. Authors might feel like they have to be everywhere at the same time, but she prefers to be very active on select platforms. She uses Instagram stories and Facebook live, because when fans can hear her voice and see her face, her presence feels more meaningful. London finds Instagram more manageable when she schedules her Instagram posts. On Facebook, when she posts more about what she cares about versus marketing content, she gets a better response from fans. Stefanie also uses Pinterest, although this is for her own writing process. She creates a board per book in the early stages of a book to visualize her story. Stefanie leaves her account open because she understands that readers are interested in her boards. Pinterest also helps with the publishing process, especially book covers, when she refers designers to her boards. London finds Pinterest also helpful to convey the tone of a novel, beyond being visually beneficial.
The Writing-Life Balance
Stefanie wants aspiring authors to understand that writing is a job, which means you have to set boundaries and manage your wellbeing in physical, emotional, and psychological ways. She got a Fitbit, which encouraged her to move around more. It is ok to have bad writing days, and you don’t have to be grateful every day. It is important to have rules for yourself to manage your work life. For instance, Stefanie does not engage with social media on the weekend. By balancing between writing and time with friends and her husband, she is more motivated to return to work on Monday.
Early on in her career, Stefanie was writing seven days a week and experienced burnout. She feels that stories can lose their luster if authors are doing the same thing every day. She took up other creative pursuits including sewing and knitting. It is calming to work on things that are so methodical and having a finished product at the end is a rewarding process. Stefanie also likes to watch Killing Eve with her husband and she loves True Crime podcasts.
What’s Next for Stefanie
Her upcoming novel Faking It is out in September. It’s London’s take on “a sexy You’ve Got Mail situation”: two people undercover together, frenemies to lovers situation, unresolved sexual tension. Small town romantic comedy series taking place along the coast of Victoria in Australia. It’s a light-hearted but emotional story with quirky animals!
Stefanie London is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romances and romantic comedies. Originally from Australia, she now lives in Toronto with her very own hero and is currently in the process of doing her best to travel the world. She frequently indulges in her passions for good coffee, lipstick, romance novels and anything zombie-related. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram!