"To the adventurer: put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there. To the writer: put one word in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there."—Torre DeRoche
Do you blog about your adventures? Are you dreaming of writing and publishing a book?
I'm thrilled to have author Torre DeRoche here today to talk about her new book, Love with a Chance of Drowning and to talk about her journey from blogger to published author in three countries (USA, Australia and the UK). She also has a movie offer on the table. Does it get any better than that? I can't remember exactly where I first *met* Torre out there in the blogging world, but I knew we had a lot in common. I also have my own journey from blogger to published author and LOVE a good adventure.
I devoured Torre's book in two days and I've been dreaming of taking up sailing lessons ever since. Here's my short synopsis of this fabulous book:
Australian native Torre unexpectedly meets handsome, Argentinian sailor in bar in San Francisco. He sweeps her off her feet, but there is ONE BIG PROBLEM. He is about to sail around the world in his small sailboat and Torre is terrified of deep water.
And that's where the adventure begins and it's a page turner. Today I'm giving away one free copy of Torre's book on this blog. Just leave a comment here with a mention that you'd like to enter in the drawing and I'll announce the winner here on my blog a week from today.
Now for my interview with Torre:
When did you first start writing this book? Was it on the boat? In San Francisco when you met Ivan? When did the idea of a book about your experiences first take shape in your mind?
While sailing through the South Pacific, I kept a blog for family and friends to recount the crazy adventure that I’d accidentally found myself on. My parents hadn’t yet met the man I’d entrusted my life to on the Pacific Ocean, so I figured the least I could do was update my mother on my whereabouts, perhaps comfort her with some funny stories.
When life aboard got challenging, I immersed myself in writing the blog as a means of ‘visiting’ home. I was desperately homesick at times. My words became my bridge between utter isolation and home.
The blog audience expanded beyond my family, and the positive feedback I received inspired me to consider writing a book. When I returned back to land for good, I began writing after work, on weekends, and late at night. I repurposed some of the material from the blog. At 50,000 words, I finally admitted to myself that I was writing a book.
What did you hope to show through telling your story?
When I tell people about my adventure across the Pacific on a leaky boat, so many of them say, “Oh my god, I could never do that! I’m too scared!” Yeah, well, me too. I wouldn’t even swim at the beach before I got on that boat. Through my story, I hope to show readers that fear doesn’t have to be a reason to stay at home, under the covers.
But my number one reason for writing was simple: I wanted to take readers on a vicarious adventure and give them a good time. I want to make them laugh, cry, and cringe.
Did you originally plan to self publish your book or did you first pursue a traditional route (agents and publishing houses) and then choose to self publish?
I queried agents for six months and, after having no luck with that, I decided to self-publish. A couple of weeks after launching, I received a Twitter message from a Hollywood producer who had chanced upon an excerpt of my book. He wanted to know if the option was available.
I, of course, thought I was being fooled by a sad loser from small town America, but I sent him a book just in case it was legit. At approximately the same time, a UK publisher also scouted my book through social media. A month after self-publishing, I received two offers: one from the UK publisher and one from the Hollywood producer for the film option.
Armed with two offers, it took me about four days to sign with a top New York agent. She immediately pitched to the US, and three publishers wanted to take it to auction. Hyperion came in with a great pre-emptive offer and we decided to take it. Shortly after, it went to auction in Australia and sold to Penguin. The rights have also sold in Brazil, and Brilliance Audio bought the worldwide audiobook rights.
For those who are debating about whether or not to seek traditional publishing or self publishing, what would you tell them?
It’s incredibly thrilling to launch a book traditionally, whereas a self-published book launch is like throwing your cat a birthday party: it feels silly and indulgent, and it’s hard to get others excited about the party. But the royalties are higher, and you have greater control and fewer frustrations.
I’m on the fence on this one. I think both routes have incredible advantages and disadvantages, so it comes down to personal choice. If it’s really important to you to have a traditional publisher, I suggest that you exhaust all of your options with that route first. Otherwise, if you’re an aggressive marketer and you feel ready to take on the tremendous workload required to self-publish a book well, then go straight for that option.
How did you market your book after you self published?
I sent out a lot of free copies to bloggers and influencers to get people talking about it online. I pitched to Amazon’s top reviewers to get reviews, and I was quite successful with that. I wrote to magazine editors and asked for reviews, and some big mags came back with “Yes.” I did some guest posting, and I reached out to bloggers for reviews. I ran a series on a big blog called ‘Love and Travel Week,’ and I plugged my book at the bottom of each travel/love related piece. I also did quite a bit of online networking through Twitter, Facebook groups, and sailing or travel related forums.
I know, after reading your story, that Seismic Pictures discovered you on Twitter. This is a dream come true for many writers and it set things up for your book to be published in Australia and abroad. How did this exciting chain of events happen exactly?
It all began with Twitter… Two weeks after I self-published, I got a Twitter message from a Hollywood producer asking if the rights had been optioned yet. Two weeks after that, he emailed me an offer to buy the film option. At about the same time, I was contacted by a UK indie publisher, who also sent through an offer to buy the book.
With two deals on the table, I emailed the agent at the top of my Dream Agents list. She read the book over a weekend and offered me representation on the Monday. We began pitching immediately, and we received interest from several US publishers. We were about to go into auction when Hyperion came in with a preemptive deal too handsome to refuse. My rock star agent negotiated it up another 50% and we signed.
Then my foreign rights agent pitched to Australian publishers. Four big publishers went to auction and the book sold to Penguin. We also sold to Brazil and to Brilliance Audio. (My head is still spinning.)
Have you heard any news from Seismic Pictures? When can we expect the movie to be out on the big screen?
The script is currently underway! However—
My dad’s a scriptwriter by profession, and time and time again I’ve seen how tough it is to get a script turned into a movie. The possibility of a film is enormously exciting, but I won’t pop the cork out of the Cristal until filming commences.
How has your life changed since meeting Ivan and setting foot on a sailboat?
I have a lot more adventures. I take a lot more risks. I let my intuition guide me, and I believe in myself in a way that I didn’t before. I’m drawn to nature these days. I’ve become skilled at telling my fears to shut up. I don’t read the news anymore…
These are just a few changes that come to mind, but there are many.
How has your life changed since being published in Australia and abroad?
Everything is much the same, to be honest! My book is on the shelves, I have a vague understanding that people are reading my words right now, I get a lot of emails, I check Amazon and Goodreads for reviews on a somewhat-obsessive basis… But other than that, everything is as it was before.
Have you had any desire to get on a sailboat again? I know it wasn't one of your passions, but has it become a passion for you now?
There is no better way to see the world than by sailboat. Once you’ve arrived to a new country by the power of the wind, it’s incredibly hard to return to any kind of regular travel. However, after two years at sea I never managed to overcome seasickness! I have a sensitive inner ear, which means I get nauseous in cars, planes, buses, and boats. It sucks. If I could cure this problem, I would sail again.
Now that you've somewhat conquered your fear of water and sailing, what is your biggest fear today? How will you conquer it?
Standing within 20 feet of a cliff edge makes the back of my legs crawl. I have no immediate plans to face this fear.
With the launch of my book, I had to face my fear of public speaking. This was perhaps worse than my fear of heights, so I’m going to sit back and revel in that accomplishment for a while before taking anything else on. My adrenalin glands need a break.
What would you say to all the other "fearful" adventurers out there or the struggling writers who are about ready to throw in the towel?
To the adventurer: put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there. To the writer: put one word in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Torre DeRoche is an Australian native and a self-proclained fearful adventurer. When she's not at home in Melbourne, Australia, DeRoche is at large in the world, exploring, writing, painting pictures and snapping photos as she faces her fears one terrified step at a time. She blogs at www.fearfuladventurer.com