Kindle Author Interview: Jenna Petersen

Jenna Petersen, author of Rogue for a Night, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Rogue for a Night?

JENNA PETERSEN: Rogue for a Night is a Regency-set historical romance. It's sexy and emotional, which is what I love to write. If any readers have ever read my traditionally published books, the characters are related to my April 2009 release, Her Notorious Viscount. Though it can be read standalone.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

JENNA PETERSEN: I have a character worksheet that I start with for every book. I think character IS plot in so many ways, so I work hard on a character's history and relationships before I really start plotting heavily or writing at all.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

JENNA PETERSEN: Romance readers who love historicals that are emotional and sensual.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

JENNA PETERSEN: In 2004, I sold my first historical romance to a traditional and published 15 books with them over the next 7 years, both as Jenna Petersen and Jess Michaels (erotic historical romance). When my contract with them ended recently and with the market for traditional publishers becoming tighter and tighter, I knew I wanted to write historicals but more under my own terms. I decided to start publishing independently and intend to put out at least one independent release per month until the end of the year and I hope at least 4-5 next year. I'm really loving the increased creative freedom, control over my own release dates and being able to offer less expensive books (my books are all .99 to 2.99) for my readers, all while continuing to support my family through my writing.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

JENNA PETERSEN: I write every day and I write full-time. I have a page goal to meet each day and write until I meet that goal. I'm a big time plotter, so a lot of time is spent before I write doing those aforementioned character sheets and then plotting the book. 

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

JENNA PETERSEN: In romance, probably Lisa Kleypas, Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Quinn. They've written books in my genre that have really moved me. Outside romance, Stephen King's book, On Writing kept me going during times I just wanted to throw in the towel completely.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

JENNA PETERSEN: I don't really think of other books that way. I think comparing yourself too much to other books or writers is an exercise in futility. There are certainly books that I've finished and said, "Damn, that was good." but not, "Damn, I wish I'd written that."

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

JENNA PETERSEN: I use Twitter, Facebook, I have a newsletter that I send out monthly and I solicit reviews from reviewers open to reading independently published books like mine are now. In addition, I have a blog that I update about once a week. I think I have a little bit of an advantage having come from traditional publishing so I'm not entirely starting from square one, but it is a daily struggle to keep the book out there and try to push sales.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

JENNA PETERSEN: Creative control, ability to control my covers and my release dates. 

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

JENNA PETERSEN: Make sure that the book you publish is fully ready. This is your first impression and that's important. Also, having a good cover is really worth the money. As for sales, independent publishing is really a marathon, not a sprint. It may start slow but with work and time, you'll see those numbers go up. Check out the Kindle Boards for more encouragement and advice. 

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Jenna Petersen knew she wanted to be a writer at a very young age and had a very specific image of what that meant. In her mind, she would live in Los Angeles (why not New York… who knows?), attend book signings, drive a very expensive car and date endlessly (and apparently, unsuccessfully). There was little actual writing involved in the fantasy.

Instead, she got a degree in Psychology from the University of Washington, married her high school sweetheart and moved to Central Illinois. There was much actual writing involved in the reality and she learned a lot in the years she waited to hear she sold a book.

Jenna enjoys travel, history, live baseball, Bears and Eagles football, and of course, all things related to reading and writing. She runs a website for aspiring authors called The Passionate Pen, which has become a popular resource in the romance writing community. She also writes erotic romance under the pseudonym Jess Michaels.

Visit her website, read her blog, find her on facebook, and follow her on twitter.

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