Lynne Constantine and her sister Valerie together form a writing partnership, Liv Constantine, whose nail-biting psychological thriller, The Last Mrs Parrish, has become a breakout international best-seller. It’s now available in 22 countries/territories, including places like Brazil, Croatia and China. As if writing thrillers weren’t enough, the sisters run a blog on their website with useful writing and book marketing advice. (Sign up to get regular updates.) Their success has come in spite of writing at a distance, having a blockbuster that requires a second novel asap, and being much in demand for personal appearances. So I was thrilled when Lynne allowed me to ask her some questions.
GC: I know you write with your sister. How do you manage that when you live in different states?
LC: Thank goodness for email and Facetime! When we’re working on a book, we talk every day, usually in the morning via Facetime. We then assign scenes for the day, get to work, and email each other the finished result. We then speak again in the late afternoon to give each other feedback on what we’ve written. This goes on until the first draft is completed. Then we take a break, wait for editorial feedback, and it begins all over again!
GC: I understand you’ve finished your second book, and are now working on your third. Did you find the follow-up book hard to write? And can you tell us anything about it?
LC: The sophomore book, we have since learned, is notoriously difficult to write. Since we were fortunate that The Last Mrs. Parrish was so well-received, the pressure to follow it up with a book not just as good, but hopefully even better, was daunting. It went through so many rounds of revisions that I’ve lost track of the number. At times, we considered throwing in the towel and starting anew, but in the end it all came together and we’re very excited about it. The Last Time I Saw You, is scheduled to come out in May and is about a woman whose mother has just been murdered. On the day of the funeral, the killer contacts her with a harrowing message and a gruesome surprise left in her house. From there the story takes off.
GC: You’re something of a social media maven. Which media do you find most helpful in supporting your publisher’s marketing efforts?
LC: There are so many great platforms today to connect writers and readers. I always advise people to use the ones they are the most comfortable with and enjoy. I focus primarily on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If I have news that I want to share, I will post on all three, otherwise I use Instagram to connect with book bloggers and fans, Twitter to interact with other authors, and Facebook for both.
GC: What’s one thing that surprised you about traditional publishing?
LC: The tremendous amount of work the team puts into publishing a book. We’ve been so lucky to have a group of passionate, talented, and dedicated professionals who have done so much to help The Last Mrs. Parrish find an audience. The depth of knowledge and expertise in every area, whether it’s editorial, design, marketing, public relations, or sales is extraordinary. I had no idea how many hands touched a manuscript before it became a traditionally published book.
GC: And, finally, do you have any advice for writers seeking traditional publishing?
LC: Hone your craft. Find a trusted writing mentor or teacher. Take workshops. Read widely. And then don’t submit work prematurely. I highly recommend using an experienced professional freelance editor to get the manuscript in the best possible shape before querying agents. Getting an agent is the first step to becoming traditionally published, but they are inundated with hundreds sometimes thousands of emails a week, so your work has to shine.
Most importantly, keep at it. Keep writing the next and the next and the next book until you find someone who responds to your voice and can help you get your book into the right hands.