Black Butterfly Press is honored to interview
MJ Rose

MJ Rose's debut novel, Lip Service, has been one of the first self-published books selected by Double Day Book Club and The Literary Guild. Read about her extraordinary story!


M.T.: Lady Chatterley’s Lover is my favorite novel by D.H. Lawrence. What made you pick Lady Chatterley’s Library for your company’s name?

M.J.R.: When I set out to self-publish my novel, I realized I wanted my book to look just like any other book in the store or on Amazon.com. So I needed an imprint... a name for my publishing company. D. H. Lawrence self-published Lady Chatterley's Lover. It is an erotic book. And a wonderful piece of important fiction. In honor of that book, and because Lip Service is erotic and because I thought that if Lady Chatterley was real and she had a library, Lip Service might be in it, and because I was self publishing too... I came up with Lady Chatterley's Library. Six months later I got an offer from someone to buy the name. And I considered it for a short time. But I decided to keep it which was the right choice because I will be test marketing other writer's novels via the web through Lady Chatterley’s Library. Check article at http://www.writersmarkets.com.



M.T.: Did you originally self-publish your book as an e-book or was it in print-form?

M.J.R.: Originally I offered the book as an ebook but for every e-order I got, I got ten requests for a printed copy. I wound up selling 150 electronic books and 1500 printed books.



M.T.: I saw you on "The Today Show" in August. Could you tell us how this opportunity came about?

M.J.R.: Pocket Books arranged that for me. I was so flattered... I was the first "first time novelist" who was not a celebrity that they'd had on the show in seven years. Boy did that one appearance make a blip in sales.



M.T.: What made you choose the "erotica genre," and what other genres did you mix in with the telling of your story, Lip Service? Please explain the difference between erotica and pornography.

M.J.R.: I didn't choose the erotica genre. I just sat down to write a book I wanted to read. What came out was a book that's psychological, suspenseful, erotic, with a bit of a love story thrown in. As to the difference between erotica and porn... I thought I knew... but I've discovered that the difference is in the mind of the reader. Lip has been called everything from erotic, to soft porn, to something that "wouldn't even stimulate a monk on hormone shots". Since I don't expect many monks to read Lip Service that particular review didn't bother me much.



M.T.: What was the inspiration for this spicy, racy novel?

M.J.R.: Lip Service is based on two separate incidents that coalesced in my head. The first took place while I was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I was accidentally patched into another guest's phone call and overheard a conversation between a famous male celebrity and a phone sex operator. The second event happened about two months later. I was at a dinner party with a husband and wife who had a certain dynamic in their relationship that I found fascinating. He was very strong, charming, and full of bravado about his wife and his accomplishments, while she was reserved and quiet. Every time he talked about how wonderful she was, an uncomfortable expression appeared on her face. Both episodes stayed with me and became part of the foundation for this novel.



M.T.: What is the idea and the morality behind your theme? What is the premise?

M.J.R.: There is a theme of masks, of losing yourself in another identity and hiding behind another persona that runs through Lip Service. I've found that often what happens to women when they get involved in a long-term relationship or marriage is that they split off various parts of themselves. They put on the mask of good mother and good wife and deny the bad girl part of them. Julia is somebody who has done that to the point that she doesn't know who she is anymore. In order to reunite all the aspects of herself, she has to take on someone else's identity. In her case, it is Alice Carroll, a phone sex therapist. In addition, I think that a lot of women are merely paying lip service to an ideal of what the marital relationship is supposed to look like; to being the kind of wife they believe their husbands want them to be. In the end, though, it usually isn't enough to sustain the emotional and sexual connection.



M.T.:. How and when did Doubleday Book Club and The Literary Guild pick your book?

M.J.R.: When my agent submitted Lip Service to the top publishing companies three years ago, all the editors loved the book, but the marketing departments were very nervous because it didn't fit into a particular category. So I sat with the book for awhile. During that time, I got increasingly involved on the Internet. I realized that I could test market the novel as a download, and see what kind of response it generated. Lip Service got such terrific feedback that I decided to self-publish it and sell it online. That was in the summer of 1998.I took full advantage of the free marketing and advertising available on the web, plus the multitude of female friendly sites that are desperate for good material. Then I started selling the book on Amazon.com, where it became the highest-ranking small-press novel on its list. In February of 1999 and editor from the Doubleday Book CLub and The Literary Guild became aware of Lip Service through the buzz on the net. She went to Amazon, read the reviews, then read the book and then bought it as a featured alternate Selection for September 1999. Two weeks after that was announced in Publisher's Weekly. Pocket Books bought the book. That was in late March. Since then we have sold foreign rights to England, Germany, The Netherlands, France and Australia.



M.T.: How much time elapsed between the point you published your book on the Internet and the point you were picked up by the mainstream publisher, Pocket Books?

M.J.R.: Less than one year.



M.T.: I understand that you and Angela Adair-Hoy are co-authoring a book called, "The Secrets of Our Success." Can you share some of these secrets with On The Same Page writers?

M.J.R.: Not yet... but when the book is finished... we'll be glad to send you an excerpt. You can preorder the book through my website www.mjrose.com and save two bucks.



M.T.: Could you explain how you accomplish "a virtual book tour? "

M.J.R.: In my case I hired a wonderful woman named Gwendolyn Gawick who sets them up much the same way a publicist sets up bricks and motor book tours. I'm going to be on iVillage on Nov 9th at 10 pm and at Yahoo on Nov 10th at 9pm. More details are on my web site.



M.T.: Thank you for this provocative interview, MJ Rose!

Order the book at MJRose.com