Friday, March 16, 2012

Sophie Perinot talks about her new book: The Sister Queens

Sophie Perinot was a guest here on The Write Time in July of 2011. Since her last visit her book The Sister Queens has been published. A historical fiction about the sisters who married King Henry III of England and King Louise IX of France. Sophie has been involved with the Historical Fiction community for years and is proud to have attended all of Historical Novel Society’s North American Conferences.

Sophie Perinot

As an aspiring author, whose manuscript is in the midst of a major rework, I am still dreaming of what it will be like to see my work in print. Tell us about what you felt when you saw the official book cover for the Sister Queens.


Many readers don’t realize this but authors (at least those with major publishing houses) do not design their covers.  We are asked for ideas (typically to describe what we envision and for images of covers we love and covers we hate from other books) but we do not attend the “cover conference” for our book where the design and marketing departments brainstorm about our eventual cover.  Our editors are there to represent our interests in that setting.

So, while I knew my cover was going to be a painting rather than a photograph and that it would include my two sisters (with their heads!) in a field strewn with flowers, the actual unveiling of the cover image was a wow moment.  I was particularly excited by the deep, rich, eye-catching colors and the fantastic choice of lettering.

On a similar note, describe your feelings when you actually held a copy of your book in your hands.

I was very lucky in that my publisher did full color galleys of my novel (this is NOT a given).  Thus I had a chance to hold something very close to the final book months before publication.  It was unbelievable, and I still have one of those advance copies on display in my office.  But even that experience didn’t prepare me for the emotional wallop of seeing The Sister Queens in a store for the first time.  I believe I probably scared innocent shoppers as I snatched the top copy off the “new releases” table and posed for a picture with it.  Pure bliss!  Seriously, it was right up there with saying “I do” on my wedding day and seeing my children in the first moments after their births.

What page did you turn to when you opened the book for the first time.

The first time I opened a finished copy I paged through quickly to get an overall impression of the design and formatting.  Then, because that’s the sort of person I am, I started at the beginning—re-reading my dedication and preface.
Describe the journey once you had your publishing contract.

Oh I could write a separate book on the publishing journey.  Mine was fifteen months from contract to release (twelve to twenty months is about average for a major house.  Rather than lay out all the milestones here, I suggest writers currently on the road to publication visit the blog “Book Pregnant” (  Book Pregnant is actually the name of a group of debut authors (myself included) with books releasing in 2012 and 2013, and the blog is is our public space—a place to share what we've learned and give other writers a look at what to expect when you're expecting... a novel.

You did a lot of work writing, revising, and working on the book. Once the publisher had it and asked for changes, was it hard to make those changes?

Making editorial changes certainly required a good deal of mental and emotional energy, and was time consuming, but I am not sure I would say it was “hard.”  I gained a highly skilled veteran editor when I sold my manuscript.  She was passionate about the book when she bought it, and equally passionate about making certain it was the best book it could be before it hit shelves.  So I took her input very seriously and approached her suggestions in a mindful, listening way.  As a result I believe The Sister Queens available for purchase is better than the novel I originally sold.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did the publisher change your title, or is the title the one you started with?

The title on my cover today is certainly not the title I started with because generally all my manuscripts are called “untitled,” lol.  I am really horrific at titles.  One of the great thing about working with a publisher is you have a whole collection of creative professionals to help with the things that aren’t your forte.  In the case of The Sister Queens my wonderful editor came up with the title.  Each of us made a list of “title candidates” and we all (including my agent) ended up liking The Sister Queens best.

Okay, so what were the titles on your list, and what were some of the other title candidates that the agent and agent came up with?

There were a lot of them.  I only remember a few (probably blocking out the worst of the ones I came up with) like:  Loyal Sisters, Royal Queens; Know Then My Heart: A Novel of 13th Century Sister Queens; and The Saint’s Lover and the Queen of Hearts.  As for who came up with what, that’s grown dim as well, but I am sure I came up with that last one.
 Now that The Sister Queens is out, how are the sales? Is the book doing as well as you hoped it would, or has it exceeded your expectations?

I don’t have any sales figures yet.  I probably won’t for a couple of weeks.  And I am being very good about not checking my Amazon ranking.  I feel that there has been quite a bit of good buzz about my novel (starting before the launch), and I certainly hope that buzz will translate into sales.  But sales are out of my control so I am putting my energy into other areas—promoting the book with my massive world-dominating blog tour, visiting local book stores to sign stock and meet readers, working on the next novel.

Are the e-books marketed differently for Kindle vs Nook? What about the other platforms, do you have to have a separate plan for each, or is e-book its own world?

From my point of view (as the author) I don’t care what format people buy and read the book in, so my personal marketing is not focused on a particular format.  My focus is on making sure people know the book has released and making myself accessible to readers.

Have you seen your book on a store bookshelf?

I sure have!  The Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Historical Novel Society very kindly arranged their first ever meeting to mark my launch day.  A handful of us, including authors Kate Quinn and Stephanie Dray, enjoyed a nice lunch and then walked to a nearby Barnes &Noble to visit my book-baby.  Currently the novel is on the “New Releases” table and that’s a LOT more exciting than being on the shelves!!!

Since my initial  sighting I’ve received a dozen or more pictures of my book “on location” around the nation from friends and readers.  I am making a collection so that I can create a collage for over my desk.  SO if anyone reading this blog spots The Sister Queens, PLEASE snap a picture for me :)

So these fine folks snap a picture of The Sister Queens on a book shelf how do they get the photo to you?  I'm sure you would like the location the photo was taken at, right?

That’s right.  I got the most adorable picture this week of a fellow writer’s little girls holding up my book in New York State.  Since I am trying to hit all fifty-states and some exotic territories (a gal can dream) it would be very helpful readers sharing pictures tell me where they were taken.  Anyone wishing to share a photo can use the contact form on my website or message me at facebook or twitter to let me know.  I will then provide instructions for getting it to me.

(Links to twitter and her blog are at the end of this post.)

Now that you have your first book out, how much more do you have to do on marketing the book?

I am in the midst of the marketing storm.  Successful marketing can’t begin with launch, it has to precede it, but the 6-8 weeks surrounding the release of a book are intense.  Lots of published friends advised me not to plan to do anything but market for a month or two after The Sister Queen came out.  I am currently managing to write a bit as well, but only because I worked ahead and “banked” a number of guest posts and interviews so that I wouldn’t be totally overwhelmed in the first weeks after my novel hit stores.

Has marketing The Sister Queens effected writing your next book?

Absolutely.  But if I don’t market The Sister Queens there might not be a next book.  Writers today need to accept that marketing is part of the job.  Particularly with your debut it is important to do whatever you can to make sure you come out of the gate strong.

What is your current project?

I am currently working on a novel driven by the mother-daughter relationship.  It is set in the 16th century, which is one of my all-time favorite periods in French history.  My main character is Marguerite de Valois, sister to three kings of France (Francis II, Charles IX, Henri III) and wife of a fourth (Henri IV).  Here is the tagline I am using to focus my writing:  “The mother-daughter relationship is fraught with peril—particularly when your mother is Catherine de Médicis.”

We all get discouraged and ready to throw up our hands and say, “I quit!” What keeps you going?

Passion.  I have a passion for writing.  Now that I’ve had my first taste of publication (remember the aforementioned emotional-wallop when I held The Sister Queens for the first time) I am addicted (and greedy).  I want that bliss again!

I know I asked this before, in light of publishing your first book, what do you feel is a key to your success. (I classify success as the fact you have your book in print. A lot of aspiring authors never see their work where yours is at.)

I am not sure there can be a “key to success” in a business where luck and timing figure so heavily.  I benefit from my share of both, but I also know my business background has helped me. Not sexy but true.  I understood from the get-go that writing needed to be about commerce and not just art.  Hey, somebody can write a 300,000 word literary-fantasy with a touch of comedy if that is what they are inspired to do, but they are not going to sell it.  A person who wants to write for publication—and I always did—needs to learn about the business of publishing and be open to conforming (somewhat) to the perimeters of that business.  I was willing to do both I’ve also been helped by the fact that I approach writing as a job.  I don’t wait for the muse.  I sit down and I write.  I suspect my “butt in chair” attitude is a legacy from my first profession where long hours and stretches of unbroken work days are common (I once worked twenty-seven straight 12-hour or more days in my former incarnation).

Sophie's Blog


1st Week Reviews

Sophie writes historical fiction.  Here is a link to her blog where she discusses the launch of her book.

Five out of five apples for The Sister Queens check out the review.

Book Blurb:

Patient, perfect, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. But Louis IX is a religious zealot who denies himself the love and companionship his wife craves. Can she borrow enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in a forbidden love?

Passionate, strong-willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Henry III is a good man, but not a good king. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?

The Sister Queens is historical fiction at its most.


Cheryl B. Dale said...

Nice interview! Love the cover.

Dean C. Rich said...


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad you liked it.