25 October 2016

How to Kick @ss: Janet Evanovich

by Melissa Yi

Who debuts at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, handles up to 3000 fans at her signings, and sustains three million hits on her website per month?
Yep. The one, the only Janet Evanovich.
Here are six tips from her singular career:

1. You can be a late bloomer.

Janet’s first book was published in her early forties. In a BookPage interview, she said, "In that respect, I think I'm a great role model for my children. I have shown them that you are never to old to try something new.”
Isn’t that terrific? Usually, you hear about how you’re over the hill if you haven’t started creating masterpieces by age six, like Mozart.

2. But figure out your weaknesses, and improve on them.

In an interview with Island Packet, Janet said that because she was trained as an artist instead of a writer, her dialogue “was very stiff and boring. But I had a friend who was doing acting classes, so I joined one of the improv classes that she was doing. What we do as writers is very similar to what actors do.”

3. Learn the writing business

In Mystery Scene, Janet recommends
a) Romance Writers of America. Even if you don’t write a romance, she says RWA is “a very nurturing organization for establishing peers, for learning skills, for getting market information.”
b) Sisters in Crime
c) Publishers Weekly “to see what’s going on. You want to look at the bestseller lists and see what people are reading and enjoying, and see if you can stay in front of the curve.”
She says that learning the business helped her figure out that her timing was perfect. “I came in on top of the wave…right behind the crest of the wave—Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky—and I rode that in. And I think that’s important when you’re starting out to understand where the market is going and see if you can look to the future, see if you’re riding a wave—if a wave exists.”

4. Work hard.

She told BookPage, “I’m just a boring workaholic. I motivate myself to write by spending the money I make before it comes in.”
In Janet’s book, How I write, she describes this schedule:

 Weekdays: 05:15-14:00 Write
14:00: Business (phone calls, mail, publicity, website work with daughter etc.)
1-2 hours of exercise “in the middle of the day”

Write in the morning only
Afternoon/evening: fun

On a book deadline: writing 24/7

Mystery Scene

5. Love your fans.

As she told Mystery Scene, “I didn’t want to be an author in an ivory tower. Maybe it’s the mother in me, but I think of my readers as an extended family.”
Her website has contests and polls every month, and readers can submit photos of their pets.
Because so many people come to her signings, they can get bracelets so they don’t have to wait in line for hours, and she makes the signings an event, “because if somebody is going to be driving for four or five hours to come see me, we should have something interesting for them to see. For a couple of cities, we brought in a live band, and this year in New York, I dragged a friend of mine, Lance Storm the wrestler, onstage with me to take his shirt off and read Joe Morelli, and because you can’t have a WWE wrestler without a slut, my daughter volunteered to be the slut of the night.”

6. Team up to make the best work possible.

Janet involves her whole family in her business. She told the Island Packet,“My son (Peter) is my agent. He's very detail oriented. My daughter (Alex) interfaces with my publisher and handles all the online stuff and social media. My husband, Pete, manages all aspects of the business and tries to keep me on time. It's great.”
Janet talked to Forbes about pairing up with popular authors like Lee Goldberg, Charlotte Hughes, Dorien Kelly, and Leanne Banks, so she can offer more books for her readers. “I like being able to provide consistent and frequent literary choices for my fans. Since I can barely write two books a year the best solution seems to be co-author projects. My goal isn’t to get another writer to clone me …it’s more to produce a book that shares my vision of positive, fun entertainment.”


  1. A good piece with good advice from a super successful writer.

  2. Thanks for the post here--as before, I really like what you're doing in this series of posts. Good stuff!

  3. I enjoyed this post, Melissa--especially the late bloomer part.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>