Being in charge

After seven years with publishers, Bella Andre was left with a choice. She could change her name and start over, or she could become her own publisher. Andre explains the decision to believe in herself, and the confidence that comes from controlling the process.


Where did you first publish?

I sold my first full-length novel to Simon & Schuster. It was actually 10 years ago now. And it was exciting and it was all the beginning. And, you know, great things are going to happen. And I was very, you know, enjoying the books that I was writing. But always, I think every writer feels that they’re destined for more. I mean, you’re usually not writing a book for nobody to read it. So I did five books with Simon and Schuster. And then, I ended up selling a different series, a trilogy about firefighters, to Random House. And I sold at auction. And, you know, it was a six-figure deal and that was great. And this is really going to break out. This is going to go really great.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out. So there I was seven years later and many books in, and my career was no better than it was when I sold my first book. And, you know, everybody in the industry said, you know, “I think you’re going to have to change your name. I think, you know, if you want to break out, we’re going to have to start fresh. We’re going to have to start over.” And I never believed that.

Why do some authors change their names?

What happened once computers became a part of how they tracked sales, and they could do point of sales, and they could get the information, you lived and died on how your last book did. It impacted everything. Your numbers followed you everywhere. So if you were doing, even if you were doing really well and then, suddenly, you started to do worse — name changes. That’s why a lot of romance writers have a lot of different writing names. Because they are constantly trying to circumvent one release that didn’t work for whatever reason.

So if you started over with a new name and you had no numbers associated with you, the sky was the limit again. And then, maybe you put out a couple of books under the new name. And if it didn’t go well, we’ll chuck that name out. Start a new name again. There are many people who have four, five, six writing names that they’ve collected over the years; right? They’re writing the same thing. But it was constantly trying to get that fresh start.

So what did you do?

When I was told, “Well, you know, it looks like people don’t really want to read your books,” I thought, “No. People want to read my books. But no one has ever gone out there and done a good job of finding those people.” So with the advent of self-publishing, I decided to do that myself. And it was empowering and exciting. And, you know, sometimes scary, but I don’t care. I would rather be in charge of what I’m doing and my success or failure. That’s fine. I will take that. When it’s not in your hands and you’re just watching, going, “Well, I wish, I wish. Why not? I wish,” it’s a very, very different thing.

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