J.S. “Jan” Scott is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling romance author. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature, but romance has always been her genre of choice. Writing what she loves to read, Jan pens both contemporary and paranormal romances. They are almost always steamy, generally feature an alpha male, and include a happily ever after—she just can’t seem to write them any other way! Jan lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two very spoiled German shepherds, and she loves to connect with readers.
1) I just want to say thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us! What made you get into writing and want to tell the stories that you tell? What do you love most about being a writer?
Thank you for the interview. I hope readers are able to get something out of my own journey. I have always been an avid reader and writer since I was a child, so as I got older I started writing my own stories.
Romance has always been my go-to genre since I was a medical professional for many years, and I wanted to escape into a story that I knew was going to have a happily-ever-after. When self-publishing was in its infancy, I decided to start putting my heart and my stories out there, and I was humbled by my success.
I think the one thing I love most about writing romance is bringing a story to readers that they can enjoy and get swept by so they can escape everyday life for just a little while.
2) You have well over 20 novels under your belt and they are in both the contemporary romance genre and the paranormal romance genre. Is it difficult to write in multiple genres? Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Contemporary and paranormal definitely require different mindsets. But any book is about bringing readers into the story, so all books have that in common. I try to be as accurate to life as possible with contemporary. I do a lot of research on professions, places and lifestyles, so I don’t offend readers.
In paranormal, I can write my own world. And there’s a lot of freedom in that respect. I haven’t written a paranormal in some time due to my contemporary commitments, but I will jump back into when I have time.
Readers are welcome to check out my website http://authorjsscott.com/ where they can find all my books, as well as the reading order, and a family tree showing how the series connect.
3) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? What’s one aspect of the writing business that you would change if you could?
I was, and am still stunned, by how many readers started following me on social media in the beginning. I started being noticed around 2012, and I was getting new “follows” every day. That was very significant, because it told me readers were interested in my books. Those readers asked about upcoming characters stories and wrote notes about how certain stories touched them in different ways. I think that’s when I knew I was doing something significant by entertaining readers and touching them emotionally while they were reading one of my books.
Although I don’t give a lot of significance to bestseller lists anymore, I do remember the very first time I hit the USA Today, and the NYT Bestsellers in 2013. It felt really good to be recognized for my sales in that way. Honestly, the first time I hit one of the lists I was just looking through the lists to see if some of my friends hit. I think I scared my poor hubby to death when I started screaming because I saw my own book there.
What would I change? If I could, I’d try to educate new authors that other authors in the genre are not their “competition.” They can be friends, supporters, and authors who can actually help them in their careers by cross promoting. I think that in the indie publishing business, it’s so important to work together with like-minded authors. Many people are voracious readers, and they never have enough good books to read. So there is plenty of room for everyone who wants to succeed.
I’d also nix the attitude that you have to be published by a traditional house to sell millions of books. I’ve turned down the Big Five. I’ve sold millions of books since then in many languages, and I don’t regret a moment of that decision. I do hybrid with Montlake, but only because they fit well into my career plans, and they made me a fair deal.
4) Have you had to deal with a lot of rejection so far within your writing career and if so how did you deal with it? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing in terms of traditional publishing and self-publishing?
Okay, so you already know that I’m a huge fan of self-publishing or being a hybrid author if the deal is right. To be taken seriously in self-publishing, I think it’s really important to make your work just as professional as it would be with a publishing house. Editors, proofreaders, formatters, professional covers…yes please. I’m not against trad publishing if they step up and make a deal that’s fair to the author. Traditional publishing has its place in the mix of books being published today. I’m not completely against traditional publishing at all if it’s going to benefit the author in certain situations.
Yes, I’ve dealt with plenty of rejection. I started submitting manuscripts to publishers when I was twenty years old, and if I’d kept them, I could probably wallpaper my walls with rejection letters. I was completely crushed, but looking back, I think it was probably a blessing. I went on to become a medical professional, and I think that gave me the life experience to be able to write about real issues and real emotion in my stories. It also gave time for the romance field to evolve so we could include more non-traditional characters and write outside the confines of what was acceptable in romance years ago.
There are more and more people going the route of self-publishing, which I know has made some publishers have to rethink their strategy, and smaller houses having to shut their doors. It will be interesting to see what happens with trad publishing in the future if they don’t start leaning in, accepting that self-publishing is not going anywhere, and start working with self-publishers instead of against them much of the time.
5) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I have to have a schedule and treat my job as an author like any other job. I have deadlines to meet for both traditional books, and my self-published titles. Admittedly, it’s very easy to get off-track when there are a multitude of other things to deal with, but if I’m behind, I have to close my office door and make the stories come first. How long it takes to finish the story depends on how well it’s flowing. I don’t believe in writer’s block. But sometimes it takes longer than others to get that story to flow naturally. And if it’s a bad day, it’s going to take more editing later. I can generally finish a rough draft for a 70K to 80K book in a month, three weeks if I’m writing like a fiend. Then I start doing my author edits. My goal is usually at least 5K per day. I think it’s important to have a daily goal, no matter how big or how small. It keeps things on track.
Outline? I wish. I’ve tried to be a plotter and outline, but I move away from that outline almost immediately because it isn’t working for me, so I’ve given in to my panster nature completely. It does get me backed into a corner sometimes, but I find a way to get myself out. Now, I generally have an idea of what’s going to happen in the book, but it’s always subject to change, and usually does change if I’m just not feeling it. You could say that I’m a panster who wishes I could be a plotter. But can’t.
6) What’s the first book you ever read that made you fall in love with storytelling? Was there a specific book that you read when you were younger where you instinctively knew that you didn’t just want to read other people’s stories but that you wanted to write them for a living as well? What book are you currently reading?
When I was younger, I really loved fantasy, like A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, and a little later, Lord of the Rings. But I don’t think it was until I got into my teen years that I started writing my own stories that had a romance element after I started reading teen romance. Granted, those early stories were horrific, but at least I knew it was my goal.
Honestly, because my schedule is crazy, I’ve started listening to books on audio. I always said I’d never be an audio listener. But I’ve evolved. I realized that I could do mundane or repetitive tasks and still listen and retain what I was hearing. But I can’t catch the whole story if I have to do a lot of thinking while I’m listening. I now listen to everything from self-help to romance on Audible. Right now, I’m listening to a Tessa Dare historical romance.
7) What projects are you currently working on? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I just started writing under a pseudonym, with the name pen name of Lane Parker, so I could branch out and do edgier books, with different tropes than my normal. I’ll be putting stories and novellas into that pen name this year in addition to writing my regular J.S. Scott books for my Montlake series, The Accidental Billionaires, and my long-running self-published series, The Billionaire’s Obsession.
I hope to still be writing in 5 years and giving the readers what they love to read. I’m open to any opportunities that come my way because, like everyone else in publishing, I have no idea what the market will look like next month, much less 5 years from now.
8) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
NO! I don’t think it’s ever too late to chase your dreams. At one time, I thought I was getting too old to ever have career writing romance, but I proved to myself that my theory on that was completely false. I waited for decades to become a writer. There are plenty of incredible authors who started or found success later in life. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t find success with her Little House books until she was in her mid-sixties, and the world would have lost some amazing stories if she had given up. No matter what your age might be, if you have the drive and the ability to write, it’s never too late. In fact, I think a lot of life experience can enhance writing.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?
I’m one of those writers. Once I finish and edit a book, I don’t touch it again. Those characters and the story are imprinted on my brain. But since I know how the story goes, I’d much rather read someone else’s. I can’t listen to my own audios, either, even though I have an incredible narrator.
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I like to write about real issues, so there is generally a social issue in every one of my books that my characters are struggling to overcome, from human trafficking to opioid addiction. I guess my hope is that while I entertain, I can also teach within the context of the story. And let readers know that they can overcome. I do feel empowered at times because I’m able to write a story that just might help a reader cope with some kind of issue they are having.
I’ve written through almost every tragedy in my life, including the death of my mother and my sister. Although I don’t recommend writing through a tragedy unless you feel like you want to, I do think I was able to pour a lot of that emotion into my story to make it better and let me find release from my sadness or confusion.
Writing is definitely one of my coping mechanisms, and there isn’t a better feeling than knowing you left a piece of yourself in every book.