An interview with author and publisher Jen Talty

Jen Talty is an award-winning author of romantic suspense. Dark Water hit #10 in Barnes & Noble, and her books have been in the top 50 on Amazon. Jennifer grew up in Rochester, NY. She recently retired from being a full-time hockey mom as her children hung up their skates. She and her husband still live in Rochester while their children travel the globe. Jen is the co-founder of Cool Gus Publishing with NY Times best-selling author Bob Mayer. Jen does all the cover, art, book trailers, ebook conversions, and also works as a developmental editor. See more at

Interview by BWG member Diane Sismour

Each year I attend several Writers Conferences and Workshops. They offer a multitude of networking opportunities to meet fellow industry professionals whom I, in turn, can introduce to you, our valued Bethlehem Writers Roundtable readers. In this issue, I’m pleased to introduce author and publisher Jen Talty. We first met at a Writer’s Workshop at the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference several years ago, where she and Bob Mayer taught. Ever since then, we have seen each other at numerous conferences across the country. DS

BWG: Hi Jen. You're both a writer and a publisher. Can you please tell us a little bit about your role at Cool Gus Publishing, and the type of novels you acquire?

JT: Cool Gus Publishing isn’t really a publishing house. Bob Mayer and I started the business back in 2010 as a vehicle to self-publish his backlist. From there, we worked with a few traditionally published authors who were either in a similar situation where they had gotten their rights back, or were looking to become a hybrid author (a term Bob coined). We’ve had the privilege of working with some great authors such as Colin Falconer, Jennifer Probst, and Janice Maynard. We haven’t taken on any new authors in a while and have no plan to in the future. My role is to run the daily operations and support our authors in whatever they might need. I do eBook creation, print layout, covers, book trailers, web design, and also help out authors manage their author careers.


BWG: What is one piece of advice that you would like writers to heed when on submission?

JT: There is a ton of advice on this given by writers, editors, and agents. Having a manuscript that is free of errors, follow the guidelines of the agent or editor, among other tips can be found. All good tips too. My big thing is trust yourself and your work. Turn off the inner critique and that little voice that says this sucks, because if you’re writing a query, or pitching, this attitude will bleed over sending subconscious negative messages. Express your excitement!


BWG: Everyone seems to have at least one reason for needing a stress ball on his or her desk. What is your biggest pet peeve as a publisher?

JT: Since we’re more of a publishing partnership than a publisher, I’m going to answer this question a little differently. I’d say my biggest peeve as a publishing professional and someone who has been in this business now for going on fifteen years, there is no one size fits all type of publishing. I think there is a lot of advice given that indicates one should go this way, or that way, or use this tool, or that tool. What worked for me, or Bob Mayer, isn’t going to work for every other author out there. There is no magic bullet. There is no super-secret handshake for success. Take all advice with a grain of salt (even mine) and find the path that best suits your career goals.


BWG: Has your writing changed since becoming a publisher, and if so, how?

JT: I didn’t publish a book myself for nearly five years. Not because I wasn’t writing, but I was going through some things personally, while focusing all my energy on helping the authors at Cool Gus Publishing. I struggled with not understanding what I wanted to write and why. This is important, I believe, in writing good books. I dabbled in new genres and just wasn’t feeling it. I came back to writing contemporary and romantic suspense and it was like coming home. I think the last seven years working with Bob and taking time to stretch my skills has made me a better writer and I’m really excited about writing again. This past year, I released two new books and have another one coming out on 20 March 2017.


BWG: From a publisher’s standpoint, has being an author given you a different perspective when relating to clients?

JT: It’s changed my perspective about all things publishing. It’s really given me unique insight on the other end of the business.


BWG: Should an author have a social media presence prior to going on submission? If so, do you have any suggestions on how to develop one, and which markets to target?

JT: Boy, that’s a loaded question! Social media has become a way of life. Watching children go through the job application process, it’s interesting to note how many perspective employers ask for links to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites. As far has having a social media presence before publication, I do think it's a good idea. But I disagree with targeting anything. You want to develop a following and the best way to do that is to connect with people on levels of interest. I write romantic suspense, and in 2017 I’m going to be blogging about three things (this will be a new blog for me…big reveal coming soon and that focus on my personal interests, which do have to do with the books I write. I’ll be looking to connect with people on social media who share the same passions. This is not targeting anything or marketing anything. It’s connecting with like-minded people. Once you have books for sale, you have to do the self-promo stuff, but growing an audience takes time and has nothing to do with targeting a market. Save that for your Facebook Ads and the use of some hashtags when promoting your books. Essentially, my advice is to connect with people and topics that interest your and go from there.


BWG: There are many writing conferences held each year. Do you believe they are helpful, and if so, what is the biggest advantage they can provide to pre-published and published authors?

JT: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. Did I mention NETWORKING? You never know who you’re going to meet at a conference and how they might affect your career someday. I met Bob at a conference and that led to a great partnership that benefited us both. Bob and I wrote a book about Writing Conferences and getting the Most out of Your Time and Money and its FREE on all platforms. Check it out.


BWG: I’ve noticed that the publishing industry changes trends more now than ever before because of instant marketing through popular networks like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. What trends in the industry are you paying attention to that most excite you now?

JT: I honestly don’t pay attention to writing trends. One minute Vampires are out, the next minute they are the hottest thing. Everything is hot to the reader who LOVES that genre. I do pay attention to publishing and the changes in the business.


BWG: Do you have a favorite writing manual or writing tool guide that you can suggest other authors read?

JT: By far the best book I ever read on writing is Bob Mayer’s The Novel Writer’s Toolkit (and I read it before I meet him). It changed the way I approach my writing and I had so many ah-ha moments it was mind-blowing. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bob while he developed the Write It Forward program and that changed the way I approach my business as an author. Both are my bibles to writing and publishing.


BWG: Is there any information you would like pre-published authors, or fans of your novels, to know that you would like to share?

JT: I love to connect with readers, so feel free to ping me on social media!