Emma Wagner published her debut novel in 2013, which became a Kindle annual bestseller two years later. Each of her titles became bestsellers, reaching the top 10 on Amazon’s charts and staying in the top 100 for months.
Her romance novel „Eine Schildkröte macht noch keine Liebe“ also reached #5 in the 2016 Lovelybooks Readers’ Choice Award behind international bestselling author Nicholas Sparks.
Meanwhile, Emma has sold a whopping 1 million books.
Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into writing? In which genre are you “at home”?
I am a mother of three children of kindergarten and elementary school age and, until I decided to write full-time, I also had a normal white-collar job. I came to writing, more than anything else, by chance . In the summer of 2013, I was visiting my parents with all the kids. It was one of those rare moments during my third pregnancy when I could just sit on the terrace and relax and watch my children play. And since the ability to just sit idle for once had apparently eluded me over the previous, rather stressful years, I flipped open my laptop and started writing.
Three weeks later, I stopped and held the manuscript for my first novel in my hand. Never did I think anyone outside my family would be interested. My husband uploaded the novel to Amazon and I was going to pop the champagne bottle if even thirty people read it. But in fact, suddenly there were thirty thousand. I was completely caught off guard, I didn’t have a homepage, nor had I ever been active anywhere on social media before. All of that started with the third novel, because of course it didn’t stop with just the one. Still in the hospital, the day after I gave birth to my third child, I continued writing my second novel.
And the urge to write hasn’t let go of me up to this day, so that in the meantime 17 novels of mine have been published. All of them romance novels – sometimes more, sometimes less dramatic, but always with a lot of heart and humor.
What fascinates you about writing?
As the British author Terry Pratchett once put it, “Writing is the most fun you can have alone.” And if George R.R. Martin quite rightly says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” the reverse is equally true for the author. There are no limits to one’s imagination and, in true Pippi Longstocking fashion, I can make the world “widewidewhichever way I please.”
Do you have any writing rituals?
Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time for that. As a mother of three children of kindergarten and elementary school age, I’m just happy when I have time to write, and I take advantage of it as soon as possible. However, I can’t do without my headphones. I even need them when there’s no one in the house and it’s absolutely quiet. Apart from that, the only thing I always need before I start typing is a cup of coffee. Or two. Or three … 😉
Where do you get your inspiration from?
All my novels are a mix of reality and fiction. When I watch people or talk to them, I always discover an incredible number of stories. After all, the saying “Life writes the best stories” is no coincidence. And especially in those of my novels that belong to the humorous Chic Lit, it is often precisely those moments of which readers say, “That was so funny, but so bizarre – it could never have happened that way,” that were even more bizarre in reality. But dreams, music, scents and countless other snapshots can also be the trigger for a novel idea – it just requires the imagination that lies dormant in each of us and that conjures a prince out of a frog.
How much time do you spend on writing a book?
That actually also depends on the time of year. In the summer and when the kids are on vacation, I have much less writing time than usual, so it takes longer. In my early days, when all the kids were in kindergarten, I could write novels in 3-5 weeks. But now, since two of my kids are already out of school at noon and I’m busy with them and their appointments all afternoon, I usually need about 3 months for purely humorous novels, and 4 months for the more dramatic ones. And if it’s a story in two time periods and with different, intertwined storylines, as is the case with my “Für immer” series or “Weil ich von dir träumte”, it can take up to 5 months.
What’s your favorite way to promote your books?
I love to give readings and I get completely absorbed in my novels. Apart from that, I’m present on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram.
How can you improve as an author?
By having the will to become better, by accepting constructive criticism, and by getting good editors and test readers on board who also voice such criticism. Writing guides are also a very good tool, especially for beginners, to learn what matters and to improve your own writing style. No one is perfect, but everyone is capable of getting better.
You’ve had a lot of bestsellers. What is your secret to success?
I can only guess the reason and it’s not really a secret: I am absolutely passionate about what I do and my readers can feel that in every sentence of my novels.
Have you ever had writer’s block and what do you do about it?
I didn’t experience writer’s block at all in the beginning; paradoxically, it only came with success. The better a novel is received, the greater my fear of disappointing readers with the next one, especially because I am an incredibly perfectionist and self-critical person. So it’s a self-made pressure. In my case, no amount of coaxing from outside really helps, only distance. From writing as such and also from social media. To realize again that being an author is a wonderful part of my life, but only a part. Whether the next novel is a success or not, my family and friends love me anyway. In phases of uncertainty and internal pressure to succeed, I therefore give up writing altogether and spend more time with family and friends instead. That grounds me again and shows me what really counts in life. And then it suddenly I can write again.
What advantages do you see in self-publishing?
I can realize myself and my ideas, I’m not subject to any restrictions as far as the content, the title or the cover of my novels are concerned. For someone who is as perfectionistic as I am, this can be both a blessing and a curse, as I like to get lost in all the details of covers and such for far too long. Most importantly, I’m not obligated to deliver a certain number of novels or even to do so by a certain date. Such freedoms make it easier for me to balance my motherhood with being an author; after all, with three young children, life gets in the way of plans every day. On the other hand, if you want to be successful in the long term, you can’t be too generous with these freedoms, you have to adapt to the conditions and requirements of the market to a certain extent and publish new novels at regular, not too long intervals. Accordingly, a fair amount of perseverance, stamina and self-discipline are simply necessary, but above all: enthusiasm for and love of writing.
What do you appreciate about Nova MD?
The good cooperation with Nova MD, the uncomplicated communication, the friendly staff, and of course the successful commitment to marketing my novels.