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Mom University: Brette Sember, Pregnancy and Parenting Author

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Mom University is back with an interview with prolific author Brette Sember, who has written a number of books in the pregnancy and parenting category. Brette is passionate about writing giving voice to audiences whose needs for information have traditionally been ignored or under-served -- plus-sized pregnant women, gay and lesbian parents, adoptive parents, and so on.

Ann: Brette, first of all, I have to say that I've always found you to be a very inspiring person. Not only do you work really hard (look at that list of books!): you are the kind of writer who is supportive of other writers and who generously shares information about what it takes to be successful in this business. I really admire that.

Now let's talk pregnancy books. It seems to me that the baby boom in the pregnancy and baby book publishing category is still going strong. There are more titles than ever before. What types of books do you think expectant parents are looking for these days? What trends have you noticed over the past ten years or so?

Brette: I think that expectant parents are looking for two things, really. First, I think they want good solid, general books that tell them everything important about pregnancy or babies. Once they have that in hand, I think they want books that then specifically address their own particular needs, problems or issues - like pregnancy over 35, plus-size pregnancy, raising babies with special needs, and so on. I think the trend is for more and more specialized books. The problem is that publishers see these special needs as "niche" and are reluctant to publish books in those categories. I also think that pregnancy and baby books have got to be extremely user friendly and provide things you can't find online. It's very easy to just google whatever you want to know and not buy a book.

Ann: What are your favorite subtopics related to pregnancy, babies, and motherhood? Are there subjects that you find particularly fascinating?

Brette: Plus-size pregnancy is my number one. As a plus-size mom myself, I had so many questions and worries when I was pregnant about my weight and there was no information to be had. Fortunately I had a wonderful OB who was plus-size herself and was very reassuring; however, other medical personnel were not as nice.

Ann: I totally get that, Brette. Some people can be patronizing -- even nasty -- about the weight issue. Fortunately, there has been a lot of work done in this area in recent years. And there are more products/services/options available for plus-sized pregnant women. When I had my second child, I put up an ad on the bulletin board at a local parent-child drop-in center asking if anyone had plus-sized maternity clothes. I remember saying something about how I was going to be naked soon if I didn't find some good plus-sized maternity clothes fast! Luckily plus-sized moms today have so many more options when it comes to clothing. And pregnancy books are finally "getting" the fact that plus-sized moms have babies -- and sex lives! -- too. (When John Sussman and I wrote the first edition of our book The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby in 1999, it was considered ground-breaking to include information about plus-sized pregnancy. Times have changed!) But I interrupted you! Go on with what you were saying....

Brette: I also love pregnancy chick lit. There are only a few books in this category, but one of my favorites is actually becoming a tv series this fall (Notes from the Underbelly by Risa Green). I have created an Amazon Listmania list with my favorite books in this category. I think it's a chick lit sub-category that is going to continue to grow, as women who absorbed chick lit in their early 20s become moms.

Ann: What other topics do you enjoy writing about?

Brette: I like to write about a wide variety of topics. It keeps things fresh for me. I have a business book coming out, The Essential Supervisor's Handbook, which was a nice change for me. Having worked as an attorney before becoming a writer, I was able to draw on my experiences as a boss.

One of the things that motivates me as a writer is finding people or interest groups who need information and have a hard time getting it. This is what spurred my plus-size pregnancy, but is also the basis for the gay rights and senior rights books I have written.

I also like to write about books. I did a children's book review column for several years and it was great fun. Some day, when my kids are older, I hope to do more travel writing.

Ann: What is your best career advice for writers/authors?

Brette: Finding a specific niche in which you can specialize is very important. It gives you some footing and separates you from the crowd. It may seem contradictory, but at the same time that you are establishing yourself as an expert in one field, I think it's important to diversify and try other things. If you write only about fitness, for example, there are times when you simply run out of things to write about. That usually changes, as the market changes, lifestyles change, and research comes out, but it takes time for new pathways in a particular niche to emerge. Instead of twiddling your thumbs, find other areas.

Ann : Brette, that's excellent advice. Thanks for dropping by to talk writing and motherhood.

Brette Sember is a mom of two and author of over 25 books, including Your Plus-Sized Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide for the Full-Figured Expectant Mom and Your Practical Pregnancy Planner: Everything You Need to Know about the Financial and Legal Aspects of Preparing for Your New Baby. Her web sites are Your Plus Sized Pregnancy.com and BretteSember.com. Brette recently spoke at the Connecticut Coast Writer's Retreat in Milford, Connecticut.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:34 AM