Betty Cayouette, ONE LAST SHOT

Betty Cayouette, ONE LAST SHOT

Zibby is joined by Betty Cayouette, a former fashion videographer and the creator of the viral TikTok account Betty’s Book List, to discuss her sweet and heartfelt debut romance, ONE LAST SHOT. Betty delves into the plot and inspiration of her friends-to-lovers romance, which is set in Cinque Terre, Italy, and revolves around a supermodel and a photographer with a past marriage pact who meet again ten years later. She also describes her passion for reading (she read 160 books last year!) and what it was like to go viral on BookTok (oh, and she shares some tips!).


Zibby: Welcome, Betty. Thank you so much for coming on Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books to discuss some One last shot.

Thank you for having me. I'm so excited. Yay. It's so fun because in the book and in the acknowledgements you talk about writing the book and your excitement and how it all came to be and everything, but tell listeners about your previous career and how it launched you into being a novelist and all that.

Betty: So fun. I'm just so excited the book is out. I'm so excited to be talking to you because I love all of your content. The whole thing is just thrilling, but I was a fashion videographer. in my professional life before I did any writing at all, which was so much fun, and I really love it. Like, it is a blast to do, but it inspired me to write this novel, which is a friends to lovers romance between a supermodel and a photographer who, after a decade apart, are on a photo shoot together in Cinque Terre, Italy, and have a second shot at love.

Zibby: Love it. So awesome. And you said you, it had never occurred to you to set a novel that you wanted to be a novel but it never occurred to you to set it on a photo shoot until it did. 

Betty: No, I had actually written a totally different novel that I queried and stuff before this one that is now put to bed because like I said I hadn't really written anything before.

So it ended up just being great practice. No, it wasn't until shortly before I actually started writing this one that I was like, you know what? I actually know a lot about and my friends love hearing about and my family loves hearing about photo shoots. Maybe that's where this novel should be set. 

Zibby: The idea of the long lost love sort of trope and how people can get back together and the where did that come from?

Like, did you ever have a long lost love or did you ever have that one of those like, if this doesn't happen by this date. 

Betty: I have not had that myself, but it's my favorite trope. I absolutely love Friends to Lovers. I am obsessed with it. I didn't even know it was a trope until, like, maybe four or five years ago.

But once I realized that I had read one book, which was People We Meet on Vacation, I loved it so much. And then, Another book influencer Kendra told me, you know, that's a whole trope, like there's a ton of books like that and it just changed my entire life. I was like, I can just read my favorite thing all the time.

Like, I'm not a huge enemies to lovers person. I want like the puppy dog, golden retriever, like they've been meant to be from the beginning love story. And so that was obviously what I was going to write. 

Zibby: I heard, I don't know if you know the author, Georgia Clark. She's Australian. She writes queer rom coms.

But anyway, she was talking about how there are like these essential eight tropes for all rom coms, essentially. And she just rattled them off. And everybody in the audience was like, really? Like you can put everything into buckets? For people who don't know exactly what you mean by the tropes and, like, what they are, can you explain a little more about that?

Betty: Yeah, so, I mean, I didn't know about tropes either for most of my life, basically until after I had gone viral on BookTok. I didn't know what a TBR was, I didn't know what tropes were, I didn't know about any of that stuff, but tropes are things like enemies to lovers or friends to lovers or second chance romance or, um, One bed where they're forced to share a bed that you see showing up over and over in books and whenever someone's favorite trope Happens they're like cheering.

They're so happy And it is kind of the same every time, but that's also the beauty of it. 

Zibby: I love that. Oh my gosh. Wait, so you are just a reader. Just love to read and also fantasize about writing and all of that. Tell me about going viral on TikTok and how that led to the book and how you learn more about the industry and how this all happened for you.

Betty: Yeah, so I was always a big reader. Well, not always. When I was a little kid, I actually had a lot of trouble learning to read. I wasn't really a solid reader till like the fourth grade. And, but once I could read, I loved reading. And once I started shooting, we spent so much time flying that I really fell back in love with it.

You'll find that models are really big readers because they're traveling all the time. You need stuff to do. And so I had kind of fallen back into reading a lot and then fell into writing, which was something I hadn't previously done during COVID because I had a little less time on shoots and more time to like do other fun things and fell in love with writing right away.

And because of that, I went to the Grub Street Writers Conference in Boston, where they started talking about book talk. And I was like, wait, I make videos for a living, and I love to read, I should be making book talks. And my third video went viral, and like the rest is history. I was doing the videos where you act out the plot of the book, and it became a whole trend, which was so exciting and cool.

And then from that, I met some So many readers who taught me all the things they taught me about tvrs and tropes and everything you could think of. I met so many amazing readers and authors, and then I ended up leaving my full-time in-house job to spend more time writing. And that's when I wrote this book.

Zibby: Oh my gosh. That is so cool. So what did you do, and I wanna talk about the book, but when you made the video that went viral, what was that like? Like, what was that whole experience like? 

Betty: It was like nothing I've ever experienced. I, um, was doing the videos, like I said, where I act out the plot of the book as though I'm the character.

And the third one went viral. And then after that, for about a month and a half, every single video went viral, which it was just crazy. Like I opened my phone and suddenly I had Millions of notifications quite literally. I've never really experienced anything like that I wasn't really on social media much prior to that at all even though I was making big video campaigns for the brand I was working for and for another brand I ended up doing tiktoks for But I had uh never experienced anything like it It kind of still feels surreal that people watch videos of me Like some videos will have like 7 million views and that feels absolutely wild to have that many people watching but It was really nice.

Like the best thing was hearing from people who hadn't read it a long time. And because this recommended books in a different way, it got them to pick up a book when they might not typically, like that was basically the best part. 

Zibby: And are you still, I mean, I was just on your Instagram, but you're still like into it and excited and you like doing it.

Betty: Yeah. I mean, I love to read, I read a lot, like a lot, a lot, a lot. And so it's really fun to be able to promote books in like a unique way like that. Hearing that it got someone to pick up a book for the first time in five years is pretty much the best thing you could ever hear. It's very rewarding. 

Zibby: I love when people say that.

Your podcast got me to read again. I'm like, yes. 

Betty: Yeah, it's the best feeling. It's like giving someone a little bit of magic. 

Zibby: Yeah. That's a great way to say that. So back to the book, Emerson is a model and she, you open it up with this great scene where she's dating someone who has books for display essentially and she's like, no, no, no.

Like, I'm not going to be with somebody if you're not actually reading these books. So it's always great to start a book. Talking about other books and how much you love books and all that and then, you know, she gets the alert and Theo gets the alert on his phone and the rest, like, goes from there. And I love how you use time.

Like, you jumped back and forth. You have both a countdown to an event of, like, when's, Deadline sort of is. But then also, back and forth, alternating narrators, alternating timelines, and this is a lot to pull off in one book. 

Betty: Yeah, especially in my debut book, but I really enjoyed it. Like, I personally think that a true friends to lovers trope book, Has flashbacks.

I know there's books that are friends to lovers like categorized that don't have that But I find that all the ones that I truly love have those flashbacks And i'm actually do it in my second book. There's flashbacks, too I really think it helps you get to know the characters and with friends to lovers They haven't talking spoken in so long, especially in a second chance romance.

You really want to know why the connection does matter so much to them. Like, what is so special about this bond that they have that ten years later they even remember each other that fondly. So I think it really helps build out the characters and it was so fun. Like, the high school scenes are set in my hometown where I'm from, Massachusetts.

So that like definitely has a really special place in my heart. Like, all of those scenes. 

Zibby: Oh, that's amazing. 

And what about the Italy? Have you been there? Did you go on shoots? And yes. Okay. 

Betty: Oh, yeah. I've been to shoots several times now, but I had gone for the first time right before I wrote this book. And it is a magical place.

I don't know if you've been, but. It's one of my favorite places I've ever been. I've since gone back and it just is, it's gorgeous. It's so romantic. I went there and I felt like, how could you not fall in love here? It is the most beautiful place. 

Zibby: Wow. What do you think makes people feel like they shouldn't end up with the people that they grew up with?

Betty: You know, I feel like people are like, you know what I mean? Like, what is the holdup? It's a tough one. I actually have a best friend from preschool who I mentioned in the acknowledgements who we did the road trips and some of these things from the book. And I think a lot of it is just that I think usually it's that they have such a special place in your heart as a friend that there's huge risk involved with friends to lovers.

This always comes up in the books. You're risking losing a friendship, a platonic friendship, that is such an important thing. bond and relationship that often has been there longer than any romantic relationship in your life. Like making the jump is a huge risk. So I, I would say that's usually what holds people back.

Just what if it's all risk, no reward. Obviously in the book, it's not, it's romance, there's a happy ending, but. 

Zibby: Wow, that's true. Well, when you're writing, how do you find a unique spot for your Book, when you're reading so many books and you wanna write a book with a common trope, how do you find your way?

How do you like, you know, machete your way through all of the other stuff to like make sure you claim your spot. You know what I mean? Honestly, 

Betty: I read so many books last year. I read it was like 160 or something. Like I read a lot and. Even books that are the same plot in many ways. Like, I've read a lot of books that are like a sapphic version of The Bachelor between two contestants.

The stories are told so differently that it's a really different experience. Like, I've never really worried about writing a book that's too similar to another book, just because having read so many books, I know that I can read two books that When I explain the plot, it sounds very similar, but when I actually read it, it's an entirely different experience.

I think everyone tells stories in such a unique way that it's usually like a worry that doesn't need to be there. 

Zibby: You're absolutely right. I want to teach a writing class where Not like, I'm any, just, I want to like, I shouldn't say, I want to give a writing assignment. And I, I want like the same group, I want to like describe or I want to show a movie clip or something and like show a scene, but then have everybody write it.

Because everyone will write it so differently. Like, I want to see, like, who tells it in such a funny way, and like, who has interior monologue, and who notices what about all the different things, right? I don't know. 

Betty: Our own experiences, like, inform how we tell the story, so there's really no way for it to be the same.

Someone told me once that, like, all the basic stories, like, all the basic plots were written by Shakespeare. They've all been done, so don't worry about doing what someone else has already done, like. And what is your next book? I don't know that I'm allowed to share what the next book is, but it's another adult romance and it is not related to this book.

But I don't know that I'm allowed to share the premise yet. I didn't ask, actually. 

Zibby: Okay, I won't say anything then. You have a main character who's a supermodel, You don't necessarily think, like, oh, I'll totally be able to relate to this main character because, you know, I'm just one step away from being a supermodel myself, you know.

And yet you make her so relatable and like anybody else, like it was part of the goal. Even making supermodels, because you've probably worked with them forever, you know, seem like real people, if you will, and that everybody has problems. 

Betty: Yeah, I mean, that was something that came up a lot when I was working with my agent, and we were thinking about sending the book out, like, will Emerson be relatable enough?

But when I was writing, it wasn't something I was worried about at all, just because I had worked with amazing models, like America's Next Top Model contestants and winners and Playboy models and so many talented, huge models. And they are all so fun and so normal and really like hanging out with them just felt like hanging out with my girlfriends from Salem.

So when I was writing it, I wasn't worried at all because obviously Emerson is on a bigger scale than like some of the models I worked with. But they really feel so normal and I think it's fun to look behind the world of really famous people and remember They're people too like they're human too It's like if we got to meet taylor swift for 24 hours Like she would feel so much more real I bet like they all are just humans and I think that's so kind of magical to read about.

And models especially are like, I feel like they're so fun and real. And I got to work with some great like actors and singers and like amazing like A list talent for different videos we did. And honestly, every single time it was a blast. There was never anyone that I was like, wow, this person is like not great in real life.

That just never happened. Like they were all so fun and real. 

Zibby: It's amazing. I love it. When you were writing, 

I how much was in the first draft versus going back and rewriting and editing and how is that whole process for you? 

Betty: So for me the first draft comes out really fast. It was the same on this next one and I wrote a thriller in between that's like totally unrelated to all of this but I write the first draft pretty fast in like a month basically like 19 writing days and I'll do a one of each POV chapter each day.

And the first draft will just, like, pour out, and then I'll have a lot more revising to do, I would say, especially for One Last Shot, because I was still really getting my footing and learning, like, what is it like to write a book? Like, how do I solve these plot holes that I have? Because, like, I didn't outline as well as I have now on subsequent projects, but for me, I basically just write the first draft and pour it all out and get it at least all on the paper and then spend a few months revising and getting notes from my critique partners is the most helpful thing ever.

Cause I think sometimes you get so close to it that it's hard to like make heads or tails of what should be cut and what should stay. Although I think I'm getting a much better grasp of that now, as I continue writing. 

Zibby: Love it. Okay. So for people who are overwhelmed by TikTok or Bookstagram or whatever, and don't know what to do, but know that they're supposed to be on there, like many aspiring authors, what are the tips and tricks not to give away all of your, you know, but what can the regular person do to do well on those platforms?

Betty: Yeah. I mean, I honestly, There's no tip or trick I would want to, like, keep for myself, like, especially from other authors. Like, I want them to all do so well. I would say posting consistently really does make a difference. And any video you make on TikTok, make it on TikTok. Use their amazing editing capabilities.

Then screen record it in edit mode. So you have it without the watermark and then post that on Instagram reels and YouTube shorts. You're getting your max value out of your work on Tik TOK right now. This could not be true in five months, but right now using this story is definitely gives you a little boost in the algorithm, posting to Tik TOK stories.

But the best thing you can do, I think is try to hook people in the first two seconds of the video. Cause that's about how long you have before someone decides whether to watch your video or scroll to the next one. So when you're ever, you're making something big, how can I get them interested in the first two seconds of this video?

How can I either provide value or provide entertainment? That's kind of the golden rule in my mind, value or entertainment. And with every video, think about that. I would try to keep it short and sweet at the beginning and then move on to longer content as you get more confident. Find content you can make consistently and make sure that it's providing value or entertainment in some way, and don't be afraid to make content that is different from everyone else's.

Because I think that's kind of the beauty of TikTok, there really is a space for everyone on that. 

Zibby: How do you engage people within two seconds? Like I've tried to post a couple. This is now a totally selfish question. I've tried to post a couple of tic tacs and they give you that thing. Like this is when most people dropped off and I'm still like saying hello. I'm still being like, hi everyone. And they're gone. They're gone. 

Betty: Yeah. It is so hard. I would say I try to talk fast, jump right into it. A lot of mine, I am talking direct to camera, telling a story, and I really almost start, like how they tell you when you're writing, kind of start in the middle of the scene.

I almost do that with the videos, like I might start it with, I woke up this morning and lost my memory, rather than being like, Hey, this is Betty, like really diving into it or putting text in the first two seconds. Like I did one the other day that was showing a valentine's day gift that you can make at home with little match custom matchboxes And I said this is the diy valentine's gift that is So romantic or that you still have time to make or whatever it was I don't remember now but putting that right away so people can see something to hook them in With text or by really, really jumping into the story, I think helps a lot.

Zibby: Yeah. I just need like a cute doggy video. You know, all those are so good. And my kids watch all these. So like my whole feed is like, yeah, like, like a mix Labrador puppies or something. And I'm like, well, that is cute. 

Betty: It is. I watch yours. We can do a deep dive into yours after the episode. Two of our combo.

Zibby: No, I do embarrassed. I like, I put a lot in the, what do you call it? Archive, whatever. I was like, I can't even show anybody this. My kids were like, get it off. This is too embarrassing. Take it, take it down. I find it hard to figure out who to follow on TikTok too. Like there's no directory, you know, it just like appears.

Betty: Yeah. I mean, I went and when I first started my account, I literally had not had this account. Like I open account Betty's booklist and that day posts like my first video. But I had found a New York Times article about other booktalkers, and when I first started my account, I followed all of their book accounts that I found in, like, news reports, basically, because I wanted to, like, train the algorithm to know that I was interested in books and books people.

And then after a few days, about when I actually went viral, It started feeding me content by other book creators. So it kind of had gotten an idea of what I was interested in. I don't know that it still works like that. Cause TikTok has changed so much since then. Now, my content that I receive is a lot more varied, but there's been so many press pieces about amazing, like content creators that, I think that's kind of a good way to find people you're interested in if you don't feel like the algorithm is feeding you correctly.

Zibby: Yeah, that's a good point. If you had to stop one thing, writing or doing videos, which would you choose? 

Betty: Oh, easy. I would stop doing videos. Writing, the second I started doing it, like I had a job that I really enjoyed, the in house job, and it was fun and glamorous. The second I started writing, I knew it was meant, what I was meant to be doing.

There was no question in my mind. I've never felt that feeling of like, When you know, you know, but I felt it immediately that writing was what I was meant to be doing. It was what I needed to do for the rest of my life, whether anyone ever read it, I just immediately knew that there was, there was no world in which I did not keep doing that.

Zibby: Oh my gosh, that's awesome. And someone just asked me earlier today, if I. Had like five days left to live, would I write fiction or nonfiction or something? I was like, I probably wouldn't be writing that much, but I'd probably be like posting all about it on Instagram and just being like, really? One day left or I don't know.

I'd probably, I don't know what I'd be doing. I mean, I'd mostly just be with my family, but ....

Betty: yeah, if I had five days left to live, I would not post anymore and I would definitely keep writing. Whether or not that writing would go anywhere, because I wouldn't have time to complete a whole book, but family and writing, for sure.

I would still do it in the last five days of the world or whatever. 

Zibby: Is there a dream setting for you for future books? Is there some place you really want to write about that you haven't yet? 

Betty: Well, reality tv. Like, I love The Bachelor. I've read so many great Bachelor books already is the thing, but I would love to write a reality tv book.

Like, it's not exactly a setting, but I really, really enjoy The Bachelor and would love to write a Bachelor inspired book. 

Zibby: Love that. Very fun. 

Betty: It's just such a communal experience. My friends are watching at the same time. I watch with my mom. Like, my sister watches, my boyfriend's mom watches, then we all talk about it.

Like, it's just a very, like, amazing part of the week when it's on. I love it. And I am really fascinated in the behind the scenes element because I've worked in production. So mine would be a little different than the ones I've read, but I would definitely want to meld, like, some behind the scenes alternate edit universe.

That and like the grand show. 

Zibby: I did read, oh gosh, what was it called? I did read a book like, that was a behind the scenes of a reality show, Bachelor style. Mm hmm. You've probably read it. I can't remember. 

Betty: There's a lot of them now. There are? Oh, I definitely read it. There are, yeah. The One, Here for the Wrong Reasons, Never, Ever Getting Back Together.

Zibby: No, it was a couple years ago. 

I'll find it. I'll search my back podcasts and remind myself what it was, but I can still imagine it in the beginning. Like, I can see the scenes. Something tropical. I'll figure it out. Anyway, uh, what advice do you have for aspiring authors? 

Betty: I would say just sit down and write, and there's no reason that you can't write a book.

Because I didn't go to school for creative writing. I went for film production and had only taken one fiction class, which was just for fun. Like, there is no reason that you can't write a book. You can teach yourself and go to classes and learn and just, you know, Practice and get your 10, 000 hours, just sit down every day for 30 minutes or 45 minutes and write.

And that is enough to be on your way and it doesn't have to be perfect. 

Zibby: Excellent. I love that. It doesn't have to be perfect. That's very good advice. Take a deep breath. Not try so hard. Just let it come. Betty, thank you so much. Congratulations on your book. Bug. One last shot. So fun. I love when, you know, I met with some producer recently and they were like, we just want stories that take you to a world you're not used to seeing.

And I feel like this is one of those worlds. Like, so for the reader, I feel like I get to go on a trip. I get to learn. And it's really escapist and great, which is what we all need right now. 

Betty: Oh, well, thank you so much. I'm so happy that you enjoyed the book. 

Zibby: Thank you. 

Betty: All right. Thank you. Have a good one.

Happy Valentine's. Happy Valentine's. 

Betty Cayouette, ONE LAST SHOT

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