Within the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.
This week I interviewed Bianca Sloane. Have a look at her profile and books here.
What inspired you to become an author? I’ve always been a writer; as I kid, I loved creating stories and was forever pecking out ideas on my ancient little typewriter. As I got older, I veered more into journalism, then PR. However, fiction always pulled at me, so the decision to become an author was an organic one. I love the freedom writing a novel gives you.
Do you write full time? Yes and no. My day job is a freelance copywriter, so I write press releases, speeches, articles, etc. for my clients, while work on my novels usually takes place at night and on the weekends.
How do you fit writing into your routine? Because I work for myself, my schedule is flexible, so there might be days where things are slow with clients, and I can devote a random Wednesday to my WIP. Other times, it may not be until after hours. I always carve out time on the weekends as well.
Where do you write? I write at my desk, which faces a corner in my living room. Real inspirational, I know.
Do you have daily word targets? I usually shoot for 2,000 words a day. Sometimes, I only get a 1,000, other days it might be 3,000-4,000. But I do write every day.
Before writing, do you plan your books to the last detail? Yes and no. I am starting to get more into outlining, but for the most part, until I get it on the page in manuscript form, I don’t always know what’s going to happen. For me, it’s like a puzzle. Once I take all the pieces out of the box and lay them on the table, I can step back and figure out what I need to do to make everything fit together.
How do you decide on your characters and what they will be like? It’s usually very organic. I might have a vague idea of who they are and what motivates them before I start, but more often than not, their characteristics reveal themselves as I write.
How do you get over the fear of a blank page? I don’t really have that problem. I usually just sit down and start writing and the rest takes care of itself.
How do you target your audience effectively? One strategy that has been extremely effective has been to reach out to book bloggers who review in my genre to ask for a review on Amazon, Goodreads, et al. In addition to posting on those sites, many will also post their review on their blog, which has given me added exposure to suspense readers.
What ways do you promote yourself online? I’m very active on Twitter and Pinterest. I also blog regularly, am on Google+ and I actively seek out opportunities for guest blogs and interviews. I also list my book on such book-centric sites as www.bookmatchers.com, www.bookgoodies.com, http://www.blackcaviar-bookclub.com/, among others.
How much time do you spend promoting yourself in social media? I don’t do a lot of blatant self-promotion on social media; if a blog reviews my book, or I have a KDP Select Day, I’ll tweet about it. I don’t believe in screaming “buy my book” on social media. It’s not all that effective, not to mention, not all that interesting. The “self-promotion” I do on social media is more passive; I tweet articles or quotes I find interesting or add to my Pinterest boards, which range from my favorite movies to my obsession with shoes. I blog once a week. My philosophy is to do a little bit every day.
What’s been your most effective way of promoting yourself? Honestly, it has been a combination of all of the above; social media, guest blogs, KDP Select, etc. However, reaching out to book bloggers has probably given me the biggest ROI. I’ve made a huge push to get my work into the hands of book bloggers for book reviews. Doing this has resulted in increased visibility and sales as a bonus, I’ve started to forge some great relationships with them, which has been awesome.
What offline promotion do you take part in? Because my work is currently available in eBook form, all my promotional efforts have been online. I’m in the process of producing print versions of my work and I hope one day soon to participate in conferences and book signings/readings, but for now, it’s all online.
What made you decide to publish independently? At the end of 2012, I uploaded “Live and Let Die” on Amazon and enrolled in the KDP Select program. After the exclusivity period with Amazon was over, I made “Live and Let Die” available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Like so many, I did the “Query-Go-Round”; I would either receive the polite but impersonal rejection or requests for the first 50 pages, which were followed by the polite but impersonal rejection. I put my writing on hold for seven years, a combination of frustration and a series of major life changes. In 2012, I stumbled upon a tweet from Roger Ebert, who’d linked to an article about Amanda Hocking in the “The Guardian,” and how she decided to use Amazon as a publishing platform. The lightbulb in my head not only went off, it exploded. I read up on what she did and modeled my efforts on hers. However, it was only after a lot of research and arming myself with as much knowledge as I could about the industry, did I take the plunge into self-publishing. You can’t decide on Monday that you want to publish on Tuesday. You’ve got to do your homework.
What do you think the future of traditional publishing will be? I think the future of publishing isn’t all that different from the old studio system in Hollywood, in that, a lot of actors and directors wanted greater say over the types of movies they did and began to break away and become free agents. I think we’ll see a lot of traditionally published authors take creative control of their books and publishing houses will become more like distributors. I don’t think print books will ever go away and I think book bloggers will become the new gatekeepers.
Is it necessary for authors to have agents these days? I think it depends upon the trajectory of your career. If you need to negotiate foreign rights, film and TV rights, even your digital rights should you decide to sign with a traditional publisher, an agent is a powerful member of your team. However, do I think these days you need an agent to be published? Not really. Indie authors are proving it can be done without one.
How do you deal with rejection or a less favourable review? Aside from a one-star review on Goodreads, where the reviewer didn’t say why they were giving me 1-star, my reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, which I am extremely humbled by. However, that can change in a heartbeat and I brace myself for it every day. I try to take a fairly philosophical view; for one, not everyone will like my work, and that’s okay. Second, when that day does come, I would just try and take it in stride. If it’s constructive criticism, I’ll listen. If it’s mean-spirited, I may be bummed for a day, then I’ll just have to brush it off and move on. Life’s too short to obsess about those kinds of things.
How do you keep yourself motivated? I’m motivated to get these stories out of my head and onto paper. I love knowing that something about my work strikes a chord in people and I welcome the challenge of continuing to strike those chords.
What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Do your homework. And keep writing.
Thank you for being part of this interview.