5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Friday, March 09, 2012

Indie Author News Interview: Rachel Thompson

Enjoy the Indie Author News Interview with Rachel Thompson, the Queen of Snark, BadRedhead, Rachel in the OC, Twitter Authority, and the Author of The Mancode: Exposed and A Walk In The Snark.

Interview with Rachel Thompson

On Rachel

Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background? 
Rachel Thomson: I started writing at age ten and never really stopped. I have a Journalism degree from California State University Sacramento (along with Communications Studies) and took a number of Creative Writing classes in college and throughout my life, online and locally. Finally, I started blogging in ’08 and that really started me on my current path.

What inspired you to become an Author? 
I always knew I wanted to write books. I was that kid in Kindergarten who said “I will be a writer.” And I am. It just took a while to get here.

Do you have a writing routine? 
I do. I write mostly in the mornings when my kids are in school. Go directly to coffee, desk, computer. Do not pass Twitter. Do not collect Facebook messages. Go right to Word.

I’ll take client calls or do training if scheduled of course, but I try to get in at least one solid hour of uninterrupted writing on my own work every day.

"I'm a WAHM ..."

What do you find easiest about writing? What's the hardest part? 
Easiest: I always have ideas. I jot them down in my black Moleskine, even though I have a Mac and an iPhone. I enjoy the process of writing. Hardest: Like everyone, I imagine – time management. I’m a WAHM (work at home mother) so I have my writing, my business, my husband, my kids, the house! And oh yea, me. Fitting it all in can be stressful. I just had a bout of shingles recently, so that was a real eye-opening reminder that I cannot do it all.

On Rachel's Books

Rachel, please tell us about your books "A Walk in the Snark" and "Mancode: Exposed" 
Snark is my first collection of essays based on my blog RachelintheOC and I released it January, 2011. It hit #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list in September 2011.

The idea really came about after I hit on writing my first Mancode essay Men are from Seinfeld, Women are from Friends. People loved it! And begged me for more. Here I was this unintentional “mommy blogger” with a brand. I embraced my sales and marketing background, social media, and stuck with the funny. Writing more of those types of blogs worked and I put them together to form Snark (along with about one-third all original material). I also hired a professional editor, formatter, and graphic artist to be sure I put out a quality product.

For Mancode, I wrote all original material not taken from the blog, again using my professional team. I released that book in December, 2011 and within one month it reached the Amazon Overall Top 100 Paid and hit #1 on several lists including Marriage, Parenting and Families, and Relationships.

How long did it take you to write the books? 
Each book took about six months to write and another one to two to edit.

How/where did you self-publish these books? 
I publish exclusively through Amazon. Their KDP Select program has been the best career move I could have ever taken. I know it’s not for everyone, but I couldn’t be happier.

How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues? What are things to look for when self-publishing a book? 
I absolutely believe all self-published authors need to work with a professional content editor for the simple reason that we are too close to our work. I adore my editor (Jessica Swift Eldridge aka @SwiftInkEditor) and she’s swamped for a reason! She takes all my ‘word vomit’ as I call it (it’s not that bad – really) and helps me organize it into themes I’d never see on my own. Then she goes through with the line edit.

I have somebody else do the proofreading and formatting. People specialize in what they’re good at and I respect that. Same with graphics. Putting out my work is my pride and joy. I would never skimp on it. I truly believe I will make it up in sales (and I have).

What inspired you to write the books? 
Eighteen years of marriage, baby. All kidding aside, I’ve always been fascinated by the interactions between men and women, no matter where we are in the process: flirting, dating, relationship stage, marriage, divorce, or even loss.

While I was writing Snark, an old boyfriend contacted me on Facebook (someone I once considered marrying) and within three months, he committed suicide. The grief surprised me and I wrote many essays about it. I included a select few in the book – love and loss being one of the themes. I’ve been criticized by some, others have loved my honesty. 

How would you describe the success of your books? (Sales, Awards, Reviews)
I’m grateful for the success of both my books. Sales have been great, and I’ve reached #1 with both books on several key lists on Amazon and the Top 100 Overall paid with Mancode. Reviews: Snark has 50 5-stars, 17 4-stars, and 11 3-stars and less; Mancode has 34 5-stars, 10 4-stars, and 13 3-stars and less.

Snark has received the Mark of Excellence from the Indie Book Collective for excellence in editing, content, formatting, grammar, and proofreading.

I’ve submitted Mancode for the Discovery Awards, so we’ll see.

"[...] primarily on Twitter – it’s a great platform for quick interactions."

What did you do to promote your books? 
EVERYTHING. I have a varied and interactive social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, WordPress, Triberr), I advertise, run promos, do interviews, guest posts, have guests on my blog, really anything. I’m primarily on Twitter – it’s a great platform for quick interactions. I teach authors how to use it effectively (tip: don’t spam people constantly w/ links to your books!). Blog tours, and co-promotion with other authors are probably the best thing you can do.

Did you hire an editor/cover designer for your books? 
Oh yes. I’m a writer. I draw stick people. :) She’s awesome. @JoGraphic. She came up with BadRedhead also (for my business BadRedhead Media).

Are you working on a new book project? 
Of course. Always. Last year, Lifarre hired me to write a series of more serious, poignant essays and that inspired me to continue on in that vein. I’m working on ‘Broken Pieces’ now – the same themes I always have in my work: men, women, relationships, love, sex, loss – but looking at it from a more serious side, real life stories.

I’ve run a few on my blog and people are responding to them in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Coming forward with their own life stories. It’s been incredible.

After that, I’ve got book #4, a paranormal romance and book #5, back to humor with Chick-speak.

Can men actually read "Mancode: Exposed"? Or are they going nuts that women "figured it all out?" 
I had about 20 beta readers and of those, about 12 were men. To a one, they were positive. And these are not men I know in real life. Lots of men read and enjoy the book. I do have lots of men who have given me a hard time about the book – usually they haven’t read it, but don’t like the ‘idea’ of it. So I put a caution in the forward of the book and in my Amazon copy: if you have a sense of humor, read the book. If you don’t, close it up now.

On the Indie Author Movement

Is the Indie Author Movement just a Hype or are we experiencing a (r)evolution of the entire book market? 
There’s no question, the entire industry has changed completely. An agent contacted me on Twitter. I never queried her. I didn’t send my book to anyone. I met with her live at a cafĂ© in Manhattan last summer. How is that possible? And she told me to keep doing what I’m doing – she represents indie authors who are proven commodities.

Alan, can you imagine having this same conversation even two years ago?

Was is always a fact for you to "go Indie"? Or did you try or plan to get traditionally published as well? 
Never even crossed my mind. Seemed like a waste of time, effort, and emotion to me. I already had a following. Why make them wait? Not to sound egotistical at all, but they were already wondering, “Where’s the book?” What was the sense of asking an agent of house if I could publish one? Um, what?

We see that new Indie Authors have no issues to get their works formatted and out on the market ready for sale via CreateSpace, KDP, Smashwords etc. - but then struggle to find readers or promote their books. What tips can you give for new Indie Authors? 
Start WAY before the book is out there. That’s what I did. You already have a blog, Twitter, Facebook. Build your following now. It’s kind of disingenuous to ask people to do you a favor when you’ve just met them. But if you’ve known them for a year and they’ve gone through the process with you, they’ll be excited to buy your book and tell their whole following about it, who in turn will tell theirs, etc., thereby increase your secondary and tertiary reach exponentially. It’s all a building process. 

"Readers have to know where to find you."

How important is Social Media for Indie Authors? 
Hugely important. Readers have to know where to find you. If they can’t find you, they can’t find your books. Social media won’t necessarily sell your books, but it will build your base, your tribe.

There’s nothing more frustrating than going to an author’s site and not finding their social media buttons. Or finding them and they’re dead. Pay attention to your media, be interactive, blog, answer emails. A newsletter is a great idea to update your fans. And always, always have your sell links on everything. I put my Amazon links on my Twitter.

Your take on social media. Do Indies have to join it all or should they rather set priorities for some of the Social Medias sites to get their names out. What Social Media sites are you recommending most for best exposure? 
As I said, I’m a huge proponent of Twitter. Some people are more comfortable on Facebook. Pick what works for you. I teach authors both. What’s important to remember, from a purely time management perspective, is to use something like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, which allows you to schedule in your tweets and messages for both Twitter and/or Facebook. While I recommend you check in a few times per day and live tweet or message, scheduling in your messages and/or tweets allows you to better manage your writing time.

You have a consulting service called "BadRedhead Media". What services do you offer?
I help people understand social media, primarily Twitter. I offer one-on-one training, webinars, or full Twitter management of your account. I also offer branding and marketing of your author campaign. I’ve worked with everyone from rock stars to PhDs. I also offer free tips every day on Twitter.


We see that your books are "only" available as eBooks? Do printed books have no future anymore?
There’s definitely a future for printed books. But with Amazon selling one million Kindles per week (in December), the future is clearly in eReaders. For me, from a financial perspective, it costs less for the reader to purchase my book digitally and it costs me only my initial costs to produce it (editing, proofreading, graphics, formatting); so I charge my readers less and everyone is happy. And no Kindle is required!

To create a paper copy creates work, cost me more, costs the readers more, I make less, and it sells far fewer copies. I just don’t see the point.

" 'Okay! Here it is!' does not sell a book."

Do we still need traditional publishers? Or is the entire book market heading to the 99c eBook? 
I do feel there is room for both. I love hearing about the great story that is found. Not everyone is cut out for indie publishing. It’s A LOT of work. Not many people are willing to do it and work as hard as many of us out here have. Uploading up your book and saying, “Okay! Here it is!” does not sell a book. Many creative people don’t want to promote their work and feel the need to have agents and publishers do that for them.

As for eBooks priced at 99cents, I see it as a promo tool only. With KDP Select allowing authors five free days, there are plenty of opportunities for readers to ‘score’ great deals on free or low-priced books. But I don’t see that all eBooks need to be priced at a buck. They should be affordable though, no question.

Your take on the famous Indies like Amanda Hocking, J A Konrath, John Locke? Just lucky, great promoters, or great writers? Will we see more of these success stories? 
Awesome. Great writers. More power to them. John Locke is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever interacted with. Konrath is a smart guy. Amanda writes a terrific story.

How can your readers and fans connect with you?
I’m RachelintheOC everywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, my website, email, basically, wherever snark is sold. And you can find my books on Amazon.

I reply to all comments and questions and I’m happy to help anyone on @BadRedheadMedia if they have Twitter questions.

Thank you so much for the Interview, Rachel. Good Luck with your future Book Projects and BadRedhead Media.

Links to the Author

Connect with Rachel on Twitter: @RachelintheOC


Anonymous said...

Not only do I love both books so far, I wanted to say how great it is to see somebody making it in the Indie world. For those of us who are really just starting out, it gets pretty tough to deal with at times~ especially dealing with kids, hubby, housework, etc... I can't wait to see what else you come out with. Kudos!

Christi M.

Toby Neal said...

Great interview with the quick, witty and hardworking Rachel! She sets the standard. Good choice for bringing her to share some secrets of her success! Thanks.

Justin Bogdanovitch said...

Excellent and comprehensive interview and I thank you for sharing. The details make up a writer's life, and these are what interest me the most about anyone's writing process. Good luck for a future of curious thought.

Charity Parkerson said...

Thanks for sharing, Rachel. I loved it!

Jane Isaac said...

Fabulous interview, Rachel. Great to learn more about you, your writing and your books. I have also been married 18 years this year;-) Really enjoyed.

Lorca Damon said...

I've been a big fan of Rachel Thompson's for nearly a year now. She's not only talented, but ultra-supportive of getting other authors started on their careers. Great lady!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

If it weren't for the time management problem, I could have saved the world by now. I write first thing in the morning, too, at least get a page done, even if I'm not in the mood. Nice interview Rachel.

Raine Thomas, Author of the Estilorian Novels said...

I'm a WAHM, too...didn't even know there was a term for it! Balancing my wedding planning and writing careers with raising a family and trying to take care of myself is a huge challenge, and it's rather comforting to know I'm not alone. I wish I had met Rachel a year ago so I could have taken advantage of her valuable advice before my books were published. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

RachelintheOC said...

Aw, thx Christi you're so sweet. It is a lot of work but I love that we have that control over our future.

RachelintheOC said...

Thank you, Toby. I don't know about setting the standard but I do feel we all should work with an editor, graphic artist, proofreader, and formatter. I see so many authors who don't and it comes back to haunt them.

RachelintheOC said...

I appreciate your sweet comments, Justin. The writing life can seem boring to many, though to writers, we are always fascinated by what inspires. I want to read more about you! xo

RachelintheOC said...

Thank you, Charity. I appreciate your visit. :)

RachelintheOC said...

Thank you, Jane. We're rare birds these days :). We're actually 20 years this October -- isn't that crazy? He brings me coffee and Nutella. I let him. It works.

RachelintheOC said...

Thx Lorca -- as are you! I love your sense of humor and your books are amazing also. Big hugs.

RachelintheOC said...

Thank goodness for Hootsuite. I wouldn't survive. Even then...you're right, Kelly. Think of all we could do if we just had even more time ... :)). *evil laugh*

RachelintheOC said...

Thanks Raine for the lovely compliment. We're not alone and we do have each other's support which is wonderful. Your books are terrific so clearly you're working it all out! But it is a challenge, no question. I'm happy to help wherever I can. :)

Barb D said...

Great interview Rachel! Being a WAHM is quite difficult at times. Although, like you I love what I do, it is difficult to close the office door! Thanks for sharing.....

Veronica said...

Really enjoyed your interview. You inspire me to pull my socks up regardless of other commitments and get WRITING! Love it...

Beth said...

Love this: "Do not pass Twitter. Do not collect Facebook messages. Go right to Word." Thanks for the laugh and inspiration.

D.C. said...

Rachel is such a talented writer. I am so happy to see her featured here.

RachelintheOC said...

Thanks Barb. My son calls me a WHAM haha. It feels like that sometimes :)). Never enough time to get to everything. Thanks for the comment and visit.

RachelintheOC said...

Veronica, thanks so much for your lovely comment. We spoke already and I'm honored I've been able to inspire you! The writing is what got me here, and it's often what gets put on the back burner for me with all the other commitments -- you've inspired ME to put my writing back up in front once again.

So thank YOU. xo

RachelintheOC said...

Hi Beth -- it's funny but the hard truth. We get sucked in so easily to work, email, social media, house stuff, we can forget about the writing! Something has to give. I often have to remind myself of this mantra...

Thanks for the comment!

RachelintheOC said...

Aw, thanks D.C. I'm so proud of YOU with all your stories and books and contracts! My goodness, busy lady. I love hearing about all your accomplishments and your blog is such a wonderful place to learn of other writers. Thanks for being such a supportive force for authors.

Toby Neal said...

Fun to spot this flying through Twitterland, Rachel! And great questions, Alan!
Love you guys and what you're doing.
Toby Neal

Nina Amir said...

Great interview and information for writers, Rachel. Seems I might need to have you on my "other" blog... Keep up the great work!

Richard Beckham II said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. They are inspirational for those of us starting out in the Indie book scene. I'm working on getting my books out as ebooks and focusing on a web presence and this interview helps provide some insight. Thanks again!

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