Monday, August 1, 2011

Angela Smith

Angela Smith is the Author of End of Mae, if you haven't read my review it can be found HERE.  Angela has been so nice to do a guest post and an interview So I am going to let Angela take the stage first:

When I came out with my new book, End of Mae, I don’t know what I was more excited by; breaking into fiction or getting to try out my marketing plan.  It’s my belief that there is excellence out there being overlooked due to less than excellent promotion.  Lack of money, knowledge and time tend to be the main enemies of the indie.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the indie cause, be it author, artist or musician.  We stand alone and face the crowd, putting our hearts on our sleeves with voluntary vulnerability.  Over the past two months I have personally asked over a dozen published authors what their marketing plan was, and the response each time was minimal to none.

There are a lot of books out there, and it’s necessary for authors today to make use of every tool available to be noticed.  With the new prevalence of multimedia applications, the modern indie author must be more of a performer than in past years.  The days of the reclusive writer hiding away from society are gone, at least while you are trying to get your work known.

Understanding and utilizing social networking, virtual worlds, machinima and viral marketing methods are tantamount to our success.  Being a staunch supporter of your own work and acting professionally are also key factors.  As John Locke points out in his excellent book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! ; “How is it that self-publishing is the only business where self-funding is considered undignified?”  If we can’t be enthusiastic about ourselves, who else will be?
The day that End of Mae was officially published I knew that the real work and creativity was about to begin.  It had several strikes against it being a new fiction in a highly competitive market.  Aside from my blog I had been largely away from professional writing for several years.  I was just kind of popping on the scene abruptly, a fact that could work for me or against me.  Despite this, I managed to successfully introduce End of Mae to the literary world, garnering more press than I could have hoped for in its first month alone, and for less than $50. 
I used Second Life as part of my promotional campaign, building a virtual version of the house from my book in that world so that I could have a visual center of operations.  This was excellent for taking photos and hosting social opportunities.  I called it my End of Mae Virtual Visitor Center, and it is closely linked with my blog.  I can host readings there, film videos, pass out updates and visit with fans in a satisfying and friendly way.  This has proved to be a very successful strategy.
Here’s some of the first month statistics;
·         Nearly 500 bloggers, magazine editors and other media specialists were contacted with a virtual press release.  The entire thing cost under $1 and took me a total of about two hours from start to finish.  Press release included promo shirts for girls and guys that could be shared and a replica of the actual book that contained the first chapter among other things.
·         Since the press release 30 to 50 new people have visited the End of Mae Virtual Visitor Center in Second Life daily.  This doesn’t count revisits, the counter I use counts only unique visitors.  As of this post I am nearing the 3,000 visitor mark.
·         As a direct result of the virtual press release, my virtual location became an editor’s pick for Second Life’s Destination Guide, exposing the book information to 150,930 (and growing) Facebook fans alone.
·         Nearly 50 positive reviews were also published in a variety of blogs, along with live Q&A sessions, spotlights and interviews.
Now that I’m in my second month of publication, I am continuing to explore effective and free methods that anyone can use to share their work.  My most recent brainstorm was entering The Goodreads Slideshow Story Contest with my marketing story.  The contest is a fun challenge, but by using my book and its promotion as my subject, I get massive free marketing for both my books.  As I’m writing this, I’m climbing towards 3,000 views for this slideshow.  That is a lot of exposure in exchange for an afternoon of pleasant work.
This article barely scratched the surface of the many overlooked opportunities that we need to start using.  To this end I’m preparing to publish my next book based on all the details and methods I’ve used so successfully.  A weekly broadcast and column, called MarketShare, are also in the works.  I hope that by sharing what I’ve been able to accomplish with End of Mae, I can help indie and traditional artists find the wings to send their creation out into the spotlight.
For more information please feel free to visit me at , or  
****Article first published as Book Promotion: Breaking On the Scene Without Breaking the Bank on Blogcritics****

Thanks Angela for the info about self publishing!  On to the interview...

 Where did the idea for End of Mae come from?
I lived in the Whitesbog area in New Jersey when I started End of Mae, and area that is famous for having documented Jersey Devil prints found back in the 80's.  The area they were found was about 5 miles from where I lived, so I was definitely immersed in my research.  I was working at the newspaper there, The Community News, and I had just finished a story on the local legend.  That is the same news article I reprinted at the end of the story.  That area has such an air of creepy mystery; right before we moved in a dismembered body was found in a dumpster nearby and a boy had drowned right off shore from our house.  During the day if you asked me if I believe in the Jersey Devil I would smile condescendingly and tell you my Sandhill Crane theory, but after dark I believe all the way.

 What challenges did you come across when writing the book?
My biggest challenge was the genre the story chose.  This was my first fictional book, and I was actually opposed to writing fiction at the time.  I'd had some bad experiences in grade school with a teacher that basically thought of fiction as lies, and we had quite a few negative run ins.  I didn't realize how much she had influenced me until quite recently.  I worked regularly doing nonfiction for a few publications, and had a few fictional short stories out but they always made me feel guilty.  End of Mae was my secret shame for quite a long time, so accepting the fiction in me was definitely a challenge.  That, and the fact that in the beginning Heylel scared me into wanting to quit the story for a few years.

 What was the easiest part to write?
The beginning was the easiest to write because it came out uncensored.  After it clicked that I was "writing fiction" it became a constant argument with myself.  The next book is going much easier though now that I've come to grips with "my lies".  Now I find myself enjoying the process, and excited by it and the next part of the tale has me literally trembling with excitement when I talk about it.

 Do you identify with any of your characters? If so which ones and why?
I identify somewhat with Mae.  We both had the experience of working for a small time newspaper in the pine barrens of mid New Jersey, and we both like to wear Doc Martins.  When I was younger I also found myself in plenty of sticky situations that resulted from my curiosity. 

 What's next up for you?
I'm finishing up a book on marketing at the moment titled All You Need Is Like that discloses the successful methods I used to get End of Mae out there.  In one month it did so much better than I ever dreamed possible, and was exposed to literally multi thousands of people for less than $50 USD.  I'm determined to get that information out there to the other authors, musicians and artists I know before I can relax and let myself get lost in the fun stuff.  The next book is all laid out and ready to get started and the next part of the story has so many connections to archaic lore and paranormal anomalies I just can't wait to dive in.

And a few about your favorites:
I don't have as much time to read now as I'd like, and it's usually research related.  My favorite new indie author is A.F Stewart with herKillers and Demons book.  I know she's getting ready to come out with another soon that I'm eagerly waiting on.  I also love old classic literature.  My favorite 'comfort books' are Little Woman, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and the Little House in the Prairie series.  I love Anne Rice's older work like Lasher.  In YA I of course adore J.K Rowling, The Bartamaous Trilogy, the Septimus Heap books, Neil Gaimon'sStardust and his Sandman graphic novels.  Actually I think there may be too many to mention, so I'll just sum up that I love books.

I have always loved black.  I find non color soothing, and it's like an empty, non distracting palette waiting for your thoughts.

David Bowie, The Cure, Depeche Mode, She Wants Revenge, Tenek, Global Citizen, Marilyn Manson, Eric Sweetwater... I think I'm running into the same problem as with books... I just love music.

Hahaha... right now I'd have to say my favorite book is End of Mae by Me.  I have to love it before anyone else can.
Coffee.  That's a food group isn't?
I like Mark Twain's "Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket like hell."  and Gandhi's "My life is my message."

Any Final Thoughts?  
I appreciate you taking the time to read and review my book and give me the space to discuss it.  Indie authors are struggling against the wind, and have been for years, but we are finally making headway.  With all the viral opportunities available now, and technology putting a full publishing business into every desktop I see the next few years as the indie revolution.  I can't wait!

Thanks Angela for doing the guest post and interview!

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