Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Angela Yuriko Smith


We now have 33 Author Interviews and I’m very glad we finally got Angela, after her major relocation, to slow down enough to be here :-)

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Angela, you have two books out, “End of Mae” and “No Money Marketing”—that second one is a great book for anyone with a product to market, including books. What gave you the idea for the marketing book and what made you think about promotions so seriously?

I’ve always been fascinated by marketing and advertising.  I’m constantly evaluating commercials and advertisements to see what I think is effective and why.  In the past I’ve noticed that a large number of people use expensive and ineffective methods to market their products because the products are ‘the norm’.  When trying to get your item out in the public eye, ‘the norm’ is full of competitors all seeking to be noticed in an overwhelming storm of advertising.  The only winners in this environment are the pushers of ‘the norm’.

As I’ve watched all this, I often wonder why people don’t try other methods that are more creative, more effective and usually free or very low cost.  I’ve actually gotten paid in chocolate for the privilege of marketing my book alongside Cadbury Chocolate… that’s what I call marketing!  The idea for the marketing book came about when I decided to actually try some of these ideas out and see how well they worked in reality.

Authors and artists can now move beyond Facebook ads and expensive banners and get their information out there without being limited by money.

Fantastic, Angela!
So, your other book, “End of Mae”, was published before your marketing book (so you could test your strategies). How well did your marketing ideas work? 

My marketing strategies worked very well on End of Mae.  I will be completely honest—End of Mae is not the next great work of American fiction.  It is still rough around the edges in places and was born into the highly competitive paranormal arena.  I promoted End of Mae seriously for just over a month as I tried all my ideas out on it.  I was shocked at how well it did.

The entire month I spent less than $50 on five paperback copies that I gave away and I probably didn’t sell one book as a result of that investment.  In contrast, all the free marketing I did resulted in sales that not only covered all my publishing costs but are now bringing me in regular royalties.

Don’t misunderstand me—End of Mae hasn’t made me rich.  For the one month of promotion I’d put into it (as well as the nearly nonexistent cost) I was very happy with the pay out.  Now, both books have been professionally edited and re-released.  I plan to spend some time seriously marketing them for sales rather than research and see how much better they can do when I actually give them some love!

Thanks for sharing your strategy with our readers, Angela!
Now, will you give us your Number One marketing tip?

My number one tip would be to simply tell people about your work.  I have spoken with countless authors that talk about their work as if it were a skeleton in their closet.  They either mumble self-depreciating comments about their ‘silly book’ or walk around with an aggressive ‘you wouldn’t understand’ attitude.  Either way sends potential fans running.

It’s very hard to send such a personal part of yourself out into the cold world, and the only way I can do it is to think of my books as children.  If my kids get invited to a party I don’t want to act like it’s putting the hostess out to have them, nor do I want to give her the message that she better like them or she obviously doesn’t ‘get them’.  However you treat your flesh and blood should guide how you treat creations born from your mind and spirit.

Excellent advice…
So, did you try any strategies that didn’t work?

I was lucky because I had spent a lot of time asking other authors what didn’t work so I was able to avoid a lot of pitfalls.  That being said, I soon realized that my campaign worked best when spread across many areas.  In No Money Marketing I likened a good marketing plan to being like a pair of snowshoes.  Too much weight in a small area will send you crashing through the snow and floundering.  A well balanced set of snowshoes will have you skimming across the surface to deliver your message where it needs to go.

What mistakes do you think authors make when trying to market their books?

The number one mistake I have seen is authors waiting for their book to be discovered.  Out of all the authors I have interviewed about their marketing plan, most of them answer that they don’t have one.  There is too much competition for us to sit around and hope our genius is recognized.  Even J.K. Rowling had to hawk her book to just about every publisher known before one finally accepted it.  We have to learn the fine art of getting attention without being annoying.

Very good—getting attention without being annoying…
You very recently moved to the United States from Australia. What was the most difficult thing about moving, and the easiest? 

I could write a book on the issues that cropped up during our move but I’m not sure if it would be a comedy or a tragedy.  The first week I wound up getting sick with what I’m told was Five Day Flu.  Because I was so sick and dazed, I wound up standing on a fire ant nest in the dark and my poor brain didn’t register the pain in my feet until the damage was done.  To top it off, we were riding bicycles around as we got our affairs in order.  I am not very athletic and suddenly I was riding a bike 3 miles-plus a day in the Florida heat with a fever, swollen feet and a hurting butt from the bike seat.  Trying to get your affairs in order internationally with a sore butt, jet lag, and fire-ant-bitten feet should be a Survivor episode…

The easiest part of coming back to the States was moving into our vintage Airstream.  I definitely recommend campers over apartments.  The day we were coming, friends moved our camper onto the lot, hooked it up and tossed in some groceries.  We came in late that night, unlocked our door and went to bed.  Next day we had coffee and went to the office to pay less than $500 for a month’s rent, deposit and internet.  Cable television and everything else was already hooked up and ready.  We love the simplicity and ease of living full time in an RV… it’s like being on permanent vacation.

Wow, Angela, you’ve got me rethinking what my next home will be :-)
How is the United States different from where you lived in Australia?

Australia is very ecologically minded compared to the US.  The average large house in Australia is considered small by US standards.  The entire time I lived there I never knew anyone to use an electric clothes dryer or bleach.  Almost everyone hung their clothes out in the sun to dry, carried cloth shopping bags and used public transport.  I loved being there and learned a lot but it does feel good to be back in the US.

You’ve been very involved in Second Life. In fact, that’s where we met! Can you explain it to those who don’t know anything about it?

I’d be glad to.  Second Life is what is called a virtual world.  Basically you make a character (called an avatar) and then explore the world making friends, renting houses, and hanging out pretty much the same as in the physical world.  People date there, get married, have babies, hold jobs, go to live concerts… there are few limits.  There’s even a virtual stock market where you can sell your digital earnings for real US dollars.

The beauty of Second Life for authors is that behind every avatar is a real person you can connect with.  If you wrote a vampire book, you can find whole communities of people that role play that lifestyle that are fascinated to meet an author on their favorite subject.  There are communities for sci-fi, steam punk, gothic, werewolves, vampires, witches, fairies… the world is limited only by imagination.

There are also communities dedicated to writers.  My favorite, Book Island, holds regular events for authors, of all levels, to promote their work, hold live readings, and even have workshops for writers.  Readers also love the Island! You can rent a shop for a few dollars a month and showcase your books with links to where they’re for sale online.  I know I’ve gotten many sales from my Second Life friends.

My favorite surprise was running into a woman standing in the middle of my shop in Second Life.  She had just downloaded my book from Amazon.com and had started reading it, completely forgetting that she had forgotten to log off.  What a neat experience that was for both of us.  She was excited to run into the author, and I was excited to find a reader in the midst of discovery.

I’d like to add to what you’ve said, Angela, just to let folks know that Book Island also hosts Publishers, Agents, Editors, and Artists.
But, do tell us why you think the virtual world is becoming so popular?

I think virtual worlds are becoming so popular because they allow us to socialize with anyone in the world safely and for very little cost.  You can have a virtual night out on the town and go completely wild and reckless.  The next morning you won’t wake up in a strange place, possibly with a disease, loss of your jewelry, or worse.  At the most you may have spent $20 if you bought a new wardrobe and car for the night.

My husband and I dated online for about two years before we ever met.  He was in Australia and I was in the US and we spent a lot of our time getting to know each other in Second Life because we had few other options.  We started a business together that still brings us a monthly income whether we do anything with it or not.

I think getting to know each other so well before we ever met physically has really benefited us.  Before we had our first kiss we had already discussed typically hot topic issues for couples like money, children, and which country we’d live in.  Old fashioned courting goes high tech as more couples than ever are using virtual worlds to find their soul mates.

Interesting…
Angela, please tell us where to find your books and your blog.

I’d love to!  End of Mae is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon, Smashwords, and a number of various bookstores sprinkled internationally.

No Money Marketing is about to be released in paperback and is available as an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords.

Of course you can always find me on my blog, Dandilyon Fluff, or on my Facebook page.

Thank you for the great interview, your questions really made me think !

And, thank you, Angela, for taking the time to be here—very fruitful interview :-)

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OK, folks, time to ask Angela some questions in the Comments
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

4 responses to “Author Interview ~ Angela Yuriko Smith

  1. Jane Watson May 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Looking forward to reading both books Angela. As an Australian I am also curious what difference you find between Australia and USA in terms of the book and publishing worlds. I am also envious of the self-sustaining business that gives monthly income. Virginia Woolf did say that every writer needs a fixed income (as well as a room of her own:)

    Like this

    • Angela Yuriko Smith May 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      I’d have to agree with Virginia! I have appreciated the Second Life income often. Cashed in it equates to about $50 a month but in Second Life that stretches a long way. I’m curious myself as to the differences between the Aussi and US publishing worlds and have been trying to find a POD distributor over there. When I published I did it thru American channels I was already familiar with. I’d love to pick your brain on what’s on your side of the ocean.

      Like this

  2. Pingback: Interdimensional Mae | :Dandilyon Fluff

  3. Pingback: Day #11 – Interdimensional Mae | End of Mae

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