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    Q&A with Susan Buchanan about her writing getting to #1 spot on Amazon

    6/25/2012

    Susan Buchanan
    1. What was the inspiration for your current novel?
    I had seen lots of contemporary fiction novels focus on days of the week, months of the year, seasons etc. One day I thought why not the signs
    of the zodiac. From that I went on to research and flesh out 12 well rounded main characters, whose lives, careers and personalities would reflect their star sign. The deeper I went into it, not generally being particularly interested in astrology, the more fascinated I
    became and the more real the characters became.

    2. How important is setting/place in your writing?
    Very. I think to depict places you have to have either been there (preferably) or know a lot about it. If you can draw the places well, your readers can imagine them so much more easily. Most of Sign of the Times is set in Scotland, so I wanted to mention landmarks and streets which the average Scottish reader and also any tourist would know. The beginning of the novel is set in a tiny village, called Bibbiena in Tuscany where I went on holiday ten years ago. I have been lucky enough to travel quite extensively, although unfortunately not Australia just yet! Am making do with your wine for now! There will be many places I’ve been to featured in future novels, as I love reading novels set in exotic places and other cities, so naturally enjoy writing about them too.

    3. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
    Mmm…favourite male is Ben, the mountain rescue volunteer. Apart from being gorgeous, he’s very
    understanding, has had a bit of a rough ride and deserves happiness.

    Favourite female character –well, it depends. I loved writing Maria’s chapters the most. Holly is great and in many ways is similar to me (although not based on me, I must point out) simply because she is Sagittarius. But there is one character who I think is amazing and that’s because everyone loves to hate her. You’re going to have to read it to find out who!!

    4. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
    Just write –get the thoughts down. You can fix it in the edit.

    5. You chose to enrol in KDP select exclusively What motivated that decision?
    I had read Jeff Bennington’s book The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. In it, and I am paraphrasing here, I
    believe he said that after analysing his sales data, 90% of sales came from Amazon (this was pre KDP days).
    So, for the amount of work that went into having it on Smashwords and all the other platforms, it was a no brainer.
    I figured that was pretty good advice. And quite frankly, promoting on one platform is labour-intensive & all-consuming enough. This advice was also replicated in several writers forums I had viewed.

    6. Can you tell me how you promoted your free days on the program?
    Twitter. Pretty much 95% Twitter. I mentioned it on FB, but I am not a big FB user (I am trying now, but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as Twitter). I didn’t get everything right for this promo. I should have submitted to Digital Book Today well in advance, but didn’t do it in enough time. There are a few other sites, again whose deadlines I missed. It was the first time for me and whilst I did a lot of things well, I also missed some things. I used the bots – BYNR, writersRT etc and I was retweeted by my followers a ridiculous number of times (thanks to any of them who are reading this). I mentioned on Goodreads that I was having a free promo & joined a few FB groups for free books.

    7. I notice you promoted the Amazon UK link. Was the book free in the US at the same time? If so why did
    you choose to promote the UK over US (I realise you’re in the UK so that may be the answer).
    Actually during the promo I tweeted constantly both links, sometimes on the same tweet & sometimes on separate tweets. This was purely for space reasons. When you only have 140 characters and you want to get a message across, an excerpt or a quote, you don’t want half of it taken up by links. It is true, however, that in the last few weeks, I have mainly been tweeting the UK link and that’s simply because I am in the UK and the vast majority of my sales have been here. But I am aware I have to do more non-UK link tweets too.

    8. You had phenomenal success over that period? How has it been in the weeks after?
    Thanks. Well immediately after the free promo, you drop down into the paid chart around, very low down, in my case about 35K, but in 3 days it rose to #202. It was number 8 in contemporary romance. In the month following the free
    promo, I sold twelve times more copies than normal. Obviously once you reach your peak sales, there’s a gradual decline, with the occasional rally. Reviews, interviews, good blog posts, interacting with readers etc can all help bring your chart position up again.

    9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
    I’m currently writing The Dating Game due out later this year. I am almost half way through and am busy redrafting the earlier chapters. I don’t have an official blurb for The Dating Game yet, but here’s a little taster:

    Workaholic recruitment consultant Gill McFadden is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her.
    Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert.
    Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.

    10. What advice would you give to a fledgling indie writer to assist them on their journey?
    Visit my blog – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk. There are too many issues to mention in answer to this
    question and I cover them periodically in my blog, where I post at least once a week. Everything from Marketing, Redrafting, Dialogue and Taking Criticism is covered there. And of course, believe in yourself. Start marketing before your novel is launched. I wish I had done and have been making up for it ever since!

    Finally – Good luck!

    Sign of the Times - Susan Buchanan - Cover

    Comments

    Pamela Cook
    6/25/2012 04:49:32 pm

    Interesting interview. The whole idea of giving away your book sounds so bizarre but seems it actually works. Love the sound of the book too!
    Reply
    Monique
    6/25/2012 04:58:39 pm

    It’s a weird concept isn’t it? Takes some adjusting to.

    Terry Tyler
    6/26/2012 07:28:52 am

    Nice interesting questions and answers. As Susan knows, though, Amazon seems to have changed things so that you don’t get the post free promo visibility anymore – think Susan just caught the end of it! It’s a great shame because it was a really good way of getting yourself ‘out there’ a bit – but all good things come to an end, alas!

    Christine
    6/26/2012 08:08:18 am

    Great choice of questions. I enjoyed this interview.