Cheryl Bradshaw is a new acquaintance of mine and I am fascinated, both with her writing and with her approach to book promotion! She’s one you really need to read, and, if you’re an author yourself, you might want to follow her and see how she keeps those books moving!
PJ: Cheryl, how long have you been writing?
Cheryl: I’ve been writing full time for three years now.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
Cheryl: I still don’t feel like I’ve peaked as a writer; however, 2012 has been my best year by far, and my hope is that it will continue getting better.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Cheryl: It’s constantly evolving, and I am always learning and growing. It’s a process, one that has far exceeded my expectations. I’ve learned there is so much more than the writing itself.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
Cheryl: This year, yes. But it ebbs and flows over time and depends on a lot of factors, such as having a new release and something that strikes a lasting chord with readers.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
Cheryl: Yes. My first novel in the Sloane Monroe series took over a year to write. Now, with dedication, I can put out a novel in four to six months. I’m more driven than ever before and have another series in the works as well as a novel I’d like to write in a different genre.
PJ: What made you decide to go the self-published route?
Cheryl: I have a friend who was chosen as one of Amazon’s top 100 authors in 2009. She pushed me to give it a try, and I am glad I listened. I would consider signing with the right publisher, and I do have one in mind, but it would depend on a lot of things. Right now I feel good about where I’m at as long as the momentum continues.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
Cheryl: Yes! I would get an excellent book cover artist, proofreader, and editor at the beginning. The good thing is I’ve been able to go back and rework some things so my books read a lot cleaner now than they did when I was first learning about the publishing process.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
Cheryl: I have a set time I try to stick to during the week. I am very driven, so I always know what needs to be done and find ways to do it. With that said, it’s still hard to fit everything in!
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
Cheryl: Two things actually. A few months after publishing Black Diamond Death, the first novel in my Sloane Monroe series, I received an email from a famous director’s assistant inquiring about the film rights to the series. I am still developing it though, so nothing has come of it—yet.
The second thing happened last month. I was named one of Twitter’s seven best authors to follow by The Daily Dot.
PJ: Congratulations on both counts! What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
Cheryl: It’s so embarrassing to admit it, but I will! I accidentally uploaded the unedited version of a novella I wrote. Big oopsies. By the time I realized it, I’d received scathing reviews which were so disappointing. But I fixed it right away and moved on, and the reviews that followed were much more complimentary. Live and learn, right?
PJ: LOL I bet more people have done something like that than we know. I’m sure you’re not alone! What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Cheryl: I was watching a mystery series on television one day and heard a quote by Stephen King. I thought it would be perfect in I Have a Secret (Sloane Monroe series #3). Through a weird fluke, I was able to write Stephen King’s assistant directly to ask for his permission. He had a few questions which she asked me, and then he said yes. Best day of my life.
PJ: That is so cool! With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Cheryl: My characters and my settings. Any author can write about a person getting murdered, but a story becomes unique when all the “extras” are added in. I try to come up with twists that make the book my own.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
Cheryl: Study the craft BEFORE publishing, and not because you’ve finished something and assume it’s ready. I spent years reading every book I could on the process, and I’m still learning more and more each day.
Keep an eye on what your favorite author is doing. How do they promote? What do they do to promote? What works for them that might work for you? Read their books, and find out who writes in your writing style. Don’t copy them, but learn from them.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
Cheryl: Twitter. But not because I promote my books on there all the time. I’ve created relationships with people through general conversation which I love, and then when I have something important going on, like a sale on one of my books or a new one has just been released, I’m always amazed at how many retweets people give me just because they want to—it’s fun, and it works.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
Cheryl: Promoting itself is hard because I’d rather be writing. And the industry is constantly changing. I could do something today that might not work a few months from now. I find it’s very draining something to keep up with everything.
PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?
Cheryl: There’s a bookstore called Busy Bee that sells my books in their store, although they are not on the internet.
Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
Sinnerman (Sloane Monroe Series #2)
I Have a Secret (Sloane Monroe Series #3)
Stranger in Town (Sloane Monroe Series #4, due out Fall 2012)
Sloane Monroe Series Boxed Set—Books 1-3
Whispers of Murder, A Novella
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
It’s been twenty years since PI Sloane Monroe has returned to her hometown of Tehachapi, California, but when a former classmate is stabbed and tossed overboard during the high school reunion cruise, Sloane isn’t about to allow a murderer to run free in her own backyard. But in a town where everyone is harboring secrets, how many more men will die before she discovers the truth?
Where can we buy it?
Right now it’s exclusive in the Amazon KDP Select program, but I might reinstate it during the holidays and make it available at Barnes & Noble as well as other places.
What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
Unless a person reads the dedications page in my novels, they’d miss the fact that I have a theme song for each one of the books in my series. I don’t listen to music while I write, but there’s always a song playing in my head that relates to the novel I’m writing.
Cheryl, thank you for taking time to chat with me today! Readers, really, check out Cheryl’s work. She’s not only talented, she’s prolific and we all love finding a new series, right? Enjoy!