TWA

Interview: Author Anna Mara

In Amazon, Amazon Rankings, Amazon Sales Rankings, Anna Mara, annamara.com, Author, Best Sellers, Bestsellers, Book Reviews, Canadian Author, Canadian Authors, e-books, ebooks, Her Perfect Revenge, HIROMI KOBAYASHI, Interviews, Kindle, New York Times, New York Times Best Sellers, Ohzora Publishing, Recommended Author, Recommended Authors, Recommended Book, Recommended Books, Self-Publish, Self-Published, Self-Publishing, The Write Agenda, Why Romeo Hates Juliet on December 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

“. . . Just keep writing and keep at it.  Listen to your heart.  Do what you love.  And don’t let anyone stop you.  There’s enough room in the marketplace for all artists.”

Author, Anna Mara

Anna Mara has two books on The Write Agenda’s Author Watch – Best Sellers List. For 12 weeks in a row (from June 15, 2011 to September 3, 2011), Anna Mara’s Her Perfect Revenge  – (Outskirts Press) was listed as #1 on our Best Sellers List. This month she released a new book, Why Romeo Hates Juliet (a romantic comedy about living next door to a movie star!), which is currently making its way up the charts.

The Write Agenda was fortunate to have the opportunity to have a Q & A with this amazing self-published author and book marketing maven. This is truly developing into another great success story and demonstrates the right mindset that authors need to have that choose to not go the “traditional” way.

 

TWA: Where are you from? Tell us about yourself.

Anna: I live in Toronto, Canada and am a Canadian, born & bred.  I’ve been writing for a few years now and I originally was writing screenplays before switching to novels.  When you’re crafting a story for film, you’re really writing a blueprint that will be translated into the end product which is a movie.  And before your vision is turned into a film, it has to go through a lot of different hands who all interpret the material differently and then who eventually take it to an audience.  It’s a very collaborative medium.  But when you’re writing a book, that is your end product and you’re in control.  When you’ve finished it, you’ve got something tangible… a book that’s yours and that you can take directly to your readers yourself.  That to me is exciting… that I can create a story and have that direct relationship with my fans.  There’s no middleman.

TWA: Tell us your latest news?

Anna: HER PERFECT REVENGE was my first novel and I’m happy to say that it’s done very well.  As of this writing, I’ve sold over 60,000 copies and it stayed on the Top 100 Amazon Kindle Bestsellers List for over 3 months.  It was very exciting to see it climb the charts and the best ranking it had was #43 out of over 750,000 Kindle products for sale.  I still can’t believe that all those people bought it and have read my work.  I’m really so thankful for each and every one of them that took a chance on me.  I recently released my second book, titled WHY ROMEO HATES JULIET.  It’s another romantic comedy about a stressed-out writer named Juliet who travels to a beach house for some rest and finds a loud, partying movie star named Romeo Boyd living next door.  The two clash, of course and the war between them keeps escalating until one day, Juliet accidentally shoots him.  When he comes to, she is horrified to discover that he has developed amnesia and believes that she is his wife.  But he doesn’t really!  He’s just faking it in order to pay her back and make her life hell.  Of course, the two end up falling madly in love with each other along the way!  LOL! I had tons of fun writing it and I hope my readers will like this one too.  As soon as this book is released, I need to buckle down and start writing Book #3 which I already have simmering in my brain.  It’s going to be another romantic comedy peopled with a lot of immature characters who do stupid things to each other and who learn some big lessons at the end.  That’s what all of my books really are about; and that’s why they’re so much fun to write and hopefully so much fun to read for my audience.

TWA: When and why did you begin writing?

Anna: Some years ago, I read a book by Lew Hunter titled ‘Screenwriting 434’. There was just something about that book; whether it was Lew’s enthusiasm for his craft or the way he made it all sound so like so much fun… I don’t know… but I thought to myself, ‘This sounds like something I’d like to do, write a screenplay.”  So I did… and I loved it!  I loved thinking up ideas and plotting my story and then sitting down to eventually write it.  I enjoyed the process from a to z; and I knew this was for me, this writing thing.  It just felt right.  I loved it, loved it, loved it.  And it’s not ‘work’ when you do something that you love.

TWA: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Anna: The first moment I considered myself a true writer was the day I got the call telling me that I’d been accepted into a very prestigious film school in Toronto where they only take 8 writers from across Canada each year.  Writing wasn’t something that I was just doing at home, sitting in front of the computer screen anymore—there were actually professionals in the industry who believed in my potential.  Let me tell you… it was an exhilarating moment for me and I felt like a ‘writer’ for the first time.

TWA: What inspired you to write your first book?

Anna: Frustration.  I’d been focusing on a screenwriting career for awhile and nothing was happening.  I’d had one of my scripts optioned by an LA production company and I’d also managed to get a big time NYC agent, but everything was just stalling for me.  Things were not moving forward.  That’s when I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I do something different and try writing a novel instead?’  I decided to take one of my screenplays and turn that into a book and that’s how HER PERFECT REVENGE was born.  And as I began writing it, I discovered that I loved this format even more than working on a script.  You can just do so much more with your characters and story.

TWA: Do you have a specific writing style?

Anna: I think I do have a unique writing voice and a different bent at looking at story and characters that’s all my own.  I love a lot of dialogue and a lot of plot.  Sometimes I’m not as descriptive as I could be but I really do want my readers to form their own visuals of my characters and what’s happening in the narrative because it’s more fun that way.

TWA: How did you come up with the title?

Anna: I love coming up with titles and I usually do it before I even start writing the book.  It gives me a kind of focus in my work.  I knew that I definitely wanted the word ‘revenge’ in the title because that’s my main character’s mission in the story and then the rest of it, ‘Her Perfect’ just came to me.  My heroine, Christina thinks she’s so smart and in her mind, there’s absolutely nothing that can go wrong with ‘her perfect revenge’ plot that she’s concocted.  Of course, things don’t quite work out for her the way she thinks they will.  LOL!

TWA: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Anna: I love that you asked me this question!  Yes, yes, yes, there are actually three messages in my story.  First off… don’t seek revenge on anybody.  Just don’t… no matter how good it’ll make you feel or how badly you think they deserve it… just don’t.   It’s always wrong.  You’ll end up paying for your actions one way or another and it won’t be pleasant.  I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t read it but let’s just say that things don’t go as smoothly for Christina as she thinks they will.  There’s also a second message in the book and that is that when we truly understand someone else (why they are the way they are and where they’re coming from), we can’t hate them anymore and maybe we can even grow to love them.  And the third message is about second chances.  We all deserve them, no matter what we’ve done.  My hero, Bill is trying to turn his life around after a lifetime of alcoholism and even though he’s done many mean, stupid, drunken things in the past, he’s sorry and trying to set things right… and there’s always a time for that.

TWA: How much of the book is realistic?

Anna: Zero.  LOL!  It’s a romantic comedy and it’s supposed to be silly and fun and outrageous; but the emotions that I’m writing about are real as are the core issues that the characters are dealing with.

TWA: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Anna: Nope!  It’s all totally fabricated out of my imagination but as I’ve said, the emotions are real.  We’ve all been there where we may have tried to get revenge on someone who did something mean to us or hated someone because we didn’t understand them.  And how many times have we ourselves wanted a second chance to right a wrong or apologize for something we did to someone?  Or how about the times when we’ve wanted to change our lives around for the better because we realize that we were on the wrong path?

TWA: What books have most influenced your life most?

Anna: I’d have to say Lew Hunter’s book, ‘Screenwriting 434’ was a HUGE inspiration to me, as I’ve mentioned.  And as for other romance authors, I’d have to say Sandra Brown and Judith McNaught, even though they don’t write romantic comedy like I do.  Really, they are the queens of romance in my opinion.

TWA: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Anna: Again, Sandra Brown & Judith McNaught—both.  My writing style is completely different from theirs but the passion & heat they generate between their pages is incredible and I can only hope, one day, to emulate them.  You can just feel the emotions so strongly between their characters when you read their books; and their story plotting is always full of twists & turns.  They are both amazing writers.

TWA: What book are you reading now?

Anna: I actually read a lot of non-fiction when I’m writing.  I just don’t want any fiction book that I’m reading potentially influence what I’m creating in my own novel and so when I’m working on a new project, I try to stay away from that.  In between writing books, I’ll pick up the latest romance novels.  And I’ll read those from the perspective of a reader and not as a writer.  I want to be entertained and escape into somebody else’s fantasy world for awhile too, just like everybody else!

TWA: What are your current projects?

Anna: As I’ve mentioned, my second book, WHY ROMEO HATES JULIET has been released and I’m also working on my third book which will be another romantic comedy in the same vein.  I hope to release that one sometime in 2012.  Also, HER PERFECT REVENGE is being turned into a Japanese manga comic novel for that market over there and is being drawn by a very talented illustrator named, HIROMI KOBAYASHI.  I’ve uploaded some of her preliminary work on my blog at authorannamara.wordpress.com if anyone would like to take a look.  The completed manga will be released by Ohzora Publishing.  I’m very excited to see the final book.

TWA: Do you see writing as a career?

Anna: Oh, very much so.  I’ve been doing this for a while now and I love it.  This is definitely a career choice for me.

TWA: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Anna: I wouldn’t change anything about the story or characters in HER PERFECT REVENGE but I would have had the book edited a few more times before publishing it.  I did get complaints from some readers about the editing and yes, they were valid.  But as independent authors, we really do try our best and we just don’t have the resources that a publishing house would have.  Their books can go through 5 different editors before publishing and mistakes still crop up in them.  I’m having my latest book, WHY ROMEO HATES JULIET edited by 2 different professional editors this time and it will go through 3 major edits.  Hopefully, all of my boo-boos will be caught and corrected.  I really do want to please my fans and put out the best book I possibly can.

TWA: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Anna: I would say writing for male characters.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when I’m reading a book written by a woman author and a male character will say something that makes you think to yourself, ‘a man would never say that!’  Men just think differently from women and your writing has to reflect that.  Their speech patterns are different too, including the words they choose and what they say.  And the way they speak is even different still when they’re talking to other men with no women present.  You have to write for that.  I’m always conscious of this because I want my male characters to sound like men.

TWA: Who designed the covers?

Anna: The new covers were all designed by Kim at www.hotdamndesigns.com.  She is an amazing talent and I am honored that she’s done them for me.  She was also a breeze to work with.  After we discussed what I wanted, the first drafts that she created were approved by me immediately.  They were perfect and I didn’t even change one thing!  I will definitely be working with her again for all of my future books.  Book covers are very important and it’s a must for me that the outside of the book reflects what’s on the inside; and that they also reflect my author’s vision for my stories.  I think Kim did just that for me for both covers.  I am so pleased!

TWA: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Anna: Starting it!  LOL!  I have a terrible problem with procrastination when trying to begin a new book.  Once I start, I’m actually okay and very disciplined… but starting it?  Now that’s an issue!  I really have to force myself.

TWA: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Anna: When I’m writing, it’s not so much what I’m learning but what I’m feeling.  I want to experience all of the emotions that my characters feel and I want to go on the same emotional rollercoaster ride that they go on.  And if I can do that for myself, then I know (or hope) that my readers can take that same ride too.  I want them to feel love & laughter & excitement & surprises & even a few tears along the way.  It’s just plain fun!

TWA: What led to your decision to self-publish? Did you try the “traditional” route first?

Anna: I did try the traditional route for a bit and when nothing concrete happened there, I decided to self-publish.  I created the paperback version first and then when Amazon allowed Canadian authors to upload their material to Kindle, that’s when things exploded for me.  At first sales were slow but every month they were climbing and improving.  Then I started playing with the different elements of my book, like changing the cover, adding to the title, playing with the story blurb on the Amazon book page, etc and I saw an immediate improvement in sales after that too.  I finally decided to take the plunge and drop my price from $2.99 to 0.99, and that’s when things really took off.  My sales just soared.  I think when you’re a new, untried author, a reader will think twice about spending $2.99 or higher on your book but at 0.99, they’re willing to take a chance on you.  I mean what are they going to lose??  0.99??  And even that is refundable within 7 days from Amazon if they don’t really like the book.  So I found that sales took off after that and a lot more people were willing to try out my book and writing style.  And that’s how I started building my fan base.  Readers try you out, like you and wait for your next book to come out.

TWA: There’s many author blogs on the internet that warn writers, like you, regarding the pitfalls of self-publishing. Did these sites have any bearing or impact on your choices? Do you spend any time monitoring these sites?

Anna: They had no impact on me at all.  Yes… I did scan them, trying to pick up pointers here & there; but really, when all is said and done, I do what I want.  I make my own decisions and I always listen to my own heart.  If there’s something I want to do and it feels right, I do it.  No one and nothing will stop me.

TWA: What has been your marketing strategy? Can you comment on why you have been successful and why other authors fail?

Anna: I hate to say this but for my first book, HER PERFECT REVENGE, I didn’t really have a marketing strategy.  First off, I was writing in a genre (romance) that is very popular to begin with.  Readers are always looking for that next best romance novel.  I also did get some terrific reviews from a few book bloggers like… A Tale of Many Reviews, Angel-On-A-Move, Books Glorious Books & The Chicklit Club, which helped.  And I dropped my price on the book, which allowed readers to take a chance on me.  And then as the book climbed the charts, it created a cycle of sorts that fed on itself.  The higher my book climbed, the more visible it was; and the more visible it was, the higher it climbed.

TWA: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Anna: Just keep writing and keep at it.  Listen to your heart.  Do what you love.  And don’t let anyone stop you.  There’s enough room in the marketplace for all artists.

TWA: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Anna: To all of my readers and all of the people who took the time to write to me and tell me how much you enjoyed HER PERFECT REVENGE, I just want to say, thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!  You’ll never even begin to know how much your words of encouragement, enthusiasm and passion for my work means to me.  It spurs me on to keep writing and hopefully with each book, I can keep entertaining you and keep getting better as a writer.  And most of all, please keep believing in Love.  I’m a hopeless romantic myself and I think it’s out there for all of us, even if we have to go through a lot of silliness sometimes to find it—just like all of my book characters do! LOL!

Thanks to The Write Agenda for giving me this opportunity! Thanks for the interview, I appreciate it!

Blog:  http://authorannamara.wordpress.com/

Facebook: Anna Mara & Author, Anna Mara

Twitter: annamaralove

Website: www.annamara.com

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