Author Interview on Smashwords: A Cool Marketing Tool

Smashwords is probably the friendliest site for writers seeking to publish their books, with all sorts of goodies, including automatic upload of your book to all major platforms (except the Kindle Store - that one you need to do yourself) and a coupon functionality that allows you to easily gift books to reviewers. And I just discovered there's another cool marketing tool available: the author interview!

When you upload your books to Smashwords, you can respond to a Smashwords' generated interview, with dozens of questions that you can choose to respond to or pass up. Once you've answered 10 questions, they publish the interview instantly, letting you make any corrections you need. It looks very professional, you can read mine here. Note the way they list all the books below the interview, clever!

And this is what the interview page looks like to me when I log into their site - as you can see, I can edit it and share it as needed, very useful:

I decided to answer 10 of their questions (actually, that's considered a minimum). Is there any other question you feel I should have included? Please let me know, I'd really appreciate comments and suggestions. Hey, this is a moving feast, it can always be improved!

Here's the interview:

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
A bloody murder story! Actually blood and gore was ubiquitous in my early work...When I turned 15, I wrote my first novel about a band of thugs in the wilds of Colombia. I've moved on since...

What is your writing process?
Filling notepads with random observations. Overtime, the notes grow and something emerges. It can take up to two years before a fully-formed idea is born. Then I plunge into a first draft, writing at top speed to "catch" in words the film that I see in my mind's eye. After that, at least another year of revision upon revision is required, tough work! Anyone who thinks that writing is easy is vastly mistaken. But I would never want to do anything else, I love it!

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story was in French, "Les Malheurs de Sophie", a delightful tale for children written by the Comtesse de Ségur, a russian who had married a Frenchman. Poor Sophie, everything goes wrong for her, until in the end, she emerges victorious. That is the kind of story arc I still love (and love to write): everything goes wrong for the main character, catastrophes pile up, the tunnel gets darker and deeper but in the end he or she makes it out of the tunnel!

How do you approach cover design?
Covers for me are all important. A successful cover visually encapsulates the book, showing at a glance not only what it is about but the atmosphere - certainly the genre - but beyond that, the kind of emotions you can expect from reading the book. So it has to work on several levels, that is what is so hard to do! I've always had a hand at designing my book covers or at least in participating in the process, providing pictures or giving my opinion.

Describe your desk
A mess! Bits of papers floating about, pictures piled up here and there.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in many different countries: first Sweden until I was 6, next Egypt, France, Russia, Colombia, New York where I arrived (with my parents) when I was 17. I stayed in America until I was 30, all the formative years, a crucial time that shaped my tastes and values. Result? A very cosmopolitan approach to life and writing. I think of myself as a world citizen and I often feature that kind of person in my novels...

What's the story behind your latest book?
Living through my own retirement inspired me to write "Crimson Clouds" - the first edition (called "A Hook in the Sky") gathered a lot of praise (dozens of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads) and was called "quintessential Boomer Lit". In spite of this, I wanted to re-write it, feeling that the book did not fully express the way I felt about this second phase in life. This said, the book is in no way autobiographical. I'm not a man (!) and my marriage is not on the rocks, thank God, even though, like Robert, the protagonist, I paint and my paintings, like his, are figurative and probably lovers of Contemporary Art would find them painfully academic exactly as Robert's wife does (she hates them)...

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was first traditionally published, here where I live (in Italy) and I've only become an indie author when I attempted to "cross over" in the American market. The digital revolution had just started (it was back in 2010) and it was clear that for the first time in History, the shame attached to self-publishing was disappearing. Ebooks provided authors willing to take risks the benefit of having full control over the production process, including book covers. I couldn't resist that!

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a reader connects and tells me he or she loved my book! I write to share the way I feel about life, but the emphasis in this sentence is on "share". I'm not out to make money, I want readers to enjoy what I write, so I write first and foremost with them in mind. So when the contact is made, I'm really happy.

What are you working on next?
I'm working on "Forever Young", an exploration of the future. The first part is already out, there are two more already written and several more planned. I'm deep into the revision process now and will publish on all platforms only when I'm fully satisfied...The book started with a short story called "Programmed to Die" that got an enthusiastic response on ReadWave when it was published . The response encouraged me to explore the subject further.

Imagine what will happen 200 years from now when all the social trends and innovations we see around us have finally come to fruition! The world is very likely to be divided between the One Percent that will enjoy all the benefits of technical progress and the rest of us that won't. Expect Earth to be headed for disaster. Have I gone dark and dystopian? Yes, but I see a silver lining. In "Forever Young", an exoplanet, green and virgin the way Earth used to be before the Industrial Revolution is waiting to be settled...That's what I like about futuristic Science Fiction, it's a way to ask pointed questions about the Here and Now and try to see where we - all of us humans - are going. I suppose one could write a non-fiction essay about this, but fiction is so much more fun!

Who are your favorite authors?
I love the classics, especially the Russians - Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoievsky. Among modern writers there are so many that I don't know where to start, from Khaled Hosseini to Carlos Ruiz Zafòn, the choice is huge!

Thanks for reading. Do let me know if you have any additional question, I'll be happy to answer in the comments!
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