An Interview with Susan Sloate: Author
Sylvia: Welcome Susan. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Susan: Hello Sylvia. My name is Susan Sloate and I am the published author of 18 books – with #19 and #20 to be published later in 2012. I’ve written both fiction and non-fiction for young adults, including five biographies, a history of Alcatraz Island, a baseball book, the history of Thanksgiving, and a book on how to dress. I’ve also written for 5 different girls’ fiction series. My latest novel, STEALING FIRE, has been a semi-finalist in the 2008 and 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contests. I have also written and helped direct two produced plays, optioned two screen properties for Hollywood film production, and written sports and medical articles for various publications.
My proudest achievement to date is the 2003 novel, FORWARD TO CAMELOT (co-authored with Kevin Finn), a time-travel story about the JFK assassination, was a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for Hollywood film production.
Sylvia: Wow, great accomplishments! Congratulations on the success of your ‘Forward to Camelot’ novel. What inspired you to write your first book?
Susan: I had been interested in the Kennedy assassination all my life, without realizing how powerful it had been in my past. (I was six when JFK died.) In 1992 I saw Oliver Stone’s movie JFK and that brought back the whole thing for me. I began to obsess about the event, especially as the more reading I did, the more I learned about it. A number of people knew about the assassination before it happened – it COULD have been prevented. So I began to wonder what it would be like to be the person who went back in time and stopped it from happening – and what would have changed in the world if it hadn’t happened. And I began to write about it. And like novels tend to do … it evolved.
Sylvia: Very interesting! That is a tragic moment in history that we will never forget! Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Susan: Someone told me recently that all my heroines were fearless. I never thought of it that way, but I have realized that all of them are variations of me – me as I was years ago (in STEALING FIRE), me as I wish I could be (in FORWARD TO CAMELOT), me as I am now (in THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, an upcoming novel). If there’s an overall message, it’s probably never to give up hope, never to stop believing in yourself, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS pursue your dreams. No matter what happens as a result, you’ll be better because of it, and so will your life.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Susan: Find ways to write as much as possible. I‘m a big fan of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month); the crazy marathon to write 50,000 words in 30 days! I’ve done it every year since 2005, and won it (by writing 50,000 words) every year but one. It boosts my production tremendously and does it with an encouraging back office and writers, local and far away, who share your goal. Now they have not just the big Nano in November, but also Camp Nanowrimo – marathons in June and August to help you get words on the page during the summer. AND Script Frenzy, the sister event of Nano, which takes place in April (I’m preparing for it now). That’s four months a year when you can kick your word count into hyper drive – a real gift to writers, who are usually solitary and can’t count on support from anyone.
And in addition, cherish your own voice. That voice – with your experience, your interests, and your point of view – is your greatest gift as a writer. Bring that to everything you do, because no one else can say what you want to say the way you say it. That voice is what makes you unique.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Susan: I find that working with Amazon has been best for me. I have done (and continue to do) speaking at conferences, book signings, having my own website and other marketing, but using Amazon’s marketing tools has been the most helpful. There’s a strategy for turning your book into an Amazon bestseller – we used it on CAMELOT and it went to #6! That’s terrific for raising your credibility – everyone can publish a book these days, but few of them ever become bestsellers – it gives you automatic credibility and is something you can use for the rest of your career – even if the book was only a bestseller for ONE HOUR on Amazon!
Amazon also has Listmania, which every writer should use with EVERY book they publish. Customers can create lists of favorite products with a single theme – like “Best TV Westerns” or “Books with Great Love Scenes”. Anything you can think of. With CAMELOT, I came up with “Best Time Travel Novels” and “Best JFK books,” and naturally included CAMELOT. But I also filled the list with other time-travel novels or JFK books that were way better known and more popular. So every time someone goes to visit THEIR book page, they’ll see my list – and can look at it and the comments I wrote about each book. It gives CAMELOT exposure on much more popular pages and gives readers the chance to check it out; because it’s listed with a book they’re already interested in.
I also have an Amazon Connect page (an author page on Amazon), which is free and allows me to list all my books there, plus also blog to my readers. This is a great tool.
Sylvia: Great advice Susan, thank you! Why should we buy your book?
Susan: You shouldn’t – unless you’re the kind of person who loves getting lost in a novel. I write for people who love to read good stories – and re-read them again and again. And the comment I’ve heard most often since FORWARD TO CAMELOT was published is, “I couldn’t put it down.” The most extreme example of this was a man who started reading it after work one night. He read all night, never went to sleep, showered and went to work in the morning, worked all day, and began reading again as soon as he came home that night – and wouldn’t go to bed until he finished.
I love getting readers hooked on the story!
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Susan: While I usually work at my home office desk or at my kitchen table (since I got a laptop), I find that when I’m in ninja writing mode, my word count really piles up when I’m working in bed. I prop up some pillows behind me, perch the laptop on my knees and hammer away. (Not sure whether the work is better – but at the end of the day, there’s always more of it!)
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Susan: My next novel is a new genre entirely – self-help FICTION – in which I’ve created characters and situations to teach important life principles (a little like THE TRAVELER’S GIFT). Usually in books like this, the characters are really just a device for making the lesson clearer. I think in this novel, REALIZING YOU, you’ll find the characters are really people with specific issues for which they’ll find answers over one interesting weekend.
I’m also finishing STEALING FIRE, for publication later in the year. This is maybe the most exciting development of the year, because I’ve worked on this book off and on since 1983 (that is not a typo) and finishing it gives me enormous satisfaction.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Susan: I read recently that we should pick a word as our theme for 2012. So I picked UPGRADE – upgrade my life, the quality of my writing projects, the size of my profile in the marketplace, and the quality of my life in general. So far, having that word handy has been helping me grow like crazy!
Sylvia: Wow, I like that word. Thank you very much for you time! Please share your social media and book contact information.
Susan: It’s been my pleasure. Please visit me online at http://susansloate.com.