Monday, April 7, 2014

Interview with USA Today Bestselling Author @Rebecca_Forster

Often, books hit the USA Today and New York Times Best-selling lists have been out for a number of years. Was that case in your experience? No, Keeping Counsel hit the USA Today bestseller list within the first month of its release.

Social media has a very important role in marketing these days, but how did you extend your reach beyond that, or did you? I have a different 'list' story. My recent work has consistently been on the Amazon bestseller lists (legal thrillers, political thrillers, suspense, thrillers) for almost three years now, but my USA Today bestseller happened in 'the old' days. I was writing for Kensington Books and Sarah Galen was my editor.

If you could provide 5 integral steps that you took to reach best-seller status, what were they and can you elaborate on each step? I can't tell you five steps that got me to this list but I can tell you two: craft and marketing. I remember this book so well because my editor pushed me to write an ever better, ever more intense manuscript. She didn't just inspire me; she had the whip out. At the time, I am not sure I understood the full importance of her involvement. It would have been easy for her to say the second draft was good and pass it along. Instead, she kept at me until she knew it would be right. I should have asked 'right for what?' I didn't and no one was more surprised at the next step than I was. She created a marketing plan.

Remember, there was no social media back then so Sarah advertised Keeping Counsel in newspapers.  The book was also promoted to buyers. She sent me on a trip to meet distributors. It was featured prominently (and beautifully) in the catalogue. And then Sarah took the final, absolutely amazing step that propelled this book to bestseller status: she got creative with the cover and the distribution.

I walked into my local bookstore on release date and asked if they had Keeping Counsel. The salesperson pointed to the wall next to the register and there was my book: covering the entire wall, floor to ceiling! Not only that, but the cover had been produced in two different colors - light green and dark green. The gold embossing sparkled from a hundred books on that wall. It took my breath away.

I knew this was big. The well thought out marketing strategy and the insistence on creating a book that was equal to the exquisite graphics were testaments to what can happen when an editor has faith and an author is willing to go the extra mile for her.

Of the 5 steps listed above, if an author would apply even one which would you place the greatest value on? Craft. Above all I would advise every author to push themselves to improve with each book they write. I've written 28 books now and I learn something new with each one.

Last, but not least, I am a firm believer in the law of attraction. Did this play a role in your journey and if so, please tell us more about it.

I firmly believe that people come into your life for a reason. Not everyone is a person of importance in the grand scheme of things. Some simply pass a word as you wait in line or give you a smile on the street. These small courtesies can change a moment, even a day. Then there are the other people who enter your life with purpose and change it without you realizing it.

My husband is one of those people. We were the "When Harry met Sally" couple. A little oil and water, a little firecracker meets slow smolder. Yet, we married and have been joined at the hip for 37 years. For the first fourteen of those years, I was an advertising executive. My wardrobe consisted of sincere suits and brief cases; I traveled more than I was home. I started writing on a dare. I laughed in disbelief when my first book was published. My husband took me out to dinner to celebrate but he wasn't laughing, he was beaming. Somewhere along the way writing became my calling. I went from corporate to creative and received no resistance from him. I agonized over the difficulty of getting my work noticed. I worried about money since I had quit my career in the hopes of making a living writing. I promoted and wrote and cried and wondered what in the heck I was doing. I was not, after all, a writer. I just had some good luck with publishing my early books.

Then Keeping Counsel hit the USA Today bestseller list. I wanted to hear my husband say, "I can't believe it"; instead, he said, "no surprise".  I realized in that moment while I had changed as I pursued that elusive acceptance as an author, he had not. He constancy allowed me to take baby steps and then flight, his surety in my abilities made it possible for me to continue to push for - if not excellence - solid growth with each book. In his wisdom, he realized all the self-examination and tears were just expressions of someone feeling their way through unknown territory. And, in his kindness, when I that book hit a bestseller list, his pleasure at my success was selfless.

While we spoke of all the serendipitous things that came together to make Keeping Counsel a bestseller - a wonderful editor, booksellers who plucked it off the wall to give to customers, reviewers who gave it solid ratings, and readers who gave my work a shot - I realized what had really changed my life was not a list or the publication of a book but my husband's unwavering willingness to walk a road that was not one of his own choosing.

I wish every author the success of a bestselling book, but what I truly hope is that they will find that one person who believes in what they are doing. That's all any creative person needs to grow and succeed. That is what is life changing.

About Rebecca Forster by Rebecca...

I marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym and did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall. Then I wrote a book on a crazy dare and found my passion.

Now, I am a USA Today and Amazon best selling author with more than 26 books to my name - and if you ask me where all those words came from I'd be hard pressed to tell you. All I know is that I wake up with a story in my head and go to bed the same way.

Twitter:  @Rebecca_Forster
Facebook: Fans of Rebecca Forster
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LinkedIn:  Rebecca Forster