R.L. Mathewson, who was recently named a ‘break out’ author by Apple, talks about her approach to writing and her plans for the future.
First, congratulations on your success at Apple’s iBookstore. What do you think was the main reason for your sales explosion?
I think it was a combination of the new covers and word of mouth. The old covers were plain and a bit confusing. Once I changed the covers, more people were willing to take a chance on the books. The ones that enjoyed the books started to spread the word.
It seems that the romance genre is one of the big drivers of the ebook market. Why do you think romance books are so successful in the digital medium?
Romance novels are usually read for enjoyment or an escape from stress, boredom, etc. It’s because of this that readers use the convenience of their computers and e-readers to find something to lose themselves in for a short time. Getting dressed and driving to the nearest bookstore for a book is not relaxing and there’s no guarantee that you’re going to find something that you like. With an online digital library the choices are pretty much endless and a reader can buy their books any time of day or night. It doesn’t hurt that the price of an e-book is usually cheaper than the paperback. I think the other reason is embarrassment. Not a lot of people are comfortable reading romance novels in public and using an e-reader allows the reader privacy. There’s no worry about anyone seeing a racy cover.
You launched a special charity campaign for one of your books, bartering the book in exchange for good deeds from readers. How did that go?
We actually haven’t launched it yet. I’m finishing the book as well as getting my charitable deed in order with the help of my friends. We’re hoping to get a lot of help for our wounded soldiers. When I release the book I will be running a bartering program for twenty days, a good deed for the book. We’re hoping to give away a lot of copies
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do> Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I started to write a few years ago as an escape from a bad marriage and with the hope that it would one day lead to a better life for my children and myself. I’ve always wanted to do it, but never had enough faith in myself until I realized that I needed to do something, even if it was a long shot.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher before you opted for self-publishing?
I looked into it, but it was such a long shot that I really didn’t make the effort. Based on what I read, it just wasn’t worth the effort.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
No, that would put too much stress on the process. This might be a job, but this is also something that I love to do. I don’t think the stories would be as enjoyable if it came out forced. After I take care of my children, get them started on their day, I sit down, open a file and write. I take breaks, interact with readers on Facebook, might edit a bit, but I try to get as much written as I can each day. I work seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.
How do you measure success?
I think this is something that is different for each person. For me, I think that as long as I can do what I love and support my children through it, then I’m successful.
What kind of marketing strategies have you used?
None really. I bought one advertisement through Goodreads.com last month and that was pretty much it. I posted a few excerpts at some sites, but as far as marketing goes I really haven’t done much in that area.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
No, I don’t think that will happen. Even if it did, I would have no problem with it since I sell my books through Amazon.com as well. I think that’s one problem a lot of writers make. They stick with one distributor, limiting the amount of readers that can find their books.
What’s next? Do you have anything else coming out in 2012?
The next Neighbor from Hell novel will be coming out and we’ll be running the charitable exchange. After that I will be focusing on a paranormal, a Pyte/Series novel and an Anger Management novel.