For this month’s guest author, I’d like to welcome Christa Wojciechowski, a fellow horror/thriller writer who focuses on novellas. Her work can be seen in the series titled SICK and her book The Wrong David. Christa and I will be chatting about her writing process and her books. Let’s get to know Christa.
Thanks for joining us Christa; tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, Konn. Thanks so much for having me. I’m a writer and Internet marketer. I live in Panama in a rustic little house surrounded by misty mountains and ever-blooming flowers. My passions are literature, writing, and nature. I actually hate sitting indoors all day, which isn’t a good trait for a person who works on the computer. I like to stay active with outdoor activities and yoga. So now that my business is developed and my books are on the upward track, my mission is to find that healthy balance between work and play. I’m developing a course for people who want the same lifestyle—a mobile working situation to live a life of more travel and adventure.
Awesome! You tend to write more novellas; why do you choose this style of writing versus novels or short stories?
It was mostly because I was frustrated. I had written a series of three full-length novels over the course of three NaNoWriMos, but when it came to time to tackle the revisions, I was completely overwhelmed. Work was busy, and I needed to focus on growing my business first, but I still wasn’t willing to give up on writing.
That’s when I had the idea to “speed publish” the SICK series. I wanted to get into a rhythm of write, revise, publish, repeat. Write, revise, publish, repeat. I kept getting stuck in these periods of self-doubt. I was waiting till my novel was perfect before releasing it, you know? But if you wait till you think it’s perfect, you’ll never get it done. I’ll see all sorts of room for improvement in what I thought was perfect yesterday. I’ll second-guess the whole thing, especially because the subject matter I’ve been writing about is so disturbing. The novella strategy forces me to publish before I chicken out.
I was also experimenting with this strategy to build a backlist and sell more books. I experiment with my own work so I can develop the best strategy for my clients, many of whom are indie authors too. I use Amazon’s KDP select and leverage their free days to get the first book into the readers’ hands. At the end of the book they’re prompted to buy the sequel. It’s an explosive way to expand your readership.
Tell us a bit about how you go about writing a new story.
I’m a very methodical person, so when I first began writing, I tried to outline everything to the minutest details. But strangely enough, my creative brain doesn’t work like that. I work best if I don’t think about the story in my downtime. I research and collect bits and pieces of life and form characters as I go about my day, but I try not to consciously map anything out. Then when I sit down, I just turn the creative beast loose and try to stay out of its way.
Afterward, I compartmentalize everything and make it nice and orderly for the analytic OCD brain’s demands. SICK was inspired by a nightmare, so it started with my subconscious, and I kept it that way. I’ve discovered that the creative process is a constant unfolding. Everything I see, hear, experience, and all that I’ve been through in my past informs my writing. It’s like I’m writing all the time in some secret corner of my brain. I think other writers have said this before—most writing takes place when I’m not at the keyboard.
You also offer Twitter services for writers, so you do more than just writing?
Yes, I build websites and design full-service social media marketing packages. Managing an Internet platform can be mind boggling for most people. It’s also a huge time suck, so I take the load off for my clients. Most aspiring writers have regular jobs, families, and other obligations. They want to save what little extra time they have for writing.
I have trial-by-fire experience and whole arsenal of amazing software that allows me to build awareness for a brand much more quickly and effectively. Most writers don’t understand, you’re not trying to sell your book to everyone. Not everyone is going to want it. You’re trying to find the people who do, and I believe every book has an audience; you just have to say hello and let them know you exist!
On the topic of marketing books, how do you find and engage fans?
It has taken a couple years to grow my small cult of readers. My books are not your mass-appeal stuff, so I never expected to have a bestseller or anything like that. I used the strategy mapped out in Kristen Lamb’s book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World.
Like she suggests, I wrote about my passions on my blog, and I shared my interests on social media. I really focused on authenticity and reciprocity. I try to help others as much as I can. I try to contribute something valuable when leaving comments. This is how you bond with likeminded people. If they “get” you, they’ll “get” your books.
So Christa, do you have more books in the works?
I’m working on the third novella in the Sick Psychological Thriller series. I’m really pleased where it’s taking me so far. My characters are completely insane and so much stronger and deeper than I knew. I love them. I fucking love them.
Exciting! I’ll keep an eye out for it.
Something I enjoy asking: if you had one piece of advice to give aspiring writers, what would it be?
I would tell aspiring writers to not get discouraged. There is no reason to give up on your dream if you don’t sell any books right away.
All writers I’ve met, I mean ALL, have stars in their eyes when they get ready to publish their first book. Everyone has that feeling when they’ve created something special. Creativity is a divine force and we feel it’s destiny. The world has been waiting this book!
Many writers imagine uploading their copy to Amazon and waking up in the morning with 10,000 downloads. The truth is that, unless you have a large author platform and have some at least some basic PR skills, no one will know you have a book out. If you don’t know how to SEO your book for Amazon’s search engines, the likelihood of anyone stumbling across it are slim. Do you have an eye-catching book cover? Did you hire a professional editor? Or did you just slap up your final draft and expect people to ignore any flaws because it’s The Book of Destiny?
I think every writer must to go through this. It’s part of the process, and you have to try because, let’s face it, some writers do become overnight successes. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy the ticket.
Still, I try to prepare my new author clients for the difficult road ahead. Even if your book is good, even if it’s extraordinary, you have to compete with the hundreds of thousands of other authors who have the exact same dream.
This is hard to explain to the first-time author. In my experience, they completely filter out my warnings and march ahead with a huge smile, ready for the confetti to fall and the champagne to pop. At this point, I just wait and let them go through it. Once they realize it’s not likely they’ll become famous overnight, then they’re all ears—and then we can get to work.
So go ahead, choose your dream cast, visualize what you’re going to wear on Good Morning America, and practice your autograph. Enjoy it. Never stop dreaming about it. Don’t give up! Just keep in mind that it may not happen with your first book. Years later, you’ll probably be thankful it wasn’t your first book. I know that I don’t want the stuff I wrote years ago to ever surface. Just trust that each challenge is a stepping-stone on your journey to becoming the writer you were meant to be. Keep writing. Build your backlist. Keep organically growing your author platform, and one day you will hit the tipping point and sell books on a regular basis.
Thank you again, Christa, for taking the time to chat about your writing. You can find Christa’s work on her website or on Amazon. She is also active on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.