Infinite Truth Radio Presents:
An Interview with Author Sai Marie Johnson
Hosted by Jerry Johnson
Jer: Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Sai Marie Johnson author of the Selkie Secret, and the Writer’s Waterfall. So let’s get started. Hey Sai, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Sai: Well, I’m a 29 year old mother of four, and wife to you. I enjoy a broad base of subjects, and writing is my life.
Jer: What were you like at school?
Sai: I was a wallflower, and an introvert. I couldn’t stand popular crowds, or sports. I kept to myself mostly.
Jer: Were you good at English?
Sai: Yes, I always excelled in Lit classes.
Jer: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Sai: I really want to continue on to become a novelist, but I also have an interest in scripts, and television. I could see myself working on a t.v show like the Following, Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, or Grimm.
Jer: Which writers inspire you?
Sai: Laurell K. Hamilton is a huge inspiration to me. I think she is amazing. She is also so receptive towards her fans. I’m also highly inspired by Charlaine Harris who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries which inspired the hit HBO show, True Blood. Last but not least would be Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Jer: So, what have you written?
Sai: Right now I am promoting two books, the Selkie Secret, and the Writer’s Waterfall. I’m also working on Forbidden Fantasies, the Tales of Valisa, The Dark Priesthood, Duality; the End of An Age, and The Age of Enlightenment: the Libertine Revolution.
Jer: Where can we buy or see them?
Sai: Both of my books are available on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Previews can be seen there as well.
Jer: Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Sai: Vanna’s a selkie. She shifts from human to seal form, but she’s also very intelligent, and wants to become a journalist.
Jer: What are you working on at the minute?
Sai: I’m completing my manuscript for Forbidden Fantasies.
Jer: What’s it about?
Sai: Forbidden Fantasies is a story about a girl named Aracely Nativa who discovers she is a cambion. It’s a paranormal romance that I’ve been working on since 2008.
Jer: What genre are your books?
Sai: The genre question. Well, to be honest I write in many genres. I try not to stick to one type, but I suppose most of my work could be classified as paranormal, or supernatural.
Jer: What draws you to this genre?
Sai: I’m a lover of mythology, horror stories, and fantasy tales. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan, and anything about those types of stories draws my interest.
Jer: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Sai: For Vanna MacAllister? I see Isla Fisher as Vanna. She just has the right look, and personality. She usually plays very comedic, or serious roles. I think she’s brilliant.
Jer: How much research do you do?
Sai: I research a lot. I think it is very important to know what you are talking about when you write a story.
Jer: Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
Sai: I’ve thought about it, and I have ghost-written stuff, but it wasn’t for profit. I used to text-based roleplay, and I collaborated with several people in that format.
Jer: When did you decide to become a writer?
Sai: I got serious about the summer of 2011. I had considered it in 2007, but I finally got serious in 2011.
Jer: Why do you write?
Sai: It started out as self-therapy. Getting my feelings, or thoughts out. Now it’s because I love to write.
Jer: What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Sai: I’ve always written. I started writing when I was five years old, and I finally just decided to get serious about it. I love doing it. It’s always been a dream of mine.
Jer: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Sai: Full-time. I put in a lot of hours.
Jer: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Sai: That depends. My schedule changes by the day because I have children. I’m the proud mother of a preteen, and three boys.
Jer: Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
Sai: I write at all times on just about everyday of the week.
Jer: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Sai: I got for chapters usually, and I like to get in three or four if I can.
Jer: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Sai: Computer, and longhand.
Jer: Where do the your ideas come from?
Sai: I can’t really answer that. I mean sometimes I just get random ideas out of nowhere. Other times I look for inspiration, and ideas.
Jer: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Sai: I do both, and I also sometimes just create a character, and then see where the character’s life takes me.
Jer: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Sai: Deep question there. I guess I’ve become more confident in my skills, and talents.
Jer: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Sai: Keeping yourself from getting carried away, and writing too much, or not enough.
Jer: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Sai: Finding the motivation to finally publish it. I was really nervous about my talent, and if my story had enough weight to go anywhere.
Jer: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Sai: Typing? I don’t really know. I feel that writing just comes easily for me so that’s a difficult question for me to answer.
Jer: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Sai: That depends on if I apply myself to just the book, and nothing else. I mean I’m still in my last year of college so I have a lot I have to do. Plus I have a two year old son, and you for a husband.
Jer: Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Sai: Yes, I think every author does. I don’t think I know one person who has written something that didn’t experience the block. It just happens sometimes.
Jer: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Sai: Push onward! Music really helps. When I feel stuck I lock myself in a room alone with no distractions, and just play tons of great music in various genres.
Jer: If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
Sai: Well, Selkie Secret is about a heroine named Vanna MacAllister. She discovers that she is a selkie which is a mythological creature that turns from human to seal at whim. The first book is an introduction to her finding out what she is, and what her family intends for her to do. The second book will be about how fate goes against that, and what Vanna decides to do with her life in the end. I foresee this being a four to six book long series. Possibly longer depending on how things go.
Jer: What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
Sai: I’ve got a few in the works. Selkie Secret is meant to be a premiere in a short story series.
Jer: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
Sai: I used to read a lot, but it’s hard to read as much as I would like to now. As for favorite authors I’ve got a long list. To list three, however, I would say Laurell K. Hamilton, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mark Twain.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Jer: What book/s are you reading at present?
Sai: Death of a Salesman
Jer: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Sai: I do most of it myself, but I do let others help at times.
Jer: Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Sai: Sometimes. I let Selkie Secret sit for months trying to determine where to go with it next.
Jer: Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
Sai: I’ve been the editor, agent, and marketer of my books so far. I’ve had a few offers for various representatives, but I haven’t chosen one yet.
Jer: Tell us about the cover/s and how they came about.
Sai: Selkie Secret has a cover that shows a girl staring out at the ocean, but it only shows from her waist down to her feet in the surf. I decided to use it because of the type of story it is. Since it is about the selkie myth this seemed suitable. Writer’s Waterfall has a cover that shows someone sitting by a waterfall typing on a computer. The reason I chose it was because I used to sit on my aunt’s bridge near a creek when I was little, and dream of becoming a writer. I thought out a lot of stories on that bridge.
Jer: Who designed your book covers?
Sai: I designed my book covers on my own. I’m actually fairly decent at digital graphics designs, and photo manipulations. It’s another hobby of mine.
Jer: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Sai: As sad as this is to accept it does. Art draws people’s attention, and bland covers often get overlooked. It’s sad to say that some people do still judge books by their covers rather than their pages.
How are you publishing this book and why?Right now my books are being published Independently. I was offered a traditional contract, but I ended up opting out of that one because I am waiting for a better offer to come along. If a better offer comes say from someone like HarperCollins, Zondervan, or Penguin I’m definitely going to be interested.
Jer: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Sai: Self publishing has become a huge market, and it’s actually making traditional publishing not as important. That’s not to say that getting a publisher to carry your work is a bad thing. It’s not, but I think self publishing has allowed a lot of writers the opportunity they wouldn’t have gotten say fifteen or twenty years ago.
Jer: How do you market your books?
Sai: I share the links, make my own advertisements, and graphics, and then just post it wherever I find is possible. I also make flyers, and every public place I go I talk about my work.
Jer: Why did you choose this route?
Sai: Because it was the most logical route for the types of stories I have written, and it was the most financially sound method at the time.
Jer: Would you or do you use a PR agency?
Sai: Not currently, but it’s not out of the question.
Jer: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Sai: Just go to every outlet you can find, and ask people to give their opinions of your writing. It can be by going down to your local library, or even asking family, and friends to write their opinions about what you’ve written. My best advice is just submit your work for others to read, and ask them to tell you their thoughts.
Jer: What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Sai: Oh, I don’t know. I market my book when I find the time, and I write when I feel I’ve been long enough promoting. It’s a half and half situation for me.
Jer: How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Sai: It’s been okay. I cannot say it’s been easy, or hard.
Jer: Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Sai: I ask my fans to give me reviews, and I also go to others in the writing community to ask for them. Sometimes I offer to review a book in order to get a review back.
Jer: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Sai: Personally I prefer not to give bad reviews. I’m a believer in the quote Thumper gave in Bambi, “If you don’t have anything nice to say. Don’t say anything at all.” If you do have a good review to give then you should. I feel that people’s esteem shouldn’t be shattered by bad critiques. With that being said, however, it is important to be able to handle a bad review gracefully.
Jer: Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
Sai: I met some really cool people in the process of promoting my books. Came into contact with several authors that I’m very happy to have gotten the chance to cross paths with.
Jer: What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Sai: Use it. Social media is becoming one of the premiere ways for anyone to get their arts, crafts, and businesses noticed. It’s really the best way to use the free market currently, and it’s international. It’s also cheaper than your average PR firm.
Jer: Which social network worked best for you?
Sai: Facebook has been the best one so far.
Jer: Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Sai: Right now I would have to say that the age old saying of, “Any press is good press.” Is a very good motto. If it’s getting your name out there that means someone is talking about it, and everyone knows that some negative critiques will come out of any promoted work.
Jer: Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
Sai: I did launch my book on Goodreads after it went live on Amazon, but other than that it’s really the only thing I’ve used besides other social media tools like Facebook, and Google+.
Jer: Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
Sai: This is the first interview I have done for these books, however, I do have plans in the future for a few more.
Jer: Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
Sai: Yes, Facebook was a great help. I think that all social media can be used to help sales, but so far it’s been Facebook that’s brought me the most attention.
Jer: Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
Sai: I’ll get back to you on that one. It’s really a trial by error situation right now.
Jer: Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
Sai: Probably because people still judge books by their covers rather than what’s between their pages, and also because of promotional issues. Sometimes it’s hard to get momentum behind a book.
Jer: What do you think of “trailers” for books?
Sai: I think they are really cool, and I would love to create a couple in the future.
Jer: Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Sai: Well, yes, and no. I mean it depends. Free books are always enjoyed by everyone, and I think that when you have freebies to give fans it makes them feel like they’ve hit a gold mine. Everyone loves free art.
Jer: In what formats is your book available?
Sai: The Selkie Secret is available in paperback, and e-book editions. The Writer’s Waterfall is currently only available in e-book.
Jer: How do you relax?
Sai: Various different methods. Aromatherapy, and baths are nice.
Jer: What is your favorite motivational phrase.
Sai: Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, dust yourself off, and try, try again.
Jer: What is your favorite positive saying?
Sai: Pretty words cannot always hide the evil that man holds inside. It’s a quote I made up myself, and it holds true in many ways.
Jer: What is your favorite book and why?
Sai: This is a hard question to answer. I love books, but for the purpose of simplicity I am going to say the Bible because it is the most epic timeline story ever written.
Jer: What is your favorite quote?
Sai: Mark Twain when he said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of friend for your friends.”
Jer: Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Sai: Hopefully with a couple of bestsellers, and still writing. Writing will always be my first love, and muse.
Jer: What is your favorite movie and why?
Sai: One favorite movie? Pearl Harbor, and the reason why is because I just have a soft spot for WWII Movies. My grandfather won a purple heart during that war, and that movie just really pulled on my heartstrings.
Jer: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Sai: Stop worrying about impressing people. You’ll never be able to please everyone.
Jer: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Sai: One? I can’t choose one. It’s between Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jer: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Sai: That’s a difficult question to answer. I guess I would probably say my own. I mean if we were asking what my favorite books were I could answer that easier, but they wouldn’t be the same books had I written them. Every story written is written by specific authors because they were the medium that was inspired to tell that story.
Jer: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Sai: Write. Write, write, write, and do not stop. Even if you think it completely sucks the first time just let the creativity flow, and then go back to the drawing board to revise. Every professional writer knows that writing is only part of the job. The majority of it is editing.
Jer: Where do you see publishing going in the future?
Sai: I’m hoping to get a contract for a story I’ve been writing a long time called, “Forbidden Fantasies.”
Jer: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Sai: Just that it’s very important to me that other aspiring authors realize that it’s not impossible to achieve this dream. It just takes a lot of dedication. Even if you hold a full-time job you cans till make it happen. It’s really about time management. My hope is that I will inspire other people to go after their dreams like I have.
Jer: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Sai: I would say the best way to get more information about my work is to follow my professional Facebook page. I regularly update it, and usually interact with my fans a lot there. Of course there are other places, but that’s the most updated.