Hi Sondi, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I’m Sondi Warner, ghostwriter turned indie publisher, and I help run a small press called Wrought Iron Reads. I’ve been a writer-for-hire for almost a decade, but last year I took a leap of faith and decided to add published author to my growing resume. When I’m not writing, editing, marketing and learning more about the craft, I enjoy spending time with my four kids and beautiful partner down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Discuss your newest book.
Watch the amazing book cover here!
My newest book, Deserving, is a ménage a trois thriller readers have dubbed “the year’s most intense romance,” and I’m truly blown away by how well it has been received.
In this male/female/female story, Matteo and Angelina Fuentes struggle to repair their marriage after Matteo’s infidelity. When he hires sexy, impoverished Kristi DuPont to be his personal cleaning lady at his million-dollar property development firm, Angelina smells trouble brewing. Desperate to keep her husband, she proposes the three of them engage in a threesome relationship, but everyone in this book comes with secrets and ulterior motives. This isn’t just romance; it’s a thrill ride! You really want to read to the end to find out exactly who wants what and why. Sounds very interesting!
For a quick peek, follow this Amazon link: http://amzn.to/21m55PS. Read the book blurb and Look Inside! I guarantee you’ll love what you see.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? When I was in the second grade, my teacher had the class write short stories. She liked mine so much, she proposed we enter it into a Young Literary Writers competition, and I won first place! From that point on, I knew writing would be a major part of my life, but I never expected to get the opportunity to make it a full-time job. Dreams do come true. They take hard work, patience and ambition, but they do come true.
What are your current projects? I am a walking To-Do list. Ha! I have so many projects going at any given point that it’s hard to keep up. Currently, I’m revamping my website, creating new blog posts, expanding my social outreach and building my author platform, as well as tinkering with new stories ideas. I’m considering a sequel to Deserving. We’ll just have to see what readers want. Good Luck.
What books have most influenced your life most? I always hate such questions because there’s no easy answer. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how much I’ve read in a lifetime—from devouring the classics as a child to delving into fantastic new worlds as a young adult and discovering the kink of romance novels in adulthood. My interests range from memoirs and essays to mommy porn and pop fiction. I would say every book has had an impact. The frivolous helped me not taking my writing too seriously; the serious helped me understand the nuance of the human experience. Reading, in general, is impactful.
What inspired you to write your first book? I wrote my first book in a journal as a preteen. I think I was inspired by the pretty cover of the new journal. *Smiling* As for my first published book, I put out Jonquille in September 2015. It’s a contemporary romance novella about a tarot reader who falls for a poker player. Who can win when love and lust are two sides of the same card? You can buy the book here: http://amzn.to/1OvryId
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? In my new book, Deserving, the three main characters come from vastly different worlds, which colors their perspectives, goals and motivations. For Matteo Fuentes, the son of an immigrant, intellect and hard work have made him a wealthy man. His wife, Angelina, comes from an upper middle class background which smooths their transition into polite society. Their story picks up after the couple is well-established, and it’s clear they are considered a model pair by their contemporaries. On the other hand, Kristi DuPont lives below the poverty line and always has. What I like most about her is how she used her talents and brains to steadily claw her way up from destitution. They sound well matched.
Matteo is attention-grabbing. He’s a powerful, money man. Angelina is elegance and class embodied, and as a psychiatrist, she has the distinction of being well-educated. Kristi is special because she is doggedly determined to get what she wants out of life. They each have something to learn from one another.
Readers can learn more about each of the characters and the world I developed around them by viewing the free Official Brag Book of Deserving. I put this magazine together to give a behind-the-scenes look at my thought processes while writing the book, and fans say it’s a great way to dive right in before purchasing Deserving. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1QY1C5m
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I’d like readers to draw their own conclusions. I didn’t write it with a message in mind, but I believe there is a lesson to be learned from everything.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? Ah! I’m glad you asked! I actually have each of my character choices pinned to a board. You can see for yourself here: http://bit.ly/1Q2uniV
When did you decide to become a writer? I was born this way. 😉
Why do you write? Whether love letters, poetry, short stories or novels, if there’s a notebook or scrap of paper handy, I’ll be writing something. I guess you could say I write out of habit. It soothes me. I have a lot of thoughts rambling around in this head of mine.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? As a ghostwriter, my job entails writing books for others. Sometimes client would come with a premise or full outline, and I’d build a story around the framework. Often, I had to come up with the ideas and outlines myself. An interesting thing happened as I was writing to earn extra cash; I started to learn more about the craft! I also learned that a deadline and the promise of money at the end of it was a great motivator to get in and get that story done! So, now, when I sit down to write, I am my own client. I pay myself. I am motivated because I know I can do it, and I know I can do it well.
Do you write full-time or part-time? I write 24/7. I’m kidding. I sleep at least four hours a day. 😉 Writing is my full-time job, and as an indie publisher, I have to do much more than write. I have to create promos and book trailers, market and promote, network and socialize. It’s a job that never ends. Just like the song that never ends. 🙂
What is the hardest thing about writing? For me, the hardest thing about writing is how time-consuming it is. As I said above, I work nearly 24/7. I’ve been at football games where my daughter had to cheer, and I’d have to bring my laptop because a client needed a project finished STAT. (I still ghostwrite. It’s a vocation I truly love.) I’ve missed family functions or been present at family functions but too busy to participate.
But, I do all of this extra work now in life so that in a few years’ time, hopefully, I can take a break. I am determined to make the name Sondi Warner synonymous with brilliant storytelling and books worthy of recognition. I’m pleased to say Deserving is getting rave reviews, and I can’t wait to deliver more great content! Congratulations!
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? While writing Deserving, I was also working on a project for Mr. Perfect Client—someone for whom I ghostwrite. Juggling two novels at a time is a trial, especially when the deadlines fall within weeks of each other. Well, I managed to complete his project, and I moved right on to another one for him. I was still working on my book, marketing it and growing my web presence. I felt like Superwoman. Or, an absolute idiot. 😀 I took on way too much at a time.
What is the easiest thing about writing? When I’m in the zone, the words flow and the scenes come together like magic. I fall in love with the characters. It feels like they write their own story. That’s the easy part. (Then comes the editing. My characters aren’t the best of writers. *Smiling*)
What book are you reading now? Tragically, nothing. I have a TBR list a mile high, and I have many wonderful author buddies who I’d love to read and review. Unfortunately, my schedule is exactly as busy as it sounds. I barely remember to shower every day, much less have time to read a book. 😀
What is one random thing about you? I love to travel. Last year my partner and I took a cruise to Cozumel. If I could spend my life traveling the world and writing, I’d be one happy girl. Same here!
What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I switch things up, depending on what’s going on. If it will look completely out of place for me to have my laptop—say, at the dinner table—I bring along a pen and pad to hash out ideas while waiting on our drinks to come. When I’m at home, I alternate between my laptop, tablet and desktop computers.
What does your writing process look like? While some writers can dive right in without an outline, I like to have my ideas lined up before I begin writing. Sometimes I use an extensive outline package that includes character profiles, motivations and stakes and a breakdown of what will happen each chapter. Other times, I compile a beat sheet that focuses on the main plot points.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I sometimes lay down and type with my eyes closed. My partner gets a kick out of that. I usually only resort to such shenanigans when I’m too exhausted to stare at the screen for much longer.
How important are names to you in your books? I have been known to look at a random object in the house and make up a character name. For example, a Sony television makes me think, “Yes, Sonya! Perfect heroine name!” There are stories where the naming happens much more carefully. I look up name meanings and where the name originated to be sure it’s the right fit for a character.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I am my biggest competition. I take every new project as an opportunity to do better. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I work on them constantly. For instance, sometimes my dialogue feels stilted. I manage that by reading aloud and seeing what feels right for a character and what doesn’t. It’s a learning process. I’m no expert yet, but I’m happy to announce I don’t cling to the title of “novice” any longer.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’ve made TONS of marketing mistakes. Remember, most of us aren’t marketing gurus. We just want to write our books and stick them on the shelf. One of my biggest gaffs was not marketing my first published book, Jonquille, as aggressively as I should have. I’ve learned how to develop and implement a marketing plan. I also read white papers on marketing and social media on a near-daily basis. I’m always ready to learn more. I can’t stress enough how important it is to treat this business like a never-ending study session.
What is your favorite motivational phrase? “Just keep swimming.” I nearly drowned once in real life. I know the value of continuing to kick even when you feel you don’t have any kick left in you.
What is your favorite book and why? My go-to pick is Choke by Chuck Palahniuk or Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy by David Sedaris. Both are hilarious books for entirely different reasons, and there’s a lot of real world insight within the pages. Palahniuk and Sedaris are two of my favorite authors.
Do you have any advice for other writers? If you can quit, quit. Don’t waste your time. But, if you can’t stop doing this, no matter how hard you try, then you’re probably meant to be doing this. Reminds me of words from a nun “If you wake up in the morning and can think of nothing but singing (or writing in this case) first, you’re meant to be a singer (writer).
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I like to take mountain drives and spend time with my kids and my partner. We’re a close-knit family. They understand my job keeps me preoccupied, but we all love when I can break away, and we can hang out together.
From where do you gain your inspiration? There’s a little voice in my head constantly yelling, “Think of something new, damn you!” That’s where I get my inspiration. 😉 Since writing is my job, I don’t have the luxury of waiting for a muse to show up or the lightning to strike. I just have to write.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? Both routes have pros and cons. Foremost, self-publishing is a business decision. It requires knowing how to run a business, scary acronyms like ROIs, and phrases like short tail and long tail. When a person signs up to self-publish, they should know in advance this means they will be doing all the work by themselves. Finding book covers, editors, copyrighting, a graphic designer for their promotional material, a publicist, etc. Nine times out of ten, half that list ends up being solely their responsibility. It costs a lot of money to do this, but the reward is, whatever you earn is all yours.
Publishing traditionally comes with a team to handle the taxing work described above, although you will still have to market yourself. However, you’ll be splitting your earnings quite unequally with the folks who are putting in the “hard work” while you sit back and write. Not to mention, the process of finding an agent and getting discovered in the first place can be tedious, and the entire process of a story going from your writing desk to bookstores can take a year or more.
So, if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and putting in work (and money) to publish yourself, then you’ll see your work on shelves sooner and reap all the returns. But, if you’d rather leave the dirty work to the professionals, then you won’t mind the long wait and earning a little less. Writers should determine which route works best for them, and remember the third option is to go hybrid—do a combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing.
How do you market your books? From flyers, to postcards, to business cards, to a heavy online presence, I market my books everywhere and at all times. I keep things creative by using digital magazines like the one I linked to above. I create Pinterest boards and Google+ collections. I talk about my writing on Facebook on my author page. I also do blogtalk radio shows, blog takeovers and interviews. In short, I market aggressively and creatively. Anyone interested in learning more can visit my website at wroughtironreads.org where I run a blog called Writer People Problems and give advice for indie authors and other writers.
Why did you choose this route? I made a rash decision. I got tired of writing, writing, writing and never seeing anything with my name attached. So, I sat down and drew up a logo, built a website, got with a few friends and hammered out some stories. Wrought Iron Reads was born. We quickly learned we were in over our heads, but I like a good challenge. 😀 Every month, our brand recognition grows, which tells me we’re doing something right. 😉
Would you or do you use a PR agency? I don’t. I would if I could. It would take a lot of stress off my shoulders. 😉 At this time, hiring an agency isn’t within my budget. Let’s hope that changes as Deserving takes off! Ha! *Smiling*
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? I encourage everyone I meet to take advantage of the wealth of information available at their fingertips on the internet. Seek reputable sites and read articles from industry movers-and-shakers. I can’t tell anyone exactly what will work for them, but the answers are out there and not hard to find. There is plenty of general info on my blog, so I invite all to visit and follow Writer People Problems and sign up by email in order to never miss an article.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? *Smiling* All of it. I write a few paragraphs, hop online and send out a reminder Deserving is available on Amazon, and then get back to writing. I also schedule posts in advance to multi-task without breaking a sweat.
What do you do to get book reviews? I beg. I’m shameless. I remind. I cajole. I remind again. No, I’m kidding! With Deserving, I started well ahead of the release date by sending out ARC copy and asking readers to write down what they thought of the book. Once it was released, I sent out reminders they could post their reviews. I haven’t quite mastered the art of drumming up hundreds of reviews yet, but I’m working on it.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? It depends on how you define success. It was like pulling teeth to get a few reviews for Jonquille. It was easier with Deserving. I consider that a minor triumph.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? For my next book, I intend to stand on a street corner with a sign that says, “Will read this book to you for reviews.” I have a very good reading voice. It should draw people in like flies to honey! If that doesn’t work, then I don’t know what will. 😉
Here’s me reading an excerpt from Deserving:
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I want the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a job, as much as it is an art. While I’m sensitive about my writing, I understand my job is to give readers what they want. Bad reviews that have merit actually help me become a better writer. Bad reviews that have no merit are an annoyance. I love my good reviews, and I pay attention to them just as closely to see exactly what worked in the book and what didn’t. Even good reviews tend to have a tiny critique crammed in there. 😀
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Gah! I wish I had some, but I don’t. This business is far more boring than it looks, lol.
What’s your views on social media for marketing? It’s a must, but it’s easy to err. I follow the 10% rule. Ten percent of my social media posts are allowed to be blatant promoting. Everything else should give readers a glimpse into who I am as an author. I’m selling myself as much as I am selling my books. I want friends and fans to know there’s person behind the writing.
Which social network worked best for you? My favorite is Facebook, but I’m old fashioned. I’ve been considering giving Snapchat a try.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Back to the 10% rule. Let’s use Facebook as an example, since they’re the most tedious. FB doesn’t want you using your personal page to get rich quick. (Someone should tell them there’s no get rich quick to being a writer.) Use your Author Page or Product/Book Page to do your marketing. For every ten posts, place one promotion. It’s that simple, meaning it’s hard as heck. You’ll be tempted to promote, promote, promote, but doing so will only decrease your outreach and could possibly lead to your page being shut down for spamming.
I wrote a more in-depth article about this for my blog. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1TjCuZG
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I created and disseminated a press release on my own. I’m still figuring out Goodreads. I know there’s a wealth of resources locked in that beautifully complicated website, but I haven’t quite gotten to the goods yet. 😀
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Yikes! That question. 😉 I’d like to meet the creators of the hit show Underground. I am wowed by the writing in that series. Truly amazing work!
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I’ve never considered it, but I guess I might like to trade places with Octavia Butler. I think I would’ve given her book, Kindred, a different ending.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read. Read more than that. Read everything.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Find me on Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015MR3M6Y
Find me on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1SEQQWn
Find me on Facebook: http://facebook.com/sondi.writer
Find my company on Facebook: http://facebook.com/wroughtironreads
Find me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/wiruniverse
Visit my site: http://wroughtironreads.org
Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in an author interview with you, and thanks to everyone reading this! I’ve enjoyed discussing my writing and other projects, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk my favorite subject: Books! Be sure to check out my website for more about me and the other writers of Wrought Iron Reads, and don’t miss Writer People Problems only at wroughtironreads.org. Because life’s too short for bad books! #ReadEntertained