Becca C Smith is the best selling self published author of the Riser saga. Here she discusses her incredible writing career and what’s made Riser so successful!
Growing up I was one of the many kids that stood in line for Star Wars for five hours at the only theatre in Seattle playing it. I was five years old, so you can guess that I was complaining and moaning the whole time. Even when we were finally let into the theatre my family had to split up. My dad and I sat in the front row, while my sister and my mom sat in the back. But when the lights turned down and the gigantic Star Destroyer crawled across the screen, my mouth dropped, my eyes bugged out and I was officially a movie-nut for life.
From that moment on, all I ever talked about was when I was going to make movies myself, and of course, this spilled into the TV world as well. I was just as obsessed with Wesley Crusher as Luke Skywalker. My goals never waivered. The only other career I ever considered was writing books. For some reason my child-brain never made the connection of possibly writing for TV or the movies to combine both my dreams, it wasn’t until I was graduated from film school and in Los Angeles for the first time that my dad posed the question, “Well, why don’t you just write films? You’ve always been a writer, and you want to make films, do both!” Well, duh! Why didn’t I think of that? And that began my long and sometimes amazing/sometimes frustrating life of writing feature screenplays and TV pilots. Over the years, I won some contests, I met some amazing people, but let me tell you, trying to get a movie made or a pilot even looked at when you don’t have any money or contacts is statistically like winning the lottery.
My accolades in screenwriting contests finally helped me get a break in television, which let’s face it in the last ten years has far out-shined the movie industry. I’d watch an AMC show over most current films any day! I worked on the show Ghost Whisperer as the Creator and Executive Producer’s assistant. He was amazing! He let me write the Ghost Whisperer comic books for IDW Publishing.
Then the writer’s strike happened and I was out of TV. So what to do? I was tired of writing screenplays and teleplays that would sit on my shelf. I had so many stories I wanted to tell, but only friends and family to share them with. That’s when I decided I was going to write a book. I had a pilot that I had written called Riser and I knew that I wanted to turn it into a book. I loved the world, I loved the characters, and if I couldn’t see it as a TV show then I would tell the story as a set of novels. I couldn’t believe how much I loved writing Riser. It was exhilarating and freeing! I could nestle inside the main character’s head and unlike movies and television instead of having to “show” everything, I could write what she was thinking. It was such a great experience, when I had completed the first book, I felt like I had really accomplished something fun. I just hoped people would like it as much as I liked writing it.
I spent the first year trying to get an agent and starting that uphill battle of convincing people to take a chance on me. Well, I had finally had enough. When I read about CreateSpace, I knew: I was going to self-publish. My mother-in-law and I combined our resources and started a small publishing company called Red Frog Publishing. We bought our ISBN numbers and haven’t looked back.
In this day and age, independent publishing is the future. Let the world decide what they want to read, not a small group of executives!
1. Right now, Riser is in the top 2000 in the kindle store. First – congratulations! Second – do you pay much attention to kindle store sales rank? Finally – Are there any particular promotions you’ve done recently that you feel fuelled this incredible success?
I actually do pay a lot of attention to sales ranking. I try not to, but I’m a bit obsessed by it, lol! It helps me have a better sense of what’s working in terms of tweeting, or advertising, or whatever else I’m doing to promote my book. So far, I’d have to say Twitter has been my biggest asset. It seems to directly correlate to my sales ranking. If I don’t tweet, it goes down, if I tweet it goes up.
2. Any publicity in which you’ve invested time and money, that you are definitely going to avoid for the next book?
Yes, definitely. You live and learn as they say. When I first released my book I paid $300 dollars to a Press Release site and it did absolutely nothing for me. I could have released a Press Release myself for free! I just didn’t know. At the time it seemed like a good idea. Also, I did a couple of paid advertisements through various sites, but if anything my sales ranking went down, so those didn’t work either.
3. If you had an extra $5000 to invest in a book launch, how would you spend it?
Oh my gosh, I wish! I’m coming out with a new series, hopefully by this October, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to launch it. If I had five grand I’d probably start by doing several blog tours. Even though there can be some downsides of a blog tour, over all I had a great experience. Bottom line is: at least you can get reviews out of it (hopefully not bad ones!) With the rest of the money, I would use it to put my book on BookBub. My friend did it and she had 20,000 downloads in less than a week! I’m probably going to try it with my new book, but certain categories can be pricey. But with those kinds of numbers of downloads, it’s worth it!