After a year (!) of Author Interviews, I’m thrilled to be talking with A.J. Flowers, one of the writers from the Ubergroup I work with very closely. A.J. wrote her first trilogy, a fantasy angel series, through college while studying to become an engineer. Once active in Detroit with her automotive career, she decided to make her personal goals a reality. Writing as a hobby and taking it seriously as a secondary career is daunting, to say the least. She started out by documenting any new tidbits of knowledge on her blog, and after five years writing, and two years blogging, had enough information to create a writing resource guide.
A.J. Flowers has written 5 books, hundreds of flash and short stories, and is beginning to blossom in her career. If you’re a writer, this interview may be a peek into your future.
What is the best book you’ve read lately?
Lately most of the books I’ve been reading are comparative novels to my own work, Fallen to Grace. Basically I searched on Goodreads for well-received angel novels, and that’s when I discovered the Unearthly series. I was put-off at first because it’s written in present tense, but once I got over that, the story itself is pretty amazing. You can read a spoiler-free review here.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always been a creative person, and during my younger years I expressed myself through art, sculpture, and photography. But once I went to college, my part-time poetry turned into a full-blown novel, and I knew I’d found my creative outlet. Even though I can recall doing creative writing as young as six-years-old, I didn’t really realize I’d made the decision to become a writer until college.
Do you think that giving books away free works? Why?
Absolutely. The best way to market a book is by getting the word out. If you make your book temp free, or even prema-free, you’re getting your work out there. You’re getting reviews and if your book is in the Kindle Unlimited program, you’re still getting paid!
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
Using my blog subscriber list as a springboard and then placing my book on a week-long freebie period both had a significant boost in sales. I didn’t expect much for my first published book, especially because it’s a writing guide and not a novel, but to my surprise it’s done quite well. The initial sales had a spike after my first announcement to my subscribers, and then a significant spike the week after it had been on freebie. Not to mention there were thousands of Kindle Pages read during the freebie period which I still got paid for. But that week of higher-than-expected sales after the book had been on freebie still baffled me until I realized what had happened. Those who got the book on freebie either wrote a review or placed it as “read” on their Goodreads profile. This is all word-of-mouth advertising that had an impact on my sales.
I don’t plan on being annoying about advertising my book. I’ll talk about it when it’s relevant to the conversation, but I won’t spam Tweets with “Buy My Book!” or anything like that. My goal is to continue to build my blog subscriber list and continue word-of-mouth for future publications. The more I write, then the more I have to offer, and the bigger an audience I can achieve. You reap what you sow.
Where do your ideas come from?
I used to think from thin air, but the more I write the more I realize I’m just regurgitating things I’ve been exposed to. For example, Sanctuary is a Soul Parasite novel, and if you strip away all the magic and alternate realms, it has some striking similarities to Stargate, one of my absolute favorite TV shows. It was a beta reader who pointed it out, and when they did, I instantly went WOW! THEY’RE TOTALLY RIGHT! And I was completely devastated, but then I accepted that no ideas are truly genuine.
We are all retelling stories with our own spin. If you think about it, every romance is boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Every thriller is a main character who is too ambitious and gets into a dangerous situation, nearly dies a hundred times throughout the book, and then voila, they survive! etc. etc. So, I realized not to beat myself up about it and just continue to make my spin on the world as I see it.
Originally from an island a mile and a half wide named Sugarloaf Key, A.J. Flowers discovered new lands and cultures through books. Life has drastically changed since her childhood, and she currently resides in Detroit as an automotive designer, which has given her the opportunity to travel the world and experience regions and cultures she can incorporate into her work. During her free time, she saves the world from annihilation on her favorite video games side-by-side with her Dutch husband and princess Blue Russian kitty named Mina. You can check her writing advice, published work, and fun personal stories on her blog.