Interview with Author Monica Leonelle

If I’ve learned anything in the last four years working in marketing and theater in LA, it’s that if you really want to make it as a writer or any artist, you have to figure out how to market yourself and your work. We cannot wait around for someone to “discover us.” That strategy never worked, maybe only for the fortunate few, and it especially doesn’t work today.

Monica Leonelle is a marketing strategist and author of three books. She’s in the middle of launching her latest novel, Socialpunk, and she took a few minutes to sit down and talk about her novel and marketing. I’ll be reviewing her book in a couple weeks on this blog, so check out what she has to say below!

With Coffee Spoons: What inspired you to write Socialpunk?

Monica Leonelle: Socialpunk is a bit like The Truman Show meets The Terminator, except Mark Zuckerburg is president of the world. I wanted to do a cyberpunk and Socialpunk is classically cyberpunk, down to its roots. I loved the idea of being trapped in a virtual reality, and then acclimating to the real world.

I was inspired by the city of Chicago, by social media issues in our current world, and by the cyberpunk genre. The book is a bit like the Terminator series and I reference that a couple times just for fun. James Cameron is basically my favorite director ever, and he really inspires me with his world-building and storytelling skills.

WCS: What was the most difficult part of writing this book, and how did you overcome that hurtle?

ML: The publishing part. If I had my way I would never be done with my books. I’d have eternity to edit and perfect them. Alas, that isn’t very productive, so publishing is a must.

The only way to overcome the publishing part is to accept that your book will have flaws. The nice thing about technology today is that you can get feedback and fix any errors you’ve made.

WCS: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and novelists?

ML: Writers should inject their marketing directly into their manuscripts. Writers often think of marketing as this separate thing from writing, but it’s not at all. 80-90% of books are sold through word-of-mouth and most of the marketability of a book is right there in the manuscript. So even if you are going the traditional route, if you are serious about getting published you should hire an editor to go through your book and see how marketable it is. Traditional publishers are looking for marketable books. It’s a business and they need to make money.

Then, you launch your book by asking people to read it. If it’s any good you’ll start getting word-of-mouth for your book. My goal is to give away one thousand copies of the book during its launch. I’m maybe a fifth of the way there so far? It’s a lot of work, more than most people realize. I write about this stuff constantly on my Prose on Fire newsletter, so if these concepts interest you, you can check it out HERE.

WCS: What has been your unique vision for the marketing of your novel?

ML: I’ve just focused on writing a good novel. The Socialpunk blog tour is a fairly big launch, but I see it as launching the entire series. I expect and hope for word-of-mouth to take over. My next job is to move on to another novel that will likely be even better than Socialpunk.

WCS: Especially in this new world of social networking, what role do you think writers play in marketing their own writing?

ML: The publishing companies don’t typically handle that, unless they’ve given you a huge advance or you have a track record. Every once in awhile they bet big on author, but not as often as you’d think. So writers should learn everything they can about marketing because they are either going the indie route or they are under fire to sell through on their advance with a traditional publisher.

Again, put your marketing into your manuscript and save yourself a ton of trouble down the line. I hate the push-push-push of marketing. Launch once and let the work speak for itself.

WCS: What is your next writing project?

ML:I would love to get a serialized fiction series going. I plan to start outlining fairly soon, hopefully the end of April. It’s a challenge though, because everything has to be outlined before I start so all the delicious foreshadowing happens. Plus, I have no idea if people will buy serialized fiction. But I’m willing to take a chance. It’s tentatively titled The Seven Seas.

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