Mar 5, 2012

More fun with Wren Emerson! (part 2)

Continued from part one:
The Metro Coffee shop is just getting going as we walk in. Wren knows the guy at the door, so they point us towards a side booth where we can chat and still people-watch. Atlanta becomes much more interesting than I recall with every passing moment. I’ve always said, the quality of the tour is dependent upon the quality of the guide. Plus, the Metro has free Wi Fi, which always earns points in my book. Bless you, wondrous deliverers of the free Y. Makes me happy, it does.

We nab a pair of beverages thanks to a chipper employee, and get back into the conversation. With all the (REDACTED) material behind us, we look into Wren’s professional experience as an author.

Me: Aside from your talent, your cleverness and humor, what would you say has been the biggest benefit to being a relatively new author?

Wren: The only advantage I have the ability to make some pretty awful mistakes. I'm not kidding. I've managed to sabotage myself in a ton of different ways. That's a post in itself but the TL;DR version is that mistakes aren't career breaking as long as you learn something from them and avoid doing the same thing in the future. I've squandered some pretty amazing opportunities (it would make you cry) but I've learned so much and you can bet that 2012 is going to be an amazing year for me because I won't be making those mistakes again.

Me: I’m fond of saying that every mistake is a challenge to find new ways to screw up, so it sounds like we’re both looking in the same basic direction. What are your next big plans, with respect to writing? Do you have a specific goal you're working towards? A plan to getting there?

Wren: My primary goal is to earn a living income from writing. I've done it something like 3 months out of the last 9, just enough to keep me following the carrot on the stick. I love writing and I've learned not to take it personally if something I write isn't appealing to readers. I have enough ideas that I'm not afraid to try a different series or even an entirely different genre. Being flexible is what's going to ensure I meet my goals.

Me: (at this point, the music cranks up a bit, but I’m making my “do go on” face, so she gets the hint.)

Wren: Oh, ha, guess I touched on that a little bit already. Ok, here's the dirty dirty details… I published I Wish in May 2011. I don't think I've ever earned more than $75 on it in a month across all stores. I have theories about that is and I'm happy to share them if you'd like me to write a guest post on the subject at some point in the future, but the bottom line is that as Wren Emerson until last month I had exactly 1 title and that was I Wish.

I started to experiment around July with writing erotica under a pen name. The first couple of months were unbelievable. I made ~$2500 those first couple of months with zero promotional effort on my part. Cha-ching! Bills paid. We moved cross country and I got caught up in real life. I had an amazing time, but due to the nature of how we're paid, I didn't start to realize that there was a problem for months. For something like four months I didn't write a thing. I mean I was getting paid for stories I wrote months ago, right?

Eh, not so much. But I wouldn't know it because I stopped checking my numbers. By the time I realized that things were in a decline, I was screwed. It appears that my niche market has been saturated and it's time to change up my strategy. Which would be awesome except, I won't see my efforts rewarded now for another 60 days.

And as for the 3rd month I've been able to pay my bills? That's right now, baby. I posted a few short stories as Wren at the end of January and they've sold a combined total of 115-ish across 5 titles this month on Amazon (that's like $40) so there's a tank of gas. The bulk of my income has been from I Wish. I enrolled it in the KDP select program and it went free the weekend of the 4th and was downloaded 16k times over two days. It hit #5 overall and #1 on a couple of different subcategories. That translated into a metric assload of paid sales. I can't say for sure how many because Amazon really dropped the ball on accounting that stuff this month, but I earned $2k in the first week after it went paid.

Did it last, you wonder? Of course not. I'm selling about 5 books a day now (so about $525 a month), but that's a damn sight better than the 23 I sold on Amazon in January, right? I anticipate that by the time I have the rest of the series posted and do a real marketing push, I might be paying the bills on a regular basis and that makes me really happy.

Me: “If you find a way to get paid to do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Those are really pretty good numbers – a very good milestone for anyone looking to write for a living. But of course, it can’t all be grindstone, you have to relax sometime. When you do have time to read, what's your favorite genre?

Wren: I adore reading short horror anthologies. I especially love zombies, apocalyptic, and dystopian fiction. And of course paranormal/urban fantasy. If I feel like I need a good cry, I will pick up any romance novel. It doesn't matter what kind, I will be openly weeping by page 5 guaranteed.

Me: What are you reading right now?

Wren: Oh gosh, let me see what's on my Kindle… Scott Nicholson, Belinda Frisch, David H. Fears, J. Sterling, Charlotte Abel, and Shannon Mayer. A little eclectic, but I'm looking forward to all of them.

Me: Okay, I’ve been trying to avoid asking, but clearly I have little to no conversational restraint. So, I'll just ask - - Horror Erotica? How did that happen?

Wren: I met a guy on Twitter (it sort of sounds like a cautionary story, huh?) and he asked if anyone was willing to write stories for a project he was working on. He writes erotic horror and I gave it a read. It didn't seem too scary, so I decided that that's what I'd try to write, too. Perchance to Dream and Real Vampires Don't Sparkle were the result of that. It really gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities since I'd never written anything in either the erotic or horror genre before.

Me: Erotica is a tough genre to write in, if you have plans to write in any other genre. Do you agree or disagree?

Wren: I haven't really had any issues with it so far. It's not hard to start a pen name. I will say that I've encountered some negative opinions of what I write, but they were from other writers, not the readers. Actually, the readers have always been really excited about what I write.

I would just offer this advice: if you want to cross genre boundaries, make sure that what you are publishing is clearly laid out in the description. I would feel so bad if one of my WoD fans bought Real Vampires Don't Sparkle and expected it to be child friendly.

Me: It’s definitely a challenge to manage it all, but there have been so many authors who’ve done so, and quite successfully. What's another genre you'd like to cross erotica with?

Wren: I think there's always room for the erotic in just about anything you write except things meant for kids. As humans sex is a huge part of our identities. It's something that we should be celebrating and enjoying. I've actually been thinking about writing an erotic comedy. I've got too much on my plate to tackle it now, but someday...

Me: That would be awesome, actually. Let me know when you do get that one written! So, you’ve been epublishing a while, now - how do you think the present state of epublishing affects the overall publishing industry? Do you think it's a good thing or a bad thing?

Wren: I love the opportunities that indie publishing offers. I would never have written I Wish if I hadn't discovered that I could upload it directly to Amazon myself. I have never had any desire to jump through the flaming hoops that the traditional publishers hold up. It's a vetting process sure, but one that I don't think is necessary. Readers should be deciding for themselves what they want to read. And thanks to epublishing, now they can.

Me: I totally agree. I blogged recently about this concept of “literary gatekeepers”…I think I was pretty specific as to my opinion on it. *grin* Where do you think we'll be, publishing-wise, in the next 5 years? where do you hope we'll be?

Wren: I'm not an expert on the industry by any means so I'm not going to make any predictions, but I hope that we'll see more readers than ever using ereaders. I hope that schools start issuing them to students the way that some districts issue laptops. I hope that more authors realize that they create the content and that they don't need a traditional publisher to validate their worth with terrible contracts.

Me: Where do you think you’ll be in five years? Where do you hope you'll be?

Wren: I'll still be writing stories because I'll never run out of ideas that I want to explore. I just hope that I'm writing them from beside my pool while cabana boys fan me with palm fronds.
Me: Don’t forget the grapes! Everyone always forgets the grapes. So, here’s a classic chestnut from the Generic Questions vault: If you weren't a writer, what would you be?

Wren: That's tough to say. I've been a full time mom pretty much my entire adult life. I'd undoubtedly still be doing that right now since The Littlest Minion isn't in school yet, but I'd have some tough choices to make in September when he starts.

Me: What's next for Wren?

Wren: I had a pretty good run in 2011, but the plan for 2012 is to come at it even harder. To take all the things I've learned in the past and improve on it. My goal (possibly unattainable) is to write the 4 novels and 20-ish short stories that I have planned for this year so far. I'm also working on setting up workshops for high school kids at area schools that deal with indie publishing in general and world building in specific. It's a big heaping plate full of dreams, I'll admit, but I've got an enormous appetite for it.

Me: Obviously you don’t spend all your time writing, though. What do you do to relax?

Wren: In no particular order, I love to read, create mixed media collage and work in art journals, play video games (specifically RPGs), travel, take tons of photos with my iPhone, and go carousing with my sisters on the Soul City Sirens roller derby team.

Me: (I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged out here, because she nearly spit out a mouthful of coke. I apologize and we dab up the mess, and I promise her that we’re going to have to talk about Roller Derby stuff later. Another interview, I promise. Maybe a whole other one for video games, too. Dang. We could keep these up for a while!)  All right, deep breath, we're through the worst of it. Okay, now: Lightning Round time, just to make sure I’ve covered all the bases!  Ready?

Wren: Ready!

Me: What did your last tweet say?

Wren: Smart money is something to do with any combination of zombies, herpes, or badgers. Possibly #vaginamarketing or my boobs? I don't know. That's all I ever talk about.

Me: I don’t want to suggest that I’ve ever noticed that. But I’ll state for the record that your answer doesn’t entirely shock me. Um, favorite website to waste time at?

Wren: Reddit. I want my life back.

Me: Comfort food?

Wren: I love taco burgers from Taco Hut. Unfortunately I can only get those in Kansas or Oklahoma and I'm in Georgia. #1stworldproblems

Me: Guilty Pleasure:

Wren: 80s and 90s YA horror books. I buy them whenever I see them second hand. I just can't get enough.

Me: Last thing you watched on TV (Hulu or Netflix counts) that you'd recommend:

Wren: How I Met Your Mother- I'd give up writing novels forever if they'd let me write for that show.

Me: Favorite Halloween Costume:

Wren: I was Snooki this year. It was pretty cheap to put together, but gave me endless hours of entertainment. I should post pics on FB or something.

Me: iPad, Nook or Kindle?

Wren: I have an iPhone rather than an iPad, but I own them all. I do prefer the Kindle over the Nook though.

Me: Top 5 items on your bucket list:

Wren: I'm not sure anybody will still respect me, but for the sake of honesty here goes (in random order):

  1. Meet Seth Green 
  2. See something I've written made into a movie (either a book that's been adapted or a screenplay I've written) 
  3. Dry hump a transvestite. I don't care to explain this one other than to say it's important to me
  4. Visit all the Ripley's Believe it or not museums in the continental US
  5. Own a segway


 Me: Well, I still respect you. Though, to be honest, I’m pretty easy.

We both laughed at that, and then we chatted about all sorts of things that may or may not have been directly related to that one time I accidentally hung out with Seth Green at a show for The Church and a lot of other silly conversational threads I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested in right now anyway.

Eventually, we wandered back to the parking lot and our wonderful afternoon and evening of conversation had to come to an end. But fear not, loyal readers, I’m sure you’ll be treated to further adventures of the Ren and Wren show, whenever our literary worlds collide. I’ve promised her a tour of Seattle, hopefully airfare will become reasonable.

Also, next time, Seth’s invited. You hear me, Scott Evil?


Yeah, I know, he hates that. Sorry, man.

Thanks to Wren Emerson for being such a delightful conversationalist and hostess, and thanks to you for reading along - be sure to help support this wonderful (and just between us, incredibly funny) author by going here and indulging appropriately.
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