Interview with Sandra Rea

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
As an Army brat, I didn't really grow up in one specific location. However, I was born in San Antonio, Texas, and within the first eight weeks of life moved in my mother's arms to Ohio and then to Germany. We lived there for a couple of years before heading back to the States. Then it was Arkansas, Texas, Atlanta, Texas and then finally Oklahoma. I was 10 at that point. We moved every 18 months to two years. Sometimes, as in the case of Atlanta, we had two different homes over a span of three years. The experience of being on the move and never having a place to call "home" made me adaptable. I can adapt to new situations quickly. I pulled something from every culture. There is a difference between Texas and Germany just as there is a difference between Atlanta and Texas. Moving doesn't scare me. In fact, I love new environments and I love to travel. I was young when we did all that moving, so I was able to embrace it. Had I been older, there would have been more resistance, I'm sure. It affected my three older sisters in completely different ways.
When did you first start writing?
My first memory of writing or the act of writing is when I was three. By four I was reading. I had older siblings and my parents were voracious readers. My father finished a book a day for as long as I can remember. Before his passing it took a week to finish a book, but he read a great deal. My mother was a slower reader, but she was able to finish two books a month. And that was with four kids and housework and Army wife duties to attend! I grew up reading, so it might have been a natural progression. I was always a writer. Always. A spontaneous reader, I began reading kids' encyclopedias at age four. I'm sure someone had to have taught me to read, but it was something I figured out early on. Maybe the pictures that went with the words helped.

By five I was midway through Kindergarten and I began to "write" stories and draw pictures to go with them. I have some of these today. I wrote stories all the way through school and I earned high marks in English and communications classes. I became a published poet my third year in college. That was exciting. I had seen my name on pieces before, but for the university's year book. This was different. I wanted more.

One might think I went into the field of professional writing after that, but no. I wanted to be a child psychologist. That was my path. However, a high-level math class changed my path entirely. I had to go with my strengths. I became a writer. I now have hundreds of publishing credits in domestic and international magazines, I have self-published four books and I take other authors through the publishing process. I'm a ghostwriter who has a few great books under her belt that are selling well for clients, and I also take editing projects. I love my life as a writer. I couldn't imagine being anything else. As for my love of psychology... I get to practice it anyway. I help to empower authors, which sometimes mean redirecting their minds to the more positive side of thinking. So I get to practice my layman's psychology skills frequently.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I understand publishing well. As a book promoter, shepherd, ghost and editor, I've been fortunate to work with authors of all types. Many have self-published. For them it is a smart move, because they control their profits to a larger degree than if they were to work with a publisher. Because I understand how the market works, I want to practice what I teach. I have to do the marketing of my books anyway, so why not keep more of the profit? Self-publishing as an independent author means I get my books to market quickly. With a traditional publishing arrangement it can take a couple of years. People don't understand this point. We live in a fast-paced, I-want-it-now culture. We want our books delivered in that way, so why wouldn't I go the indie route? (That said, if there are any large publishers in the house reading this who want to buy the rights to this book and give me a fat advance and good royalties, I'm all in!)
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I love Smashwords! Talk about empowering authors, this is the company that embraces that mechanism. The founder of the company is accessible. The team is accessible and helps authors through problems with the site when they arise. The distribution is good -- though I want to see Amazon work with Smashwords. And my e-book sales primarily come through B&N that is on that distribution chain. The price is certainly right! All I have to do is upload my book and hit a few buttons. Plus, there are links to social media, I can upload videos, and do a lot on the site and platform. So, um, yes! Smashwords has helped my success!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
To know my words impact other people and their lives gives me the greatest joy. My books are classified as dark humor or self-help pieces. I have one book that isn't in distribution any longer but will be soon that is in print for young "readers," and I write for a publisher of children's books. However, my mainstay is realistic writing, which can be pretty funny. I swear to you I couldn't make the things I write about up. I'm not that good!
What do your fans mean to you?
It's funny to say, but I have a fan base. They are online and in the real world. My fans keep me motivated, they give me good feedback and input, they're great! I am open to receiving calls from those who read my work and have questions. Usually the questions are about writing and publishing, but they found me through my writing. It doesn't get better than that! I co-founded a company to offer services to writers and authors, so I'd better be open to calls! The name of the company? Full Circle Media & Author Promotions.
What are you working on next?
I've been working on a huge book project for a client, and I cannot share the name of that book here. BUT IT IS A GOOD BOOK! For myself I'm working to complete YOU CAN'T DO THAT AND OTHER MYTHS THAT HOLD WOMEN BACK IN BUSINESS AND IN LIFE. I know. Long title, but that's what it is. In this work I intend to show the similarities and differences in thinking among women from different walks of life, ethnicities, economic camps and professions. I interviewed a number of women and what I found was very interesting. Remember I love psychology. Why it is taking me so long -- I've been working on it for three years -- is because I keep meeting fabulous women. The interview process and finding time to put things together is the challenge. I'm looking to release that this fall. Thank you for asking!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
When I'm working on a book project, whether it is for a client or one of my own, I am literally filled with joy. Okay... and a lot of worry. I want the book to be the best it can be, so until I finish it is on my mind literally all the time. For example, I'm thinking through my client's book right now as I type. Hey, I'm a woman. My brain works that way!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to travel. It doesn't really matter where I go, I get a thrill out of interactions with new surroundings and people. I want to travel more. Right now, I have to stay close to home, but that will change in the next couple of years when my boys are all grown. I want to travel to Greece by boat. I want to see the ruins. I want to experience the Mayan ruins, too. It's on my bucket list.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have Smashwords loaded as my landing page, so I see e-books every day. I browse to see what's out there and to watch trends. I'm not into erotica or romance, but those are thriving markets right now. YA interests me. That genre thrives, too. I tend to enjoy reading short stories and things I can get through in one sitting. I also like titles involving the psychology of... Can't get enough of those.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was when I was about four. It was about a pony. Pretty simple stuff. Hey, I was four. Later in life I revisited the theme and wrote a story about a merry-go-round pony that comes to life. Not real original, but it was a good story. I wonder where that thing is now... I should pull it out and see if it's any good.
What is your writing process?
A lot of writers will tell you that they plan out every step in their process. I don't. I'm known for writing really good first drafts. Many times, the first drafts are also the final drafts (after going through a clean-up process). I just write like I think. Spontaneously. I'm always writing in my head anyway, so why not? I bought Dragon Voice Recognition software, which has bumped my productivity up a notch.

When writing books for clients, I have to be more planned. I have to think about their marketing objective for the book and agree to an outline before putting my fingers to any keyboard. That process involves getting to know the client very well, understanding his/her objectives, understanding why they are writing a book in the first place, helping them to adjust their expectations, and then a series of interviews. That process is the same no matter who I'm working with as a ghost. However, some of the books are very involved and some are rather simple. The anxiety-producing phase in the process is when they review the first bits to make sure I'm on track. I have a good track record, so I shouldn't be nervous, but we writers are paranoid. It comes with the territory.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Velveteen Rabbit was the first book I read over and over and over. It impacted me to not just become a writer but to dream. To dare to dream. To voice what I want and then take the steps. I didn't put that together till just now, but yes. That's why I love that book. I also read the adventures of POOH Bear. Something about the forest and his downtrodden stuffed donkey pal kept me reading. I didn't like all the characters, but a couple I adored. Like Tigger. Maybe I'm like him. I certainly bounce.
How do you approach cover design?
With my covers I work with my key designer, Dori Beeler, who lives and works in England. She does my book covers and those of our clients. She is the co-founder in FCM. She's fast, clever and really good at what she does. For my own books, I begin the process by finding images I think would work. I buy the images and send them to her to implement design.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
We had a Nook, but really never got into using it. I read on my computer. When I get myself a smart pad I'll use that to read, I'm sure. My eyes are not great, so I don't enjoy reading on my phone or smaller device. I'm sitting at my computer a whole lot, so it makes sense to read books there. I'm getting into auidobooks now. I like that option. I'm busy. I want to read more. Feed it to me in a way I can swallow.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Social media can be a wonderful marketing mechanism, BUT I never "sell" anything. I engage. That's what I want all authors to understand. Stop telling us to buy your book. Rather engage us, please. Then likely we'll buy your book because we like you. We "know" you, and you seem interested in us. This is what I tell my clients and this is what I practice. I don't have great bunches of time to do much these days, but any time I jump online to engage, sales result.

I also talk to people at the grocery stores. Checkers are readers. I am developing a product made to help authors talk about their books at the grocery store. But, shhhhh.... it's not done yet. Give me another week!
Describe your desk
OMG! My desk is a mess! I organize it every week, but it's out of control. That is a funny question. I work well in piles. I have notes pinned to my wall (hey, the bulletin board fell and broke), I have notes stuck to my computer screen, I have notes scattered around my desk and I have notes in a notebook by my bed. I have two desks, two big computers and two laptops. We owned a cyber cafe, and when we closed we stared using the computers in our home. There is no room without a computer. It's cool. Our lives are dominated by technology, so why not? I am a bit of hermit currently, so I don't need the mobile devices so much. At client meetings I bring a notepad, pen and recorder. Then I bring all those notes and notebooks back to the source and add them to my special desk pile. (That's different from the the other standard piles.)
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

REDEEM YOURSELF: An Uncomplicated Guide to Coupon Shopping
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,070. Language: English. Published: September 4, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Reference, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance / money management
Want to save $20, $40, $60 or more on each grocery-shopping trip? You can. Just follow the easy instructions in this simple step-by-step guide. A long-time coupon shopper and big-time saver in the grocery store line, Sandra Rea now shares her secret formula with you for finding and using coupons that really work for you.