Interview with Cyndie Shaffstall

What are you working on next?
I am co-writing a science fiction with a friend who has been instrumental in the direction of my last three books. For sci-fi fans, it will be a universe in which my three stories might exist, but it's also a story in of itself.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I love my job and feel as though I have led a charmed life. I enjoy writing and I enjoy working at the marketing company I own. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work from home, so in addition to a job I enjoy, I get to pet my dogs all day.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I own a small marketing company, so I build complex drip and nurture marketing campaigns for clients, as well as develop landing pages and websites to support their campaigns. It gives me an opportunity to be creative in ways beyond writing.
What is your writing process?
I have a mixture of processes: I write an outline of just chapter names, with short summaries to describe each. I then work on whichever chapter topic moves me that day. I think this perhaps staves off writer's block since I'm not constrained to write linearly—I can pick and choose from topics, times, and places.
How do you approach cover design?
The marketing company I own contracts with more than 80 freelancers. Depending upon the book, I might reach out to one of the designers in our network, or I might take it on personally. Sometimes it's both. Once I have several concepts, I'll put the images up on my Facebook page and ask friends and family to vote for their favorite.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have just about every possible device—we use them for testing products we create for our clients. I prefer the iPad if I'm home, but the Kindle, if I will be out of doors.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've identified around 150 different websites offering a wide variety of marketing options. I've been testing since the release of Seed Money to figure out which are most effective and when. Some, I've found, do better for free KDP days, and some are better for discounted books. I'm collecting my data with the idea that perhaps I can compile it into a how-to for other new authors.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a cattle ranch in northwestern Arizona. Living remotely fostered my love of reading and writing—it have me lots of time for both. I always thought I would raise my kids out there, but it turned out I missed Colorado too much. I returned in 1990 and cannot imagine leaving.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Willows is the third in the series and a look at Louisiana in the late 1700s through late 1800s. I am enjoying learning how different life was in New Orleans compared to the rest of the New World at that time. Unlike Glyphs, there are news articles and other content written about the time, so the research has been easier.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I self-published my first book in 1992, but it was later acquired by Peachpit Press. I also wrote for Que for several years. Now that I've been on both sides of the publishing fence, I wanted to explore the tools available now to self-publishers. It's been quite the learning experience, but I am enjoying the challenge of being responsible for my own success.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Until this question, I hadn't given it any thought. I suppose my first stories were probably written in grade school, and those I do not remember. I do, however, recall the first recognition for my writing—a poetry contest when I was 11 or 12—when writing as a career became a goal.
Published 2015-04-11.
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