During the last couple of months, I read several books written by authors who live outside the U.S. I know from our contests that there are many international readers but I didn't quite grasp the breadth of the international author. Authorial success and continued contracts rely primarily upon sucess within the U.S. The NYTimes, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Oprah, Starbucks, Daily Show and all of those other book power brokers, are U.S. entities.
Even the simple things like the cost of postage and more obvious things, like the cost of plane tickets for bookstore signings impose barriers which US based authors don’t face. Today Sasha White shares her thoughts about writing books for US audiences and market to US audiences in the face of geographic and cultural barriers.
Sasha White is a strong voice in an emerging market of erotica for women. Ms. White’ latest release, Lush, is unapologetically set in Canada. Lush features three stories set against the backdrop of an art gallery where a gallery owner, jewelry designer and a photographer surrender to the sensuality that surrounds them. Her extensive backlist can be accessed through her website.
Do you have modify the language in the books to exclude colloquialisms from your native tongue?
Nope. But I do make sure when I use a term that is Canadian, I explain it. Like in BOUND, which takes place partly in a casino, there is talk of Loonies, which are Canadian Dollar coins.
Where do you prefer the books you read to be set?
It doesn’t really matter to me, as long as the author does a good job either bringing me into it completely so I can visualize it and feel what it would be like ~ or if the setting is so far in the background that it doesn’t effect the story. Which is usually how I see my own work. I set my stories in places I’ve been, and I can visualize them in my mind, but in all honestly, it’s rare for it to matter where the setting is in my stories. The characters are the story, and I hope they are universal enough that readers don;t care if they are Canadian, American, Greek, or from Pluto.
How does living outside the U.S. affect your ability to research your books?
It doesn’t. The Internet is an amazing thing, and people are wonderfully helpful.
Because of the expense of travel, you can’t do many book signings or in person appearances at American bookstores or meet in person with American readers. The cost of mailings is also more expensive. Do you find these to be disadvantages? If so, what can you do to ameliorate that disadvantage?
Yes, I do find that to be a disadvantage. I’d love to do more signings. Some bookstores here will do them, but they are just not a big thing, and there aren’t enough authors locally, in my city sat least, to organize group signings to make it a bigger event. But what can you do? I make sure I go to one US conference a year, so I can meet more readers and sign, but I’m always around on my website and chat loop, so I hope readers know that they can always find me and get to know me that way if they want.
Postage is a PITA. It is very expensive to do any sort of mailings. However, it’s also a business write off. *shrug*
As a writer who lives outside the US , do you attempt to make the characters to suit a more US based audience? Are there cultural differences that need to be addressed in a book?
No, I write my characters to suit myself, and readers. The story is built organically from the characters. Plus, I’m in Canada, which is not the U.S, it’s also not hugely different culturally from many of the States. There are some differences of course, but nothing that I fell effects the stories I’m writing right now.
What promotional efforts have you found to be most successful in reaching the US audience, other than writing an appealing book?
Probably my website. I keep it up to date, and blog regularly. My website is full of behind the scenes, free reads, photo’s and news, so there is tons of fun stuff for readers on there.
Like I said, I do go to one conference a year in the U.S (This year it’s Romantic Times in Houston) but when I go those, I’m either meeting people who I’ve talked to online, or who don;t hang out on line but have read the books. So I think I have a good balance between a conference, and my website.
If there is one thing that you could change about the publishing industry, what would it be?
Well, to be honest, I don;t know enough about the industry to say anything intelligent here. I know what I do, and what i need to do, and I do my best to focus on only those things. I find that when I did try to learn more and get involved more, it just distracted me from my writing, and drove me a little crazy. So, I stick with only my own aspect of things.
What is your biggest challenge as a writer living outside of the US? What have you done to overcome it?
Not having many local authors to talk to in person. And I don’t think this is a Canadian thing, but more of an Edmonton thing. There is no local writers group that I can join. There is one in Calgary, but thats a 3 hour drive each way, and I’m not into that.
What have I done to overcome it? LOL I force my family to listen me talk writing, and I even drag them into plotting and brainstorming occasionally, and I’ve developed some very good friendships with other writers online.