[quote style=”boxed”] I try to outsource as many tasks as possible, in an attempt to free up more time to write.[/quote]
In July 2012, 28-year-old Alessandra Torre was a first-time writer who uploaded her first self-published novel with fingers crossed that she would attract readers. And she did. In droves. Her book “Blindfolded Innocence” rose to #1 on Amazon.com and remained there for two weeks. This attracted a literary agent, a bidding war, and three publishing deals with Harlequin, Redhook (Hachette Book Group) and German publishing house Blanvalet. The rest is history. Today Torre is looking forward to a potential movie deal, fan outreach through a book signing tour, more self-published stories, and more book deals to satisfy her growing legion of fans.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I pull my ideas from speculation. Often a movie trailer or dream, or news story will trigger an idea. ‘What if’ is a big part of my idea creation. What if a husband disappears one day? What sexual secrets does the bookworm at work harbor?
What does your typical day look like?
I typically spend the morning interacting with readers via social networks, returning emails, and updating my blog. Afternoons I spend reading and napping. Nights are when the words flow onto the paper. After everyone in the house is asleep, and it’s just me and the dogs, that’s when I crack open energy drinks and settle in to write. I’ll sometimes stay up till 4 a.m. writing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Well… my books are highly erotic, so that question might be better answered with a sly ‘No Comment’. I typically don’t plot out my stories. I start with the characters, and see where they take the stories. They breathe life into ideas and mold the plot into ways they see fit.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
There is a movement right now, mostly caused by Fifty Shades of Grey – an acceptance and empowerment of women’s sexual exploration. Women are discussing fetishes and fantasies in ways that were previously shunned. I love walking into Starbucks and hearing two women freely discuss bondage.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My ability to ask for help. I try to outsource as many tasks as possible, in an attempt to free up more time to write.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked as a front desk clerk in a worn-down hotel in college. I learned that I emotionally invest myself in my job, and that I do not do well in situations where I have no control. There are too many factors involved in someone’s hotel stay, from housekeeping to engineering to the shuttle driver. I was constantly stressed that something would go wrong and I wouldn’t be able to fix it.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have become active on social media earlier. My first book was a runaway success, and I didn’t even have a Facebook page.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Say thank you. Ask for referrals. Ask for the business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Making and building relationships with bloggers. Bloggers spread word faster and more effectively than I myself do.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I rushed my first book to publication without getting it professionally edited and formatted. Some early reviews criticized the typos. I have never again published a book without properly preparing it. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is a need for ebook promotional services. A company who focuses on independent authors and does press releases, targeted ads, blogger outreach, and PR.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I thought, up until one year ago, that the correct term for my computer was labtop. It wasn’t until my spellchecker kept flagging the word that I realized my error.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Microsoft Word, PicMonkey, Constant Contact, Odesk. PicMonkey does a great job of creating professional banners and book covers. Odesk is where I find all my subcontractors.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
On Writing, by Stephen King. It is a fabulous resource for anyone thinking about writing a book.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
J A Konrath
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.