Kindle Author Interview: Madeline Sloane

Madeline Sloane, author of Distracted, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Distracted?

MADELINE SLOANE: A contemporary romance, Distracted is a light-hearted novel in a series. The connection in the series is the characters all live in Eaton, visit it briefly, or call it their hometown regardless of where they live now. Eaton, a small, fictitious town in the Pennsylvania mountains, is a microcosm of hometown America. It is quaint and quiet and the people know one another, sometimes too well. Some people come to Eaton for its quality of life, and others leave it for a more exciting life.

Although Erin Andersen, the main character, no longer lives in Eaton, it's where she goes to solve her dilemma—how to keep her sexy client focused and working on his project. She discovers that distraction is contagious, falls in love with Stephen Spence and, for awhile, and is infected with the same malaise that affects Spence—joie de vivre. Then reality knocks on the door interrupting her winning hand of poker, as well as her love affair.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

MADELINE SLOANE: My main characters often are strangers and step out of my dreams. The supporting characters, however, are people I know and who now serve as foils for the protagonists. Early in story development, I search through photographs of interesting (usually beautiful) people until I "recognize" my main characters. Having visuals allows me stayed focused on individual personalities. Then I map out each story in a chronological model. Having an outline works well for me. Knowing the story's direction gives me the freedom to listen to the characters' individual voices and observe their reactions.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

MADELINE SLOANE: My ideal reader is the average woman, probably 25 through 65 years old. She works with honesty and integrity and is loyal and funny. Because I consider myself an "average woman," I think about what I would like in a book. I know what disappoints me and I try not to disappoint others.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

MADELINE SLOANE: I've been writing since childhood, influenced by my mother. She loved to read and wanted to be a writer. By 12, I decided I would be a writer. Like many, I struggled through adolescence writing angst-filled short stories, poetry and journals. I majored in English in college before discovering Anthropology and pursing a graduate degree in the field. Still, I couldn't abandon writing and worked on several newspapers throughout my career. I have written 10 nonfiction books, hundreds of newspaper articles, blogs and essays, and now a novel. I have nearly a dozen more sketched out and am chipping away at them as I can. I look back and think I should be impressed by my proclivity, but I can't. Isaac Asimov wrote or edited more than 500 books and short stories, and 9,000 letters and notes. Compared to Asimov, I've been standing still.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

MADELINE SLOANE: It's a mystery. I'm not sure exactly when I do get anything accomplished. My primary work is communications. If I write creatively, it has to be selfishly squeezed in between editorial and web work for clients, editing a local newspaper and teaching college students. It helps that I'm a hermit.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

MADELINE SLOANE: Rachel Carson and Harper Lee. They also terrify me. I wish I could be a poetic scientist like Rachel Carson, but I also want to be simple, lyrical and truthful like Harper Lee. I enjoy short stories and dislike long, rambling books that seem to focus more on reaching a word count than the end of the story.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

MADELINE SLOANE: To Kill a Mockingbird. This is my favorite book. I've read it dozens of times and every time I do, I find something new, something singular.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

MADELINE SLOANE: I reviewed different bestselling books and books by major publishers of contemporary romance until I felt comfortable with a design. I used an interesting landscape photograph of a Florida beach and combined it with a purchased stock photograph of a couple kissing at sunset. Using Photoshop, I created layers and adjusted the levels and opacity until I had a dreamy effect. I wanted the cover to be professional and worthy of a major publishing house.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

MADELINE SLOANE: I have a professionally designed website, a Twitter account, a Facebook account and a second Facebook fan page just for the book. I launched a Facebook ad campaign, allotting a certain amount of money per day for impressions. I targeted women who read romance novels, using specific keywords. I've published the book for Kindle, but also through Smashwords meat grinder system, which should aggregate the book to other digital outlets such as iBooks, Borders, Barnes & Noble. I've also published the book through CreateSpace, making it available as a paperback on Amazon and through other booksellers. I have a press release ready to ship when the book is available in all formats. I've also placed a small ad in a regional online newspaper. I'm investigating online book reviewers, indie book forums, blogs that welcome authors, and how to conduct a blog book tour. I want to be savvy about marketing, but I think the most important next step is to finish a second book, then a third, and a fourth and so on. I need to provide people with ample opportunities to buy the books.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

MADELINE SLOANE: I love Kindle and I love Amazon. I have to admit, though, I don't own one. I had use of one through a client and purchased one for my son, then a soldier in Iraq. I requested an eReader for Christmas and received the iPad. Now I love the iPad, but I prefer the Kindle app for reading rather than iPad's proprietary iBooks. I also use the Kindle app on my PC. I appreciate Amazon's digital outreach and support, and the tools in their self publisher's toolkit. Having worked with traditional publishers on my non-fiction books, I appreciate being empowered. Amazon allows me to control the look and price of my book, as well as the marketing and distribution.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

MADELINE SLOANE: Do it, but seek the help of a competent copyeditor. Seek an illustrator to create the book cover. Not having your book on Amazon is the kiss of death. I've helped authors self publish in the past, so I had the experience I needed to produce my own novel—once I finally finished it. There are many outlets for marketing and promoting a book, so research these as soon as you can and make time every day, if possible, to push the book. Make use of social media to generate interest but don't be a pest.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Madeline Sloane is a writer with more than 20 years experience in journalism. In addition to fiction, she writes regional history books. Her educational background is in anthropology and she is an adjunct instructor at a private, liberal arts college. She’s working on several new books, each with a connection to Eaton, a small, fictitious Pennsylvania town she created as a backdrop for her novels. Many of her stories include an element of her passions – history, archaeology, travel and sailing. Some of her books feature exciting and exotic cities, which her heroines (and their lovers) explore during the course of their romantic journey.

Visit her website.

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