Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Rachel Thompson
By OFW editor: Renée Miller
Published: April 08, 2012

Accomplishment: Author, Social Media Consultant

Rachel Thompson is “a chick who writes stuff that makes you laugh.” Her book, “A Walk in the Snark” hit number one on the Kindle Motherhood list this past September, and has given a repeat performance seven times since. She released “The Mancode: Exposed” right after Thanksgiving 2011, giving readers two books of “snarky goodness” to enjoy.

When she’s not writing, Rachel is a mom, wife, and recovering pharmaceuticals rep who used to sell Trojan brand condoms. Her recovery has been a long process, but she says she’s doing okay. Her experience selling prophylactics to such fine establishments as The Mustang Ranch gave her some useful insights into the “ins and outs of men,” which she used in writing her books.

I first met Rachel on Twitter, and her refreshingly honest tweets about men, women, relationships and book promotion kept me eager to read her daily dose of snark. Now, I’d like to share some of Rachel’s blunt, but wise thoughts on writing, publishing and her experience so far.

Why have you chosen nonfiction over fiction? Do you plan to write fiction at some point?

I’ve always been a writer, since age ten. Stories, poetry, journals. Journalism was my minor in college.

I started writing my blog back in ’08 and when I wrote my first Mancode post, “Men are from Seinfeld, Women are from Friends” (included in my first book), people loved it. They bombarded me for more! I knew I had hit on something many people could relate to: the differences between men and women but funny – the Mars/Venus thing was so done; people related to my essays because we all live it daily.

I wrote many more essays along that theme, adding in different situations and perspectives: love, loss, work, parenting. That became my first book, A Walk In The Snark. My second book, The Mancode: Exposed, is more a riff on men and women; the situations we find ourselves in (or create) and how we interact.

As for fiction, I contributed to a horror anthology called last year for a group I was involved with at the time. Not my normal genre, and it wasn’t all that much fun for me to be honest. But it was a good experience to step outside my comfort zone and try something new.

I’m currently writing a paranormal romance about a man who falls in love with a woman who looks exactly like his dead wife.

When did you consider yourself to be a real writer?

Gosh, there are so many levels to answering that question! I’d always considered myself a writer, but when I received my first royalty check for a real book, that I’d written, that real people had bought, from Amazon, I’d say that pretty much cemented the fact that this gig was for real.

I’d also add working with my editor, graphic artist, proofreader, and formatter really solidified my efforts in producing quality books. Each of us has a vision for our work and seeing it become what you picture in your mind is incredible.

What writer would you like to emulate and why?

The writer I’ve always respected and loved everything he’s ever written is John Irving. When I read “The World According To Garp,” I was mesmerized. His writing is so deep, beautiful, and the way he draws out his characters is truly a gift. I also really admire Kate Atkinson, Lorrie Moore, and Margaret Atwood. It doesn’t get much better than The Blind Assassin or The Handmaid’s Tale, in my opinion. Oh, can I add David Sedaris? Amazing.

What was the best moment you’ve ever had as a writer? The worst?

Best moment: when Sean Gardner profiled me last April in HuffPoBooks. Me. In the Huffington Post? Surreal.

Worst moment: probably getting those first one-star reviews. Of course, now I’m totally jaded and blow them off, haha. But as a young writer, it takes some adjustment to put yourself out there and read some of the personal attacks people will make about you and not necessarily the work.
I’ve now learned, and advise other authors I work with (and my 14K+ Twitter followers), to revel in the fact that I elicited such emotion from someone, they felt compelled to write such vitriol. Me. I did that! It’s a paradigm shift in traditional thinking.
Do social media sites really make a difference when promoting an author’s ‘brand’?

Oh my, yes. There’s no question. Any author out there today needs an interactive and thriving social media presence. Too many authors are either afraid of social media so they give up before they start, or they focus so much on writing the book, they figure “Oh, I’ll just do it when the book comes out.” BIG MISTAKE.

It comes across as disingenuous to suddenly out of nowhere be on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc., asking for favors or worse, spamming your links repeatedly (sure sign of a Twitter newbie) from a tribe that doesn’t exist. It’s like hosting a radio program with no listeners – and guess what? Nobody wants to advertise there and you’re broadcasting to no one.

In my own experience, I started blogging in ’08, Facebook in ‘09, and Twitter in ’10. I took to Twitter especially well and built up my following aggressively in a targeted way on a daily basis (still do – no automation for me). When my book came out in 2011, I had a decent following of around 6K followers who were also my supporters, beta readers, and happy to help me get the word out and even buy a few copies.

What’s even better: when Mancode came out, I had double the amount of followers in all areas and therefore had double the amount of support. Even I couldn’t have predicted the book would hit the Amazon Top 100 Paid Overall within one month of release.

Here’s the bottom line: social media itself doesn’t sell your books (okay, a few). But we human beings are a curious group. We want to know about our authors. Coffee or tea. White or wheat. Mac or PC. Social media is a critical component for people to learn about who you are, get to know you, your work, how to find you and your books. And if you don’t have it, other authors in your genre will.

Imagine you’ve died and you get to choose the career in which you’ll be reincarnated; would you choose the same path? Why or why not?

Absolutely, writer. I’ve done retail, sales, marketing, and advertising. I suck at math. I burn water. There’s no question I’m where I should be.

What books are your favorite to read and why?

I love paranormal. Big fan of time-travel (I’ve read and reread ‘Time and Again’ by Jack Finney, ‘Replay’ by Ken Grimwood, and ‘The Time-Traveler’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger, each, multiple times.) Anything dystopian, futuristic, I’m there. Also a fan of literary fiction. Humor books. Hurry, somebody stop me.

What are the biggest challenges for you in your writing career?

Probably the same for any working author: finding the time to focus on writing when there is family to attend to, laundry overflowing, clients to take care of, and um, what’s that stuff called I don’t do anymore? Oh yea, sleep.

Have you ever wanted to quit?

No. Not at all. Sure, I’ve had rejections, bad reviews, and someone tell me my work was unfit for publication (I ignored that person and sent it to an agent I was working with at the time who loved it. Ahem.) Some days are better flowing than others, but my brain is constantly brimming with ideas. There is always something to write about.

Drawing on real-life experiences helps me to shape each book. My next nonfiction collection isn’t humor at all, but based on difficult situations. The raw, honest stuff that people run from is what I thrive on (just take a look at my blog sometime. If you offer to guest post for me, beware.) Then there’s Book Three in The Snark Chronicles trilogy and my paranormal romance.

How could I possibly quit now?

Rachel has recently launched BadRedHead Media, where she offers a range of services, including webinars
to help you figure out the maze of social media, simplify it, make it work for you. Her specialties include social media, branding, marketing strategy, Amazon, and author platform development.

Aside from her blog, you also find Rachel on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Her books are not for those who like sweetness and butterflies, or light, kindhearted humor. “Life can’t always be martinis and beaches.” Don’t I know it. If you want satire and witty commentary on the stupid things men and women do, or a hand up on the nightmare that is social media for authors, Rachel’s your girl.

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Anonymous Guest  
Thursday, 12 Apr 2012 12:08 PM  

Okay, I'm going to try to get through and comment without being anonymous . . . Hi Rachel . . . I love this Q&A very much because you reveal your process. Always interesting to me when a writer can share how and why they are compelled to produce a book, why an artist has to paint that painting or a singer write that song and then sing it. Great. Justin Bog


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Anonymous Guest  
Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 09:26 PM  

Great post, Rachel! I hope every aspiring author takes your advice about developing a social media platform ASAP. And, hey--they should work with you while doing it!


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Anonymous Guest  
Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 06:55 PM  

I've known you for some time, now, but there were some interesting and fun new facts in this one!


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Anonymous Guest  
Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 06:36 PM  

Love the interview.  Great job!!


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Anonymous Guest  
Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 04:14 PM  

Great interview! I love Rachel's blog and her books.


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Anonymous Guest  
Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 02:50 PM  

Rachel is multi-talented and super supportive. She is a  wealth of knowledge and an all around awesome chick. Great interview :) 


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Anonymous Guest  
Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 02:03 PM  

Great interview. Love her snarky goodness.


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Anonymous Guest  
Friday, 13 Apr 2012 01:38 AM

Everytime I read something that gives a bit of yourself I realize how much we have in common.  Great interview, Rachel.  Anonymously KG


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