Become an Insider           Login
Not an Insider Yet?

We no longer offer memberships.
Existing Insider Members may still login (right) and receive their benefits. Stay tuned for some major changes.

Reset Password - Forgot My Username

Remember me

Most Read Interviews

All TopShelf Interviews


Your newest book, The Forgotten Ones, is a deeply suspenseful psychological thriller. What can you tell us about it?

The main focus is about the secrets we tend to bury amongst families and the damage they often create, even to the point of death.


It deals with mental illness and its impact on a family. How much research went into this book?

More than I imagined there would be! There were many days when I would split my screen so I could have articles, websites, responses by doctors and therapists available for me look at. 


The book also has quite a few twists and turns right up until the very end. Did you know at the beginning of writing it, how it was going to end, or did the ending write itself?

I only knew the ending as I was writing it, which is something completely new to me, but also exciting. I love to write books that keep me on my toes. So, to answer your question, the ending basically wrote itself.


You are a NY Times and Amazon Bestseller releasing your twenty-sixth book since 2012. To say that you are a successful author is an understatement. What were some of the roadblocks, if any, that you hit when releasing your first book?

Wow, there were so many roadblocks. I started out as an indie author and back then, there was a lot of stigma toward my choice of publication. I was also a new author who didn’t know what I didn’t know and had to learn along the way. I didn’t understand the huge divide between indie authors and traditional authors and naively believed we were all the same. Not everyone agreed with me, to say it nicely.


What are some of the most important things that you have learned since the release of your first book that you would be willing to share with other authors?

I have a few that I share with new authors. These are things that I wish I had known and understood when I first started. The first piece of advice would be to not rush your writing - your readers are going to know and they’ll be less likely to pick up your next book. Don’t feel the pressure to release a new story every month or feel like your book must be released now or you're going to miss out. The next thing I would strongly recommend would be to learn your craft – your writing needs to improve with every book or you’re going to lose your readership. If you don’t make the craft of writing important, it will be noticeable. For years I only focused on the promo/marketing aspect of my career until I was sucker punched by a comment from a reader. They pointed out that my writing felt stagnant and old and she’d read better from others. Since then, I have made it a focus to make each book stronger, to go deeper with the emotional impact and to bring my readers along on a journey that will leave an impression.


You’re a huge supporter of other writers versus seeing them as competition. Can you talk to us about why it is important to support other authors?

It’s such a small community and I had so many authors help support me when I was starting and still to do this day, so it comes naturally that I want to help others. This isn’t a competition. There are so many readers who love to lose themselves within the pages of a book – if we can keep our readers forefront in our mind, then everyone wins.


As a hybrid author, you publish both independently and under Amazon’s Lake House. What do you find to be the biggest benefits for you personally in being able to publish independently?

I love being able to respond directly to readers when it comes to indie publishing. I can write shorter stories (novellas for instance) about characters that wouldn’t always get a novel with my publisher. I love being able to give them free stories, or place books on sale, things I typically wouldn’t be able to do with my publisher.


On the other end of the spectrum, what are some of the biggest perks of working with a publishing house?

I love the team I have at Lake Union. Their support is amazing. Regarding perks – the biggest one is being promoted via the Amazon website. My books have been introduced to so many readers, which if you haven’t noticed by now, is my main focus when it comes to how I market and how I write.


Let’s talk about marketing. We all know that it’s important to an author to market themselves. How much time do you devote to marketing and do you have any tips for authors trying to develop a marketing plan?

I tend to think that anytime we are on social media, we are marketing ourselves, which is why I feel having a brand is so important to authors. I like to be on social media in the mornings (when my brain is trying to wake up and I’m working on my first pot of coffee). You really don’t have to spend much time on marketing, not if you’re doing it right. The best website right now to help in creating physical marketing graphics is Canva – www.canva.com  - plus, it’s free and easy to use. Get involved in different groups on Facebook where you can interact with readers and set up a newsletter where you can have direct communication with your readers on a regular basis. 


Along those same lines, an author’s name is their brand. You teach courses to authors about how to build their very own brand. What can you tell us about this and how does an author go about learning more?

To me, an author’s brand is a promise they’ve made to their readers – a promise of what to expect when they read their books, when they find them online and when they communicate one on one with each other (via newsletters or blog posts). This promise is so important but it can be so easy to break that promise as well, and when you break a promise with a reader, they tend to stop reading your books. I’ve heard so many newer and established authors say they are confused by branding and tend to ignore it even though they realize how important it is, which is why I decided to offer help. I love to speak on branding, on how to use our branding to reach and keep readers and often speak at conferences. I decided to start a service called Branding with Intent. I offer a free 5-day email course to creating a brand as well as online courses and one-on-one coaching. http://www.steenaholmes.com/branding-with-intent/ to find out more.