Episode 64: Going Indie & Selling Locally with Johanna M. Rae

Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!

In this episode I talk with New Zealand author and Ages of Pages book fair coordinator, Johanna M. Rae, about going Indie and selling locally. 

Other topics we discuss include:

  • Why Johanna left traditional publishing for Indie publishing.
  • Why developing your author platform is so important, particularly if you live in a small country.
  • How to establish a reader following and author platform before you’re published.
  • How to connect with readers at book events, even when you’re an introvert.
  • The essential four-legged writing companion every author should have!

If you’ve been on the fence about selling locally, let Johanna inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and grow your readership!

Visit Johanna’s website here: https://www.johannamraeauthor.com/

Visit the Ages of Pages website here: https://agesofpages.weebly.com/

Follow Johanna on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/johanna.m.rae/ and https://www.instagram.com/ages_of_pages/

Follow Johanna on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JohannaMRae and  https://www.facebook.com/agesofpages

Find out more about Duffy Books in Homes here: https://www.booksinhomes.org.nz/Home

Preptober is here! If you’re preparing for NaNoWriMo this year, make sure you check out these cool writing tools:



Author Revolution 4 Books, 5 Days Course: Mastering AI-Enhanced Story Planning

Find out more about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) here:  https://nanowrimo.org/

* Please Note: I am an affiliate for Scrivener, Plottr and Author Revolution courses. These are resources I personally use and enjoy. As an affiliate I get a small kickback at no extra charge to you. If you would like to learn more about Plottr, make sure you listen to Episode 47: Plotting with Plottr with Troy Lambert.

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Find the full transcript of this episode below.

Episode 64: Going Indie & Selling Locally with Johanna M. Rae

Jo: Hello, hello, my friend. Welcome to Preptober, as those who embark on NaNoWriMo like to call it. I am a huge fan of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, and I participate most years. This year, I likely won’t. So I have one short story deadline for an anthology due at the end of this week and a novel due mid-November. So on top of a crazy busy day-job schedule, it’s just not going to happen this year. However, I have some recommendations for you if you are getting ready to embark on the adventure that is NaNoWriMo.

First, I have just finished the Author Revolution 4 Books, 5 Days: Mastering AI-Enhanced Story Planning course that I’ve talked about on the last couple of shows. And I am just going to say that Carissa from Author Revolution really brought the goods with this nifty little masterclass. So if you’re curious about using AI as a brainstorming buddy for planning your next story or a series, then I highly recommend you check it out. Now, this course has just launched and when I last checked, it is still available to purchase. I’m not sure if Carissa is going to pull it anytime soon and wait till next year to launch. And if that’s the case, get on the wait list. I really do recommend it. But in case it’s still available to purchase, I’ve included the link in the show notes, if you want to do so. You can also go back and listen to Episode 61 to hear Carissa talk about what this course is and isn’t, if you haven’t already done so.

Now, if you are any type of plotter, I also recommend you check out the plotting software Plottr. I know. Sounds a bit funny, but it’s spelled P L O T T R. So I had Troy Lambert on the show back in Episode 47, talking all about this really cool software, if you want to learn more about it.

One of my all-time favourites that I highly recommend is Scrivener, which is writing software. So, I religiously have used Scrivener for years. I really do adore it. I write short stories and novels in it. If Scrivener is new to you, go check out the links in the show notes and see for yourself.

Now, of course, I always have this disclaimer, but I am an affiliate for Scrivener, Plottr and Carissa’s Author Revolution courses. But again, that’s simply because I really do love them so much. So when you purchase through my links, you are in turn helping to support the show as I get a small little kickback at no extra cost to you, so everybody wins.

All righty, but now let’s get on with the show.

So today I am chatting with another lovely Kiwi author, whom I was introduced to in August at my first local author event. Johanna M. Rae is not only a prolific author, but also the Ages of Pages book fair coordinator here in New Zealand. Today you’ll be hearing Johanna talk about going Indie and selling locally.

In particular, she’s also going to be sharing why she gave up traditional publishing for Indie publishing. Why she believes developing your author platform is so important, especially if you live in a smaller country like New Zealand. Johanna also shares her recommendations for establishing a reader following and an author platform before you’re published, and how to connect with readers at book events, even when you’re an introvert. And maybe even more importantly, we discuss the essential four-legged writing companion that every author should have. And I’m sure you probably know what my choice is.

So when you’re ready, grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

Hello, my lovelies. Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. Today I’m chatting with Johanna M. Rae. Johanna is a former fashion designer and married mother of three, living in Hamilton, New Zealand with her family and two gorgeous rag dolls, Macchiato and Smudge. Balancing the needs of three sporty and musically inclined teenagers with her writing schedule doesn’t always leave much time for leisure. But in the quiet moments Johanna can be found crocheting up a storm or nursing her caffeine addiction.

So welcome to the show, Johanna. It’s so good to have you here.

Johanna: Thank you. It’s lovely to be here.

Jo: So we met at a local author event in the city just recently, where I learned that not only are you an author of urban fantasy, fantasy, paranormal romance, poetry, sweet romance, all of these books, but you’re also the event coordinator of an upcoming book fair taking place in April next year. So you’ve been at the author thing, obviously for a while, so I was hoping that we could just start with you giving a little bit of a background on how your writing journey began. What drew you to the author world?

Johanna: Sure. So I’ve been what I class as a storyteller my entire life. I was telling stories from the moment I could talk, you know, like, not lies, but actual stories. And I learned to read before I went to school by memorising my favourite stories. So, you know, this has been a part of me the whole time, and my parents would often find me writing in notebooks and coming up with ideas for stories instead of doing my homework, etc. But, you know, even though this was a big part of me, I didn’t actually realise my dream until I was married with children. It’s one of those things where you sort of think, oh, this is part of who I am and I love it, but you don’t sort of see it as being real.

So, I joined some author groups online, some writing groups and fan groups of books I liked when the internet started to take off and I’ve made some really good friends from America. I actually took a trip over there, uh, 2011. And got to meet quite a few people that were in these groups, and some of them were already published and that’s basically how I got started is, you know, sharing things I’d written with people who were already published who sort of gave me a bit of confidence to give it a go myself. And I really appreciate that because it’s so common these days where people sort of don’t go after their dreams and I feel it’s something we should all give a go.

Jo: Absolutely. Absolutely. So was there a catalyst or something for you to decide, well, now’s the time I’m going to try my hand at writing books? Because you were a fashion designer and everything previously and you’ve got a family and that, so was there just at one point it was just like, it’s enough now I need to, I need to try this, I need to live my dream?

Johanna: Well, I think the trip to America was the catalyst, because I was going to meet, the main purpose of my trip was to meet some of these other writers. Some were published, some weren’t. So I kind of went on a bit of a journey, and I went to Florida, and I went to Georgia, went to Atlanta, uh, Memphis, met a few people and one of them was in the process of putting together an anthology of short stories and she basically said to me, you are going to write for this. It was almost like I didn’t even have a choice. It was awesome.

So her name is Allison Cassatta and she was my inspiration to become who I am. I was already a writer, but she made me realize that other people might want to read my writing. So, I published twice in short stories that were produced by her. And then I thought, oh, I could actually do this myself as a full novel and that’s where that journey started.

Jo: That’s amazing. So that was in 2011. Am I right?

Johanna: Yep. My first publication was in 2011. Yes.

Jo: In 2011. And from what I can see online and that, you have quite a few books now. And a lot of them are in that realm of romance, but with that paranormal kind of background, that urban fantasy and that, what drew you to that genre in particular? Had you always just loved that genre, or…?

Johanna: Well, I’m quite a voracious reader and quite eclectic in my taste. So I read all sorts of things. Started with my biggest author inspiration would be Stephen King, and I started reading Stephen King at 12, which is a little on the young side, but you know. And then into my 20s I started to discover fantasy and urban fantasy, and then I realized urban fantasy is where my heart was, because every time I read a book, I would come up with new ideas, like my own original ideas, thinking, oh, but this would be cool, and what if I put this like this, and this character would be awesome for this reason. And that is what sort of drew me down that path was just as my reading tastes grew.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I love that too. That’s so great. And because you even have poetry as well, which I thought was really cool. You’ve got a few poetry books. Am I right?

Johanna: Yes, that’s correct. The poetry I really write for myself, but you know, I think that’s also worth giving a go. And I tend to sell a few at book events here and there. But it’s, that’s my personal journey because, you know, I’ve got a few, uh, health challenges and sometimes life gets a bit frustrating so I let that out in my poetry.

Jo: Absolutely. I totally understand that. So are you independently published or traditionally published or both? How did you go about getting published?

Johanna: Well, I started traditionally published with a small press in America, and I published my first debut novel with them. And the two anthologies that I was published in were also from a different press in America. And so, that was my starting point. But I found it quite difficult to be an author from little old New Zealand at the bottom of the world, trying to promote myself, trying to get recognized over there. And the biggest problem was that with being an American publisher, their first point of call, their first priority was to support their own country’s authors. So I felt I was always at the bottom of the barrel and not getting the support I needed to really grow as an author. So that’s when I made the decision to become an independent author and I actually republished, got my rights back and republished my debut novel myself with new cover and new everything. And I’ve honestly never looked back. I really enjoy the independent process so much more.

Jo: That’s great. I’m independently published myself. And that was just right from the get go, I knew that that was the route that I wanted to take. So, other than it being a bit of a struggle and being in little old New Zealand, what else drew you to being independently published? Like, what is it that you really enjoy about it?

Johanna: Uh, well, first of all, I like to be able to make, uh, we have a bigger part in the decision making process. With my first publication that was with the press, I didn’t like the cover. I didn’t, I wasn’t happy with the edit that they had done. And I didn’t like the way that they were marketing me, which was pretty much next to nothing. But what they did do was not representing who I thought I was as an author. So I like that I have, you know, my finger in all the pies and I can have a little bit of a say on everything. And I also believe that the Indie community is such an amazing resource out there. There are so many of us who just want to help each other, meet each other, encourage each other, and I feel like that is also a great motivation to keep going.

Jo: Absolutely. I totally agree with you with that. I have just found the, the Indie world is, yeah, just so embracing of new authors, and wherever you are on your journey, and so willing to help out. So I totally agree with you with that. I, yeah, I’m always kind of raving about independent publishing. I think it’s so great.

So, I was having a look on Amazon. It looks like you primarily have your books on Amazon. Is that correct?

Johanna: Uh, yes, I found that what worked for me was to put them in Kindle Unlimited, you know, which is basically an online library. So I do still sell them separately on Amazon as well, but I found that I had quite a number of readers who use KU so I became an exclusive author there. So my paperbacks are available elsewhere, but the eBooks are only on Amazon, simply because I chose to do the exclusivity deal.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. Which is really popular with the genres that you write in as well. So how are you finding, um, because I know it’s been in the news and that lately, that the payments and that from KU have dipped considerably. And I know a lot of authors, indie authors, are kind of jumping ship and going Wide. Is that something that’s a consideration for you or do you have a different kind of mindset about the whole thing?

Johanna: Yes, it’s definitely something that’s on my radar. I’ve been following all the articles and posts and other people’s experiences online in our little community and I have been making inquiries into other options just in case. I’m not ready to jump ship yet. Because I have so many loyal readers in KU already. But it’s definitely not what it used to be. It doesn’t work the same. But I have found, having been published for quite a long time now, all of the ways that social media or even Amazon work change every couple of years. And you have to relearn all the algorithms and, you know, how to best reach your readers. And I feel that the way Amazon operates is a little bit the same. So I… at the moment, I’m hanging back and I’m just seeing what happens and going to make the best decision for my readers.

Jo: Yeah, yeah, it is definitely a tricky one. And because you’ve been doing this for quite a while, what do you think has been the biggest change that you’ve undergone with your author career, and your books and your writing and everything? Has there been a particular change or something that’s happened over that time?

Johanna: Um, probably just going back to those social media algorithms again, because as an independent author, we have to do all our own marketing and, you know, we have to research and discover and decide how we’re going to find our readers. And with the algorithms changing constantly, particularly Facebook, that’s a bit like Amazon where everything changes every couple of years. So if you don’t relearn those algorithms, you don’t get seen. So that’s my biggest challenge and something that is constantly changing. So it really is a journey. You do have to keep up with what’s going on.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And it is something that I think a lot of people who are not Indie published might not have a full understanding of how much actually happens behind the scenes, like how many things that we are personally in control of, like our marketing, our advertising, uh, all these things that we’ve got to do all ourselves. So how do you fit all this in? So what’s your writing routine look like? Because you’ve got a family and, you know, everybody’s always busy with so many things. So are you a person that writes every day? What’s your writing routine like?

Johanna: Well, I’m quite fortunate in that writing is what I do for a job. I don’t have an extra job that I go to in the daytime and write in the evening or anything like that. I began my author journey when my children were young, so I was an at home mother. And I had some health complications as they got a bit older and I never actually went back to work. So I’m very fortunate that I have been able to shape my author journey however I chose. So I try to keep a similar routine every day because I find that’s the way I’m most productive. And my brain is the most alert and active in the morning, so I get up and I get the kids off to school. And then I have a big slot of writing or editing for like at least three hours in the morning. And then I might take a break. I might keep going. And then in the afternoon, that’s when I do my marketing or my event management.

Jo: That’s great. That sounds really structured. I just love that. And I’m so envious that you get to do this as your main income and everything like that for yourself, which is really cool.

What would be your advice then? Because we’ve talked a little bit, um, where in New Zealand, you’ve been doing this for a while, what would your advice be for other New Zealanders? Because it is a small country. We don’t have quite as many advantages in our own country as we do as if we were like authors in America or somewhere else. So what would your big advice be for anybody in New Zealand who’s maybe starting out wanting to write books, publish books, that kind of thing?

Johanna: My biggest piece of advice would be to develop your author platform, even if you haven’t published yet, even if you’re only at the beginning and your book is in the process. Join all the social media platforms that you think will work for you. Because, you know, you don’t have to join all of them, just the ones that you think will work for you. And establish a reader base, join as many writing groups as you can. Facebook in particular has quite a number of Indie author groups, New Zealand writing groups. All sorts of bits and pieces. And attend as many local events as you can. Even if all you can do is go to your local, you know, vegetable and craft market, that is still a way that you can start to get your name out there. Because the marketing part, especially for Indie authors is the hardest part. So if you can do these things before you’re published or as you become published, it is the best way to get off the ground. And particularly with the, the community groups, anything that you’re not sure about, or you don’t already know, there will be someone who can help you in. And as I said previously, we are a very supportive community and welcome all the newcomers.

Jo: Absolutely. Oh, I so agree with that. Absolutely. And that’s really exciting too, that we can be all the way over here on the other side of the world from a lot of the people that we connect with quite often in Facebook groups and other authors and things like that, but we can still have the same impact, because so much of it is online and digital and that nowadays. So we’re quite fortunate with all the opportunities that we do have. So, yeah.

Johanna: Yeah. And also, there are probably more opportunities than people realize too. In America and in even Australia, there are so many events where, you know, the authors and the readers can connect, but there are actually a few in New Zealand too. So it just depends, you know, what circles you’re running in, if you hear about them or not. But you know, there’s the Hamilton Book Month. There are all of the Armageddon events, which are, you know, technically the Science Fiction / Fantasy convention, but they do actually have all this present. There’s my Ages of Pages event. There’s Auckland Writers Festival, and I’m sure there’s many more.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s funny because, I’ve lived here in New Zealand most of my life, I spent several years in Canada. And I haven’t really been writing or publishing books for very long, only since 2020. But I’ve always been, you know, really invested in writing and books and everything like that. But I never really paid too much attention to what was going on around me in the local scene up until a few weekends ago, uh, you know, Hamilton Book Month. That was new to me. I don’t know why I’d missed that every year. But yeah, being a part of the local scene is, it’s just amazing. It’s so much fun. And so I definitely recommend to other people, whatever country you’re in, that you do get involved with that because, yeah, so much fun.

So one of the amazing things that you do is that you’re also the event coordinator for a really large book fair here in Hamilton, New Zealand, Ages of Pages. Can you speak a little bit about that?

Johanna: Sure, uh, so, in my earlier author career, I went to a few local events in New Zealand. There used to be an event in Auckland, and there was another one in Christchurch, um, Wham Bam Author Jam. And they were fabulous events and great ways to meet people. And I thought I could possibly pull one of those together, and then it gives everybody another place, you know, all the different places draw different crowds of people who want to buy the books. And also, the New Zealand Author Festival that used to be in Auckland doesn’t run anymore, and neither does Wham Bam, so I thought there’s definitely a place here where I can provide something to fill those gaps. And being in the North Island, you know, there’s a lot more places that aren’t that far away where people could drive to attend or to come and meet all the authors. So that was my aim in the beginning was to bring as many people together, celebrate the love of reading. We also raise money for charity, and our chosen charity is Duffy Books in Homes. So we will have an Ages of Pages table where you can buy memorabilia from the event, merchandise from the event. And we also produce every year an anthology or collection of stories which the attending authors have contributed to. They’ve donated their stories for free, so all the funds raised go to Duffy Books in Homes. So, I just love being able to meet other authors, meet other readers, and just bring everybody together to celebrate books.

Jo: Yeah, it’s amazing. I’m really, really excited for the event. I just signed up for it, just last night I got onto that, so I’m really excited. So here we are.

So I am really new to being involved in local events, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that I did my first proper book signing. So what would your recommendations be for newer authors who are maybe attending their first book signings or book fairs? What would you recommend that they came with or that they did or how they presented themselves in these things? What do you think makes the most impact with interacting with readers?

Johanna: Well, everybody sets themselves up differently at the event in terms of how you lay out your table. But it is a really good idea, if you can arrange it, to get one of those floor banners that stands up. It’s quite tall, it’s a couple of meters high. Because then you can get seen from across the room. So it will draw people to your table, especially if you have a nice hook on it, like the tag line off one of your books. Or if you have a tagline as an author, what type of books you write or something like that, and put that on there, and that will draw people to your table.

Most book events that I’ve done have community groups on Facebook or something similar, including Ages of Pages. So we have a group for my event, which is just for the authors. So if you have any questions like, oh, you know, should I bring this to the event? Do I need this for the event? Other people can help you plan what is going to work for you? And then we have another group separate, which is for the readers and the fans. And then they can meet the authors before the day, online and get a feel for what sort of books are going to be there. And I encourage our authors to put up a preorder form. This is really helpful for people who haven’t done book events before, because some readers may order their books before the day and then you know how many to bring. So, it’s all the little things like that which you can learn from being a part of these online communities.

Jo: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I hadn’t even thought of a preorder form, but that’s such a great idea. And I do love the idea too, of the floor banners and everything like that. Many years ago, I worked in and was an assistant manager and that in bookstores in Canada. And I always remember, we would have some book signings, and I always remember feeling really, really awkward for the authors who came in with the book signings because a lot of them I think are out of their comfort zone, sometimes interacting with readers. And so they would sit behind a table in this bookstore, and it’d be a busy bookstore, but they would find it a little difficult to maybe initiate conversation and that. And it was always quite an uncomfortable thing watching how much they would sometimes struggle to engage with their readers or to move out from behind the table and that. So is there any advice that you might give to somebody who was maybe a little bit nervous about a book signing and how to approach readers, or what to say, or how to initiate those conversations? Is there anything that you would suggest?

Johanna: Well, being a big introvert myself, I do often have to psych myself up for these very same things. I absolutely love meeting my readers, but often, you know, I sort of think, Oh, what should I say? So every author feels that to a degree. So you’re not alone if you’re an author and that’s hard for you. But I think one of the important things to remember is you don’t actually have to start out talking about your books, because sometimes, you know, some readers might find that intimidating if you just try and hard sell right off the bat. So, you know, like you can strike up conversation about anything. I usually ask people what kind of books they like to read, and then if it’s not my books, I can support somebody else at the event by saying, Oh, try this person, they’re situated over there, you might enjoy theirs or whatever, and I think we all probably do a bit of that. But, you know, just finding out what they like to read is a good starting point.

Jo: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think you’re right. And I think there are a lot of us that maybe we navigate towards writing and the author life and that because we’re introverts and it is something that we can do for a good quantity of time on our own. But yeah, so when it comes to these events, it definitely can be a step outside of a lot of people’s comfort zones. But, I agree with you. It’s just finding that casual conversation and yeah, you don’t need to do a hard sell or anything. It’s just talking and the rest will kind of work its way out like that, which is really cool.

Now you’ve got quite a few books that you’ve published and you’ve got this big event and these Facebook groups that you’ve just mentioned and everything that supports this event. So you’re an incredibly busy person. So what else do you have on your plate right now? Like what books do you have on the agenda to get out? Like what’s the rest of this year looking like for you?

Johanna: Well, individually, as an author, I’m probably not as prolific in my releases as some. I tend to release one novel a year. Sometimes there might be something else as well, like a poetry book or a novella or something in addition. But I write quite thick books, that’s, you know, common for my genre of paranormal and urban fantasy, etc. So, because I’m a busy mother, that’s my pace. So I do have a novel I’m working on at the moment. It’s called The Peacekeeper and it is book five in my Therian Secrets series, which is the first series that I started to write. It’s my most popular. So I have many people chasing my coattails. When is it coming out? When is it coming out? And I love that. It’s such a great motivation to, you know, spur me onward.

Jo: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s exciting. I love hearing that you generally just release one book a year, because I think there is a lot of pressure and even like particularly in the, the Indie community about being really prolific authors and putting out book after book after book and rapid releasing and things like that. Does that bother you at all? Like, are you able to stay positive in what you’re doing and not feel that kind of pressure that sometimes we might feel of trying to hit other people’s expectations of us?

Johanna: Yes, I really hear what you’re saying there. And closer to the beginning of my journey as an author, I used to feel so much pressure because I would see somebody else releasing several books in one year. And I know a lot of people who do do that. And I thought, Oh, I’m failing as an author because I’m not achieving that. But it’s not actually about that. But the first thing that I had to tell myself was, some of these books are, you know, 70,000 words long, or 100,000 words long, or whatever, and my books are anything from 130 to 150,000 words long, so it’s, you know, a lot more words to get on the page, get edited, polish it up, whatever. But at the same time, everybody’s journey is different, and I will always be a mother first, and a wife first, and, you know, life isn’t just writing the books, so I’m quite lucky that I, as I said, I can set my own schedule and my own pace, and this is what works for me, and I celebrate that. I celebrate I’ve done another book. It doesn’t matter how long it’s taken or whatever. I have readers that are lined up waiting to read it, and this is my dream. I’m living my dream.

Jo: Amazing. Oh, I love that mindset so much. I think it’s so important to keep that balance. And I think you’re right, particularly at the very beginning, we can succumb a little bit to that comparisonitis and trying to keep up with what we see other people doing, forgetting that everybody has different circumstances and different priorities in their life and everything too. So I think having that balance is so important.

So, your family’s really important to you. I can see that. What do they feel for you being an author? Like, how did they react? How did your husband react when you decided to go in with the author thing? How do your kids feel about it?

Johanna: I’m quite lucky that they are very supportive, but it’s been interesting because, you know, like, when I first started, I didn’t know any other authors in New Zealand and, you know, it started off as a bit of a hobby. I’m going to give this a go. And, you know, you sort of don’t know what to expect when you first start. And so to my husband, I think it initially, it seemed like it was a hobby that was just, you know, something I had always dreamed of or whatever. And when I went to my first in person book event and came home and said, I sold this many books and I met this many people and this person had already read my book, it was so exciting, and he went, Oh, this is actually more than I thought it was. This is a real thing. And he was really happy and excited for me. And it’s grown from there.

And with my kids, I think they were, um, I had a preschooler and two early primary age kids when I started and, you know, they’ve grown as my writing has grown and my journey as an author. And I found at one point when one of my sons was probably about ten or eleven years old, he had snuck one of my paperbacks to school to give to his teacher and told her she had to read it because I had written it. I was, I didn’t know what to say at first, but she actually really enjoyed it and you know, I gained a new reader, but I didn’t realize my children were, you know, promoting my books secretly in the background there.

Jo: Oh, that’s beautiful. I love that. I love that. That’s so cool. I find that so interesting, what you were saying about your husband’s reaction about maybe thinking of it more as a hobby until he saw you kind of come back from these signings and these events and, yeah, it kind of dawning on him. Because I had a little bit of that just recently with the local author book fair that I attended. And I had a few members of my family there. And my husband in particular, he’s always been supportive, but it’s, he’s, I think he’s always sort of seen it as a bit of a hobby in that. But I have noticed how much that has changed in our conversation since then. And he’s like, Oh no, I can really see you doing this now. And you know, I’m just so proud of you. And other family members, my brother was there and he’d never really paid much attention to the fact that I wrote books. He knew I wrote books, but he didn’t really know. And he was quite blown away, I think, actually seeing the physical books on the table and, you know, like he was like, Oh, so this is real. So like, you’re really doing this. And I was like, yeah, I am. But it’s funny how it can take sometimes our family members and those close to us a while to actually cotton onto what we’re doing and the passion behind it too.

Johanna: Absolutely. Because they’ve seen it from the beginning before it was anything at all. And there’s that defining moment where they suddenly realize how far you’ve come. And even you as an author, I know every now and again, I look back and think, wow, I’ve actually done this. This is something that was everything to me. It was my dream and I’ve actually done it, you know, and it’s such a wonderful feeling because my biggest driving force as an author is just to share the stories and have people enjoy them.

Jo: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that is so cool that we are both very privileged that we can say we’re doing that thing that we love. And I know I often think of myself as a little child and this would have been my absolute dream. And like I think many of us, we push it aside for different reasons. We follow different career paths. We have excuses why we’re not writing those books and we’re not following our passions. And then when we do, it’s, yeah, it just feels so amazing. And I think that our little inner child would be very, very proud of us. So I think we’re very, very lucky to have that. That’s so cool.

So I have another very important question for you. In your bio, you mention that you have two lovely ragdoll cats. I have four cats, not ragdolls, but four lovely fur babies. How important do you think being an author and having a cat is? Because I think cats are incredibly important to the author lifestyle, but what’s your thoughts on that?

Johanna: I fully agree. There are some people who are cat people, some people are dog people, some people are both. And I think it’s also like the whole debate of tea or coffee because every author, uh, well, most authors, I should say, shouldn’t, you know, be exclusive, but you’ll have tea drinkers, you’ll have coffee drinkers, whatever. And they’re so passionate about this is my writing fuel. This is what I do. And it’s the same with the cats. And I couldn’t be who I am without them. I have had cats all my life and I’ve actually got one asleep on the desk next to me right now. Which is one of the great things about rag dolls is they are little shadows and want to be wherever you are and I just feel that little companionship as another support mechanism or encouragement, form of encouragement.

Jo: Yes. I’m a complete cat person and I always have them close by. And more recently over the last couple of years, they sneak into my books as well. Do you have that problem? Do you ever have cats sneak into your books?

Johanna: I can’t say that that’s really been a big thing for me yet, but I write about shape shifters and some of them are cats.

Jo: Yeah, well there we are, for sure. For sure. Oh, that’s so cool. Thank you. Well. I just loved talking with you today. If you can share where people can connect with you, where they can find your books, and if they’re in New Zealand and they’re interested in joining the book fair, how they can go about signing up for that as well?

Johanna: Absolutely. So as you’ve introduced me already, my name is Johanna M. Rae. So that’s Johanna with an H. So you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. I’m on Amazon and Goodreads, and I have a website, which is https://www.johannamraeauthor.com and my books are available through the website and on Amazon primarily. If you’d like to attend the book fair as an author or as a reader, that will be on the 27th of April next year, 2024. So that is a Saturday and we’ll be open from 9:30 till 4. It’s at Claudelands Event Centre and we can’t wait to meet you all. There’s also a website for that to just almost forgot that part, which is www.agesofpages.weebly.com.

Jo: Fantastic. And I’ll make sure that all those links and everything are in the show notes as well. So thank you so much for coming on the show today, Johanna. It has been so wonderful chatting with you.

Johanna: You’re welcome. It’s been a pleasure to be here and meet more people.

Jo: Absolutely. Absolutely. And good to have another fellow Kiwi on the show. So that’s exciting.

Johanna: Thank you.

Jo: Takeaways from today’s show.

1. Being an Indie author affords you more freedom over cover design, edits, marketing, and your author brand. Although it’s not for everyone, if you like having more control over your author career, Indie publishing may be the way to go.

2. Start developing your author platform right from the beginning of your career if you can. You can even start before you’ve published your first book. This helps build a better runway for success.

3. Join writing groups to network and learn from. Writing groups can be in person or online.

4. Attend as many local events as possible to get yourself known amongst the author community and readers.

5. To increase your visibility at in-person events, consider purchasing eye-catching free-standing floor banners to advertise your books and author brand and capture your reader’s attention.

6. Starting up casual conversations with readers and browsers at in-person events is a great way to connect with people, and it takes away the ickiness of thinking you have to do a hard sell. Remember, people want to buy from people they like.

7. Everybody’s author journey, life circumstances and book output is different. Take time to celebrate your successes, whatever that looks like for you.

So there we have it. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Wherever you’re listening to this from, I hope it’s encouraged you to consider attending more local events. And if you’re in New Zealand, maybe think about attending Johanna’s Ages of Pages book fair in 2024, either as an author or a reader. Details are on the Ages of Pages website, and you can find the link in the show notes.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider supporting the show by rating, reviewing, or sharing it with a friend. You can also make a small donation by buying me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. J O B U E R. It all helps to keep the show going.

So whether you’re spending October prepping for NaNoWriMo or working on other writing projects like I am, I am wishing you a fabulous and prolific few weeks ahead, my friend. Bye for now.

Ages of Pages, author mindset, Book Events, Book Fair, indie author, Indie Publishing, NaNoWriMo, New Zealand Author, Plottr, Scrivener, Selling Locally