Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rachel Thompson: Women Entrepreneurs in the Small Publishing World

A Book and A Review/The Author CEO is proud to present a new monthly series entitled WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN THE SMALL PUBLISHING WORLD. This series will focus on women, who have made the jump into the small business world which provide services to the indie and s/p author and offer tips and insights into surviving and thriving in the "jungle". Many of these women are authors (some best-selling authors), as well!

Anyone who has known me for less than 3 minutes knows that I love business. I soak it up. In particular, there are two things that I love in the business world. The first is entrepreneurship and the second is business development. Throw a strong woman into the mix and I am one slap happy mama. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview one of those dynamos, Rachel Thompson, a self-made business woman, who threw aside the daily grind of the corporate world to start several small social media consulting firms and businesses targeted toward assisting Indie and Self Published authors market their books. To boot, Rachel is an Amazon bestselling author.  

Rachel discusses what made her leave the corporate world and blast into the small business world. Furthermore, she gives critical advice to women considering the same path.

In your previous career, you were a pharmaceutical rep and a sales trainer for a pharmaceutical company. What made you change careers? Can you tell us a little bit about your previous career?

Well, I put myself through college working at a retail chain drug store. It so happened when I graduated (with a degree in Communications), they wanted me to enter their management program, which was the last thing in the world I wanted. (I’d already worked there part-time for seven years – have you ever been to a drugstore on Christmas Eve? Insane.) But, I did meet lots of product reps and found out about openings. I started with an OTC company and from there, ended up in pharma. After doing that for fifteen years (including a move across the country on my own to the home office in New Jersey for four years in the early 90s), I’d had enough. By 2004, I wanted nothing more than to be home with my little girl and do the family thing. In 2005 I gave birth to my son. I’d always been a writer though, keeping journals and writing stories. That never stopped.

Were there fears in striking it out on your own?

I suppose, though I’ve never been one to give in to them. I’m a very determined woman! I’d had success in my twenties selling articles (I have a Journalism minor), and I knew people were interested in my writing. In 2008, I started slowly with an Examiner gig, in addition to my own blog. I then spread out into social media. Having a background in sales, marketing and training helped me plan and make it all happen in a strategic order. Any fears I had about starting my own business disappeared completely within the first month of hanging out my shingle. I was booked up within thirty days. I’m so grateful. I also network continuously, sending people business and they to me.

How did you come up with the concept of your companies? What made you think of working with Indie/SP authors? Had you had any experience in the publishing industry before making the jump?

Having cofounded the Indie Book Collective (which I’m no longer affiliated with) helped me to understand the learning curve of ALL authors. It doesn’t matter if one is a self-pub’d, small press, or traditionally published, people must learn to market their own work. I taught webinars monthly to hundreds of people about how to market using social media. I also learned a ton about Amazon and how to optimize our work there. When people started asking me for one-on-one consulting, I struck out on my own in 2011, forming BadRedhead Media, using my personal marketing and sales experience from my own two books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. As for experience in publishing, not really. I mean, I sold a few magazine articles, but I’d never written a book before. My blog was as close as I got to ‘publishing.’

I also recently decided to fill what I see as a huge need for indie authors: affordable ads! With the amazing @sugarbeatbc doing web design, we created four Book Promo sites (@IndieBookPromos, @BkPromoCentral, @YAPromoCentral, and @RomPromoCentral {for erotica and romance}), I work very closely with a great group of women and we all volunteer our time and services to the sites: @sugarbeatbc for web design, @JoGraphic for graphics, @LK_Editorial for copy and publicity,@BabsBookBistro for book tours and beta reads, @SwiftInkEditor for editing, @ToniRakestraw for formatting, and I do the social media. New volunteers, authors @A_K_Taylor and @MelissaHuie are starting to help out also.
My vision was simple: create sites for all authors, but especially self-published, to be featured, do promos, and advertise their books affordably. We start at $10/month up to $50/month, which is FAR less expensive than the larger sites. We’re fully optimized and get the word out across all social media channels.

As someone who works in healthcare sales/business development, we receive little experience in the area of social media since that is often managed out of the marketing department, yet on many occasions; I have called you the “Queen of Twitter.” How did you develop those skills to the point of being considered a professional?

Aw, thank you! I was already involved in social media when I first started my blog, but understood quickly how developing a robust platform would impact my own work. As for Twitter specifically, I watched, learned, attended webinars, and read constantly with regard to updates, tips and tricks. I teach people how to do the same in my business, and offer free info on my @BadRedheadMedia stream and blog . I always say ‘Twitter isn’t rocket science.’ For many of us, as adults we learn differently and are used to more traditional methods of marketing. Don’t tell yourself ‘I don’t get this. It’s stupid.’ Instead, be open to learning.

What advice would you have for businesswomen considering leaving the corporate business world and striking it out on their own?

We are a digital world. You must dive in and understand how social media works if for no other reason than to learn new media and networking. Don’t say NO to anything out of our natural adult fear of change or the unknown; and don’t make any assumptions (.ie., Twitter is for kids). Social media is terrific free marketing when done correctly. In addition, know what your strengths are and focus on those. I’m very clear with people about what I don’t know or understand fully (ie, I don’t do traditional PR or website design) but guess what? I’ve sought out and surrounded myself with amazing women who are experts in these fields. Also, be generous. Share your knowledge, support others in your field, be the person everyone wants to talk to at the party. And don’t forget about real life – meetups, conferences, etc are all amazing ways to create and cement online relationships.

And that’s my final note: find people who support you; not in competition with you. There are enough sharks in the business world without turning on each other. I always tell my kids: you get what you give and you give what you get. The same karma principle applies here.

Rachel Thompson is the author of two Amazon best-selling books, The Mancode: Exposed and A Walk in the Snark. In her previous life, she was a top selling OTC sales rep for Trojan Condoms for their Western region where she lists one of her best clients as The Mustang Ranch. An experience which has influenced her writing and taught her a lot about male/female differences! From there, she joined a pharmaceutical company as a sales rep and then sales trainer. She gave all that up to start several social media consulting organizations designed to help Indie and Self Published authors sell their novels. Currently, she is owner of Bad Red Head Media ( and Indie Book Promo. Rachel’s webinars on mastering Twitter are notorious! She can be followed on Twitter at @RachelintheOC.

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