While flipping through the April issue of Ottawa Magazine, I came across a fabulous article about Three Women/Three Books, three authors who joined forces to promote their recently published fiction. I love supporting local writers so, of course, I had to interview this trio for my blog! Up first is Jasmine Aziz, author of Sex & Samosas. She will also be featured, alongside the lovely Tamara Faith Berger, Daniel Allen Cox, Megan Butcher and fellow Three Women/Three Books writer Nerys Parry at the Ottawa International Writer’s Fesitval this weekend. Stop by Venus Envy (320 Lisgar St) for CockTales on Sunday, April 29. Ticket prices are very reasonably priced!

So, let’s get this interview started!

What were the most rewarding and frustrating elements of the publishing process?

For me, the most frustrating part of publishing has been trying to find out all the necessary information on my own. Without the benefit of having an experienced publishing house behind you, the indie author has to learn everything from ground level up. On the flip side of that of course is that when things do work out, you feel extremely gratified because it has been through 100% of your own effort. What I find most amazing has been the support I have received from people who have walked the path before me and how some of them have been so incredibly generous with their time and advice.

Describe your writing process, right down to the perfect environment. Do you prefer peace and quiet or blaring music? Licorice or tea, or both? Do you require specific snacks to be at your most creatively productive?

I used to have easy listening songs from the 70’s on in the background when I would write. When I noticed that I spent more time jiving to the music and tripping nostalgic about high school dances and unrequited love, I decided silence was better. I love writing on my laptop on my balcony, with the sound of downtown traffic buzzing by, drunken teenagers trying to find love on the street and the ear-splitting sound of fire trucks and police cars screeching down the road. So it’s not exactly silence, but at least I’m not doing The Hustle till 2am anymore.

 What advice would you give writers struggling to find an audience?

I think it’s really important that a writer find their niche audience. Initially, I figured anyone with $20 in their pocket would be my target market but in reality, selling books to people who might enjoy them is lovely but selling them to people who will be vocal about their love of your work is better. If you hit the right market, you are more likely to get the person who buys your book to recommend it to someone else with similar taste and so on. Now having said that, “Sex & Samosas” doesn’t fall into one niche audience which is why I had a hard time finding a publisher or agent. I actually consider it to be a bonus since I can appeal to a broader range of people differently while still conveying the same message.

How big a role does social media play in book sales, and how active should writers be in their own marketing campaign?

I only found out what ‘social media’ was less than 2 years ago. Not surprising if you knew me really (see comment about 70’s music above and how I exist in a bubble). In today’s electronic age, using social media to your advantage is, in my opinion, is a great asset to any author. Even if you have a traditional publishing house, I think there is still merit in maintaining your public persona via Twitter, Facebook, etc. because it adds an additional dimension for the reader who enjoys your work. It’s a great tool to post upcoming events, announce reviews and blather random thoughts into the universe. Afterall, who doesn’t want to know when an author is eating a sandwich in 140 characters or less?

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Mike McCann’s “Blood Passage” right now. I like to support local authors as much as I can and especially independent ones like me.

Stay tuned for interviews with Jasmine’s partners-in-crime Nerys Parry and Sandra Nicholls!