KM: Okay, I will never knock education—ever. But, I do not believe that degrees write your books or get your books published or make those published books a success. It’s hard for me to speak about degrees since I didn’t attend college until I was in my 40s and I haven’t finished yet. My English classes helped me to see that what I was doing instinctively actually had a name; imagine that? Once I learned those names, those rules, for what I was doing, I was able to see how I manipulated the language and then learned to do it smarter. Although, for me, instinct still writes more than conscious thought. If I had gone to college earlier, I may have started my writing career earlier, but who wants to look backward? Not me!
GW: Are you a "second rate" author if you decide to publish with a smaller or indie press?
KM: If an author thinks of themselves as second rate then they are—no matter who they publish with. There is always going to be someone who publishes with a bigger house, or gets a bigger contract, or sells more books, or gets an award, or on bestseller’s lists, or is on Oprah, or wins a Pulitzer. I stay true to my journey and my words and the language, my characters, my voice, my love of writing, and that’s what I focus on; however, there is the dreaded business side and I have to think about that, too. I’ve read that about 5% of authors are traditionally published, of that 5% about 1% make it “BIG.” If that’s correct, then those are intimidating statistics.
Small indie presses are wonderful to work with. BelleBooks has listened, they are supportive, they’re wise and witty women, and I’m proud to be a part of their author list.
The beauty of small presses is you have a voice and you have support and you aren’t lost in a sea of authors. The beauty of large presses is a bigger budget.
I was completely surprised by an agented author I recently met who is published with (Big Name Publisher Here) and unhappy! So, there you go.
GW: Do you have to belong to a bazillion professional associations to establish a platform?
KM: Most writers have to do the majority of their own promotion and marketing, no matter who they publish with. So, there has to be a certain amount of touting. And to do that touting, one must be somewhere on the Web.
For me, a good blog is important –and fun, because you feel supported and embraced. I’ve had a blog for several years now. I have a professional website that I don’t “play” on (TechBelle did mine and I am very happy with the results) that shows what I’ve published, etc., but I don’t have to fool with it much.
I’ll be letting go of some places I’ve joined simply because it takes away from my writing time. Geez, there are so many places and forums and associations out there, there’s simply no way to do it all, and if you spend your time scattered about, you’ll have no second, third, fourth, and more books because you won’t have time to write them!
I would hope that good word of mouth would help propel my book into reader’s hands. Yes, that’s my hope.
KM: Nah. Um, okay, what’s that? *laughing* You mean talking my stuff up? I talked about Virginia Kate quite often because I love her. I talked about my process because I wanted support and commiseration when things were tough. Also, in the meantime, I wrote short prose and a few poems and shot some photography for OCEAN magazine – those I sent out to help “get my work out there.” I edited and did my volunteer work with The Rose & Thorn. I supported other writers because I wanted to. If all this helped me when Tender Graces came out; well, that’s great! But I did everything I’ve done out of love of words, books, writers, and language, and not with designs on getting people to buy my book(s), although it is nice when they do (teehee).
KM: Well, yes and no. They aren’t “Crazy, they’re coming to take me away haha hoho heehee” voices, they’re just characters milling around in my head. Imagine a house full of people or an apartment with its many units. Everyone is in different rooms doing their own thing. They are waiting their turn. Some are sleeping. Some are in the kitchen cooking up something. Some are lying on the couch grumbling about how they are being ignored. Some are hiding in the dark. And, some are rocking on the porch with me having a cup of Deep Creek Blend or a glass of wine or a vodka tonic with lime, and we’re talking – those rocking on the porch are those I am in communication with and who I am working with.
KM: Get out of the way (of your characters, story, etc), Writer! Okay, that’s not deep dark. But it’s important. And tell the nasty voices that love to say you can’t do something to shut the hell up. Write with love and sincerity and joy—the picky side of you needs to shut the hell up, too, at least until you have the first draft written. I guess there really isn’t any deep dark secret. It’s all been said and most of it is true. One thing I never try to do is to tell writers not to do this or not to do that or that if they don’t do something or think something or produce something a certain way they shouldn’t call themselves writers. Pah! [Interviewer sidebar: Ha! No ruuuuules!]
Most of us have doubt. Most of us are afraid. Most of us want to hide under the covers. However, if you just plow ahead despite all these things nipping at your heels, then you will find out where your journey will lead you. Otherwise, you’ll just stand there blinking in someone else’s bright lights.
KM: And if I had that answer, my stomach wouldn’t be sloshing around its contents right now! I do not have an agent. I queried BelleBooks publishers on my own. I get emails from other authors urging me to be represented by an agent. I just haven’t figured it all out yet and frankly am in a “wait and see” kind of mode. I’d never turn my back on the people who took a chance on me. If getting an agent helps BelleBooks and me, and if I obtain one and it all works out peachy for us all, then good.
GW: Are there extra fears concerning writing book #2?
KW: Oh god yes. *pant pant*
KM: OMG! You remembered! HAW! I thought of this just yesterday!
Okay, it takes me about twenty and then I have to bite it. I think I’ve gotten maybe to sixty-three before I bite. Only once did I make it through the hard candy to the soft center without biting, and alas and alack, I forgot to count! Curses!
KM: I always ramble on this question and indeed, can you believe I cut back this answer? Haw! I just want writers to be supportive of each other. I want writers to feel confident, to write with love, to believe in the power of their words and the language! So—
Believe in yourself and your work. If you do not believe in you work, who will?
Don’t listen to too many voices telling you about your manuscript. Find those you trust and then actually trust them, using your own instincts as a guideline. No one sees my novels until they are finished (other than a very early on submit to a critique group when Tender Graces was going to be a short story—where you, Angie, urged me to write VK’s story in a novel).