(Karen McQuestion is, along with J.A. Jonrath, J.R. Rain, and others, a poster child of the Kindle era, an author who finally had a chance to reach a virtually unlimited audience. The common denominator is a belief in the work and in self. But sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone, as Karen has challenged herself to do. Today I'm over at Book Faery so come enter for Kindles!)
In 2009, after many years of not being able to get published traditionally, I uploaded my unpublished manuscripts to sell as ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle. What happened next still blows my mind. Call it timing, luck, or whatever, but in the year that followed I had sales in the tens of thousands, received a contract to option my novel, A Scattered Life, for film, and finally, offers of publication from AmazonEncore, Amazon’s new publishing division.
At this time, three of my books, A Scattered Life, Easily Amused, and my children’s book, Celia and the Fairies, have been published by AmazonEncore in paperback and ebook. Next spring, two more of my books, Favorite and Life On Hold, will be released by the same publisher. I am in writer heaven.
Like most writers, I thrive on solitude. A perfect day for me consists of an empty house, a quiet phone, and a working computer. I write in a basement office and just heading down the stairs in the morning makes me happy. I recently discovered Pandora.com, and I’ve been training it to play just the right kind of music for my current project. It has to be lively enough to keep the neurons firing, but not too distracting or it interferes with my internal word processor.
Honestly, I could keep up this schedule day after day, week after week, and not mind at all. In the last few months though, I’ve been invited to speak to various groups about writing and my publishing journey. Doing so requires me to leave my house, dress up, and interact with others.
No matter how nice the people are, or how wonderful the event is, I never want to do it. Ever. While I appreciate the opportunity to connect with readers and get the word out about my books, part of me dreads it.
And then I go and absolutely love it. Library groups, book clubs, students, writers’ groups—they all have different reasons for wanting to hear me speak. I tailor my talk to the group, and afterward there are questions. The questions are my favorite part.
Writers always want to know how they can self-publish on Kindle. I tell them to visit my website or J.A. Konrath’s blog for more information. They’re writers, so they take notes.
Book clubs ask about the characters and whether I outline my novels ahead of time (I don’t). They also want to know where I get my ideas (everywhere).
Library crowds are true book people. They ask a lot of questions and often recommend books to me, and then I’m the one jotting down notes.
Today I spoke to students at a local high school. I talked, they listened. They were attentive but not overly enthused. I drew names and gave away a few of my books. The winners took the books, but didn’t seem overjoyed. Afterward though, one girl came up to me and had me sign her book. She said she was excited about winning and that she was a writer too. Then one of the guys in the group came up and said he had one more question for me. “In your opinion,” he said, “in a battle between Lord Voldemort and Darth Vader, who would win?”
Just for the record, I said Lord Voldemort. My older son has since told me that I’m wrong and that Darth Vader could definitely take Lord Voldemort. Live and learn.
I still love my quiet days at home writing, but I’m getting more comfortable doing public speaking. I think it’s good that I’m being forced to venture out into the world. Sometimes the questions alone make it worth the trip.
(Scott's P.S.: If you are a writer interested in advice from 15 successful authors, why not go download the free writing guide Write Good or Die at Haunted Computer, available in PDF, Mobi, and ePub.