Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Comfort Zone? That's the McQuestion

(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In 2009, after many years of not being able to get published traditionally, I uploaded my unpublished manuscripts to sell as ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle.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?”

Like I said, the questions are my favorite part.  

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.


Karen McQuestion said...

Thanks for having me as a guest, Scott! I appreciate it.

I'll have to check out your writing guide-- Write Good or Die! I love the title, and free is my favorite price.

Anne R. Allen said...

Darth Vader? Really?

I'm a solitude lover, too. I'd go months without leaving the house if I could.

Your success is such an inspiration!

Books and Bane said...

I'm with you Karen... Lord Voldimort would kick Darth's butt. Of course this is coming from a 43 year old who remembers Darth in all his original 70's glory, not today's supped up Darth!!

Thanks for the fun interview!!

Michele P

Neal Hock said...

Congrats on your success, Karen. I love reading about things like this.


Karen McQuestion said...

Anne, we meet again! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only hermit-like writer.

Michele, thanks for weighing in on the Darth Vader/ Lord Voldemort debate. You get bonus points for siding with me. :)

Neal, I appreciate that you stopped and left a comment. Thanks for the congrats.


i think i might have to get Celia and the Fairies, if for no other reason than the cover! spvaughan@yahoo.com

rjkeller said...

I would have said Vader before the prequels. Now that I know it's whiny Anakin Skywalker under that black suit I can say without fear that Voldemort could kick Vader's heiney any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Great post!! :)

Karen McQuestion said...

HODGEPODGESPV--I love the cover too! I'm thinking of having it enlarged and framed for my office. I don't think I'll get sick of looking at it.

RJ Keller--Ha! "...any day of the week and twice on Sunday." Love that expression. Combined with the use of the word "heiney" you've made your point.

Brenda said...

Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing. I think what you've done is both brave and inspirational. I enjoyed reading all about your publication process and your book cover adventures. Sometimes I get in a rush and don't post a comment, so I wanted you to know that you probably had lots of folks who feel like I do about you and your posts, but didn't have time to comment. Great post!

author Scott Nicholson said...

Thanks for stopping in, Karen. I love it when readers discover something that the publishing industry missed out on.


lorraine_lanning said...

Easily Amused has been in my to be read pile for a while, I'll need to get to it soon!

Thanks for the interesting post.

Karen McQuestion said...

Brenda, I understand about not always leaving a comment, but I'm glad you did this time around. Thank you!

Scott, I appreciate your generosity in giving me some space on your site.

Lorraine, thanks for buying Easily Amused. You don't have to rush to read it. The words will wait. :-)

Amy L Jenkins said...

Karens characters as so vivacious and fun, it's wonderful to see her achieve such success. She's pavved her own way in this tough publishing world. Thanks for featuring McQuestion.

Amy Lou Jenkins