Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I think it’s kind of funny, I really didn’t like to read when I was in school, and it’s hard to be a good writer if you aren’t a big reader. I write now because it makes me smile. It’s something I can’t wait to do when I get home from my other job. I started writing when I was in college. My nephews were small at the time, and when I would read them stories, some of them were just plan bad. I thought: “I can do better than this,” so I did. I wrote children’s stories. I still have those and I’d like to publish some of those, but they require illustrations, and that costs a bit. My first adult novel was published in 2008. I’m not sure what made me go from short, children’s stories to a big novel (over 400 pages!) but I did it, and I really enjoyed myself. I couldn’t wait to do book two. I’m on book three of the series, and I’ve got an ever expanding list of projects I can’t wait to start.
Tell me a little about your books.
Both published books are historic fiction. History is a love of mine so I love doing the research I need to do to back up the stories. If you like to learn a bit when you read , you’ll enjoy my books. Book I – Rosebloom – is about a 15 year old Wisconsin farm girl in 1936 by the name of Rose. She runs away from home and gets a job on a riverboat on the Mississippi. Rose makes it to St. Louis and eventually to New Orleans, to of all places, a bordello. (Interested yet?). Rose grows up on the way, and learns a few things too.
Book II – A Burnished Rose – follows Rose through nursing school and as a nurse in WWII. I was lucky enough to find a WWII nurse in my neighboring state of Minnesota. Her name is Marcy. She turned 90 this year and is sharp as a tack. I follow her unit (a tent hospital) through North Africa, Italy, France, and finally into Germany. After the war, they also helped the internees at Dachau concentration camp. It is really amazing what those women went through and hardly anyone knows anything about it, especially considering woman were hardly let out of the kitchen or the nursery at the time in history.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
I started by loving Agatha Christy, and I still love her. She was a good story teller and a good writer. Then came Michener and the ever popular Jane Austin. I also read a bit of Stephen King. It’s been a real mix since then, many genre’s, many authors. I’m always open to new authors, known or unknown.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
Unfortunately, since I am a self publisher, I feel like I can’t sit down and write comfortably until I’ve gone through my emails, looked at my writer related sites, maybe read a blog or two, and make a few contacts. I know all these things need to be done as an indie author, but it takes away from my writing. My best writing days are when I take a day off of my other job; then I have a whole day to get things done. So for me, it’s a time thing. If I’ve got the time, then I’m writing.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
I did. I tried for about a year to get an agent. I had a few people asking for more of my story, at that time it was Rosebloom, but the story has a slow start and most agents didn’t like that. I can understand; agents are looking for what the publishers want, and they want what the main stream wants – something that starts out with a hook, and either continues strong or moves back in the story. I think readers are smarter than that. I think they can wait a page or two for a hook, especially if the story is well written. And I just had a couple woman at a book club this last weekend tell me they really liked the beginning of the story, not everyone does, but at least I know I’m not the only one out there.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
I would guess I am like most authors; my primary goal is selling books. It’s what pays the bills and allows us to write more. I don’t have a specific book number goal, I just want to keep improving, making more contacts, meeting more people, connecting with more fellow writers and readers. I love to read, by the way.
How have you marketed your book(s)? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
The only real reason I started in social media was because of my writing. I started with my website: ckbookspublishing.com, then, thanks to a friend, I started facebook: facebook.com/ckbooks, my personal facebook page, and twitter: @cmkbooks. (Sorry to all you bird lovers out there, I still don’t get the twitter thing). Then I made an exciting jump and started to blog: ckbooksblog.wordpress.com. I enjoy my personal facebook account because it’s a fast and easy way to see what family and friends are up to. I enjoy blogging because I love to write, and it’s a fun way to do that without spending a lot of time on it. And I’ve been introduced to some interesting people that way too and people half way across the globe. I am old enough to think that is so cool. My dad, God rest his soul, would be really surprised at all this. He loved the internet, and he was over seventy when he got his first computer.
Have you signed up for KDP Select? If you have, how has it gone for you? Do you think free promotions are helping with your paid sales? If you haven’t signed up, why not? Are you worried about the exclusivity clause?
I have not, but I am planning on doing that with my current project. It is a short story, a Christmas story set in the early 1950s, told from the view point of a thirteen year old girl. It’s my first story written in the first person POV (point of view), which was fun, and is my first illustrated story. It will be illustrated if it gets funded, that is. It was just put on Kickstarter two days ago (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1924471682/the-red-velvet-box if you’re interested!). I’m going to put it on KDP before it’s illustrated, though, just to see what happens. I’m hoping, if people like it, it might interest them in my other books. The exposure issue is big for us indie folks. I’m not worried about the exclusivity of the program; I won’t be any worse off by doing this, and maybe I will be better for having tired. Waiting 3 months to put it out there myself is not a problem for me. It will take that long to get it illustrated, as least.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
I have done quite well with Smashwords. I have sold more through them then Amazon, at least in the ebook department. Mark Coker- the founder of Smashwords is also a great advocate for the indie author and his sight really helped me learn a lot about how to e-publish. People have said they have bought my paper books on B & M, but I’m not sure how they got those – signed no less – because I have not sold one book to Barnes and Noble. Interesting, eh?
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
I think it’s possible for Amazon take over the e-market, but that would be a shame. I think others like Smashwords, Bookbaby (a new e-publisher), and even Barnes and Noble help keep things competitive. It’s hard to compete with Amazon, but I don’t think it’s good for anyone if a company has a monopoly in the ebook market. I think it’s our job to individually support those other folks. Indie authors would be silly if they ignored Amazon, but we can also use others, and we should. The power of the purse is a wonderful thing.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
Where do I start? As I mentioned, I just put my Christmas book, The Red Velvet Box, up on Kickstarter. I’m really excited about that. I think Kickstarter is a wonderful way to support artists, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it, plus my son is the illustrator. How fun is that! I’m at least 3/4 of the way done with book III of my Rose series, I’ve got a memoir I’m working on for man who is a recovering drug addict who lived on the streets of Chicago at one particularly low point in his life, plus I’ve got a screenplay for A Burnished Rose in the works. I think the story lends itself well to a film, and would be a good way for others to learn about what the nurses in WWII did for our country.