Your Kathleen Turner books have been a hit. Have you got the whole series planned out, and do you take reader feedback into consideration?
I decided at the outset that the series would be five books long. I’ve read many series where it seems to keep going and going without a plan or direction for the characters’ end game. As a reader, that always frustrates me. I determined that my characters would have a beginning and a conclusion. As for reader feedback, I encourage my readers to let me know what they think of the series. When all is said and done, I want the readers to be as satisfied with how the series ends as how it began.
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?
Remember what I said about being frustrated as a reader with series that go on and on? That’s what got me into writing. I decided to write my own “ending” to a popular series, as a way of easing my own vexation and irritation. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s on everyone’s “bucket list” to write a novel, and I was no different. Honestly, I never thought I could do it, and I don’t know if I could have ten years ago. Age and experience sometimes work in our favor. Now, I can’t imagine not writing, and if I go more than a few days without writing, I get fidgety and discontented.
Do you remember the first piece of fiction you ever wrote?
Yes, actually, a particularly bad piece of X-Files fan fiction. Don’t we all look back on our first works and cringe?
Tell me a little about your books.
Kathleen Turner is the protagonist in a Romantic Suspense series centered around herself and her relationship with two very different men. Blane Kirk is a high-powered attorney playboy and former Navy SEAL. Kade Dennon is an ex-FBI agent turned assassin-for-hire. Kathleen works at Blane’s law firm as a Runner and her initial introduction to Blane is rather ignominous, to say the least. Since the genre is Romantic Suspense, murder and conspiracy abound and Kathleen finds herself caught up in events, but the heart of the story are the characters and how they grow and change.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
I don’t know if “inspire” would be the right word. There are authors who awe me with their prolific work (Nora Roberts), their incredible creativity (Neil Stephenson), and the depth of their knowledge (Tom Clancy). Dwelling on these authors would make me curl into a ball bemoaning my own lack of talent. I’m crazy competitive, so I try not to focus on all the amazing authors out there, but instead keep my focus on the story I want to tell. I’m not John Grisham or Danielle Steele and I don’t try to be. I try to stay true to my characters and write their story my way.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I have a full-time day job, husband and two young children. Any spare time I get, I write! I don’t try to force it, but yet try to keep a pace of about a chapter or so a week (perhaps 6,000-8,000 words).
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
I wasn’t even aware of the option of self-publishing when I finished my first novel. I initially went the traditional route, sending out queries to agents and publishers. After a few months, I discovered the self-publishing capability of Amazon’s KDP program. It seemed silly to hold out hope for a traditional publishing deal that may never come with another avenue available to me, especially with all the industry changes that have come about with the advent of the Kindle and Nook.
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 decided my measure of success would be to write books that people enjoy. I have a day job, and while I would love to quit that job and write full time, that may never happen. I plan on finishing the series I’ve begun – that’s my goal at the moment.
How have you marketed your books? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
I initially marketed my books through book review blogs. A large percentage of them refuse to review self-published books, but some are willing to give self-published works a shot. That helped garner reviews on Amazon and readers. I’m firmly of the belief that if you want to have more readers, you need more novels for them to read, so began my second book shortly after I finished my first, self-publishing two books in nine months. I do advertise with Facebook ads and have garnered some sales from that avenue. I’ll be the first to say I’m no expert at social media, though I do use Facebook and Twitter.
Have you signed up for KDP Select?
Yes, I signed up my first book in the series, No Turning Back, for KDP Select a couple months ago. I released my second book, Turn To Me, in April while simultaneously putting No Turning Back for free on Amazon. To my shock, No Turning Back went to the #1 spot on the Top 100 Kindle Free list by the second day and stayed at that position all week. By the end of the five days of free promotion, over 92,000 people had downloaded No Turning Back. Those free downloads translated into sales for both the second book and the first once it went off free and I’ve sold almost 20,000 books in a month’s time. So KDP Select was the absolute best thing that I could have done to help my sales and exposure and I couldn’t be happier, or more grateful, for Amazon.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
Unfortunately, those other outlets just haven’t worked very well for me.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
Not at all. Competition is good for the industry and great for the consumer. The Nook caused Amazon to drop its price for the Kindle and step up production on other versions of the Kindle, including the Kindle Fire. Both devices have revolutionized the publishing industry, and in my opinion, made reading an activity more people are pursuing now than ever before.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I’m working on book three of my Kathleen Turner Series, which will be coming out in December of 2012.