1. Your resume is very impressive: author (both children and adult), teacher, editor, blogger, only to mention a few. I know that writing is not for wimps and I would like to ask if you ever thought of just hanging it all up due to rejections?
Yes I have, Penny. I had a lot of lean years in between the successes, and even now I struggle to make a living as an author/critiquer/teacher. It takes a lot of time and hard work to learn to write well, but even if you do everything you can, there’s still a lot of luck involved.
I got lucky with my first novel, The Well of Sacrifice, a middle grade adventure set in ninth-century Mayan times. Lucky because it tapped into an unexpected (to me) market of schools who use the book as supplemental classroom material when they teach about the Maya, and lucky because I didn’t make a lot of beginner’s mistakes. If I hadn’t had that first sale, I don’t know if I would have had the stamina to keep working through the next five unpublished manuscripts.
And even today, I have times when things seem to be going so badly that I’m tempted to chuck it all – except I don’t know what else I’d do! Plus, I’m happiest when I’m writing.
One thing I often suggest to students – keep in mind that you are trying to switch careers, and if you wanted to become a nurse or accountant or lawyer, you would expect to go back to school and spend several years studying, and then have to work your way up from the bottom. Writing well is just as hard as other jobs, so don’t expect to be successful overnight.
Most of us start writing because we think it’s fun, but focusing on publication can suck the fun out of it. Give yourself a break and focus on your craft for the first few years. Don’t waste your time and emotional energy (and editors’ time) by trying to rush into publication right away.
2. You write for both kids and adults. Do you find it harder marketing your children’s books?
Actually, I started with children’s books and have built up something of a reputation, at least among other children’s book writers and some teachers. And 12 of my books were traditionally published. I’m not saying the publishers did a lot of marketing, but at least the books were in their catalog and got reviewed in standard journals such as Kirkus and School Library Journal.
I decided to self-publish The Eyes of Pharaoh, so I’m publicizing that on my own. One thing I’ve done is e-mail teachers who’ve contacted me because they’re using The Well of Sacrifice in the classroom, to let them know I have another historical fiction out.
When I started writing for adults, I chose a different name, so as not to confuse readers. But because I am not known at all as “Kris Bock, romantic suspense writer,” I have to start my marketing efforts from scratch.
Add to that the fact that I decided to test the Indie publishing waters with my first romantic suspense novel, Rattled, so I don’t have a publisher’s marketing department behind me. It’s been a challenge to get attention, but at least I have time to let things built slowly, without the pressure of a publisher looking at sales numbers.
3. What do you think YOUR best method of marketing is?
I’ve been dabbling here and there – GoodReads and LinkedIn groups, for example – but I’m not convinced that a lot of these social networking efforts pay off for the amount of time you have to put into them. I do post good news on Facebook. I haven’t tried to Friend hundreds of strangers, but I figure people who know me – including those from my past, who wouldn’t otherwise have any idea what I’m doing – are most likely to try my books anyway. You have to hope for a ripple effect – someone tells a friend, who tells a friend, who....
It’s hard to track results, but one thing I think could help is a service called Book Rooster I used to increase my number of Amazon reviews for Rattled. You pay $50 and the electronic version of your book, along with your blurb, is made available to hundreds of Kindle reviewers. They make it available until 10 people have posted reviews. The reviewers don’t get paid, and they are expected to be honest, so it’s not like you’re really paying for a review, but rather for the service that helps you find reviewers.
In the two months after I signed up, I got another 10 reviews, all three, four, or five stars. I know as a buyer I’m much more likely to take a chance on an unknown author if I see multiple reviews and a high average rating. Rattled now has 17 reviews and an average rating of over four stars, which would attract my attention as a reader of romantic suspense.
Of my self-published books, my most successful so far has been my writing craft book, Advanced Plotting. I’ve been able to draw on my reputation as a writing teacher and to promote it when I give workshops. Plus, my blog, Write Like a Pro!, is a natural spot to promote the book, with excerpts from the essays.
Thanks for your questions, Penny!
Learn more about Chris and read excerpts of her work at www.chriseboch.com (for children’s books) or www.krisbock.com (for adult romantic suspense written under the name Kris Bock) or see her Amazon page. You can also read excerpts from Advanced Plotting, get other writing craft advice, and check out her critique rates and recommendations on her blog.