Author Interview – Deb Nam-Krane

Within the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.

dnkThis week I interviewed Deb Nam-Krane. Have a look at her profile and books here.

What inspired you to become an author? I see both the world and its potential a little differently than other people, and I want to share what I see. I’ve done a lot of other things: application developer, project manager, part-time teaching, yoga and Pilates instructor and baker. There were things I enjoyed about all of those jobs, but I always found myself looking over my shoulder and trying to fit more writing in. If for some reason I couldn’t write, I guess I’d spend all of my mental energy on my kids (even though it feels like that’s what I do anyway on most days.)

Do you write full time? I write as much as I can given my children and their needs. When I’m not interrupted, I can write for hours at a time, and I really miss that rhythm. It’s pretty easy to beat myself up over that, but I try to focus instead on getting in as much writing in as I can.

How do you fit writing into your routine? By grabbing whatever available time I can find. Usually that’s in the mornings, but sometimes I can get in an hour here or there in the afternoon and evening.

Where do you write?I prefer to write at my desk in my bedroom, but if that isn’t possible, the living room is fine. I do like getting away and writing in the Reading Room at the Boston Public Library, but that’s more of a special treat than a regular event.

SmartestGirlFinalDo you have daily word targets? At least 500 words. Anything after that is gravy- so sometimes there’s a lot of gravy!

Before writing, do you plan your books to the last detail? No. I have a general outline that’s fairly specific about where I want people to go and how I want them to get there, but I let my characters guide me around by the nose once I start writing.

How do you decide on your characters and what they will be like? That is the question, isn’t it? I would say that with a few exceptions my characters all have traits of mine that I mashup with aspects from things I’ve read or heard or people I met. There are a couple of characters that were inspired by other people I know, but even they get “polished up”, if only to help preserve their anonymity.

How do you get over the fear of a blank page? I have never suffered from writer’s block. I just put whatever comes to me down on the page. Admittedly, that means I have to do a lot of editing sometimes, but it’s a start. Even if it’s lousy, you can identity how it’s lousy and start changing it into what it wants to be.

How do you target your audience effectively? For this early stage, I’m focusing on bloggers in my genres- Chick Lit and Romance- and in the New Adult category. I am having a great time writing guest posts, and a number of bloggers have also signed up to write some reviews. It’s slow going, but that’s organic growth for you!

What ways do you promote yourself online? I use a bunch of different sites (too many?). My Writing Blog, my Facebook Author Page, Twitter and even LinkedIn. I’m trying now to find clever ways to use Pinterest, first because it’s fun and second because there is a lot of traffic and visibility there. For now I have some boards related to themes in my books, a board for my book and a board for my “Careful You Don’t Outsmart Yourself” blog tour. I’m at the point where I’m still trying to figure out the best ways to use Google +. There’s a lot of potential there, but right now it still seems like something waiting to happen. I also have a newsletter list that I’m trying to build up. As many successful authors have pointed out, this is the best, most targeted way to tell readers who are already inclined toward you about what you have coming up.

How much time do you spend promoting yourself in social media? If we’re just talking about social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, less than forty-five minutes a day. Add on maybe fifteen to twenty minutes for my blog and Pinterest. I’m actively trying to NOT oversell on social media. I’ve gone to a good deal of trouble to make some good contacts there, and I don’t want to alienate anybody by constantly talking about how great I am.

What’s been your most effective way of promoting yourself? Even out of the gate, I would say my newsletter. A couple of weeks before I released my first book I sent an email to about eighty friends and family members telling them that I was going to be publishing soon and asking them to email me if they wanted to be on my newsletter list. About forty people- or fifty percent- said yes immediately. (I have good friends and family!) On the day of my release, as a thank you to those people I made my book free just for that one day and sent them a note telling them that. Within about three hours thirty people had downloaded it. These are small numbers, yes, but that’s seventy-five percent of my list, and for the first day of my first book, that’s pretty good. (FYI, a lot more ended up downloading by the end of the day.) The key to a newsletter, I think, is not to overuse it. I am only going to tell people about new releases and bundling opportunities; I’m not going to use it to sell the same product twice, because that’s just annoying.

FamilyFinalWhat offline promotion do you take part in? One of my early beta readers came to me when I told her I was publishing soon and offered to get her book club to read and review it. I almost fell out of my chair when she offered that. I’m looking now to find more book clubs who will be interested in reading and talking about my book.

What made you decide to publish independently? What finally made me decide to commit to it was hearing from other authors in my category- New Adult- who were also finding that the age of their characters was a non-starter with an agent or editor. Changing the ages of my characters wouldn’t work for my story, and it really did seem like the choice was publish independently or don’t publish at all. It looks like New Adult is becoming more accepted by the publishing houses, but I’d rather be at the start of something than at the middle or end of it, which is where I think I’d be if I were still pursuing a publishing deal.

What do you think the future of traditional publishing will be? I am writing this in May of 2013. By the time this is published, who knows? Everything is changing so quickly! I think Barnes & Noble is in trouble, and the Nook business isn’t enough to save it. (Neither, I will add, are toys and games.) Their biggest problem is that their online operations are cannibalizing their stores. In three years, I think they’ll be gone. As I’ve said elsewhere, I think that’s going to spark a lot of smaller bookstores, but I think many of them are going to be attached to other venues, like cafes, restaurants or supermarkets. But it’s going to be a long time before anything replaces that.

If we do lose our biggest brick and mortar bookstores, the obvious beneficiary is Amazon. Many people will still want to read a hard copy of a book, and everyone knows Amazon sells them! But I also think there’s an opportunity for the publishers to start more aggressively selling from their own websites. What would be really interesting is if they start giving some kind of space to independent authors, or if we as a group started using more turnkey solutions rather than selling through Amazon. A number of writers have already started doing that. It doesn’t make sense unless you’re already discoverable, but for those who are the possibilities are very interesting.

Is it necessary for authors to have agents these days? I think it depends on what you’re writing. For fiction, no, although once you get to a certain level and you have more possibilities- film rights, translation, etc.- you’d do well to find someone who can represent you in those areas. I want to say that for non-fiction it’s more necessary, if only because some writing won’t be published in its own book but as a supplement to someone else’s work. However, I know some non-fiction authors who have been fed up enough by the lack of control- and loss of income- that they’ve thrown up their hands and go in on their own. Like everything else, I think it depends on what you’re able to handle on your own.

How do you deal with rejection or a less favourable review? Take on the motto that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You also have to act like a professional. Some people seem to think that because they’re behind a computer screen and keyboard they can let loose. No, you can’t. Or rather, you can, but the internet will remember and well it should. Emily Giffin and Anne Rice have seen their reputations suffer for the way they handled poor reviews and feedback, and frankly it’s kind of shocking that people who have been successful for so long would have such thin skins. If something upsets you, write to a friend, throw things in your bedroom or cry into your beer (or tea). But in public project nothing but calm.

How do you keep yourself motivated? I want to tell my next story and I want to get better doing it. Everyone wants to be recognized in some way, whether that’s a good review or sales, but at the end of the day, we also have an obligation to our story. Are we telling it the way it should be told? Are we keeping our characters’ motivations clear, even if they’re complicated? Is this going to be something we’re proud we created.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Keep reading, writing and learning.

Thank you for being part of this interview.

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