A question I get asked a lot is, why I choose to indie publish despite having written for traditional publishers.
There's nothing wrong with traditional publishing. In fact, there are many awesome perks.
I may traditional publish again. But right now, I'm enjoying being the captain of my ship.
Writing for a publishing house often feels like I'm writing solely for my editor instead of for my readers. Editors and readers are concerned with totally different things.
Readers care about:
Editors care about:
Paranormal Mystery (new cover coming soon)
I could go on.
Writing a good story isn't always enough. For me, I got tired of submitting my story to editors and hearing back how much they enjoyed the book, the characters, the plot, but didn't think they could sell speculative fiction with a Black heroine. I heard that A LOT. And it's very frustrating to put months into a book, have people think you've told a good story, but to still have it rejected by publishers because the race of your lead character isn't "right."
I don't think publishers/editors realize ethnic women read genres other than romance. There's a lot of multi-cultural, speculative fiction out there, but it's hard to find. When I discovered Tananarive Due and how easy her books are to get, I was so excited! And I spread the word! You don't have to be Black to enjoy her books, you just have to enjoy a good book. She tells a scary story like nobody else!
So, by publishing my books myself, I never have to be told again how enjoyable my stories are, but the race of my lead character is wrong. I don't worry about that. I get to focus on the story now.
Things I've learned since I began indie publishing:
There are lots of great resources out there if you're thinking of indie publishing. Some of my favorites are:
It's here! Zoe Matthews, the Undead Ghost, and the Demon is here! I'm so excited.
This book is close to my heart. Well, all of my books are close to my heart, but this one is especially close. It's a mystery, it takes place in my home town, and I was able to incorporate some of my favorite things into this story. Close friendships, a budding relationship, and lots of scares. I hope everyone enjoys it!
Buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Matthews-Undead-Ghost-Bridgeport-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00TM9J1BY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
You can also read the first chapter before you buy it. Go to: http://heatherelizabethking.com/excerpts
These are two genres that seem completely different. On the one hand you have some supernatural force strutting it's diabolical stuff all over town and wreaking havoc, on the other, there's a very real & human threat going around town killing people. One is designed to scare you, the other is designed to make you feel like you're visiting old friends (assuming you can get past the rising body count). But these two genres have something in common.
In many of Stephen King's books, the town where the events take place is as much a character as the people who populate his books. In a cozy mystery, this is always the case.
What is it about the location that speaks to so many people? I can't answer that question for anyone else, but I've compiled a list of five things I like about my current location.
5. The Community Market (the image if from my town's community market). When the time comes that I move away from my small town, I'll have to move someplace with a thriving community market. It's become one of my Saturday morning habits to stock up on vegetables for the week by hitting the market. How many books feature community markets?
4. The pace is much slower than it is up north, because of this, it's always easier for me to get to know people in my small town than it is when I'm in Maryland or New York.
3. The sense of community. This is critical in these types of books. Either they'll be living in a busy metro area where everyone is too busy being successful or trying to be successful to take time out to talk to a stranger. Or they'll be in a small town where everyone knows everyone and strangers love talking to strangers! These qualities all have an impact on character development and plot. What if a small town girl is living in a metro area and finds a body in an alley? If she tries to handle things as though she were still in a small town, what kind of conflict will this create?
2. The slower pace. People strive for success in my small town, but not like they do up north. Who knows, in a few years number two may be on a top five lists of why I'm moving back north. But for right now, I enjoy the slower pace. I like not having to be so aggressive when I'm driving or speaking to people. I like not having to put on my game face (a.k.a. my don't fuck with me face -- yes, I do have one and every now and again have to break it out in the small town) that often.
1. The cost of living!
So when I'm writing something scary or a mystery, the location of events is as important as my plot and character development. A story changes dramatically based on location, because in these genres, location is a character.
It’s All About the Research
Authors of erotic romance often get teased about what kind of research they might delve into for the sake of their books – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it…**snicker, giggle, knowing wink.**
The research my husband and I engaged in for this spicy romantic suspense is a little different – some might say, it’s been our entire lives. We’ve both taught at universities (that’s where we met) and we know the academic life from the inside. The choices and struggles faced by our professorial hero, Anthropologist Matt Bayfield, are more familiar than we might like to admit.
Hubs is a sociologist with a specialty in criminology. I promise he’s drawn on this background immensely in creating our spunky female undercover cop, Nancy Appleby, in plotting the trajectory of the crimes and the mystery of solving it, and especially in understanding our truly creepy villain (who I won’t name, of course – that would spoil everything!).
We’ve both immersed ourselves in understand Celtic culture and history for years – long before we envisioned this novel. Hubs has Welsh roots, and mine are Scotch-Irish on one side, so we feel an ancestral pull to that era and its understanding of seasons and cycles. It was easy to hand that passion over to our ersatz professor. We won’t say more about how it’s woven into the plot, but we think readers will like it.
We had a close call researching the technology we’ve handed our resourceful cop – hubs found himself on a website requesting security clearance for more information. Backed right out of that one! But found what we needed to know without tripping any more alarms.
The North Woods, where we’ve set the novel? A place we’ve lived and loved, and left, when the winters grew too much for us to handle. But while we lived there, we threw ourselves with a passion into the cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and crisp winter outings Nancy enjoys so much. Writing those scenes was like watching snippets from our own life on the screen.
The Unmasking was originally released in 2008 under a different pen name; rights reverted to us when the contract ran out, and we’ve decided to re-issue it as “ourselves.” We’ve thoroughly re-edited the book and incorporated helpful feedback from our beta readers
Our tag line is Erotic Romance for Two, Three, or More. Most of our published work has focused on the “three or more” side of the equation. We’re happy to offer a book focused on the “two” element, and we think readers will find the sex is no less sizzling. And no, we’re not going to share any research we might have indulged in to write those scenes.
February 15, 2014
ISBN 978-0-9894693-6-4; ASIN B00IDVB6KQ
Romantic Suspense, 87,000 words
Heat rating: Four flames
Whose mask will crumble first—
the enigmatic professor of Celtic Studies,
the undercover cop masquerading as a co-ed,
or the campus stalker,
biding his time to strike again?
Is anthropology professor Matt Bayfield the Blackthorn College rapist, or a potential ally? Aloof and unapproachable, Matt has academic ambitions. He can’t escape Blackthorn College soon enough, and he doesn’t want any entanglements to slow down his exit.
Nancy Appleby would like nothing more than to solve the string of campus rape cases before Thanksgiving so she can go home. The last thing she wants is a relationship to complicate her life—but she’ll settle for a fling, especially when the sex sizzles.
The stalker has his own carefully crafted timetable, with a special date just for Nancy. Can Matt and Nancy force him out of his hidey-hole before it’s too late?
Four and a half stars at Romance Junkies: From beginning to end, THE UNMASKING is a fascinating tale…I was intrigued at how the writing team is able to intertwine a love story with such horrifying circumstances in startling clarity. One of the many things I adored about this story is that the main characters are flawed. They both make judgment errors and their mistakes and assumptions lead to some emotionally trying scenes that had me eagerly reading to find out how they were going to solve their conflicts - or at several points if they even would be able to remain together. If you enjoy romantic suspense novels then I can definitely recommend THE UNMASKING. Chrissy D.
Five Stars at Amazon: One of the best stories ever written by Adriana Kraft…a truly great read. Could not put it down until I finished it. Amy B.
Five Stars at Goodreads: The suspense is so well done you don't know who the bad guy is until it's revealed in the book. The action is fast paced and kept my interest to the very end. Could not put the book down. Donna H.
Who will be the next victim?
Nancy Appleby scanned the co-eds in the small lecture hall. Each could be his next prey. Each looked much younger than she remembered being as a full-time student. Each woman hung on Professor Bayfield’s well crafted words.
Was it the topic, Celtic Myths and Rituals, or was it the aloofness of the tall, dark-haired lecturer with the strong protruding chin that mesmerized? He did command attention. Although his tone was mild, Bayfield played with his audience like a polished actor. Clearly he was in control. Though he gestured but rarely, he moved like an athlete, comfortable in his body.
Nancy jotted notes on a yellow pad pretending to be no different than anyone else in the room. She glanced up at Bayfield, whose eyes had settled on her; they were piercing and inquisitive. Then he shifted his gaze, but he’d noticed her, was thinking about her. Why? She’d done everything she could to blend in. He hadn’t seemed particularly troubled by her presence, just curious.
Nancy redirected her attention to the individuals sitting in front of her. She’d arrived early to claim an aisle seat in the back row. The raised auditorium layout provided an advantageous observation post. About sixty women and twenty men were in attendance, no doubt a decent turnout. Blackthorn College had a student body of less than two thousand.
Nancy scribbled more notes and then focused on the men in the room.
Was he in the lecture hall? Would he strike again, tonight? Or would the rapist stay in his hole, biding his time?
ABOUT ADRIANA KRAFT
Adriana Kraft is the pen name for a husband/wife team writing Erotic Romance for Two, Three or More. The award-winning pair has published over thirty erotic romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews. Romantic pairings include straight m/f, lesbian, bisexual, ménage and polyamory, in both contemporary and paranormal settings.
ADRIANA KRAFT ON THE WEB
One thing about writing, when you're writing a fantasy in a word entirely of your creation, places in the book look exactly how you want them to look. No questions asked because you've created that world and everything in it. But when you're writing in another genre and using a location that exists, you have to get your location facts straight. This means, if a scene happens at night, it's a good idea to know what the location of that scene looks like at night. Get a feel for it.
It was this that led me out of doors after 11p.m. on a Monday night. People have been messaging me lots of great location ideas. I love that. There are also the places I visited with my sister the other day. But I needed to see the good prospects at night so I could decide once and for all:1. Is this book happening in Baltimore or Lynchburg2. If it's in Lynchburg, what location will work best So I made sure I had my cell phone (because I needed the camera) and head out to downtown. I drove up and down a few streets, snapping pictures of places people had mentioned and some that caught my eye. For the worriers out there, I never got out of my car, my doors were locked, and my windows were shut. It was so disturbingly empty out there that I also thought it prudent to turn off The Good House (by Tananarive Due), the excellent haunted house book I was listening to, and put on some music.
The result of my outing, I think I've answered both questions. I'll be sure in the morning after I've had a good night of sleep. One thing I'm sure of now, downtown Lynchburg is creepy at night! At 11 there's absolutely nobody around, which is perfect for my book. The quietness and emptiness of downtown would make my first chapter believable.
See for yourself:
You're a published author and you're at a writer's conference, mingling with your peers when someone asks the question, "So what do you write?" You say erotic romance, and receive a look that makes you feel like you've just admitted to a pastime of killing babies. Among certain groups, admitting to writing horror isn't much better. As a matter of fact, admitting you write commercial fiction is often perceived as tantamount to selling your soul to the prince of darkness. The people staring down their noses at you are writers of "literary" fiction.
Any time I've had one of these experiences I've often wondered where the disgust comes from. Yeah, I write commercial fiction, yeah, I write about sex and I'm awfully good at it, why do you have a problem with what I do? Is there really one type of fiction that is better than another type of fiction? There are millions upon millions of readers out there, all searching for a great book that will take them on a journey. And they don't all enjoy reading the same genre.
For years I wrote under the pseudonym of Adrienne Kama and I did well. I had a bestselling series, then sold to Ellora's Cave, one of the top publishers of erotic fiction. But Author Shame was something that dogged me. For obvious reasons my friends with kids couldn't have any of my books out in the open--they had to be hidden in closets. I couldn't tell anyone at church what I wrote. What would they think of me? What would my co-workers think? Author Shame was something I battled. Back in 2006 an editor from NAL contacted me (yes, contacted ME) about writing a book that consisted of a series of erotic romance novellas, but by that time my Author Shame was so bad I couldn't adequately focus on the project...and I lost the deal. Stupid mistake.
Today, I write novels the way they need to be written. As my mom says, I'm not writing Heather Elizabeth King's story, but the story of my characters. Sometimes they swear (I don't swear so this was something I had to make peace with long ago, too! lol), sometimes they murder, and sometimes they have sex. I realize that if I'm going to be a writer I have to be fearless when it comes to telling a story. I have to be genuine. I have to kick Author Shame to the curb. I'm accountable to God, nobody else.
If there's something that you enjoy doing (and it doesn't hurt anyone) and you do it well, don't let anyone shame you out of doing it. This is your life. You only get one. Don't be afraid to live!
One thing many would-be writers don't account for when they dream of seeing their name on the NYT Bestsellers list is the fact that to sell books you have to do a lot more than write a great book. You have to know how to sell that book. The publishing house (if you have a publishing house) isn't going to do it, so you have to learn how to be your own marketing super guru. Think about it, if nobody knows that books exists, nobody is going to buy it. So writing the book is only the first part of the job. Selling the book is the second, equally important, part of the job. This is where something I like to call, new age promo, comes in.
New ago promo is a way for an author to promote her work without ever leaving the comfort of her home. But there's a right way to do new age promo and a wrong way to do it. By wrong, I mean ineffectual. So what I'm working on now is mastering my new age know how. I feel like I've got a long way to go. I've never done a blog tour, I don't maximize my relationships in my writer's groups, and I could use a few pointers with social media.
I've spent the better part of the day getting a handle on the social media end of things. I just created a Twitter account and am slowly getting the hang of how to use it. I still don't get the purpose of hashtags! All in all, it's an exciting time to be an author. There are so many venues of publication that are open to us that were never open to us before and there are so many venues available for us to promote our books. Back in the old days it was all about the book tour. Today, things have changed. I think book tours are still a major part of a writer's arsenal, but they're not the only part. Blog tours and promoting on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have given writers an opportunity to reach hundreds, if not thousands of readers with just one post. I can't wait to see what the next ten years bring!
- Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors (warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
- Having what it takes to be a writer - success and failure. (stephaniehaggarty.wordpress.com)
- My Real Writing Life (droppedpebbles.wordpress.com)
- My innovative marketing strategy (mattwestwriter.wordpress.com)
- Social media more effective in promoting Tamil literature (thehindu.com)
- The New World of Publishing: How to Get Started Selling in 2014 (deanwesleysmith.com)
I recently finished reading Stephen King's On Writing for a second time. This book is a great resource for writers. I've been writing professionally for about ten years now, and it reminded me of some things that I've forgotten. One of those things is Honesty.
Writing with Honesty seems like an easy thing to do, but often I get caught up in what I want to happen as opposed to what needs to happen. On Writing reminded me to listen to my characters when I write. Don't just write dialogue for them, listen to them. Let them tell me what they'd say and how they'd say it. This sounds very woo woo, but it's true. Once you know your characters and understand their motivations, they speak to you. My job, if I want to write with Honesty, is to listen to them. The stories always seem much more genuine and real when I write this way.
You can always tell when a writer isn't listening to their character. Take a horror movie. You have a character who has behaved with intelligence throughout the movie, but when the creature busts into her house, she runs UPSTAIRS. Typically this happens because the writer has something planned to happen upstairs and can find no sensible way to get the characters upstairs where all this scary stuff is going to happen. So, the writer simply turns the character into a moron and has her run up the stairs instead of out the front door. Things like this always ring false for the reader/viewer.
So, I'm listening more closely to my characters and trying to write them and their story as honestly as I can.
Super excited today to go to the Virginia Festival of the Book! Tonight I'll be at a panel featuring a brilliant urban fantasy author, Kim Harrison (http://www.kimharrison.net/). I'm going to miss tomorrow for a road trip to Raleigh, but love this time of the year. As the weather warms up, the book festivals and conferences begin!!!
So I've done it! I've registered for the New England Crime Bake in November! This will be the first mega conference I've been to since the 2007 RT. That was a great experience because I not only went, but I got to be on 2 panels. Since restarting my writing career as Heather Elizabeth King and leaving Adrienne Kama behind it's been like starting over, so I won't be on any panels at the Crime Bake. Mystery fiction is an entirely new genre of fiction for me and I'm still finding my footing.
Tainted Love is a supernatural mystery/urban fantasy, and working to promo this book has been a lot different than the others. That's why things like conferences and writing organizations (like Sisters in Crime) are great. You not only get to network, but you get to meet other writers doing the same thing you do.
So I opted to take the train to the conference. I love rail travel and this seemed a fun option. I'm taking an express on the way there, but on the way back I have to change trains in New York. So, for the New York to VA route I got a roomette. It's only 8 hours from NY to where I live in VA, but for me the roomette makes for a far more enjoyable ride than coach. I can still go to the dining car and walk around the train when I want human contact, but if I want to be alone I have my own little space to go to. I've been in one before and love it. The new roomettes have the added bonus of having their own mini bathrooms as well as their own climate control. I'll be posting pics of the trip, so you'll get to see everything. Till then, here's what one looks like:
I'm excited...and scared. Traveling to a new city in MA alone could be intimidating, but when I think of all I hope to accomplish a little fear won't hold me back!!!
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