This blog post we have guest author Kelly Miles who was willing to take some time to talk about her writing and discuss her experiences with being in the indie book industry. She has written two books available on Amazon and is active online on her website and numerous social media websites. Let me introduce Kelly to you:
Kelly thanks for taking the time to offer your expertise and experiences as an indie author. Can you give us a brief introduction about you and your writing?
Well, I’m a wife and mom of two teenage boys. I live a fairly normal life, though crazy-busy most days. I live in Tennessee, just a few miles from where I grew up. I’m an upbeat person (most days) and I believe helping and giving to others is one of the greatest joys in life. If I can make just one-person smile, then it’s worth it. I’m also a romance writer, usually with some suspense thrown in for good measure. I currently have two novels that I’ve released, Montana Sky and Back to Me, which was released this past November. I’m working on my third, Blake’s Hope, hopefully due out later this year. I have several other projects going as well, and one in particular that I’m very excited about.
What made you want to peruse being an indie author?
I don’t know that being an author was ever really on my radar. It just kind of happened. Some might know my story, but for those who don’t I will try and keep it brief. I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and chronic congestive heart failure eleven years ago this fall. As per doctor’s orders, I had to keep a journal. It was just boring, routine stuff mainly, but eventually it turned into writing more interesting things to keep myself busy! I wrote 2 novels that have yet to be released and they may never be. I don’t know. They’re a bit more personal since they were written during that very difficult time. I keep them tucked away and hope to get back to them one day when things calm down.
As an indie author you have to do a lot of self-promotion, do you find yourself spending more time marketing than writing?
Absolutely. It’s a full-time job, but a necessary one. Being an indie author, you don’t have a publicist, or a marketing team handling things for you. You are the team. And it takes work and dedication. A lot of dedication. Social media is obviously a useful tool in today’s society and one that indie authors really need to take advantage of. I recently did a blog post on my website about this very thing. If I could say anything about marketing, it’d be this… it’s important to keep your personal media accounts separate from your professional one. You are promoting yourself and your books, not your dogs and children. They may be cute, but more than likely they will not sell your books and you will be overlooked. There are several places you can hire, of course, to do these things for you, but I always caution for authors to read the fine print and understand exactly what you’ll be getting. If you are dedicated and committed, you can do as much if not more on your own, and the best part is it’s free. You just have to be willing to put in the time necessary to be successful.
With marketing, has online or offline been more effective for you to connect with new readers?
I would definitely say online, though I’ve not given offline (mailings, etc.) a fair chance. Word of mouth is great if you know a lot of people, who know a lot of people, but even then you’re depending on others to market for you. With so many great resources available online (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads) connecting with others is just a click away. Every share is a share to their followers. Every tweet is a tweet to their followers. It eventually gets around. There are also several author support groups you can join, which I highly recommend. You’ll need it.
You mention that you have always wanted to write and decided to bite the bullet and just do it, what was the most challenging obstacle for you?
Discipline. It’s so easy to get distracted with day to day life, especially when you have kids. I try to enforce my rule of writing 30 minutes every day, though admittedly I break that rule from time to time. I think if you make it a priority, it becomes a habit. A habit becomes routine. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a blog post, knocking out another chapter in your book, or sending a greeting card to someone. If you get in the habit of writing, it will become as natural as waking up in the morning. The more you write, the more your craft is perfected.
Did you have any advice or mentors (writing, marketing, etc.) during your journey? Or trial and error?
That’s easy… definitely trial and error. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when I started this process a few short years ago. To me it was as simple as I wrote a book, now what? I researched as much as I could. I followed other authors and signed up on author forums. I listened and I observed. Some of it was beneficial and some a waste of time. I think each individual should do what suits him/her best. I would say the key things of importance are, 1) make sure your book is edited, edited, and edited again. I promise every time you go over it; every new pair of eyes will catch something you missed. If your writing is clunky, filled with punctuation and spelling errors, it will turn readers off. 2) Invest in a good, solid book cover. Let’s face it, we all judge a book by its cover. You need to have something that will grab the reader’s attention, not put them off. If they see a cheap cover, chances are they will think you didn’t invest that time into your writing either. Those are two of the most critical pieces of advice I can give.
If you could go back and release your first book with the knowledge you have today, would you do anything different?
Yes, I would have not been so quick to release it. It was my very first novel and I was a bit over zealous when it came to hitting the publish button. I was so excited to have it out there and nervous as well. A lot of it was personal things that had happened in my life. I think I was afraid that if I didn’t just put it out there, I never would. It’s important to sit on it for a bit. Stew on it. Let it mingle in your mind. Once it’s out there, that’s it. Sure you can revise it, but the chances are someone’s already seen it or downloaded it, and those you can’t take back. Make sure it’s exactly the way you want it to be.
Would you consider going the traditional publishing route? Why or why not?
I’ve not really ever thought about it. I’ve been please with self-publishing, so at this point I would say no. I think partly it’s fear of rejection. No one likes that, right? The other side of it is I like having a say in my work. It’s my baby. It’s what I’ve worked on day and night, and shed blood, sweat, and tears for. I like having control over something that is an extension of me. I don’t begrudge authors either way, of course. Again, I think it’s a personal choice. I would like to point out one thing. Some people have said, or feel, that unless you are represented by a publishing house that you aren’t considered an author. I wish people would drop that from their minds. There are hundreds of thousands of indie authors who are blessed with incredible talent. Amazing novels come from self-published authors every day. We should lose the stigma attached to the labels, and recognize that anyone willing to bear their soul to the world through their writing is indeed an author.
What are you currently working on?
Lots of projects are currently in the works. I’m finishing up my 3rd novel, Blake’s Hope. I am hoping to release it later in the fall of this year. Fingers crossed! I’m also working on some revisions and editing, as well as promoting other indie authors. It is truly a cause near and dear to my heart. Indie authors will be featured on my website every Friday (www.authorkellymiles.com) and will have links to their books, as well as author interviews. I think it’s important for authors to support one another and my goal is to gain exposure for all of those who wish to build their brand. I’m also doing a book tour starting in March, and a book signing coming up in May.
Thanks again for your time Kelly, insightful knowledge into your writing. You can find Kelly’s work on Amazon: