Interview with self-published author Kim Jewell
Self-publishing is a hype, a recent phenomenon that is spreading like fire. However, most fires extinguish even before we notice them.
Unpublished authors follow those who’ve made the plunge with Argus’ eyes. If they can, shall I…? One of the successful authors on the self-publishing route certainly is Kim Jewell. So keep your eye on her!! Since early June 2011, she has self-pubbed two books in her YA sequel: Invisible Justice and Brute Justice and also launched her YA novel Misery’s Fire.
What is the success behind Kim’s books? Simple: she’s pulling the strings. First of all, she is extremely good writer, clear in her genre (YA, sci-fi/paranormal/crime/ horror), full of imagination, original. Secondly, she polishes her books till they are formatted pieces of shining silver and thirdly she knows how to use all the channels for marketing her work. How she does this, you can read in this interview.
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I live in Newburgh, Indiana – in the United States. I’ve always been in the US, but was born and raised north of here in rural Iowa.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I like anything spicy, andMexican fare is my favourite. (Ha! I just typed in favorite without the “u” and your spell check just corrected it to the proper European version for me!) Oh yeah, and I can eat my weight in cheese!
I’m a decent cook – love to cook when I have the time. But since I have a full-time job, my specialty has become whipping up food to order, based on each kid’s request, in record time once I get home in the evening!
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
While I used to play organized sports when I was younger (softball, volleyball, dance team), I don’t anymore. I do exercise regularly – I have an elliptical trainer in my basement that gets regular use – but my favourite form of exercise right now is taking our Great Danes out for walks and jogs around the neighbourhood. Sometimes they walk, er pull, me instead.)
Do you have kids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have four kids – ages 19, 17, 15 and 7 – girl, boy, boy, girl – in that order. My oldest three were “wedding gifts” and the youngest I actually packed around for nine months before she was born. All are wonderful blessings in my life. I’m a lucky mom and stepmom.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
Our family loves to travel, but it’s often not easy to find the time. We’re looking forward to a trip to Orlando, Florida this summer – not exactly sure what Disney parks we will go to yet, but there will definitely be a lot of beach time put into the schedule as well. If I had my wish, I’d live on the beach! Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is our absolute favourite (there’s that “u” again!) in the world – Mark and I were married there on the beach. We try to go back at least every other year.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel about the ‘other’ job?
I do have a full time job– I’m the Director of Development for a regional law firm (six offices) in Indiana. My responsibilities include all things marketing and sales – events, advertising, website design, sponsorships, donations, branding, public relations, sales training… I love it! As with any job there are ups and downs, but
it allows me to use my creative abilities, so I’m happy.
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
Funny enough, I was scared to tell my husband when I started writing my first book a couple of years ago… It was always a dream of mine, but after I got started, I wasn’t sure I’d finish – or if I did, if it would be any good! I was about 12,000 words into
Invisible Justice before I found the courage to tell him. Now he’s my biggest supporter. My extended family is also hugely supportive, and many of them edit and beta read for me. Our family is full of readers.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I’m definitely not very social by nature. I know, I know… That sounds funny for someone in marketing. But I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I’m
quiet, fairly shy. I can be social when I need to be, but it doesn’t come naturally.
It’s a switch I have to turn on.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
With a full-time job and family, the only time I ever really get to myself is my lunch hour at work. That is my devoted writing time. I’ll bring my lunch in to my desk, shut the door and work non-stop for that hour. It’s really surprising how much you can get done in a short period of time when you put your mind to it. I can get some work done over the weekends, but my lunch hours are best for me.
The view? I work in downtown Evansville, so the view out my window is other historic buildings in the area. It’s nothing too exciting, which probably helps my concentration, now that I think about it.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
I’ve heard of people who crank the music to rev up their creativity. Not me – I have
to have absolute quiet to concentrate. That’s probably why I’m not able to get much done around my zoo, I mean house.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
So far all I’ve completed is in the young adult arena – it’s a genre that our entire family has always enjoyed, both in literature and in movies. When the boys were young, I read the Harry Potter novels to them before bedtime, and I remember standing in line waiting to see the first movie with them. We’ve all been fascinated by the creativity in YA literature, so this feels the most natural for me and my
voice. Invisible Justice and its sequel, Brute Justice, are a modern take on teenage superheroes. Misery’s Fire is a YA crime thriller. I’m currently working on a
sci-fi/horror/thriller called After the Pulse that explores the aftereffects of an electromagnetic pulse. Oh, and at some point I’ll get back to my middle grade novel – Sasquatchattraction – where a sasquatch girl falls for a teenage boy. It’s a silly little story, but I’ve had several people see the opening of it on my blog and ask for more.
At some point you decided to self-publish. Can you tell us how that process developed?
You know, I spent a lot of time, blood, sweat, and yes – tears – trying to go the traditional route: securing an agent and working with him/her to submit to the big
publishers. I got really close a couple of times – I had a wonderful conversation with an agent out west who loved me, my writing style and the fact that I have a background in marketing, but she said she had three other novels on her desk like mine that she couldn’t sell. She said she wanted more from me, just something different, which was my motivation to write Misery’s Fire. Ultimately she passed on that one too. I was devastated.
The cold, hard truth is that the publishing industry is changing so much right now though, which means publishers are taking fewer new projects, and then so are agents. I finally stopped querying and started paying attention to my writing friends who started self-pubbing. I watched for a long time, asked a lot of questions, and then very recently decided to take the plunge.
I only meant to try out one of my novels, but after I got started, I jumped in with both feet! The exciting thing for me is that I was able to offer Invisible Justice free on Smashwords and Amazon, which started a pretty quick fan base for me. Now the
sales of the other two books are taking off.
I would definitely recommend that anyone interested in going the self-publishing route have more than one book ready to post. A series, if at all possible. That way you can cross-promote from one book to the other. Once the fan base gets started, they’ll pay attention to whatever else you have to offer.
How do you feel about self-publishing now? What are the advantages, disadvantages, pitfalls, etc.?
I love self-publishing in that it puts all the control in my hands. That can be a hard and scary fact, though, too. The process of formatting e-books and paperbacks is a huge learning curve, and it is different for any and all avenues. It’s not unsurmountable – if I can do it, anyone can! But it takes time and a lot of brain power.
I think the biggest challenge for me, and this goes back to my quiet, reserved nature, is marketing myself. I’m not a big horn-blower, don’t like bragging about myself, pushing my books on others. So that has been the most uncomfortable part
of the process for me. (I wish I had an agent to do the marketing of me FOR me!)
But I blog, I tweet, I post my information on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’m just getting started in the process, and I’m sure I’ll get better at it (and it will come easier for
me) as I do it more.
Are you in a network of Indie authors? How do you market your own book?
I’m not technically in a network of Indie authors, though I’d love to be! I have a few friends I made from my time on HarperCollins’ writing community Authonomy.
I still pop in there from time to time to promote my books, along with the other social networks I mentioned above.
Many of them have reached out and promoted me on their blogs, which I’m
utterly grateful for. I’d love to return the favour too, if anyone is interested.
I think the more we stick together and help each other, the better.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
My first book was published on May 17, 2011 and the other two followed shortly thereafter – May 31 and June 2. How did it make me feel? Scared, mostly. But after that wore off, I got excited to check my sales numbers and I anxiously await each and every review I get from readers.
I find it exhilarating to know there are people all over the world who are reading my stuff! I just got a note on my blog from someone in the Philippines who wants more of the Justice Series… The Philippines. Too cool!
And just this morning I got a Facebook invitation from a teenage boy in Suriname also asking for more from the Justice Series. It’s all a bit surreal to me – I’m still
trying to wrap my head around the fact that my dream is finally coming true. And the power of self-publishing made that possible for me.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
Ha ha… This one is a good question! The fact is, all of my material so far has come from either a dream of mine or my husband’s. The Justice Series was a dream I had when I was desperately looking for “the story” to write. I remember waking up all excited about the storyline. I just knew it was a winner! And then as my brain began to really wake up, the details in the dream didn’t make any sense (as is the case in most of my dreams!). I had to sit down and logically work through the story details so it could make sense to the readers. Invisible Justice took me less than three months to finish, and then I sent it out to beta readers. I immediately started Brute Justice (the sequel), but it took me much longer – I actually put it on the shelf to work on Misery’s Fire and then came back to finish it later. The series is by no means done. I’m not sure where the next one is headed, but there were a couple of characters added in the end of Brute Justice that will definitely complicate things… And based on what I’m hearing from readers, they want more!
Misery’s Fire was a dream my husband had. He was so excited to tell me the idea for my next book, and then couldn’t find the right words to explain it to me. He ended up sitting down at his laptop, and 750 words later had written the outline for me. His piece was so compelling, I first told him he should write the book. He declined, and nudged it back my way. “You’re the writer, not me,” he said. Then I tried to use his words as a prologue to set the story up. After a lot of reader feedback, I finally conceded to taking out the prologue, but his ideas, and much of his writing is woven throughout the story.
After the Pulse, my current work in progress, was another of Mark’s dream. I swear this one came shortly after he watched the movie Zombieland! (He loves that movie…) It’s more gore than I’m used to writing, which is kind of fun for me. I’m still not sure how this one is going to end, but I know I’m having a lot of fun with it!
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
Unfortunately I’m not allowed regular writing habits. But that’s okay because I love my day job and I love (even more) my family. I just take any open lunch hour I can get and work on getting something down. Sometimes I’ll have two, three, even four days when I have lunch meetings – so I’ll go periods of time without sticking with the story. But I always get back to it eventually. I have too much fun writing not to come back to my projects.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
Mark, my husband, is my biggest support and source of inspiration. He is constantly coming up with new ideas for my projects. He’s well read in all different areas, and
very often he’ll come to me with ideas he liked from others books and how to incorporate them into mine. In the Justice Series, it was his idea to pepper in random villain chapters to add intrigue and danger. And just last weekend he helped me redesign the covers for Invisible Justice and Brute Justice so I can format them for paperback. He’s the smartest person I know and is never at a shortage for creative
THANK YOU SO MUCH, KIM!!
Readers can connect Kim:
Twitter – @kimjewell
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/kim.jewell
Facebook fan page for Invisible Justice: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Invisible-Justice/221641074526221?sk=wall
My blog: http://kimjewell.wordpress.com/
Invisible Justice can be downloaded at:
Brute Justice can be downloaded at:
Misery’s Fire can be downloaded at: