Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Have you ever worked with a literary agent? What benefits can an agent offer to authors navigating their options: self-publish, sign a traditional deal, or take a hybrid approach? We delve into these questions and more in this interview, our first on the podcast focusing on literary agents. Amy Tannenbaum from the Jane Rotrosen Agency offers the agent's perspective, chatting with KWL Manager Christine Munroe about:

  • Amy's background as an editor at Simon & Schuster for many years. She had begun to acquire self-published authors, but they always asked her if they should work with an agent. When she replied yes, they always asked for a recommendation. Eventually, she decided that she wanted to fill that role.
  • As part of a bigger full-service literary agency, Amy is able to offer her clients support in pursuing opportunities in foreign, audio, and film and TV rights.
  • The majority of new clients she takes on are self-published authors looking for a traditional deal. That's how she started out building a client list as an agent, and she takes on most of her new authors through recommendations from her existing clients. That being said, the industry changes constantly so the picture may look different a year from now!
  • Does she approach working with authors different based on their publishing path? No - it's all about career management, and what the right option is for each book. "Most readers don't care about whether a book is self-published or traditionally published. They just want to read a great story."
  • A few years ago, publishers were hungrily acquiring self-published titles, and you could more easily sell a book based on sales track record. Now, publishers are more selective, and the emphasis has shifted back more to the quality of the voice and writing. Sales numbers and social media presence certainly help, but they're not enough.
  • That being said, if your ultimate goal is to be traditionally published and you're having difficulty getting the attention of an agent or publisher directly, then trying to build your own successful sales track through self-publishing will definitely help build your case to make it happen.
  • With every author looking to switch from indie to traditional, Amy extensively discusses the pros and cons of that decision. Authors won't be able to use their cover designer, choose their editor, set their prices, set a release schedule, etc. On the plus side, though, they're gaining a support team taking the business side (and the pre-publication costs) off their plate.
  • The major thing traditional publishers still offer is print distribution - this is the typical tipping point for indie authors wanting a publishing contract.
  • In the reverse direction, traditional authors often go indie when they have a book that their traditional publisher isn't interested in publishing.
  • Christine's experience working as an agent before self-publishing became a viable option for writers, when a publisher saying "no" was potentially the end of a writing career. We're in an exciting time now, when authors have many options.
  • When Amy is looking at a potential new client, she looks primarily at the writing. Then, she looks at social media - and not necessarily just reach, but engagement level with fans.
  • Most common error to avoid: submitting to an agent who doesn't represent the genre you write in.
  • Most successful way to get an agent: get a recommendation from one of their current clients. So make friends with other authors, engage with them, check the acknowledgements of similar books where authors will thank their agents.

 

Direct download: Full_episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

There has never been more opportunities for writers and storytellers than ever in the history of publishing, and Episode 52 of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast demonstrates yet another amazing opportunity that exists for writers.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Jean Leggett co-founder of One More Story Games, a company from Barrie, Ontario that has developed a storytelling platform with a team of gamers, geeks, storytellers and programmers that creates a community for collaborative story game opportunities.

In the interview, Mark and Jean discuss:

  • Jean’s background as a recovering Haiku addict and recovering stand-up comedian
  • How Jean’s love of storytelling combined with her husband’s similar love and a computer science background and background working in the games industry led to the formation of One More Story Games
  • The underlying concept of bringing more reading into the game space
  • How the experience of these games is similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” branching narrative experiences
  • StoryStylus – the story creation platform that helps creators break down the elements of story (such as people, places, things, relationships, conversation and dialogue, etc) that publishes to an interactive games marketplace
  • The fact that you don’t need to be a programmer to be part of creating an interactive story game and how virtually any writer could participate in this process. (With a reminder that “Beta” means “patient, early adopters”)
  • A writer, photographer and graphic designer in Tillsonburg, Ontario (Dan Wilkins) who is writing an 8 part series for One More Story Games and involving real people, such as the town’s mayor as characters in the story   
  • The manner by which a platform like this seems ideal for mystery stories, but the manner by which science fiction and adventure stories have already been built for it
  • The exciting announcement that One More Story Games will be working with New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sookie_Stackhouse - novels which have been adapted into the True Blue television series) to adapt her novel Shakespeare’s Landlord
  • How the Charlaine Harris project will include a “behind the scenes” look at breaking the book itself into various plot points and how it was developed into the interactive storytelling experience (https://onemorestorygames.com/2016/02/16/lily-bard-online/)
  • The idea of making smarter more casual games available to the growing demographic of women consumers in their mid 30’s who are interested in and playing these types of games
  • The concept of how a game like this demonstrates the progression of writer to narrative designer for a storyteller
  • Recommendations on how authors who are interested in exploring these opportunities might get started

 

 

Links of Interest:

One More Story Games

One More Story Games on Twitter

One More Story Games on Facebook

Story Stylus FAQ

Charlaine Harris Website

 

YouTube Tutorial Videos from One More Story Games

Direct download: EP_052_OneMoreStoryGames.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am PDT

Known as the “Wizard of Storytelling,” David Farland (who also writes under the name David Wolverton) is the author and editor of more than fifty books, including his Philip K. Dick Award winning novel On My Way to Paradise and the well-known Runelords series. A long-time mentor to writers, David spend many years teaching writing at Bringham Young University and has also mentored such writers as Stephanie Meyer, Brandon Sanderson, Eric Flint and James Dashner.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre had the chance to sit down and chat with David about these things and much more at the 2016 annual Superstars Writing Seminars conference in Colorado Springs where David is one of the founding faculty members of a group of international bestselling authors who spend several information-packed days teaching newer writers the business of writing and publishing.

In their conversation, Mark and David discuss:

  • David’s love of writing, which started when he was nine years old and had his first writing published in a local newspaper
  • The fact that David had planned on becoming a doctor and was taken aside by a very astute teacher when he was seventeen who told him, “Dave, you’re a writer. You don’t it yet, but you’re a writer and you can’t get away from that. It’s going to come out some day.”
  • When he was studying pre-med and spent three days working on a poem that just wouldn’t leave his mind.
  • Winning third place in a college writing contest for a short story and how that inspired him to write more and submit them to other contests, where he won first place in all of them, including first prize in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest
  • How winning that contest led to a three novel contract with Bantam right there at the Writers of the Future ceremony
  • David’s current role in helping to kick-start new writers careers as the lead editor for the Writers of the Future annual contest
  • Tips on what David is looking for when reading submissions to this contest
  • David’s role as a writer coach and how, as an advisor to Scholastic Books in the United States, David had suggested they take a serious look at a then-unknown author of the Harry Potter series
  • The secret to how David can intuit a writer’s chances of success without even having to have read any of their work
  • How his real name of David Wolverton became associated with his science fiction novels (starting with his first award winning novel, and how he landed on the pseudonym of David Farland by standing in a bookstore and looking at the placement of books on the shelves and determining the best “eye-level” last name to employ
  • David’s natural storyteller ability as a Dungeon Master taking care of twenty to thirty people at once for role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and how that led to his interest and participation in game development
  • David’s work doing screenplays and movie production, and the difference and similarities between writing novels, writing video games and writing screenplays
  • David’s work writing in the Star Wars universe, including The Courtship of Princess Leia as well as the YA and middle grade books for Scholastic
  • The collaborative spirit and mentality required when working on licensed properties, video games, etc
  • The differences between “Hollywood” and “New York Publishing” for a writer
  • David’s advice for writers and on being a professional writer: Deciding what you want to be and then beginning to live and BE that part

 

As part of his dedication to helping other writers, David writes the David Farland’s #WritingTips, an email bulletin for writers. Many authors rave about how it has helped them. Out of devotion, he provides his #WritingTips for free. You can subscribe to David’s #WritingTips here.

LINKS OF INTEREST

David’s Website: http://davidfarland.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authordavidfarland

Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidfarland

David's Great Resources for writers, including a signup to his “Daily Kick in the Pants” emails: www.mystorydoctor.com

YouTube Video mentioned in the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWEP3aBVpAw

Direct download: EP_051_DavidFarland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

For our 50th episode, we're featuring over a dozen all-star indie authors offering an amazing wealth of information about publishing and writing. Tune in to hear from HM Ward, Diane Capri, Melody Anne, and more! You'll learn:

  • How this multi-author signing event came together
  • What Diane Capri has learned while serving on the board of the International Thriller Writers
  • Ruth Cardello's tips for becoming a successful author
  • How Melody Anne got started as an author, and why she loves this job. "If somebody ticks me off I get to kill them in my series! So my life is awesome."
  • Raine Miller's tips for translating your novels
  • Why Michelle A. Valentine works with a literary agent
  • How HM Ward manages to write over books per month. “I always have multiple books in the pipeline at a time. So I’ll come up with an idea and I’ll start a book, and then when I’m not really feeling it anymore I put it down and then I pick up something else.”
  • Why CC MacKenzie joined the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)
  • Steena Holmes describing what ALLi has taught her about marketing to a UK audience
  • Chris Keniston's "pantser" writing method
  • What Fabio Bueno has learned while writing from both male and female perspectives in his SINGULARITY series
  • How Lee Strauss found her German translator
  • Rebecca Donovan's thoughts on working with a traditional publisher, Grand Central. She's also heavily involved in the production process turning her BREATHING series into a movie

The KWL team is always on the road attending writer's conferences and publishing events, so Christine lists off just a few that we have coming up in the next few months. We hope we'll have the chance to meet you in person soon!

Direct download: LBF2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am PDT

KWL EP 049 - Kate Tilton, Author Assistant

Is your work managing the business side of your publishing taking away from your time writing your next book? Are you feeling overwhelmed? It might be time to hire an Author Assistant. In this episode of the KWL Podcast, US Manager Christine Munroe interviews Kate Tilton, founder of Kate Tilton Author Services, LLC. Christine and Kate talk about:

  • What do author assistants do, exactly? Kate says, “I give authors more time to write and spend with their family, by doing tasks that they may be able to do themselves, but they don’t have time for.”
  • Kate started as an author assistant in December 2010 – it was her first job, while she was still a high school student.
  • A typical day for Kate might include these tasks: organize email inboxes, send review copies, run to the post office to mail out prizes, scheduling their blog posts and social media, beta reading, matching audiobooks to the written text. It’s a diverse job; every day is different.
  • Why should an author hire an author assistant? Every one could use help in some capacity. If you feel overwhelmed and work is piling up. Willing to delegate. Have the finances to afford the help.
  • What projects can be outsourced? Anything, really, that is taking up time that you wish you could be using to write. You can also consider hiring a personal assistant instead, who will help with non-publishing daily chores (picking up dry cleaning, grocery shopping) to make your life more manageable.
  • The job is really flexible – you make your own schedule and choose your author clients.
  • It’s great to work with multiple clients, because authors are not in competition with one another. Kate can bring them together for joint efforts like prize giveaways, and each is helping the other find new readers.
  • How much should authors expect to pay for an assistant? Rates vary greatly, depending on the assistant’s experience. For example, you can get a college-level intern and pay very little, but you’ll need to take the time to teach them how to do what you need. With an experienced assistant, you’ll pay around $40/hour, but it may be more efficient because they’ll draw on their expertise to get the job done quickly. It’s a decision to make based on your budget, time, and needs.
  • For someone hoping to become an author assistant, check out Kate’s resources on her website: http://katetilton.com/author-assistants/
  • For an author looking for an assistant, start with word of mouth – ask your author friends who they work with. There are many resources online, for example http://www.authorsatlas.com/
  • Kate recently contributed two sections to The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide, edited by Joel Friedlander and Betty Sargent, which is available for pre-order on Kobo.
  • Her biggest advice for tackling social media and marketing: figure out who the #1 die-hard fan of your book is going to be, and market to that kind of person. This thought process will help you really appeal to your ideal market.
  • Kate also teaches by doing; she works on her own social media and branding to exemplify what she thinks authors should do. Her brand: Books. Cats. Tea. Nerdy stuff. Food.
  • One great resource for learning more about marketing is CopyBlogger.
  • You need to build a group of people who “know, like, and trust you,” because those are the people who are going to help you grow (and buy your books).
  • #K8Chat is Kate’s weekly Twitter chat, with the goal of connecting authors and readers. Every Thursday 9-10PM EST.
Direct download: Kate_TIlton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am PDT

Kobo recently held a special event in downtown Toronto for some of its best customers, avid readers and fans of Michael Connelly. Special guests had a chance to meet one another for cocktails and snacks, mingle, get books signed, and listen to an on-stage interview with Michael Connelly, who was interviewed by by Johanna Schneller.

Some of the fascinating things you'll find out in this entertaining interview with Michael Connelly include:

  • How Michael's mother gave him his first book to read, how, as a child he was introverted and loved to read and earned the nickname "the book addict"
  • The perspective that a writer's job is often being "the observer"
  • Michael's role as a journalism and crime reporter, including the months he spent interviewing survivors of the Delta 191 Crash (131 people died and 29 people survived) and the quote from one of the survivors that still sticks with Michael today
  • The first two books that Michael wrote, which he considered part of the learning process before crafting his third novel, which was the one he knew was good enough and was sent off to be published (and which ended up winning the Edgar Award for best first novel
  • The advice from Michael's agent and editor to keep his head down and write his next novel, which allowed him to have his second novel already turned in by the time the first novel (The Black Echo) came out
  • How Michael waited until several novels had been published before quitting his day job
  • Michael's thoughts on the 150 newspapers that ran stories on then president Bill Clinton walking out of a bookstore carrying his novel The Concrete Blonde
  • Having an iconic actor like Clint Eastwood involved in the creation of the movie Blood Work, based on one of Michael's novels
  • The "fourth wall" mention in The Crossing of the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer
  • Reflections on being one of the guest authors (along with Stephen J. Cannell, James Patterson, and Dennis Lehane) who makes semi-regular appearances on the ABC television series Castle as one of Richard Castle's poker buddies
  • The mosaic by which Michael's most popular character, Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is, in many ways, similar to the complex and multi-compositional paintings by the famous painter of the same name
  • Michael's approach towards writing every single day, particularly when he is going through the process of a first draft
  • The casting of Titus Welliver in the lead role as Harry Bosch in the Bosch series, Michael's role in suggesting him, and the manner by which Welliver may not "look" like the outer Harry Bosch Connelly has written about, but how he definitely looks like the "inner" Harry Bosch and how he very effectively displays the angst and internal turmoil that makes Bosch who he is
  • Collaborative writing and Michael's reflections on having done that in the past (both in text writing as well as in working on the Bosch series)
  • Where Michael writes most often and the answer to the question of whether he prefers a typewriter or a computer when writing a novel
  • How Michael knows the beginning and has a really good sense of the end when he sits down to write the first draft of a novel, and the intriguing discovery process that the writing becomes for him
  • The fact that Michael is a major re-writer, who usually writes three drafts of a novel
  • How he knows whether a novel will be a "Haller" or a "Bosch" novel
  • The aural inspirational process that Michael uses to write.
  • How Michael has aged Harry in real time, leading to natural progressions, such as his recent retirement
  • The reason why Harry Bosch continues to remain alone and single, despite many highs and lows of relationships over the years

Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre then talks about Michael's mention of one of his sources of inspiration by connecting with lawyers and police officers. He reflects on how a writer who is open to connecting with and listening to professionals not only has the resources to create better writing, but also brings a sense of community to the overall writing and overall proces

Link to Michael Connelly's books on Kobo

Michael Connelly's Website

Direct download: KWL_EP048_MichaelConnelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37am PDT