Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Author Interview- Kristina Schram

For Inside The Publishing World Wednesday, I am going to focus on a recent email interview I had with YA fantasy author, Kristina Schram. Her latest book, The Chronicles of Anaedor, published by Blip, an imprint of Variance publishing, is this week's giveaway, please check it out here.

Did you have any previous writing experience, like classes, workshops or conferences?

I took a creative writing course in college, but I didn't really like it all that much. These days I prefer taking workshops - less pressure, more fun. Since I believe that writers always have something new to learn, I try to attend a couple writing conferences every year. Conferences are a great way to meet other writers, both for making connections and for empathizing with each other about how hard this crazy process is. Find a local group if you can – they’re cheaper to join and your connections live in the area and therefore will be unable to escape when you want them to read your stuff and give good feedback.

After you were published, how did you publicize your new book?
My husband, a handy-to-have-around software engineer, helped create a website to market my book. Despite my annoying ability to find every error a software package might have, I managed to learn enough html coding to keep up the site on my own, though most people might prefer to set up a blog on Blogger or WordPress (they’re a lot easier to maintain, and pretty, too).

I’m on Facebook and Twitter and keep in contact with any YA sites I can find, like TeensReadToo and YA BookReads. I made a YouTube video starring yours truly reading the first chapter of my book, all the while hoping I didn’t sound too much like the adults on Charlie Brown. More recently, I put together a couple of book trailers using iMovie (you can find them on my website).  Finally, after attending a workshop on creating author's platforms (an author's platform is like your resume, intended to show agents and publishers that you can do more than just write), I put together my own platform. It’s on my website if you’re interested in doing one yourself, though you might want to read the blog that goes along with it for more pointers on the process ( my platform was actually kind of fun to do and helped me realize I had more to offer than I’d thought. I now realize that if an author reading isn’t going well, I can pull out my tomahawk and give throwing demonstrations.

Any advice to newly published authors from your publicity experience?

Unless you have a legion of minions working for you, be sure to only take on one project at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in this process so you’ll want to break tasks up into manageable pieces. For example, today I’ll create a Facebook fan page. Tomorrow I’ll organize it. The next day I’ll upload some photos. Don’t try or expect to get it all done quickly. It might feel like a race, but it isn’t. Anything you can start before you get published, however, might help alleviate some of the pressure to do so much at once (like Dorine is doing here at The Write Path). Also, don’t reject an idea just because it doesn’t seem to fit who you are. Originally I wanted nothing to do with Facebook. The site seemed bland and dull to me and I’d about had it with keeping up with so many different sites. But, after some kicking and fussing, I did it anyway. As it turns out, Facebook is a great way to reach a lot of people quickly. You can easily post photos, blogs, and videos, and interact with your fans, which is pretty cool. Now I like it a lot (especially since you can set it up so that your fan site posts automatically get sent to Twitter – now that’s killing 2 birds with one stone!). So basically the moral of my story is that when it comes to publicizing yourself, take it slow and keep an open mind.

What advice would you give yet to be published children's authors?

I’ve often heard that children’s literature is probably the most difficult genre to get published in. If you’re having trouble finding an agent, I would suggest joining a writers group that focuses on the children’s genre and attending as many conferences as you can afford. One example of such a group would be the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (follow Dorine’s example and sign up today!). You can meet agents and other writers, attend lots of helpful workshops, and learn about the latest trends in the children/YA field. Another option is to look into publishing with a small press. Oftentimes you don’t need an agent to do this. Small publishing houses are more likely to discover your diamond in the rough than the bigger houses that are inundated with books.

How about some details on book 2? I personally can't wait to read it.

I’m so glad you liked The Prophecies! Book Two, tentatively titled, The Return to Anaedor, is completed, but needs editing. I actually have all four books in the series written, but again, they need work. Of course, what book doesn’t need work? In Book Two, despite Lavida’s fear of the loathsome Malvado and her unwillingness to practice magic, she heads into Anaedor on a mission to find something that was once thought lost forever. Joining her on her dangerous journey are her friends Ellie, Eddie and Ian. You’ll meet the old crowd from Anaedor and a few new characters, as well. While in Anaedor, Lavida is confronted by rebel Anaedorians, challenged to a magical duel, swept away by a flood, and forced to ride Terradors, the fearsome white dragons of Anaedor. I hope it’s as fun to read as it was to write!

Anything I missed that you'd like readers to know about this whole author process?

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that we all hold expectations. An expectation is a belief that something will happen. The problem is that we may not be all that aware that we hold certain expectations. That being so, I want you to take a moment and think about what your expectations are when it comes to writing, publishing and becoming an author. Okay, what did you come up with? Were you surprised? Do you feel like your expectations are realistic? Oftentimes, people go into writing with grandiose expectations. It’s good to dream big, but you have to temper those dreams with doses of reality. Most of us aren’t going to become the next J.K. Rowling. You can dream about it happening (why not?), but don’t expect it. That way, if it happens, great - you’re a grand success and you’ll make lots of money. But if it doesn’t happen, you’re less likely to end up feeling frustrated, depressed, angry at the world, and/or want to give up. What you have to realize is that even though you might not be famous, you can still make a contribution with your writing. You might find a small niche of fans who love what you do. You might get involved with your community and teach others how to write. I’ve taught several writing workshops to students at local schools and it’s been one of my favorite activities as an author. Don’t get me wrong, I would really like to be a success. Let’s face it, it’s hard to have a career as an author if no one will publish your book or you can’t get people to buy it. But I’ve had to learn to lower my expectations for every step along the way so that I could get back to loving what I do – writing books. Otherwise I’d be a gibbering mess of anxieties and woe is me’s. And that’s just not pretty. In sum, dream big and expect little, so you can keep on loving what you do…creating wondrous worlds full of mischief, mystery and magic!

Thank you so much Kristina! I hope this helps out some aspiring writers. To check out her website click here.

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