Monday, November 24, 2014

Here's Katie!

Dear Readers,

I'm departing from my usual format to introduce you to a friend of mine, Katie Mettner. She's a  successful romance writer with many titles under her "author's belt." We are fortunate to be part of a group of writers in our area who support each other’s writing and socialize when we manage to find the time.
Hope you enjoy our question and answer session and also leave with a few tips on promoting.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,


Katie Mettner grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and moved to the Northwoods where she now resides with her husband and three children. Katie writes inspirational romance and is the author of The Sugar Series, The Northern Lights Series and the Snowberry Holiday Series. Her stories are a reflection of her love for family, intricately woven with life experience. When the gales of November blow early you can find her at the computer with a cup of joe working on her next adventure.

The Sugar Series

Marla: When did you start writing and why?

Katie: I started writing early in life, as I think anyone who likes to write does. I stopped writing when I graduated from high school and life kicked in, but I never stopped thinking about writing. I had this one character in my head that wouldn't leave. I finally sat down in February 2011 and wrote Sugar's story. Sugar's Dance was the result of that and now there are three more in that series, Sugar's Song, Sugar's Night and Sugar's Faith.

Marla: How did you decide on a genre?

Katie: This question indicates that I actually knew what I was doing when I wrote Sugar's Dance! I had no idea really, I just knew I wanted some mystery and intrigue, and some romance. I found that I liked writing inspirational romance as much as the intrigue, so my books have moved in that direction, though there is always a little bit of intrigue as to why the character is the way they are. Sugar's Dance and Sugar's Song are much more romantic suspense than the rest of my books.

Marla: Have you always had your books as ebooks?

Katie: Yes, of course. I don't think that you can publish books in this day and age and not offer ebooks. There is always a call for paperbacks, but people have devices that offer them instant gratification and if you don't have your books available for them to one-click, you will lose sales all day long. When I released Sugar's Dance at least I knew about ebooks because we all had Kindles, so I really just wanted to have an ebook of the book and a paperback, so my friends and family could get it. As I continued to publish books, however, I have found that I love the ebook for ease of fixing errors and republishing it quickly.

Marla: You have a good following for your books. How did build it?

Katie: Slowly. LOL But seriously, it has taken me three years to get where I am, so patience is a virtue. I found it was important to network with other authors through social media, tweet other authors and their books, be a genuine person who isn't just out to sell a book, and be willing to help anyone out with guest spots, book promotion and even formatting their Ebooks. It requires a lot of time to build a good following, but the most important thing, I think, is to put out quality stories. Readers want to be entertained and expect that in a book they buy. I try to give them that and include in my stories a bit of a life lesson.

Marla: Do you have a favorite? Why?

Katie: If you had asked me this question a month ago I would have said Sugar's Dance. I mean, it was my first book and so many wonderful things have happened because of it. Now, a three years later my answer is Sugar's Faith, the final in the series. Though I'm still pretty fond of Sugar's Dance, Sugar's Faith led me places I never expected and allowed me to grow these characters in ways I never dreamed possible when I finished Sugar's Dance. I have 9 books written now and they all have parts of my heart that make them my 'favorite', but the Sugar Series will always remain in my heart as my defining moments as a writer, and as a person.

Marla: What are three marketing tactics you have used that you would recommend to newly published authors?

Katie: Oh this one is easy!

1. Give away as many books as you sell in the beginning. No, seriously. Don't cross your arms and roll your eyes, hear me out! I found this to be THE number one way to get my books out in the hands of readers as a new author. There are so many ways to do this and it doesn't cost you anything if you have a mobi copy from Smashwords or one you make yourself. You can give copies away in giveaways with blogger pages (search Facebook for bloggers who read your genre). You can give copies away when other authors in your genre do cover reveals or book releases. You can join groups on Facebook or tweet on Twitter that you are looking for reviewers who will give you an honest review for a free copy of the book. For the first year I gave away as many (or more probably) than I sold, but it has given me a fantastic reader base of bloggers and other authors who promote my work.  

2. Social Media. When I first started three years ago Twitter was a great marketing tool, and it still is, but it takes a long time to build this platform. The best tip I can give you for Twitter is decide you are going to put the time in and do it right or don't do it at all. I spent hours retweeting authors, talking with them via 140 characters, tweeting their book releases, and I still do! I offer guest spots on my blog, make sure everything I can gets shared on my Facebook Author page and Pinned on Pinterest. I have a core group of Twitter friends who tweet for me in return and have developed so many connections because of social media. Facebook has many book groups, blogger groups and the such that you can post your books on with your buy links. Some of these groups have over 3000 members, so it's a great way to get the book out to many with very little effort. If you don't use social media you will have a very hard time bringing any attention to your books.

3. Write more books. Not expecting that to be one of the answers? I learned this one recently myself as I've started putting out more books. The more books you put out the more choice your readers have, the more they will talk about your work and share with others. I really struggled when I was only putting out one book a year, but in 2014 I put out four and I have seen my sales take off. More people are sharing my work, more people are reading my work and that leads to more sales. I made this number three, but I think it's probably the most important aspect of marketing. Keeping new fresh stories out for the reader to pick up is the best way to market yourself. 

Marla: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

Katie: I grew up in Eau Claire Wisconsin, which is a very arts-and-entertainment-centered community. It's a lot like Duluth, Minnesota where my books take place. What I liked about Eau Claire was it was a big enough city to keep you active and engaged, but small enough that it felt friendly and welcoming, also much like Duluth. Of course Eau Claire is mentioned several times throughout my books, but the majority of my books take place in Northern Wisconsin/Minnesota simply because a lot of them are centered around Lake Superior. 

Marla: What do your fans mean to you?

Katie: My fans, or readers, mean everything to me because they are the reason I write. Being able to tell stories that impact people's lives, and change the way they look at life, is the most important thing for me. I would continue to write even if no one read it, but getting the feedback from the readers encourages, inspires and improves my writing.

Marla: Final question, what motivated you to become an indie author?

Katie: I really didn't intend to become an author, I was just a writer. When I finished Sugar's Dance I let a few people read it and they all told me I HAD to publish it. I really didn't know how to go about doing that, so I had to learn really quickly. Now, three years and nine stories later, I have learned more than I ever dreamed I'd know about publishing and being an indie author. I find it is great fun to talk with and engage my readers, something that is harder to do when you are traditionally published. I control every aspect of my books, which is also not something you are given when traditionally published. I was offered a traditional publishing contract through a small press, but turned it down simply because being able to say I was a traditionally published author didn't outweigh the benefits of being a self published author. Maybe someday that will change, but in that particular case it wasn't smart business. I think sometimes we find ourselves looking at writing as a business and less as what it should be, and that is a passion. I never want the need to be published overtake my need to write and be able to connect with the readers who reach out to me and tell me their stories of pain and triumph. 

Keep in Touch with Katie

The View From the Other Side

A Snowberry Holiday Series

The Northern Lights Series

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Golem of Hollywood

The Golem of Hollywood

When is a Kellerman Not a Kellerman?

As you can see, the cover of The Golem of Hollywood spreads the name Jonathan Kellerman across the front in a huge font. A reader contemplating purchasing the book barely notices Jesse Kellerman’s name, and, if he does, would logically expect the book to be mainly the prowess of Kellerman senior.
The book, a Los Angeles mystery, is based on the legend of the Golem of Prague, a Jewish mythical creature that  supposedly protected the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks. The remains of the Golem are now believed to lie dormant in the garret of a synagogue in Prague.
            When Detective Jacob Lev is assigned to a grisly murder in which the only evidence is an unidentified head with the word “justice” in Hebrew burnt into a nearby kitchen counter, he ends up traveling the US and Europe  in an attempt to solve the mystery.
            Lev’s story is intertwined throughout the book with a biblical parallel that begins with Cain and Abel.
For me, expecting a Jonathan Kellerman-type of suspense read since his name was the prominent one on the cover, this book was extremely disappointing. Jonathan Kellerman is one of my very favorite authors. His wife's suspense books, (Faye Kellerman) which always include large amounts of Jewish tradition and add it at length to the story line, are not books that I enjoy reading. If I have an interest in learning  more about a religion, I'll read a book on the subject. I won't look to a suspense book to educate me.
To me, this book read a lot more like a Faye Kellerman novel than either a Jonathan or a Jesse novel. I haven't been a big fan of Jesse's books either, so I was hoping this father-son combo would result in something fantastic. It didn't. Not unless the reader enjoys a crime story that constantly switches back and forth between the real world and a biblical fantasy.

Is there a lesson to be learned here for us Indie authors?
1)       Your loyal readers will be expecting more of the same. Don’t let them down.
2)        If you are going to make a switch in genre or theme, be sure to advertise the book in a way the reader understands what he is getting.
3)        Always remember – An established writer like Kellerman can take liberties on occasion and get away with it. You cannot!

Dear Readers,
I firmly believe there is a wealth of writing information to be learned from reading our favorite authors. Please don’t let this review keep you from reading Jonathan Kellerman’s books. His Alex Delaware series is an excellent example of how to fashion a successful series, one that followers will love and new readers be able to dip into at any point. Each book can easily be read as a stand-alone, something that is not easy to accomplish.
Take care and keep reading and writing,