KM Hodge’s story caught my eye on one of the Facebook writers groups I belong to. After self-publishing and working hard – her book was picked up by a publisher for a 2nd edition release. This woman is doing it right in my book. Here’s her story.
Jennifer Bowen: I’m intrigued that you started writing this first book 18 years ago, stopped, and came back to it. Can you tell us about that process?
KM Hodge: Yes, I have always been writing in some way, shape or form. It was a big thing for me as a young adult to try and tackle a novel. My downfall was that my inner editor kept slowing me down by constantly rewriting the same paragraph over and over again. I would pick up the book here and there whenever the inspiration struck, but my sessions always started with editing what I had already written. In the end I would only add a few paragraphs here and there–3 steps forward, two steps back. It wasn’t until last fall when I thought that it had been accidentally deleted from the thumb drive, that I got serious about it again. NanoWriMo was the accountability that I needed to push passed the inner editor and really write the novel. I made an amazing friend with a local author, Cassidy Cayman, who helped keep me accountable. She also was my indie author mentor. She helped talk me through self-publishing. I really couldn’t have done it without her help.
JB: Tell us about your writing process today. How often and when do you write? Are you in a writers group?
KMH: I have a very hard core writing schedule and process these days. My youngest is in Mothers-Day-Out two days a week, 9-1, which gives me approximately 7 hours a week of dedicated work time. I also try and slip in 5-10 hours of writing time throughout the week while the children are asleep. I have even been known to work on my projects on my phone. I have sacrificed down time and a personal life for that matter, in order to get my business up and off the ground. I say sacrifice but it has been totally worth it and I have no regrets. I am doing a job that I love and have made some seriously amazing connections with people in the business.
JB: When did you first self-publish your book and what did you do to prepare for the release?
KMH: My currently titled first novel, Seasons, was self-published March 21st, 2015. I prepared for its release by getting it edited and having a professional cover done. I worked with Tamara Dever with TLC Graphics, a local graphic designer. I found a editor that was trying to build up her portfolio and did some editing for free. I also had some amazing beta readers who did content and proofing for me as well. While I did the free route for the first book, I had already decided to hire a editor for the second and third, because having a professionally edited manuscript is pivotal to being successful in this business.
Before my release I worked to build up my author platform and try to find the right brand for my work. After lots of trial and error I have established a firm platform and brand that I am proud of. My advice for new authors is to start on their platform well in advance of their release. DO NOT wait until your book is going to be out in a week before starting a twitter and FB account. My brand tag is: The Land of Hodge: Where suspenseful tales for women come to life. I am currently putting together a firm style guide for my brand through Canva.com. The idea is that all of my promo graphics and banners will have the same look and feel. I want readers to look at them and instantly think of K.M. Hodge.
JB: What did you do to market the book?
KMH: I enrolled the book in KU. I know there is a lot of controversy in this but I have had months where I made the most money through my borrows (Even after the switch in payout). Through KU I was able to hold two very successful free days campaigns that resulted in several thousand downloads. Since I am writing a series I treat my first book in the series like a marketing investment. Everything I pour into the first book is all for marketing my name and my series. I have just finished up my third round of KU. This round I did a Kindle Countdown Deal that was very successful. Here is what I learned about marketing my first book:
1. Invest in paying for promotions in E-Reader News Today! You get the biggest bag for your buck. I more than tripled my profits when I paid for promotions through them.
2. Free Promo groups on FB are a total time waste and have very little return on investment. I found it helped to post some promos on the Kindle Unlimited groups to give borrows a kickstart at the beginning of each month.
3. Get into twitter ladder and reciprocal retweet groups to help spread important news like sales days.
4. KEYWORDS: study your amazon keywords and experiment with them. One word could make a very marked difference in your sales or borrows!
5. Make friends with other writers in and outside of your genre.
JB: What was the process like of finding the small press Evolved Publishing to publish a second edition of your first book? Talk to us about working with their editor and the process of the new title/cover art.
KMH: One of Evolved Publishing’s authors is a dear friend of mine. She suggested Evolved when I told her that I was thinking of signing with a small press in order to get high quality editing as well as to get it into paper and audio, which I couldn’t do independently because of financial constraints. I submitted samples of the first and second book in my series and they liked what they saw. They are a perfect fit for me in where I am in my writing career. I am very excited about having my manuscript professionally edited. My novel, Seasons, is currently being edited for content by one of their amazing new editors. I will also be getting a new cover from the insanely talented Mallory Rock, who I have been fangirl following for over a year now. If you haven’t seen her stuff, you must! I should hopefully have a cover to reveal before the new year!
JB: Has the publisher given you a sense of what they can provide in terms of marketing your book?
KMH: Evolved has a wonderful and talented street team and does lots of joint promotions with their authors through popular marketing venues like EReader News Today and BookBub.
JB: Are you also going to do some marketing on your own?
KMH: Yes! I plan on continuing to hustle my books. I understand that it is a group effort to get a book out there in front of readers. It is never just the sole responsibility of the author or the publishing company alone. I tell everyone I meet that I am a writer. I have made sales at parent teacher nights and while shopping at garage sales. If you want it enough and work hard enough you can make this business work for you. Some people don’t have to hustle. I have to hustle.
JB: This book is in a series. Tell us about the other books and where they are at developmentally wise.
KMH: Yes, it is a three part series with a possible novella in the works. The first two books are written and the third is about halfway written. The first book is about two FBI agents who stumble across a crime ring and how they have to fight to bring them to justice and stay alive. The second book opens 17 years after the first (2025). People involved in the crimes 17 years prior begin to show up dead. One man knows the truth and decides to bring it to light by writing a true crime novel about the group, chaos and drama ensue. Because it takes place in the future there is a touch of speculative in the second and third book. The third book in the series picks up right where we left off in the second. It is centered around the themes of revenge and resolution. I cant wait to share them with my readers!
JB: Any advice to authors who are looking to self-publish and/or find a small press?
KMH: First – KEEP WRITING. Never stop feeding the beast inside of you, who threatens to eat you whole if you stop. Most authors don’t make a return on their investment until the third, fourth or fifth book. So the best thing you can do for your business is to keep pumping out awesome stories that are professionally polished. Second – Put out your best possible work. I of all people understand that the cost of professional covers and editors can add up. Do everything in your power to get your work to look its absolute BEST. You are completing with so many authors who are putting out polished work so you have to be the cream that rises to the top.
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KMHodgeAuthor
Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/kmhodgeauthor?lang=en
Publisher author page: http://evolvedpub.com/team-member/author/k-m-hodge/
Amazon Author Page with Bio and link to mailing list: http://www.amazon.com/K.M.-Hodge/e/B00V1P18HW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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