As a new columnist for Curiosity Quills Press, I’m here to talk to you once a week about writing, publishing, self publishing, and everything else that might fall into the orbit of what it means for us to be a writer.
But who the heck am I to be giving advice?
After all, there are yahoos all over the internet giving advice who don’t actually have any experience or credentials. I might be one of them.
Why should you be listening to me about anything? So I figured I’d spend this first post today introducing myself and establishing why I know my stuff.
Hi, I’m Kait Nolan.
I am, first and foremost, a writer, author of several paranormal romance novellas, and a YA novel (Red) that was a DABWAHA finalist that made it through the first round of competition against traditionally published veterans. I’m also a college instructor and researcher (those would be two separate jobs), and an accidental social media ninja. I was self publishing before it was the cool thing to do. Those last two things are tied to the rest, so I guess I’ll just tell you my story.
When I was a wee nerdling, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was just a fact. Never a question. And the only way to do that, of course, was via traditional publishing. This is not what my parents considered a practical means of supporting oneself, so I went on and got my Masters degree and a Real Job that really doesn’t suit me at all because, obviously, hello, I’m supposed to be a WRITER. The year I graduated grad school, I decided to take writing Very Seriously and treat it as a second job and do everything I could to improve my craft so that I actually stood a chance at getting picked up by New York. I stumbled on the perfect crit partner and I started a blog. That was 2006.
Then came social media. In particular Twitter. I didn’t get it at first, but once somebody finally explained to me that it was like one giant instant messenger conversation with a bunch of people and pointed me to an app to manage my stream (Seriously, get Tweetdeck. You’ll thank me.) it clicked. Holy crap! I can find and talk to writers AROUND THE WORLD? SIGN ME UP. And this socially starved, introverted writer (yes, really, real life people exhaust me) DOVE IN.
This was right about the time that self publishing became viable. It wasn’t the huge thing that it is now. This was before Amanda Hocking, just after Joe Konrath departed from traditional publishing. I got the bright idea to self publish some short novellas to build an audience for the series I wanted to pitch to New York. I’d been hearing the term “platform” kicked round for a while, and I was starting to get a clue how to build one.
So I published two novellas in my Mirus series (Forsaken by Shadow, Devil’s Eye), followed by a free short story (Blindsight). I got out there and met more writers. I even, joy of joys, got to meet actual readers of my work (which is unparalleled, one of the coolest things EVAR). I stumbled across Kristen Lamb, social media guru for writers, whose book We Are Not Alone encapsulated everything I was doing already by instinct—but gave actual reasons for it. I built a fanbase. I got into the indie publishing movement. People started listening to me. Because I had solid, well-edited, well-formatted books with great covers (hired a pro for that) that were SELLING.
And then a crazy thing happened. Kristen made a post about indie publishing. I wrote a tome of a comment. And I got an email from an agent asking if I had representation. After picking myself up off the floor (because, y’all, I never wrote a single query letter), I replied no, and we talked. She had totally internet stalked me after the comment she’d seen (where I was, thankfully, apparently somewhat erudite and sounded like I knew my stuff), checking out the extensive platform I’d built, the work I’d put out. And she wanted to represent me. It was, as they say, a match made in heaven. That agent, in case you were wondering, is the Magnificent Laurie McLean of Larsen Pomada.
And it wouldn’t have happened without social media.
So let’s recap: I work three jobs, do All The Things when it comes to self publishing (except cover design, which I believe 100% should be hired out unless you are a professional graphic designer), have a wide and well established platform, an effective social media presence (so effective, it helped me, the lone indie finalist in this year’s DABWAHA Tourney, make it through the first bracket against my traditionally published competition), got an agent without writing a single query letter, and I’ve sold over 13,000 books.
I’m here to tell you how I do it.