"I’ll probably die at my keyboard." ~Kathi Oram Peterson
I think all authors need a needlepoint of this somewhere in their houses. Because isn't it true? Kathi can't imagine herself doing anything else. It's in her blood. Of course, that's just the beginning. Kathi also believes in beta readers and making the story the absolute best it can be. In that end, that is what sells books.
Reader her full Author Interview below!
1. List the titles of your published books (include publisher and year published) plus your author website/Facebook page links.
The Forgotten Warrior (2009)
An Angel on Main Street (2009)
The Stone Traveler (2010)
River Whispers (2011)
Cold Justice (2012)
Star Struck (2016)
Breach of Trust (2017)
All of these books were published by Covenant Communications.
Under a New York Skyline (2017) is an anthology in which I have a novella and was published by Teenacity Books.
In May, I re-released The Forgotten Warrior under a different title: Reluctant Warrior along with the much-awaited sequel, Stripling Warrior. I’m epublishing these books on my own.
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from?
A long, long time ago. The first book I wrote was never published. I’d just had my first child and had a bad case of the baby blues. I’d read all the books I owned and my mother suggested maybe I should write one. That’s where it all started. Over many years, I worked on my craft, raised three children and even went back to college to earn my BA in English. Upon graduation, I landed a job at a curriculum publisher writing and editing concept and biography picture books for children. When that job finished, I decided to stay home and write novels, which was my passion. In 2007, I sold The Forgotten Warrior (it took two years for the book to come out) and the rest is history.
I can’t remember where the idea came from for that first book. I wrote at least five books before I sold one, but with each story I learned and became better. When I finally sold, I realized what I’d been doing wrong, went back, and rewrote four of the stories and sold them. So, time spent learning my craft wasn’t wasted.
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
That first book, I wrote by hand and didn’t know what I was doing. Then my husband bought me an electric typewriter (ancient, I know) and I proceeded to type the story (went through several bottles of white-out). When I finished, I called a published author I had heard about. I remember the conversation very well. I asked him how I should go about getting my novel published. He asked me if I’d written any published articles. I told him no. I was only interested in writing novels. I will never forget what he said. “What makes you think you can write a book?” Needless to say, I was crushed. I cried and felt like all my dreams were for naught. But the next day, I awakened determined. I found a writing class at the local university and signed up. Like I stated above, it took me years to hone my craft. Meanwhile, I read everything I could find about writing, took more classes, joined a writers group, and kept on writing my stories.
The most important things to do are to keep learning and appreciate good critiques.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
After sending a manuscript to a publisher, I started writing the next book. Always keep writing.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was that experience?
Editing is just a way of life for a writer. I write and then edit and then write and then edit. Once I’ve gone over my story several times, I send it to my publisher. And if the novel sells, guess what? Yup, I edit again. I usually see the book two more times: 1) edits from my editor and 2) copy edits.
The first time I received edits from my editor I couldn’t believe how much I had to rewrite. But with each book, her edits have become fewer. Maybe I’m learning.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
Actually, I believe with each re-write the story gets better. Before I send a book to my publisher I will give it to beta readers. A writer needs to have beta readers he/she trusts who will give honest feedback. I will always listen to them, but I may not do everything they suggest. One time a beta reader wanted me to change the opening of my book. I tried and tried to do what that person suggested, but in the end, it just didn’t feel right. So, I left the opening like I wanted it. The book sold and became the number one pick during March in Seagull Book. So, listen to your inner-editor as well.
I actually enjoy editing. Once the story is written that’s when the fun really begins. Like I mentioned before, I usually edit a story several times filling in holes, coloring scenes, building up characters, and shoring up plot. It’s all part of the process. That’s before my editor sees it. She is always spot on with her edits, and I’m very grateful.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha/Beta Readers)? What do you get out of that?
I have a few people whom I trust, and I will always send them a copy of my books to proof-read for me.
I highly value their opinions, so I get a great deal out of it. One person is great with motivation, another is a stickler for punctuation and grammar, another likes a strong plot.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
My publisher has had different in-house designers create my covers. They most always do a great job. On the two novels I am publishing myself, I hired a friend to do the covers for me.
For my first seven novels, my publisher did them and I had no input. But with Star Struck and Breach of Trust the designer sent me four mockups to choose from. Those two book covers have been my favorites. I just sold another novel to my publisher which will come out next year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get the same designer.
It is vital. The cover is the first thing a perspective buyer sees. It’s what draws them to the book. After that, it’s the story inside.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
I plan to keep writing for my publisher and also dabble a little with self-publishing. A writer who does both is called a hybrid writer.
I like my publisher. I like that they do all the marketing, the cover, the editing. There’s a lot to be said for that. I’m not sure about self-publishing. I’ll see where it takes me. But I’d like to do both traditional publishing and self-publishing.
I’ll have to see on the self-publishing. The verdict is still out.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
I’m not sure how to answer this since I’m trying something new. My first published book, , was a Y/A Book of Mormon time travel. Sydney Morgan, a sixteen-year-old girl with a black belt in karate, was given a stone that sent her back to Helaman and the stripling warriors. It was a blast to write and I didn’t have to worry about marketing. My publisher did all the leg work. I’m very fortunate to already have a following. Many of my fans have been asking for the sequel. For years, my publisher tried and tried to publish it, but there were so many hurdles and obstacles that they finally gave me the rights back on that novel. They also returned the non-exclusive rights to me on the first book, so I retitled The Forgotten Warrior with Reluctant Warrior and will offer both it and the sequel, Stripling Warrior, to my readers. I understand it helps to offer two books. I’m hopeful they will do well because I am also planning to re-release The Stone Traveler (I’m still looking for a new title for that book) and I’ll follow up with another novel titled Chasing the Star in the fall. Chasing the Star in the fall. is another time-travel which takes place during Christmas. It’s going to be a busy year. I’m hopeful the books will do well. I plan to market the books through social media and my newsletter.
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
My first book was released in 2009 and I still receive emails from readers, so I think it did fairly well. I’m hopeful the re-release along with the sequel will do well also.
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
My first book came out January of 2009, right after the market tanked. But still for a first novel and despite the bad economy it did well enough for my publisher to buy more books from me, so I must have done something right.
Writing the best story I possibly can and being willing to adapt. When my publisher didn’t want more time travel books, I switched to romantic suspense. A writer can do blog tours, buy newspaper space, have giveaways and contests, but what really sells a book is a well-written story.
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
On a print book through a traditional publisher the author will earn only 6 to maybe 15% on each book sold. For ebooks, it’s more like 20 to 40%.
If you epublish on your own, an author can make 70% on each book sold. HOWEVER, the author has to do ALL the work or hire it done. The book needs to look professional. That means: editing, copy-editing, typesetting, covers, and promotion (make sure you hire people who know what they are doing). The cost of all this comes out of your bottom line. So, unless a writer knows how to market, he/she may be in the red for a while.
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How did you decide how to price them?
My publisher sets the prices on my traditionally published books. That goes for print and ebooks. I have no say.
However, on the books I will publish, I will set the price.
This is still something I’m working on. My self-published books go on sale the last of April or first of May. My main goal is to get the books to my loyal fans who have been waiting for the sequel, so I’m not going to charge an awfully lot. I’ll probably offer both books at a low price, a two for one deal. Then I’ll have to wait and see how it goes for the time-travel novels that will follow.
15. What made you decide to write more books?
Writing is part of who I am. Sometimes when I receive a bad review or harsh critiques and I think I’m going to give it all up, I’ll walk away for a spell. But after a week or so, I’m back at it. I can’t imagine not working on a story.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
I believe I’ve already answered this above.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
Even when I was writing the little picture books, I didn’t consider myself a writer until I sold my first full-length novel. But since then, I’ve learned I’ve always been a writer. For me, a writer is someone who has to write.
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
I’m a morning writer. I usually spend the afternoon editing or taking care of other business, like answering interview questions. 😊
Writing is in my blood. It’s who I am. For me, life would be boring without writing. I love to do research, work on story ideas, and create interesting characters. I’ll probably die at my keyboard.
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
All the questions I’ve already answered for you. And also, where do I get my ideas. Ideas are everywhere. All you have to do is listen, read, and wait for a concept to strike you.
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
If being a writer is truly what you want to do, then go for it. Work hard. Listen to critiques. And always keep learning. It’s like being a doctor. A good doctor has to stay on top of the latest procedures. A writer needs to stay fresh and always keep up on trends.