My Writing Life: Kristie Cook
“I believe that focusing on building readership is the most important thing you can do for the first several years. Don’t worry about profits – they come when you have a loyal fan base.”
In 2009, when Kristie Cook was getting ready to publish the first installment of her highly successful series Soul Savers, she was told that no one wanted to read books about protagonists ages 18 to 25. Fortunately for readers of the now booming new adult genre, she published it anyway, then published three sequels and a Soul Savers novella. The Space Between, the first installment of her new Book of Phoenix series, came out in April. She talks to us about building the success of a series, and persevering through the challenges all writers face.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
The same advice I give others – don’t give up. If writing is truly your passion, you can’t NOT write. So don’t let others discourage you and don’t discourage yourself. Avoid comparing yourself to others because everyone’s journey is different. If this is truly what you want to do, keep writing. Keep going. Don’t ever give up because if you do, you’ll be giving up a piece of yourself.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
I believe writers can block themselves. For me, I usually get blocked when I, the author
, try to force the characters to do or say something that’s not natural for them or the story. I *think* it’s right, but then I get stuck on what happens next (even when I have an outline) because the characters won’t move forward until that last scene is fixed. So I have to take a step back and let the characters tell me what really happens in that scene, and then they’re able to move onto the next one. So putting too much “author” into the story blocks the flow.
I think we also block ourselves when we feel unnecessary fear – fear that we’re not talented enough to pull off what we’re trying to do or that we can’t meet a deadline or something of the like. We create this huge monster in our minds that shuts us down. That’s when we have to put our butts in the chair and WRITE. Before long, we’ve forgotten that fear and the words are flowing faster than our fingers can keep up with.
What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I read mostly contemporary fantasy, light sci-fi and dystopian, all with a nice dose of romance. Reading itself is a guilty pleasure for me. It’s a break from reality – an escape from the challenges of life. I use my brain plenty throughout the day so when I sit down with a book, I don’t want to have to think too hard. My favorite books have stories and characters that whisk me away on an adventure.
What made you decide to self-publish?
My Soul Savers Series begins with the main character starting college and I was tol
d there’s no market for a protagonist at that age. “Nobody wants to read about characters who are 18-25 years old,” agents and publishers told me in 2009. Well, I did and I didn’t think I was alone. Add to that the volatile state of the publishing industry with the addition of ebooks and the falling of brick-and-mortar stores, and I saw the opportunity. So my business partner and I started a publishing company and took the risk ourselves. It paid off and now New Adult is the hot genre.
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?
I believe that focusing on building readership is the most important thing you can do for the first several years. Don’t worry about profits – they come when you have a loyal fan base. So don’t be afraid to offer your first book at a bargain price or even free. If readers like your stories and writing style, they’ll buy your other books. Of course, this assumes you have more than one book, which is really the biggest factor. The more titles you have, the more success you’ll achieve. So more than anything, you must WRITE.