The craft and business of writing and self publishing

Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 042 – Kelley Armstrong

New York Times Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong is interviewed by Kobo’s Nora Parker about the hot serialized summer release CITY OF THE LOST.

Nora and Kelley discuss:

  • How Kelley has always enjoyed the serialized 20150909-kb2_2778format and how the project came about at the request of her Canadian publisher
  • The changes required to the finished manuscript in order to optimize it for the serialized format (including the fun “previously on” snippets that Kelley has always enjoyed that are like the one minute clips you get on a serialized television program)
  • How Kelley credits her agent for the underlying idea behind CITY OF THE LOST with the comment “enough people in the US go missing each year to populate a small town”
  • Kelley’s preference for setting and how if she CAN logistically set something in Canada, she will (ie, in the setting of this novel in the Yukon rather than Alaska)
  • Building a character like Casey Duncan who is both sympathetic and complex by using such an intriguing opening line: “I killed a man.”
  • The emphasis on the different forms of female relationships in this novel rather than just a simple BFF type friendship and how that made the book more interesting to read
  • How CITY OF THE LOST began as a NaNoWriMo project about 3 years earlier and the various re-writes Kelley engaged in to get the novel to its final state
  • How Kelley LOVES writing and has become accustomed to write every single day, even when she is on vacation
  • The “Secrets” YA project and Kelley’s continued experimentation with form, including novels, short stories, novellas, graphic novels
  • The manner by which characters and their background come to Kelley as she is building characters and their back-story
  • How writing characters who are not similar to Kelley has become easier over the years (and, for example, how Elena, the hero of her first novel, was similar to Kelley in many ways) and the original fears of whether or not she could get the POV correct
  • How Kelley uses the writing of short stories between novels as a pallet cleanser for getting into a different character’s perspective
  • Her love of research and how it can be something Kelley gets willingly lost within

The interview is followed by a commentary discussion between Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre and Director of Merchandising, Nathan Maharaj regarding the huge success of CITY OF THE LOST. Nathan breaks down the various elements that made it such a hit and the two talk about:

  • What Nathan does at Kobo and the responsibility of the global merchandising team
  • How Penguin Random House Canada approached Kobo with the idea for promoting a new serialized Kelley Armstrong novel and why the pitch was appealing to the merchandising team (Six parts published in six consecutive weeks from a key name Canadian author)
  • The permanent low price of Volume 1 at 99 cents as “on ramp pricing” and a way to get as many people into the series funnel and the remainder of the volumes (5 through 6 at $2.99)
  • How the cover design’s strong visual coherence established an extremely strong branding
  • The importance of metadata in setting up a series, including the “series drawer” on Kobo’s item page and the automated guidance that allows Kobo to help readers move along to the next book in a series
  • How, prior to the launch of this series, the entire series was produced to completion and ready to go and set up for pre-order, so once it was launched all of the calls to action to keep readers going through the series were all in place
  • Stephen King’s unfinished serialized “The Plant” which he released in 2000 via six blog installments
  • How, if you consider CITY OF THE LOST as a single volume in terms of sales, it sits among one of the most bestselling titles on Kobo in Canada this year
  • How the branding on this project down-played the “brand” of Kelley Armstrong and played up the branding of the series itself, so as not to confuse Kelley’s existing fans and to entice completely new and unique fans

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Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. She’s the author of the NYT-bestselling “Women of the Otherworld” paranormal suspense series and “Darkest Powers” young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the hugely popular “City of the Lost” series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets. You can find out more about her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically download episodes as they go live – even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life blog – subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform (such as iTunes) using the RSS feed link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast.

6 Responses to “Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 042 – Kelley Armstrong”

  1. Fatima

    Reblogged this on Stacks and Ranges and commented:
    I had the pleasure of meeting Kelley Armstrong (Bitten). She’s funny, honest, and write enjoyable yet complex reads. It’s also perfect for National Novel Writing Prep.

    Enjoy.

    Reply
  2. Diane Ziomek (@DianeZiomek)

    I had the pleasure of meeting Kelley a couple years ago; she was the Keynote Speaker for our Library System’s Conference. I was part of a panel on talking about self-publishing, so her and I were able to have a quick visit after her talk was finished. I haven’t read more than the covers of some of her books, but City of the Lost looks like something I could get into.

    Reply

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