#266 – Retelling Myths and Fairytales with Katee Roberts

Bestselling author Katee Robert joins us on the podcast to talk about her writing process and why she’s drawn to retellings of myths and fairytales. Katee tells us about the research that goes into her reimagined classics and how she keeps them fresh and original, and she talks to us about how her book going viral on TikTok has changed her marketing approach.  Learn more about this episode!

Bestselling author Katee Robert joins us on the podcast to talk about her writing process and why she’s drawn to retellings of myths and fairytales. Katee tells us about the research that goes into her reimagined classics and how she keeps them fresh and original, and she talks to us about how her book going viral on TikTok has changed her marketing approach. 

  • Katee tells us about her writing career, which spans over 60 books and multiple sub-genres, how she became a hybrid author, and she explains the benefits and pitfalls of both indie and trad publishing
  • She discusses her life-long love of myths and fairytales, why she believes readers and authors alike keep coming back to these classic stories, and what research she does before reimagining one into a romance novel
  • Katee explains the concept of “id lists”, which are “pleasure buttons we hit on as consumers”, and how she utilizes her own id list to inspire her writing and keep her stories fresh and original
  • She talks to us about her writing process and why momentum and fast drafts are key to her success
  • Katee discusses the author’s responsibility when it comes to using content warnings on books, which content warnings and tags she uses on her own website, and why she believes providing this information is important to readers
  • She tells us what it was like having her Wicked Villain series go viral on TikTok and how that has changed her marketing strategy, and she also tells us how she engages with readers on social media and Patreon

Useful Links

Katee’s Website
Follow Katee on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok
Katee’s Patreon
Neon Gods
Wicked Villains
Iron Widow
Rebekah Weatherspoon

Katee Robert is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Entertainment Weekly calls her writing “unspeakably hot.” Her books have sold over a million copies. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, children, a cat who thinks he’s a dog, and two Great Danes who think they’re lap dogs.

Episode Transcript

Transcript provided by Speechpad

Rachel: Hey, writers. You’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts, I’m Rachel, author engagement coordinator at “Kobo Writing Life.”

Joni: And I’m Joni, author engagement specialist at “Kobo Writing Life.”

Rachel: This week on the podcast, Laura and Joni had the pleasure of speaking to author, Katee Robert. What did you guys talk about?

Joni: So I’ve got Laura here on the intro because Katee Robert was her idea. You were really keen to interview her after reading her book, “Neon Gods”,” right?

Laura: Yeah. I’ve been dying to interview Katee for a while because I love “Neon Gods” so much. It’s a Hades and Persephone retelling.

Joni: And it was a really, really interesting conversation. Katee Robert has written a lot of books. She is also super active on TikTok and Patreon. We talked to her about retelling classic stories and keeping them fresh and original, the kind of research she has to do to tell those stories. It was really, really fun.

Laura: Yeah. We talked to her a lot about how to keep those classic stories kind of fresh and original and also how, like you said, TikTok has changed her marketing strategy because her book, “Wicked Villains” went viral in there recently.

Joni: It was a great interview and we’re excited to share it with you. Hey, Laura and I are here today with Katee Robert. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Katee: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited.

Joni: Could you start by introducing yourself a little bit for our listeners and tell us about your publishing background?

Katee: Yes. I am a best-selling author of dark romance, erotic romance. It kind of varies like depending on who you ask, but I write romance. I’ve been full-time since 2012. I have over 60 books, I think, at this point. I haven’t counted recently, but a lot of books. And yeah, I’ve spanned the sub-genres of romance. Now I’m kind of in like the dark erotic romance for the most part and just, I’m hybrid. I have one publisher currently and the rest of my stuff is indie at this point.

Joni: We did look this up and there was one source that said you had over 100 books, including novellas. Is that possible?

Katee: I think it was like 60 like… I haven’t written 40 books since the last time I checked, which was…it was between 50 and 60. So there’s no… I’m not at 100 yet unless they’re counting my Patreon check-ins in which case then, yes, but those are only like a chapter essentially. So I don’t count those as like full works.

Joni: Got you. But still pretty prolific either way.

Katee: Yes. Yes. I have a good system and naturally, my speed is high naturally, so it’s how I move best. I’m a quick writer for the most part.

Laura: So a lot of your work is centered around kind of the retellings. Like you have a lot of stuff with myths and you have your “Wicked Villain” series, of course. Have you always been drawn to that sort of thing?

Katee: Yes, definitely. I like so many people cut my teeth on like the Grimm’s fairytales. And when I was in my early 20s or around there, I took this history class where the teacher had written his master’s thesis thing on how comic books, like the way that they told comics through the years reflects like the age and the society that’s telling these stories. And so I did my like report for that class or whatever on how fairytales, like…because you have a much longer history with fairytales, how they have evolved and we retell, come back to these core stories again, and again, and again and tell them in different ways and each person who tells it brings their own personal stuff to it. And so it’s such a fascinating thing for me because like in romance, for example, you can’t, you know, toss a rock without hitting 45 “Beauty and the Beast” retellings. But they’re all different because the person telling them is, you know, using their own like “Id List,” I guess, essentially to create these stories.

And so, you know, I have my romance fairytale retellings and that at some point I’d like to do them horror, like more closer to the original tone that they were told in. And it’s just, there’s so many different themes that can be plumbed from those stories. I feel like it’s fun for me to go back again and again and be like, “Well, okay, I’ve told “Beauty and the Beast” this way. Like how can I tell it in a different way that still is the familiar story you know but is bringing something new from my perspective to it?” And that’s why I love them so much because it’s like you know the beats. Like the readers know the beats, they know the story, it’s inherently familiar, which allows you to get really creative with the other details and make it like wholly unique.

Joni: Could you tell us little bit more about Id Lists because this is something I wasn’t familiar with. I only looked up today. So I would love to learn a little bit more.

Katee: Jennifer Lynn Barnes had a RWA talk a few years ago, I think, about this subject and listening to it was like, “Oh, yes, like this makes sense to me.” And so her thing… And I think at one point, or she may still be writing a non-fiction book about it. Has not come out yet. I’m waiting very impatiently. But her whole thing was that if you look… There are certain like pleasure buttons that as readers we hit on or consumers like because it’s the same with all entertainment media. And if you look at, she took a bunch of examples of like bestselling books or series or whatever, pointed out how they hit on all these different pleasure buttons and then went on to say, “Well, you can distill that down further to like there are certain things that we all have that like are instant, like instant buy or instantly give you that pleasure button, like, you know, serotonin.

And when as a writer you are telling, like hitting on your list, your things like for mine, like kidnapping is a love language or like morality chain or enemies to lovers, or…like she divides it up into several different categories. And when you’re telling those stories and using those id list items in your stories, you will naturally find readers who have similar, get those pleasure buttons from the similar items, which is what creates super fans because then they trust you because they’re like, “Oh, I know in like a Katee Robert book, like Id Lists match up.” And so they’re more willing to take the jump with me when I try something new. And it’s more pleasurable writing experience for me because I’m writing stuff that like really makes me happy and it’s just, you know, I’m chasing joy constantly now.

Joni: That’s really cool. So this is kind of how you managed to keep those classic stories like fresh and original and in your voice?

Katee: Yeah. So she divides it up into character tropes, plot tropes, places, and then just like miscellaneous details. So like I know that I really love stories with like girl gangs. And so… Or as far as places go, like you see really luxurious bathrooms in like most of my books because I really love like a luxurious bathroom or greenhouses or… It’s sort of just like elements of the story that bring me joy and it’s fun to like put them into different combinations in the stories I tell.

Joni: This is almost like wish fulfillment for the author in a way.

Katee: Yeah. It’s interesting because a lot of it’s like learning and having this ongoing list has been really interesting for me because like I’ll like watch a movie and be like, “Oh, like, I didn’t realize that that was like an Id List item,” but I love that element of like, like in John Wick, for example, the whole code of like the Hitman with a code in that, like he doesn’t murder up anybody. It’s just only the people and the lifestyle because they’ve like agreed to potential consequences by living this lifestyle. Like that’s an Id List item for me because I love that, like which is heavily rose-tinted glasses, but like that code is what allows me to like really enjoy stories like that, for example.

Laura: I just finished “Neon Gods” last night so when you were talking, I was kind of like check, check, and check. So there’s definitely greenhouses and girl gang with her sisters and everything. So that’s kind of cool to see. For me when I saw you tweeting about “Neon Gods” and you said forced proximity, I was like, yes, because that’s one of mine as a reader, one of those tropes that I always go back to. That and there was only one bed, also a good one.

Katee: Yes. It’s also helpful like as a writer in that when you hit a point in your book where you’re like, “Man, this is boring or I’m like stuck or whatever,” you can be like, “Oh, I’ll just go down my Id List item and see if one of those would fit in this part of the book, which will make it more interesting for me, which makes it more interesting for the reader.” So it’s definitely a multi-pronged benefit.

Joni: What is your writing process like generally? You said you are a very fast writer.

Katee: I usually have a story kicking around for some amount of time in my head, but I don’t… And also I’ll know the characters. It’s important to me usually to find like stock photography of the characters because I’m very visual, but that’s kind of the extent of my plotting. Like I might make notes as I’m thinking about it, but then I just basically fast draft it. Like I start and I write all the way through to the end and I’ll leave myself like notes in brackets. Like if something changes, or shifts, or like, hey, go back and like look at this or, oh, I realized something, so go back and feed this through at the beginning, but I don’t actually go back and edit until I’m done with the entire book just because my strength is my momentum. And so if I lose that momentum, I’m like a shark, I just sink. And then I’m like, “I don’t know what happened to this book. I guess we’re never gonna finish it.” So it’s very important for me as being momentum-driven to just keep drafting and like sometimes I’ll even skip entire scenes and be like, “Here’s a couple of notes on the scene.” I always regret it when I do because I come back and I’m like, “No. I have to write it now.” But sometimes you just have to skip forward just to keep that momentum because you can finish it once it’s finished… Or you can fix it once it’s finished, but you can’t fix the blank pages, the saying goes.

Joni: Yeah. I think that’s exactly how I write or at least I used to write when I was, you know, university kind of thing is like, I’m the same. I can’t look at a blank page. It’s the worst. But…

Katee: No. And I have friends that like are very methodical and like to have things fully fleshed out and like they can’t move forward until they know the next step. And their stories tend to be so much more… Like I add probably 20,000 to 30,000 words in edits pretty much every time because I write really condense and so I have to go flesh it out when I edit because it’s not…it’s at its most distilled form on the first draft. Whereas my friends write these really long like they know all this stuff about the characters in the book and then I have to pare it back. So it’s just the other side of that coin.

Joni: And when it comes to like retellings like we’re talking about, how much creative license do you allow yourself? Do you just have the bare bones of the story and you do whatever you want?

Katee: Yeah. I don’t have any hard and fast rules because like the Greek myths are a little bit different than fairytale retellings because the fairytale beats are very similar to romance beats in and of themselves. And so it’s very natural to just follow those beats. Even if I change like the window dressing. With the myths, especially as the series continues, because the Greek myths with happily ever after are in short supply. So I’m gonna be playing fast and loose going forward. So it’s more of cherry-picking the details I want so that people who are familiar with the myths get kind of that payoff of like, “Oh, I see what you did there.” But the stories themselves are going to be a little bit more freeform and not as like faithful retellings.

Joni: And do you do a lot of research? And especially with Greek mythology, there’s so many different retellings already and versions.

Katee: I mean, I do research… Like it’s been an ongoing… Because I’ve been obsessed with Greek myths since like, you know, I went through that Greek myth stage in like junior high, I think, and ever since then, I touch on them again and again. So it’s more a brushing up on the details because it’s like, “Oh. I know this myth so well. I’ve, you know, read it 500 times.” So it’s more just brushing up on the details and figuring out which of those details I want to include and how I would like to do that in a way that fits like the world that I build.

Laura: And what was the inspiration behind “Neon Gods” specifically? Was it one that you’ve been wanting to write for a while and it’s just kind of been in the back of your head or how did that come about?

Katee: Yeah. So the Hades Persephone myth is one that’s fascinated me for a really long time because depending on which angle you look at it, it reads very differently. Like did Hades rape Persephone? Did Persephone run to him to get away from her crazy mom? Like where… Is it somewhere in the middle? So like I have actually touched on it before in previous works like one of my romantic suspense novels has a Hades Demeter cult in it. And so when I did the “Wicked Villains,” I had included Olympus because it’s based on a different version of different myths. And so it felt natural to be like, “Okay. Well, if Olympus exists in like my grand world that I’ve created, like obviously Hades and Persephone is a story I want to tell. It’s the first one I want to tell because it’s the love story. And this is just pure interpretation on my part, but the elements of it read really close to like how a lot of dark romance plays out. Like you have the sort of kidnapping element, you have like the dark hero who’s maybe grumpy, maybe icy, maybe like however you wanna play that and then the heroine who sort of finds her feet and finds her strength through this process of very untraditional romancing process. And so it kind of felt like going back to my roots in that because I write dark-ish romance and so, yeah, it just felt like a natural kind of kismet.

Joni: I actually wanted to ask you about the dark romance thing. I know that you talk a lot about advocating for content warnings on books about whatever there, but I know that that’s a bit of a conversation on Twitter in the author Twitter. How far do you think it is, a reader’s responsibility versus a writer’s responsibility to sort of protect your readers or protect yourself?

Katee: So I think, and I think this varies a little bit on genre, but personally speaking, I would like my readers to have the best experience possible. And because of the content that I touch on in a lot of my books, that includes giving them kind of a heads up, like just so you know, like a parent dies from cancer in this book or something like I think it’s the author’s responsibility to hit the big ones. Like the stuff that is like blatantly could be traumatic or like problematic or whatever, something that could be actually upsetting, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty content warnings, like I think it’s really helpful that a lot of reviewers are including like a more comprehensive list of stuff that I wouldn’t have thought to consider like blood. Like I didn’t, you know, I was like, “Well, it’s dark romance, of course, there’s blood.” But like it’s really awesome that reviewers are expanding that.

So I’ve started… And there’s been conversations on like if you write explicit like sex, should you include that in the content warnings? Should you include the types of sex? If it’s kinky, like how. And that doesn’t feel super. Like for me, personally, where I landed on it is that now in my website I have tropes tags and content warnings and so big nod to fanfiction from this because they do a really great job of tagging all the way through it. Like everything you could possibly think of, so you know going into the story, like what you’re gonna get. And so by using those tags, it allows me to kind of flag certain things like positive or potentially negative that like a reader might want to know about. And then the content warnings, like I said, I just hit the big stuff. I think, especially for dark romance just because of the potential content, but it goes the same for like romcoms. Like if a romcom includes like cancer, I would like to know ahead of time so I can prepare myself or make an educated decision on if I want to read that book because if it shows up like I’m not prepared for it, it might really upset me and make me like mad at the author, or traumatized, or upset, or like whatever. And so I think that they should be put in a place that if people don’t want them, they can just like skim past and not see, but I do think they should be available. Like indie, in particular, is really good about this overall, like comparatively, but traditional is getting better and I really appreciate that.

Joni: I’m really happy that this is something that’s happening because I’m finding myself doing more and more when I recommend a book. I will say, “Oh, FYI, there’s like…there’s a cancer story.” Because not everyone wants that. And the older we get, the more things you experienced that you really don’t wanna necessarily read about when you’re relaxing with a book. So, yeah.

Katee: Yeah. And I don’t wanna, like on the recommendation side, like I don’t wanna recommend a book that’s gonna upset people. And so I try to include at least like, again, like the big ones when I’m talking about books that I really enjoy just so people…because people, you know, they’re able to make their own decisions about what they wanna read, but I do want them to be educated decisions if at all possible.

Joni: And I’m curious to hear a little bit more about the indie versus trad because you still work in both or you still publish both ways, right? What was your impetus behind taking the indie road and how do you find that compared to trad?

Katee: So I was primarily trad, both big and small publishers up until like 2018 because the market shifted in like 2017, 2018 and it went like more romcom-y and like away from what I write and I just saw my income drop, and drop, and drop and I am not qualified to do literally anything else. So I was like, “Okay…” I was burnt out. I was like, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I can’t pay my bills. Like I guess I’m gonna go indie and I’m gonna go indie hard.” It ended up being such a blessing because there are…like to get from conception to like a book out in stores, there are so many people you have to go through and so many points of contact where it can go all sideways. Like, you know, you can have the best editor in the world who is advocating for your book and marketing doesn’t love it. Or editor and marketing are super excited but then the booksellers or the retailers don’t pick it up at the numbers that we’d like to and then it just crashes. Like there’s so many things that could go wrong that affects like the ability of you to continue telling stories in a traditional method. Whereas indie, like nobody tells me no. And so because I write so fast and because the percentage I’m being paid is higher because I’m doing it directly, it gives me a lot more freedom to fail and it doesn’t ruin anything because it’s like, “Okay. Well, that didn’t work. Let’s try something else.” Or, you know, “This series underperformed, so let’s just put new covers on it and fix the blurbs and see if that helps.” Or like, you know, you’re a lot more maneuverable and it also allows for stories that are not like “marketable” as far as traditional’s concerned because they want the same as a successful thing, but like slightly different.

There are publishers who do innovative stuff and it’s really awesome, but it’s not…they’re very risk adverse. Whereas in indie, you get all so many like marginalized authors of various marginalizations telling their stories the way they wanna tell them and it’s really cool. It’s really cool that that is a very easy-ish option because, you know, it’s not easy. It’s work. Everything’s work, but it’s an option now where it wasn’t, you know, 15 years ago. I have no idea what year. I don’t know, but yeah, it’s…like 15 years ago it was a lot less common and it was harder to and then like once Kindle and stuff opened things up. And so, but because I’m indie and because indie pays my bills, I can be more picky with my traditional stuff. And I actually had planned on self-publishing the dark Olympus series because I was like, “Oh, yeah. I’m just gonna do it myself. It’s gonna spin-off. It’s fine.” And I spoke to my now editor just casually and she’s like, “No, yeah, I want that.” And I was like, “Okay. Well, I write fast enough that I can afford to like have a trilogy with them that if it doesn’t perform it won’t be the end of the world for me. But it just kind of was this like great timing thing where Hades and Persephone is really hot right now. And even though the book is against overall traditional market, between like my platform and like TikTok picking it up and just a lot of like really awesome things have kind of like melded together to make this book a success. So it’s working, but I was prepared for it potentially not to work just because you can’t control much in traditional. Like there’s potentially like some awesome benefits of like distribution and like publishing support but it’s not guaranteed and I’ve definitely been burned in the past.

Laura: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit more about TikTok talk because “Wicked Villain” got a lot of TikTok support on BookTok. Has that kind of changed your marketing strategy now?

Katee: Having my books take off on TikTok feels a whole lot like being on a rollercoaster and being like, “I don’t know what’s happening. I guess we’re just going, like I have no control over this.” I’m on TikTok, but I…like probably 80% of what I do on there is just engaging as a reader, like talking about books I like, because I don’t…I don’t like the hard sell. It makes me uncomfortable and like TikTok also doesn’t like the hard sell, so it’s perfect, but I could disappear off TikTok tomorrow and it wouldn’t make any difference because it’s reader interaction. It’s very reader-based. It’s definitely opened doors for me for certain like suddenly people are like, wait, like I’m getting better placement in Barnes and Noble now with that series that’s indie than I ever did with any of my traditional books previously up to this point. Like it’s kind of hilarious, but it’s definitely because of TikTok and because of like being on there and being engaged with the community, I’m finally gonna write like my romance or fantasy romance that I’ve had sitting on the back burner for like eight years. Because, you know, it’s not marketable compared to… But I was like, “Well, you know, this is something that TikTok’s obviously thirsty for. I want to write it.” So it seems like a good timing. Like it’s definitely shifted some of my projects around of like the order I was gonna write them in.

Joni: We haven’t talked to a ton of authors that have made it big on TikTok, but that’s always…it doesn’t seem to be something that’s really within your control. It’s kind of still, maybe it’s still new enough that we haven’t figured out how to completely exploit the algorithm, but it does seem to be like very like reader-driven, user-driven.

Katee: And I don’t know how you would be able to exploit the algorithm because it is like the most…it’s boiled down to more than anything else more than like even Twitter. It’s like word of mouth. And so even if I go on there and like I have a video go viral, that’s just one video. Whereas having people talking about it and engaging about it and it’s like, it’s just so, like I said, pure word of mouth. Like it’s very much a reader platform. And as more authors show up there, it’s very interesting to me personally, as like as a reader because I read a lot of books from TikTok now. But when I see an author trying to do a hard sell, like you can tell when they’re on there not comfortable with it or they are on there because they feel like they need to be because it’s very, like you can’t fake it on video the way you can in other things. And so like, I mean, I scroll past because I’m on there to enjoy myself. And so I definitely, as a reader, I engage. There’s like two or three authors that I like really enjoy on there and every other place I get my recommendations from is like readers or reviewers.

Joni: I think it’s really cool to be able to get that word of mouth which we know is the number one way to sell books to be able to have it work in an organic way through social media.

Katee: Yeah. And it’s really interesting because like I see… Because, you know, I’ve been on TikTok for, God, almost like we’re coming up on two years now, but I’ve only been like active, active on there since like January. But it’s really interesting because it feels very similar to the “Fifty Shades of Gray” wave where it’s like a lot of people coming to books for reading for pleasure for the first time or coming from YA to adult romance for the first time and being like, “Whoa, like I can like really get into this reading or like holy crud, there’s like really spicy scenes in these books,” or like whatever. And so it’s like all this influx of new readers and they…like everybody was like, “Wow, I can’t believe like ‘Ice Planet Barbarians’ took off.” And I’m like, there’s a straight line from that from Sarah J. Mass’s books to “Ice Planet Barbarians.” Like they want the fantasy elements and they’re progressive and getting spicier like with what they’re looking for, which “Ice Planet’s” like really spicy. So I’m really interested to see what takes off next because it’s fascinating like how they’re progressing through like some of these series.

Joni: Just out of interest, do you think the TikTok readers are reading digitally? I feel like they’re not.

Katee: Some of them are, but like just from like, I can see my sales in my print sales are equal to my ebook sales when I see a video take off and they’ll go buy the entire seven books in print without reading the single one, which is like bonkers to me as like a longtime reader, because I’m like, “Wait, you don’t to test it out first? Like holy, what?” But yeah, no, they… And I think part of that is because a percentage of them come from YA and YA’s, you know, read primarily in print by like a lot of people and, you know, there’s the element of like we’re on video. So like they like to show off what they’re reading and stuff and have it in print. And so, yeah, I am seeing like… And even “Neon Gods”, because I can’t see the numbers as accurately as with, you know, my indie stuff, but my publisher’s like shocked by the amount of print sales on Amazon and that’s all TikTok because they love print. Like it’s definitely… And there are subsets of people that are really into like KU, like the smut-tok, the spicy TikToker, like those ones, they definitely do read a lot in ebook and KU. Like they love Kindle Unlimited, but when the trends take off, it is print all the way.

Joni: Interesting. But yeah, I think especially with the visual media, like you said, people want to hold the book, especially if there’s a beautiful cover. It’s part of the aesthetic.

Katee: Yes.

Joni: And where do you find that you communicate with your readers the most? Is it TikTok or is it elsewhere?

Katee: It’s probably a combo of like TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m not really on Facebook. I have like a Facebook group, but Facebook just stresses me out and I don’t like being on there. And ever since they changed things, like I’m just like, it’s the excuse I need to mostly be off this. But yeah, it’d probably be the three of those. And I do have like a Patreon, but that’s just a small subset of my readers, I would say. But yeah, especially now that like I’m getting more comfortable on TikTok, like I could see my numbers going up and people are like, “Oh,” like actual like readers. Although it’s funny when they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t even know you like wrote these books. I was just here for your book recommendations.” And I’m like, “Yes. I’m doing it right.”

Laura: Those are my favorite TikToks, when you can kind of see the author describing the book but you don’t realize it’s the book. It kind of seems like a real-life situation and then it’s like, “Surprise, this is my book. You should read it.” I’ve definitely bought a few books that way. It’s a good sell. So you mentioned Patreon which we’re starting to see more and more readers use as a way to kind of like diversify their revenue stream. Can you tell us a little bit about how you use that to get in touch with your readers?

Katee: So I originally started it because after my original mob series, “The O’Malleys,” especially the last couple, I would get constant requests for people, like what are they up to? What are they doing? Could you write like a shorter, a check-in, or something? And I was like, “I can’t. I write fast, but I don’t write fast enough to write stuff that I don’t get paid for.” So I was like, “Okay. Well, I’ll just do a patron and every month you guys can vote on like what couple or whatever you’d like to see and I’ll just give you like a short, like a chapter essentially every month.” And from there, it’s sort of grown like now I give them early releases for my indie books. I have a paperback tier, an audiobook tier, and then I also do a swag box like every other month. And it’s just, it’s grown…well, it’s grown exponentially since I started doing the early releases because people are willing to pay. Like it’s like five bucks, is like that tier to get ahold of stuff like a couple of weeks before it comes out. But it’s been nice because I don’t… I like Patreon because you can kind of set it up however you want. Like I know authors who do like write-ins with the people on the Patreon or give like themselves as like…or their time rather as one of the assets. And I prefer to just be like, “Here’s this thing that you purchase essentially, like I’ll send it out to you or post it or whatever.” Yeah. I mean, it’s grown like crazy. It’s really wild. And I also share teasers, but I share them for free. So that’s like a great way for growth, is to be like on Twitter, like, “Oh, I shared a saucy teaser of like my work in progress” and people go over and then it’s like a way to inform them that the Patreon exists without hard-selling them. I’m like, “Sign up for this.” It’s like, “No. Here’s this thing for free. Check it out, poke around. Like, you know, if you want more free stuff, next time I post, it’ll show up.” And it has the follow option so people can sign up to essentially get emails without paying anything, which is really cool. I like that a lot.

Joni: Yeah. That’s pretty cool. And it sounds like your readers get a pretty good deal for what they’re paying.

Katee: Yeah. I mean, in hindsight, I wish I would’ve charged a little more for the international tiers because international shipping’s a little gnarly, but, you know, it is what it is. I try to make it so that it feels fair like on my side and on their side so they’re getting a lot of content for what they’re paying, but I’m also getting paid what I feel is like a fair amount to justify the work I’m putting in.

Joni: And are you mailing things out yourself physically?

Katee: Yes. Which…

Joni: That’s a lot of commitment.

Katee: Yeah. Well, I initially was doing it every month and I was like, “This is not working out.” So I ship paperback and swag boxes every other month and then whatever releases were in those two months are included. And I have a really good system down at this point. Like it’s really efficient and my husband loves packaging things. So between the two of us, it takes us a couple of hours to package like 200-ish. But yeah, it is definitely a time commitment, like for sure.

Joni: And what can readers expect from you next?

Katee: I got a lot. I am starting a second-generation mob series because of Patreon because I wrote so many check-ins. I was like, “Oh, I see a story for these like adult children now.” And there are at least three more dark Olympus books coming. We just signed a contract for book four. So that’s exciting. And then, like I said, I’m writing a fantasy romance which will hopefully find a home and we’ll see what happens. If not, I will go indie with it and I’m okay with that too. So… And then just miscellaneous like small projects because I like my dessert projects to keep things interesting.

Joni: Nice. And where can we do is find you online?

Katee: I am on Instagram and Twitter as @Katee_Roberts and I’m on TikTok as authorkateerobert. And those are like the big ones where like if…you can find me regularly enough that I will interact.

Joni: Nice. So we will share all those links. And we like to finish off with some rapid-fire book questions about what you’ve been reading. Do you wanna start us off, Laura?

Laura: Sure. Can you tell us a bit about your favorite romance trope and do you have a favorite book with that trope? I know it’s hard to pick just one, but…

Katee: I love the morality chain, which is basically like one character has no morals to speak of. It’s kind of like an extreme version of Grumpy Sunshine, except one is usually a murderer and like, “Oh, I guess I won’t murder those people because like it would make you sad.” And my favorite recently that I’ve read is “Run Posy Run” by Cate C. Wells and it’s a mob romance and it’s just…it’s hard to explain in a way, but it’s like he’s a like clinically diagnosed sociopath and it’s just like, “Why are you upset I threw you in a trunk? Like this is a game we’re playing. I win.” And she was like, “You’re gonna murder me.” And he’s like, “That’s silly. Why would I murder you? Like I don’t understand why you’re upset.” Like it’s like that miscommunication from grumpy and the sunshine, but like the stakes are so much higher and it is so delightful, like how she writes that story.

Joni: Love it. And the best book that you’ve read this year so far?

Katee: Oh, geez. Oh. No. I do know this one. Okay. “Iron Widow” by Xiran. I think that’s how you say her first name, Jay Zhao. It’s a like upper YA that’s pitched as Handmaid’s Tale meets Pacific Rim and it’s sort of villain origin story. The heroin’s response to everything is murder, which is great and it has a polyamorous relationship like triad with her and two heroes, which I have not seen in YA yet and is so satisfying to like…she doesn’t have to choose. Why choose? They’re gonna be together. So I absolutely loved it. It was all my favorite things to smashed into one story.

Joni: I love that cover. It’s beautiful.

Laura: Do you have a favorite myth or legend? Another hard one we’re gonna make you pick.

Katee: I really, really love Medusa, but like the sort of way that the Medusa myth has sort of been adapted and changed in recent years, like with a statue and like I see what art with like Medusa and the blind woman. So like in my head, Medusa lives and is happy. So like my version of that myth, I guess.

Joni: Are there any other authors that do the retelling of myths particularly well?

Katee: Oh, there are a bunch. I… Oh, now I’m gonna not know. Like I know that I’ve… Rebekah Weatherspoon has a…it’s a really awesome way. She does fairytale retellings with…they’re like black cowboys. And so there’s like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella” and the third one escapes me, but that’s really awesome, like I haven’t seen it done quite the way she does it before and it’s really awesome.

Joni: Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing those. We’ll include all the links so that people can add more to their book lists and this has been great. Thank you so much.

Katee: Thank you so much for having me.

Joni: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast. If you’re interested in picking up Katee’s books, we will include links in our show notes. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us at kobowritinglife.com. Be sure to follow us on socials. We’re @KoboWritingLife on Facebook and Twitter and at kobo.writing.life on Instagram.

Rachel: This episode was produced by Joni Di Placido and Rachel Wharton. Our co-host was Laura Granger. Editing is provided by Kelly Robotham. Our theme music is composed by Tearjerker, and a huge thanks to Katee for being our guest today. If you’re ready to start your publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.