"SELF PUBLISHING OR TRADITIONAL: PART ONE"
To self publish or try and go the traditional route - that is the burning question these days. For the next few weeks, I'll be interviewing KC Frantzen about her new children's book coming out in July 2011 and we'll be talking about the wonderful, magnificent, May, the K9 Spy and her adventures.
KC has chosen to self publish her middle grade novel and the first book of the series is May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy. I'll be interviewing her about the ups and downs of this process and for those who are also interested or just plain curious about how to negotiate the same path, let's get started on the hike.
Q: Hi KC, and it's good to have you here today to answer all of our questions about self publishing. You have a children's book coming out this summer about a K9 spy dog. Can you tell us where the concept came from for this character?
A: Vicki! Thanks for having me. What a pleasure to meet you at the Nashville Midsouth SCBWI conference last year! I'm looking forward to finding out more about your readers, too. Not sure I can answer all the questions, but we'll give it a go. This is an exciting time for us. May and I have waited 28 dog years to see her story in print, and it's about here! The idea began during a lesson in the Christian Writers Guild course. We were instructed to write the same scene from three different perspectives. I created a scenario where our Schnauzer, May, was checking out luggage in baggage claim, and dashed through the flaps into the loading area. My mentor complimented the character and especially the first dog approach by saying, "I LIKE May!" Not long after, a law enforcement officer from Washington, D.C. met May and exclaimed, "She would make a GREAT bomb-sniffing dog!" So now you know.
Q: This is too cute! So, KC, how long have you been speaking the language of critter?
A: I guess you could say from the beginning. My dad is a small animal veterinarian, and I'm an only child. So, I always had dogs as playmates. Plus I worked at Dad's clinic during summers and for a full year out of high school. My degree is in elementary education and history, so I love both human kids and four-footed kids.
Q: Sounds like you're a natural with animals - what can you tell us about your writing background?
A: I've been writing since elementary school but it was mostly for fun. As time passed, it seemed like I had a book in me. I thought about various topics, but May's story is the one that woke me up nights. God gave it to me and it wouldn't let me go.Q: I love that story about divine inspiration. I do believe you said you were planning on a series, right? And if so, what other books will follow?
A: Yes! In fact, you can read a sneak peek of book two at the end of May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy. What you may find of interest is that I'd planned to include that baggage claim scene, but it never worked into book one. Ha! I'm envisioning a three book series, but May, the K9 Spy is such a strong character, it could go longer. It will depend on what her audience would like! She has much to share with animal lovers 8 and up.
Q: I've heard some writers get their plots in various ways. Did you write an outline first or write from stream of consciousness until the story evolved - I'm curious about your process.
A: Seems I hear about well-recognized authors who do one or the other, or even a combo. I'm a pantster meaning writing from the seat of my pants. (Isn't that a great term?!) However, this approach made the editing process VERY difficult and I hope to outline somewhat with book two. I'm in the midst of that process now. It's not easy, but few things worthwhile are. I don't yet know what will work best for me. Time will tell.
Q: You mentioned a writing coach when we first met. Has she been helpful and if so how?
A: OH. My. YES!!! Let me count the ways… My writing coach, Sandra Byrd , is a multi-published best-selling author for tweens, teens and adults, as well as being a former acquisitions editor. She knows the business of publishing, successfully putting her own work out there. She knows the nuts and bolts of the craft, and continues to be an excellent guide. She is encouraging, but asks the hard questions too, and prods you to excellence. Example: One of the hardest things I've ever done was to scrap the way I presented May on the Way (3rd person) and to rewrite it entirely in first dog, present tense. But it was so worth it. Sandra and I agreed this is not a Christian story. However God has a part in anything I do… And therein lies the dilemma. It is not suitable for a Christian publishing house, nor will it likely be picked up by a secular one. So - I could continue to try and shop it to a secular house, and hope they won't secularize it too much for what I think God has called me to write, or… I can take responsibility, step out on faith, and do this without a major house backing me.
Q: I totally understand the dilemma. Okay, let's start with the process. What was the first step? Did you send the manuscript out to traditional publishers in the beginning and go through the rejection process or did you always know you would eventually self publish?
A: This is an excellent question and one others will answer differently. For me, it began with the story that wouldn't let me go. I worked on it for several years, always trying to learn more and to make it the best I knew how. I completed the Christian Writers Guild course, but that was several years before I began the book. I talked to authors (published and un). I read blogs. I read books. I joined a critique/writing group. I joined SCBWI and went to several conferences. I got a website going. Along the way, I prayed for wisdom and guidance. God proved faithful and continued to encourage me with incidents, to let me know I was on the right track. Once I completed the manuscript, I sent queries to a few folks. I used the Writer's Market to check out agents. One agent in particular was gracious enough to meet with me for almost 30 minutes at the Southern Festival of Books . I will always be grateful to her. I gave her a folder with my information, and included the first chapter. Also an agent friend of a friend said she would look it over for me. Turns out neither agent was interested. And, sigh, I never heard back from any of the queries. BUT! At that same Southern Festival of Books, the Lord was gracious enough to introduce me to a wonderful author from Louisiana, Vicki Allen. (Another Vicki!) Her books are beautifully produced. She let me know about her experiences shopping her manuscript. Her family decided they would form a company and publish on their own. And that's what they did. Ten years and at least five books later, Vicki told me she would be hard-pressed to work the traditional way. She has been a tremendous resource and good friend to help guide me.
This is getting interesting and is very encouraging for those who might consider self publishing. I can't wait to get more of the details and we'll do just that as we continue the blog story line about self publishing on into the next few weeks. I can't wait to find out how you found your illustrator. So stay tuned everyone! MaytheK9Spy
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KC and May will be available for questions/comments - email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post the comments. Check back next Sunday for the next post.
KC Frantzen owns photography copyright on all photos in this article.
~ What a really good suggestion, to write a scene from 3 different points of view! No teacher in all these years, has ever suggested that to me. But when I tried to say so on Vicki's website, I could not figure out how to do it. Martha
Martha Bennett Stiles
1998 LONESOME ROAD
1999 ISLAND MAGIC
2007, 1962 ONE AMONG THE INDIANS
Spring 2012, Henry Holt Books SAILING TO FREEDOM
Thanks for the comment Martha - email me at email@example.com so I can post your comments - Thanks!
And I too think that's a great idea - more time to write - but that way you would find out the best way to tell the story. ~Vicki
Thanks for checking in, Martha . :-)
YES! That came from the Christian Writers Guild course. It is outstanding. I still reference my notebook to use the lessons learned. http://www.christianwritersguild.com/
~ We can't wait for the book to be available. My kids got a sneak peak and they are craving more. ~ Kim Peaslee
Hey Kim, so glad you mentioned your kiddos. May is excited to get her story to them too!
~ Great interview! KC. Can't wait to read the rest of your self publishing story. ~ Rita Monette - Follow my blog at: http://ritamonette.blogspot.com
Thanks Martha and Rita, for reading and trying to post.
Vicki set up her blog where you email her your question or comment, then she posts for you. I think yours are up now. Sure appreciate your participation!
Martha, yes, that lesson was from the Christian Writers Guild course. EXCELLENT! I'm so glad you found it useful.
Rita, thanks for update. On the live Facebook interview yesterday, the author of A Dog's Purpose shared that many, many turned him down, as they also did with The Help. Now both are not only bestsellers, but have been picked up by Dreamworks for film adaptations. :) Nikki is a wonderful story. Her time is coming!! kc
~Hi Karen, Thanks for all this information into publishing. I love animal stories. Have there been times when you struggled with what May would say, but what you wanted to say? ~ Bev Schwind
Hey Bev, Thanks - this is a good question. I think you're wondering if sometimes I want to say something as the author, but have to say it how May would? The quick answer is YES! But most of the time, I find that if I write it and let May talk, her wisdom shines through. She really is a special dog. Trying to keep my thoughts as SHE would think them is a challenge, but I'm fairly fluent in critter so that helps. ha! If that's not what you meant, let me know So glad you came by. You've gone a different route on self-publishing and have done so well. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways!!! Appreciate your stopping by!
~Great interview with KC. Can't wait to introduce my Great Grandchildren to May. I have fallen in love with her, and I know they will, too! ~ Pat Bugg Crossville, TN
~ Thank you so much for sharing Karen! I love what you are doing and have enjoyed reading about your journey. You are such a blessing! May all your dreams come true! ~ Ricci Neer ~ http://RicciNeer.comRicci, Hey hey! So glad you took the time to stop in. Thanks! Know you are working on your dreams. May and I hope her story will help others realize theirs too, all in God's good Grace!
Hi KC, Just read the interview linked on the SCBWI list serve and can't wait to read May's book (will book signings be in hand or by paw? :). Good for you doing this and may May sniff on to book after book :). See you at the annual conference in September! ~Debbie Emory Debbie Emory
awwhhhh! Hey Debbie! thank you so MUCH! funny you should ask! May WILL be giving her PAWograph and I will be signing also. ha! thank you for writing in...so kind.
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