Don’t be afraid to write crap. We all do it, and it’s always a weird, somewhat painful process but that’s how you learn and how you get better.
Michigan-based YA author Kim Chance didn’t always know she was meant to be a writer but once she put pen to paper she found she couldn’t stop. We chat with her about how to make your debut novel release a success, improving your writing and the role of literary agents.
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
Hello everyone! My name is Kim Chance, and I am a traditionally published young adult author. My debut novel, Keeper, just came out at the end of January from Flux Books. I’m a former high school English teacher and current full-time writer, freelance editor, and stay at home mom. I’m originally from Alabama, but I’m currently living in Michigan with my husband and three children. I have a big heart for helping other writers, so I post weekly writing videos on my YouTube channel, as well as author life vlogs, coffee talks, and more! When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my amazing family and silly dogs, binge-watching shows on Netflix, fangirling over books, and making death-by-cheese casseroles.
How did you begin writing?
My story isn’t like most. I wasn’t one of those kids who said, “I’m going be an author when I grow up!” I’ve always loved to write and it’s always been a huge part of how I process the world, but I had no clue it was what I was meant to do until much later. The Cliffs Notes version of the story is this: When I was 22, I was newly married and living alone in a new city while my husband was deployed. I started dabbling in fanfiction to pass the time and discovered how much I loved storytelling. A friend who read my fanfiction asked me if I had ever considered writing something original. I hadn’t, but the idea intrigued me so much I decided to give it a try. Once I started, I couldn’t stop! The rest, they say, is history! Writing fiction is what I was always meant to do. It just took me a long time to figure it out!
What inspires you to write?
Everything! Inspiration is literally all around you—you just have to open your eyes and see it! I find people to be a huge source of inspiration. I love to go to public spaces and people watch—to try and figure out what each person’s story is. I also find music, art, and photography very inspiring. Sometimes I’ll be listening to a song or I’ll come across a beautiful painting or photograph, and I immediately have characters whispering in my ears. It’s really cool when that happens. I try to live with an open mind and an open heart. That way, when inspiration comes along, I’ll be ready for it!
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
Recently, I was invited to participate in the New York City Teen Author Festival. I got to speak on a debut panel at the NYC library moderated by NYT bestselling author, David Levithan, and I got to do a book signing at Books of Wonder. It was by far the coolest experience I’ve had so far in my publishing journey. During that same trip, I got to meet my agent in person for the first time, and that was such a special experience for me. I also got to meet and hang out with my critique partner, Megan. She’s been such a huge part of my writing process and support system and to finally get to hug her in person was the BEST! I feel so blessed to be where I’m at in my journey, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read writing craft books. As many as you can. So many people assume that writing a novel is nothing but having an idea in your head and a dream in your heart. That’s just not true. Writing a book is HARD, and just like with any skill, you have to learn the fundamentals to be successful.
Also, don’t be afraid to write crap. We all do it, and it’s always a weird, somewhat painful process. BUT that’s how you learn and how you get better. Crap makes great fertilizer for beautiful things to grow!
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
I think the hardest part is establishing a solid social media following. In the digital age we live in, social media is VITAL when it comes to marketing, but it can also be really difficult to establish and grow your online platform. Unless you have a publisher who is doing a huge marketing campaign for your book, new authors have to do the majority of their own marketing. Without a strong social media presence and following, it can really limit your marketing efforts. That’s why I always tell new writers to start their author platform as soon as possible. It takes time to build it from the ground up.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
For Keeper’s release, I formed a street team to help with marketing and saw huge results from that. I also ran a pre-order campaign that I consider quite successful. I also think having a YouTube channel was quite effective in terms of marketing. In the weeks leading up to Keeper’s release, I did several Keeper-themed videos to get people excited and amped up for release. Then I did a huge live release day party with a ton of giveaways. It was a lot of fun! I’m certainly no expert on marketing, but all of these things seemed to work well for me.
How do you make time for your book marketing?
It’s certainly not without effort. I’m super busy (having three kids will do that to you!), so I have to schedule things down to the hour. I try to do an hour of marketing each day, but really, I do it whenever I can. It’s just like any job, really. It’s an important aspect that you have to tackle, whether you want to or not.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Most traditional publishers do not accept un-agented submissions, so I recommend that writers seek representation from a literary agent first. Literary agents are truly worth their weight in gold. They act as a liaison between authors and publishers, and they ensure their clients get the best deals and situations possible. I am so thankful to have my agent in my corner—she’s the best! Some smaller presses, do accept un-agented submissions, so for that I say to make sure you do your research and seek legal counsel before you sign anything.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
Oh, rejection. My least favorite thing! It never really gets easier, to be honest. However, I try to remember that rejections are not personal and they don’t determine my self-worth or my value as a writer. So much of reading, writing, and publishing is subjective. You can’t please everyone and your book isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, your words are important and your voice is valuable. Don’t let a rejection make you feel otherwise!
Also, don’t be afraid to lean on your support system in the wake of rejection. Having people that understand how your feeling is so important. Make connections within the writing community and find your people. It can make all the difference in the world!
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
Initially, writing was very lonely for me. However, I made it a personal mission of mine to plug myself into the community and find writing buddies. Doing so was the best decision I’ve ever made. I now have a wonderful community of like-minded writers in my corner, and their support has been a game-changer for me! There are still lonely aspects of writing, but I rely on the fact that I have tons of support and all I have to do is reach out when I need it. I couldn’t survive without my writing buddies!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
I know it’s a little cliché, but don’t give up. There are so many negative voices (even your own!) that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough, that you’ll never achieve success. Don’t listen to them! You ARE good enough! You just have to believe in your dream and you have to believe in yourself. No matter what, never stop writing!
You can find out more about Kim Chance via her website and social media channels: YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Keeper is available for purchase via Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Indigo and Book Depository.