Carpe Bead ’em Blurb~
Tonya Kappes is the Amazon Movers and Shakers, International bestselling author. All of her novels made it on Amazon’s bestsellers list within the first eight hours of being published. She writes about quirky characters in quirky situations.
She has participated in three anthologies.
She is an elite blog member of The WoMen’s Literary Café where she talks about promotion and marketing strategies where she believes you can never market your career too early.
Tonya is the co-founder of The Naked Hero where authors strip down heroes/heroines/villains readers love, explaining the archetypes into why we love them.
When she’s not writing, she’s busy being the princess, queen and jester of her domain which includes her BFF husband, her four teenage boys and two dogs.
In my opinion, Mrs. Kappes works to create prestine stories with a zealousness yet unmatched, and today I get to pick her brain!
Tonya, let’s just dive right in here. I’m having the hardest time building up my little blog. I have viewers now, and I am SO thankful for every one of them, but my comments are zilch. I tried doing contests, and I have a big one planned for the release of my book cover, but I’m worried nobody will participate. This, of course, makes me tremble at the feat that the same thing will happen to my book. Any suggestions on how to beef up my networking skills?
The comments do not matter. I know that we LOVE to see those numbers rise, but what is important when you have a blog is the page views. The unique visitors. I have between 350 – 500 page view a day. When I post a new blog, it’s generally at the higher end. You have to make your blog specific to the target audience. Don’t flip flop between topics. You have to stay consistent. This means setting a blog schedule. Stick with the schedule, not when you feel like it. Then you have to promote the living doo-doo out of it. BUT in a good way. If you post it all over your Facebook groups, you better be going to some of their blogs too. It’s all about PR buddies. If you don’t know what a PR buddy is, check out my blog
I consider myself a “hybrid author” as well. I decided to epub Messy Death and look for an agent. What tips can you offer me to make this journey easier?
Try everything and I mean everything! I learned everything by trial and error, from going through countless editors that was right for me, nasty reviews, to being on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers lists three times. If someone wanted me to do a blog hop, I did it. If someone wanted me to guest blog, I did it. I got my name out there. I built a platform for myself and my agent LOVED that.
How long did it take you to find the agent that was right for you? How did you even begin the search?
I looked for an agent right out of the gate when I started writing for about a year. After many rejections, I went with a small publisher, but quickly realized that they didn’t do anything for me that I couldn’t do myself. I took a year and wrote, read, wrote, read, guest blogged, gave online and in person workshops, aligned myself with good, moraled writers who stood by me no matter what, wrote, read, and blogged some more.
I self published and had instant success because of all the networking I had done years previous. I looked at agents from time and again. Then I reassessed what I REALLY wanted as a career. And it hit me like a ton of bricks! I wanted to have an agent and be published by the big six. I want to see my name on a shelf at the freakin’ drugstore or Wal-Mart! It’s not about money to me. I have a day job that I absolutely love and adore. That is what I got my degree and master’s in.
Thus began my search for my agent. My criteria is different than most writers starting out. I had success in the self publishing area. I knew that I didn’t want to lose those readers, but the big six helps you reach so many more readers that I’d never reach in self publishing.
Here was my set of criterias:
1) embrace self publishing. RESPECT where I have come from.
Guess what? “You have built such a name for yourself that we want you to continue to self publish, if you want to. You are a prolific writer,” Barbara said, as Tonya did the happy dance around her office.
It was more of an interview process on my side then it was “omg! I’m talking to an agent!!” It was important for me to have someone who was going to stand beside me and champion my work on all journeys to publication.
Plain and simple.
I had three agents that offered me representation. One is super huge, but wasn’t on the bandwagon I was on. The other was on the fence. With me, you are either on my side of the fence or not. If I’m happy, I’m going to make you money. I promise.
I think we are going to see a lot of agents beginning to embrace self publishing in the future.
Tonya, authors looking to go the traditional route fear the dreaded query. What can you tell me about the query letter/process? What is the biggest query no-no out there?
The biggest no-no is not knowing what genre the agent you are querying represents. I have asked so many writers, “what genre did the agent represent?” Standard response, “I don’t know. I just sent it.”
For me, the process this time was much more different. I started out by saying that this isn’t your typical query. I’m a self published author who is looking for an agent to embrace and respect what I have done so far and that can champion my work no matter what journey I decide to take it. I even listed my sales numbers, blog stats, all the places I give/given workshops. My query was very long.
Epublishing is no easy task. My author friends have been very generous with their time and advice. What would you tell an author like me, who is feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the work that you have to put in to making your book a success?
You need to get up every morning and ask yourself, “how bad do I want it?” If you want it bad enough, you will make it happen. No excuses.
Tonya, advancing a plot can get complicated. Especially for authors writing off the cuff. How do you keep your facts straight? (I keep wishing for one of those eidetic memories, but my fairy Godmother ain’t listening. LOL)
You need to take control of your fairy godmothers or fire them!! I have a character worksheet that I use for each character, no matter if they are secondary or just a drive by. If they are in the story, they have a sheet. I also keep an address book and list the character by alphabetical name. I use it to put in my purse when I leave the house because it never fails that I have a great new tidbit to add to the story when I’m out and about. I take time to jot it down and if I need to remember something about my character, it’s at my finger tips. I also keep a story board. I’m a panster, but I always know my beginning, middle, and ending. So I plot as I go along.
Which of your epublished books, Happy New Life, Color Me, The Ladybug Jinx, Bead of Doubt, Carpe Bead’em, Spitsville.com or A Superstitious Christmas was the most fun to write?
Carpe Bead ’em hands down! You hear writers say that there is a little bit of them in each story, Carpe is A LOT of me in that story. Although it’s fiction, every story in there about the crazy Aunt Grace is factually, not loosely, but FACTUALLY based on my real Great Aunt Grace.
Tonya, I see you’ve got an anthology out as well. Believe: A Christmas Anthology 2010. Tell me, what kind of etiquette must be followed when working with other indie authors?
I’ve done three anthologies. Two of which are with publishers. Believe is with a publisher. It was super easy. I submitted my story, the publisher took it, the editor edited it and I sent it in. I market and promote it, but every author, no matter what publication journey you take, has to do your own marketing and promoting now. Not once did I ever have any contact with the others in the anthology.
I see you’ve got a sort of How-To ebook out. The Tricked Out Toolbox was also a collaboration. If you could label me, based on first impression would I be an introvert or extrovert? 🙂 (I totally think I’m going to need this book, btw. I could probably learn loads from it, huh?)
I’m VERY proud of this book!! Sort of like your questions, I’ve had countless writers ask me how I’ve made it so far and what was my secret. Well The Tricked Out Toolbox is every thing I learned from day one. Day one, meaning the day I decided I was going to write for publication. The book takes you every step of the way until you decide you don’t want to write anymore or until your tombstone says “the end.”
I co-authored it with my good pal, Misa Ramirez/Melissa Bourbon. She is traditionally published with a big six, and I felt it was important to add all of the traditional stuff in there too. But you will be surprised how much traditional publishing and self publishing cross over each other.
Would you like to talk to me about your current WIP?
Exciting and fun!! It’s another paranormal cozy mystery about a gal who lives in a “spiritualist” community where the shop owners have shops that cover up their “spiritual” gift. For instance, Gollybee Pet Store, is the front for a pet psychic. The entire town, Whispering Falls, has many tricks up it’s sleeve!
If you had to chose between becoming a Werewolf, (the kind that only changes during the full moon, but doesn’t discriminate against killing people or deer) Vampire (the kind that are sexy but have no souls and cannot go our during the day with or without Witch Spelled rings) Demon (no soul, resident of hell but able to love and be hot) or a Zombie (dead, can’t move fast, doesn’t eat anything including brains and can still think and feel like a live person) which would you be and why?
NONE of them…I’m so sorry (she whispers)…Not a fan of those creatures. Let’s just say that I couldn’t finish Twilight and I’ve never seen the books. My friends throw stones at me for it.
Tonya, it was a pleasure picking your brain. Your words of wisdom will not go to waste. I truly feel humbled by your visit to my blog. I am doing a happy dance around my desk right now in honor of you!
Thanks for having me! The questions were fun!
Here are some links to help you track down more of Tonya’s knowledge.