This week’s #SPFBO Author Interview is with Kelly Stock.
Kelly is a multitasking mum, wife, colleague, friend, daughter, sister and lastly, but no means least writer. Her love of writing started when she began her Creative Writing degree at North London University in 1999. She hasn’t always wanted to be a writer, her first job of choice was a vet, but that dream died when she realised she was allergic to most small furry animals. But, she has always loved to read, and that’s where her passion for writing began.
After finishing her degree in 2002, she didn’t put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, until thirteen years later. Life in all its wonderful glory got in the way. Then when her youngest went to school full-time, she had precious time on her hands. It was during this time that Bertram, Sybil, and Alec were conceived and her first novel, The Soul Guide was born.
In her spare time, you can find Kelly, reading, bringing up her kids the best way she knows how and trying desperately not to make a fool of herself on social media.
Why did you enter #spfbo?
It was completely by chance that I came across the SPFBO competition. I have joined several closed author facebook groups, and if I recall correctly, someone from the group 20bookto50k posted a link to this competition. Intrigued I read up on it, found out a bit more about the competition and Mark Lawrence and decided that I had nothing to lose by entering The Soul Guide.
My initial thoughts were it sounds fun, I can get to find out about other self-published authors, and at the very least find some fantastic new books to read. There are some amazing books listed and some from already established self-published authors who have got a huge following. It’s fantastic to be in great company and I think, at the very least, partaking in this competition will help to get more eyes on my book, which for me is the main struggle when you start out.
What advice do you have for anyone new to self-publishing?
There is so much to learn. I was completely green when I pushed the publish button on KDP. I hadn’t done my research, I hadn’t read up on everything I could about self-publishing. I naively thought that I would wake up the morning after publishing and see my book fly off the ‘virtual shelf,' so to speak. I was wrong. Much of where I’ve got to today has been on the back of an Everest proportion size learning curve. A great deal of what I’ve come to learn has been from the Kindle Scout Alumni group I am part of Facebook, and from some very generous fellow authors who reside there.
In actual fact, my self-publishing journey started when I entered The Soul Guide into the Kindle Scout programme. I wasn’t chosen by the publishing team, but I gained some amazing contacts via this avenue. The bottom line is, don’t do what I did and not do your research. Join some author/self-publishing groups, lurk for as long as you need to pick up ideas, and once you feel you know all there is to know about self-publishing and you have all your ducks in a row, then press the button.
Oh, and get a newsletter going as soon as possible – work on getting subscribers. These people will hopefully buy your books, help drive interest in your work and possibly become advanced readers or a part of your street team. To get subscribers, join Instafreebie (or similar) put a short story or novelette, or if you’re like me and only had your novel, then 10% of your novel (if it’s in KDP select this is all you’re allowed) on Instafreebie as a reader magnet. They get to read your work in exchange for signing up for your newsletter. I’ve got the vast majority of my subscribers this way.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Honestly, both. Some days I am bouncing about while I write because I am lucky enough to be on a writing streak. On those days, I feel like I can conquer anything. On other days, I am literally trying to squeeze out sentences, and I feel deflated and emotionally exhausted. I hate those days. Sometimes I push through and keep going, even if what I am writing will end up edited out, other days I give up and have a good cry to release some of the pressure and stress. It takes a lot of grit and determination to self-publish and to do so successfully. I am not there yet. I am not successful in terms of monetary gain, but I want to be. Luckily, stubbornness and a will to succeed keep me going.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I haven’t, but I am considering it for a new series that I am going to write. This is purely because they are two different genres which I want to keep separate. The problem I am having is thinking up a pseudonym. It’s hard enough thinking of original names for my characters, let alone a new name for myself!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Mine is a bee. My family has a real thing for bees, particularly bumblebees. We have a bit of a family tale revolving around bees, and a family member who has passed. It’s a bit of a long story, but bees are so important that I have included them in my story The Soul Guide. You can read about why on my blog post here: https://kellystockauthor.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/bees-and-what-they-signify-to-me/
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I do. Every. Single. One. I believe that if someone has taken the time to write a review, then I should take the time to read them. So far I’ve had good reviews, so I don’t know what it’s like to experience a ‘bad’ one. I think I would probably have a good cry (there’s a theme here – I’m a crier, I hold my hands up) then if the review has some constructive criticism, I would take it into consideration. I’m all for improving my writing. If it’s just a plain, old, nasty review, then I would probably ignore it. I am told, however, that you aren’t a ‘proper’ author until you get your first one-star review!
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
For The Soul Guide, yes it was. I started writing the book back in 2014 when my youngest child went to school full-time. On the two days a week when I wasn’t working part-time, I would sit down to write. In fact, I hadn’t written a word since I left the university in 2002 when I completed my creative writing degree. In the intervening years, life got in the way, I guess. So, by the time I started to write, it was a very cathartic experience for a number of reasons.
Initially, writing The Soul Guide was a way to express myself, to spark my imagination and really just to see what happened. As time went on, the story and the characters within this book took on a life of their own. It was at that point, I realised I had something special, and I needed to see it through. As it so happens, this one book spawned the start of The Soul Guide series, and I have since published a prequel novella and am a third of the way through book two.
Ultimately, writing this book ended up being something I had to do, for myself (to prove that I could) for my children, so I could show them you can achieve your dreams if you work hard enough, and for my parents who always believed I could do something extraordinary. A lot of the time while I wrote The Soul Guide, I was amazed at where it was all coming from. It felt magical, as though somehow I had unlocked a part of me that was just lying dormant. Sounds silly, but it really did feel spiritual.
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Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thesoulguideseries