Thursday, October 27, 2011

Indie Insider - Karen Pokras Toz

Do people judge a book by its cover? Who makes yours?

Definitely – first impressions are everything. It’s hard enough being an “Indie.” You need to make sure you are putting out the most professional product possible, and that includes the book cover. That’s not to say you need to spend a fortune. I have seen many great covers that were done for little or no cost. On the flip side, I have seen professionally done covers that are unimpressive. For my book cover, I knew I wanted a professional to take over. I interviewed several artists until I found one who really understood my vision. I finally hired Deana Riddle at Deana was not only talented, but very professional and a pleasure to work with.

What are the best ways to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’?

For me it’s all in the dialogue. It’s okay to have some descriptive narration, but if I feel like it’s going on for too long, I’ll stop and have the characters start talking to each other instead. If you tell the reader everything that is happening, there won’t be anything left for them to imagine, resulting in a less engaged reader.

How many books do you produce a year? Are you meeting your goal?

It’s hard to say. The very first book I wrote took fourteen years, and I’m still not satisfied that I have a final draft, worthy of publishing. On the other hand, I wrote and published Nate Rocks the World in ten months. I’m currently working on book two of the Nate series. I started it in May and I’m about one-third done with the first draft. Ideally, I’d like to have it released in early summer. We shall see.

How many words do you produce a day? Do you have a daily quota to fill?

I try to write everyday, but I don’t have a set word quota to fill. Depending on time constraints, mood, motivation, etc, I’ll write anywhere from 200-2000 words at one time. I find that on the days where I tell myself: you have to write 800 words today, I usually wind up scrapping what I wrote. For me, I have to be in the right mindset or the words just will not flow properly.

What is your greatest challenge as an author?

Marketing! For me – writing the book was the easy part. Talking about my book and especially about myself is something I just am not comfortable doing. Then there is the sheer amount of time it takes to get yourself out there. I had no idea the amount of work I was in for. I spend many hours online every day trying to make connections, in hopes of spreading the word about my book.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.

This goes back to the concept of trying to put out the most professional product you possibly can. So yes, to all of the above. In my case, I had a writing/critique coach, readers, and a professional editor. Then, after all edits were done, I had more readers. It was getting to the point where I just had to stop and say – enough – this book is done!

What is you favorite part of the whole process? (Besides receiving a check or 5 star review!)

I just love hearing that kids enjoy my book. When I see emails from parents telling me “my daughter almost fell on her face getting out of the car this morning to go to school because she had her nose in it!” I am so excited (disclaimer – I am not responsible for any injuries incurred while reading Nate Rocks the World!) I also love getting pictures of the kids. Some of them have even sent me artwork. You can see all of their smiling faces on my website (link below.) Having something fun for kids to read is goal #1 for me.

What are three web sites or blogs that you can recommend? (related to writing etc.)
Please don’t mention any social media platforms, Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing, Goodreads etc.)

Three of my favorites:

Indie Book Collective:
Novel Publicity – check out their blog for a lot of great free advice:
Write to Publish (which I just discovered, but love!)

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes – I so believe that encouraging young children to fall in love with reading is the greatest gift we can give them. I hope all who are young at heart will experience as much enjoyment reading Nate Rocks the World, as I did writing all of Nate's adventures.


Purchase information for Nate Rocks the World:

Barnes & Noble:

Connect with me online:
Twitter: @karentoz

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