This week we’re going to find out a little about author Kelli Wilkes. Kelli will be talking about marketing. She’ll also tell us a little about herself and her writing, and answer some fun questions.
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Her third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, was released in June 2017. Kelli’s trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was published in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli’s third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.
Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
My third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, came out in June. It’s a story about two best friends who have always been attracted to each other and finally make the leap into having a sexual relationship.
Beverley: How important is marketing for an author?
Kelli: Marketing is crucial for any author, but even more so for self-published authors who don’t have the backing of a major publishing house. If nobody knows about your book, they can’t buy it. Therefore, authors have to do everything in their power to get their book noticed by readers and actively market it on websites, social media platforms, and anywhere else they can.
Beverley: What free marketing is available for authors?
Kelli: There’s a lot of free marking available to authors if they know where to look. The first and most obvious is the publisher’s website. If your book is released by a publisher (large or small), you probably will have a dedicated author page, and you may be able to do a short interview for their newsletter or site. Self-published authors can utilize whatever site(s) are selling their books (such as Amazon) and create author pages that showcase your writing and let readers learn more about you.
Social media and book sites are also great places to do self-promotion and market your writing. Authors can join genre-specific book groups on Facebook and Goodreads, and there are hundreds of book and romance-related websites where you can post spotlights, guest blogs, and interviews.
And of course, authors should always keep their own blog and website up-to-date with their latest release information, as well as links to backlist titles, interviews, and other news that will attract readers.
Beverley: What marketing is available for a fee for authors?
Kelli: If authors want to pay for professional marketing services, there are many options available. Some authors hire a publicist or a publicity firm to market their books, while others pay for advertisements in print or online magazines. You can also pay to have your book cover or ad featured on websites, or pay for a blog tour on several different sites. These are just a few of the more common services available.
Beverley: How much should an author spend on advertising and how does an author make that decision?
Kelli: That’s entirely up to the author. If you’re just starting out and self-publishing your first book, you might want to explore the free marketing options first, and then branch out into paying for covers on sites or for a blog tour. Again, it all depends on the author and his or her budget.
Beverley: How have you marketed your books? Have you used someone to do your marketing for you?
Kelli: I market my books in several different ways and usually do it all myself. When a new book comes out, I add all the information about it to my blog, website, social media pages, and other book sites that I’m on. Then I do guest blogs and interviews to share information about the book with readers. I also send out press releases, review requests, and include info about the new release in my newsletter. I’ve paid for book cover ads, featured author days, and blog tours on various sites. This way, I can reach a lot of readers all over the web.
Beverley: What did you find worked best?
Kelli: I find that a little bit of everything works. I’ve gotten good results by posting on social media, doing guest blogs, and blog tours. People like reading interviews and excerpts from books, so I’m always willing to talk about the writing process and how I brought my latest book to life.
Beverley: How did you get your start as a storyteller?
Kelli: I started out writing “10-Minute Romances” for the Sun. They also published science fiction stories, so I wrote those, too. I’ve always been blessed with a lot of ideas, and I just kept writing story after story as they came to me.
I got my start with full-length romances when I entered the Amber Quill Press “Amber Heat” writing contest. I submitted three novellas (A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord, and The Sexy Stranger) and they took all three! Since then, I’ve published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books.
When people ask me how I can switch up genres so easily, I tell them, “I’m a writer, I can write anything.” And I do!
Beverley: How do you begin the process of telling a new story? Where do you start?
Kelli: Each book comes to me in a different form. Sometimes I’ll have an entire story jump into my head, and I’ll know everything about the plot and the characters. (That happened with Dangerous Indenture, A Deceptive Match, A Most Unusual Princess, and The Viking’s Witch.)
Other times, I’ll get bits and pieces of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, I’ll have a character come first, and after I get to know and develop the character, I’ll find out the story. Then the other pieces fall into place, like a puzzle. (That happened with Four Days with Jack, Killer in Wolf’s Clothing, and Lies, Love & Redemption.)
Before I start a book, I need to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen to them. After that, I outline the scenes and start writing. As I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline. I might add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Writing a new book is always an adventure and I never know where the characters or stories will take me.
Beverley: What kind of research do you do for your books?
Kelli: That depends on what I’m writing. For my historical romances, (such as Lies, Love & Redemption, Loving a Wild Stranger, and The Viking’s Witch) I did a lot of research about different time periods, history, what life was like back then, etc. For my contemporary romances, I might research a fact that a character needs to know that I don’t—but for the most part, they don’t require too much research.
Beverley: After writing so many romances, how do you keep it fresh and spicy in the literary bedroom?
Kelli: I let the characters in each story determine the sexual content. Every story is different, and so are the sexual lives of the hero and heroine. Writing for the different characters and their individual situations helps keep things interesting and fresh.
The type of relationship and the frequency of the love scenes have to fit in with the characters and the heat level of the story. Love scenes should show how the characters relate to each other, how they fall in love, and add something to the overall emotional intensity of the story.
I’m often asked how I “know how much to show” in the love scenes. Sometimes it’s nice to give the characters privacy and imply what goes on (this lets readers use their imaginations); and yet, other times, readers want to see the passionate side of the relationship. I blend a little of each into my books. But no matter what type of love scene I write, I try to keep most of the focus on the characters and what they’re thinking and feeling emotionally—how the experience makes them more connected to their lover—rather than focus on what their bodies are doing.
Beverley: When you finish a book what do you do to let go of your characters and the world of that story?
Kelli: When I send a book off to the publisher, it’s not really “done”—there’s more work ahead. I need to do revisions and review the galley, then market the book when it’s released. But when the submission part is finished, I unwind from writing for a while. I might do no writing at all (except for blogs or promo/marketing) for a week or two and catch up on my reading. (When I’m writing, I don’t read, and when I’m reading, I don’t write.) This helps me leave the characters behind and focus on other things.
After a while I’ll get the urge to write again and start working on something new. Although I love my characters, I know when the story is over that it’s time to leave them behind. (Unless they come back to me later and want me to write a sequel!)
Beverley: In addition to your novels, you’re also a prolific short story writer. What is your key to creating a successful piece of short fiction?
Kelli: The best advice I ever got for writing short stories is: write tight. Take out anything and everything not essential to the story, such as extra words, details, dialogue tags, or whatever. This is especially important when I’m writing horror short stories. Too many words or distractions can break the tension, ruin the suspense, or otherwise distract the reader.
You also need a compelling story that draws readers into the world of the characters and holds them there. Not everyone believes in ghosts, but if you write a ghost story that sucks readers into that world and scares them, you’ve done your job. A “hook” beginning and a great ending are musts in creating a good short story.
Beverley: Tell us about your latest release(s).
Kelli: This spring, I released my Naughty Nobles trilogy of erotic historical/fantasy romances. The series is made up of Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights. Although the books are related, each stands alone as an individual read.
In January, I released Loving a Wild Stranger, a historical/pioneer romance set in the Michigan Territory in the early 1800s. Lies, Love & Redemption, my historical/western, was published last September.
My third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, came out in June. It’s a story about two best friends who have always been attracted to each other and finally make the leap into having a sexual relationship. It’s got a good blend of humor, drama, and plenty of sizzling love scenes that will heat up your summer!
Beverley: What’s next on the horizon for you?
Kelli: Currently, I’m revising a new historical romance novel (as yet untitled) and I’m working on re-editing the last of my romances previously published with Amber Quill Press. After that, I have ideas in the works for a few other romances (a historical, a paranormal, and a gay contemporary).
Blurb for Four Days With Jack
When David invited his best friend on vacation, he never expected them to fall in love…
Spending four days in a tropical paradise with Jack is a dream come true. For years, David has lived a lie and denied his romantic feelings for Jack. Now that they’re together in an isolated Caribbean resort, he finally admits what he really wants—to be Jack’s lover.
Jack has been in love with David for years and is encouraged by his desire to explore a sexual relationship.He’s more than willing to introduce David to the life he has always fantasized about. Their sizzling nighttime encounters confirm David’s long-hidden cravings, but what will happen when they leave the resort?
Will David come out and start a new life with Jack? Or will he go back to his old ways and risk losing the best friend he ever had?
Page Foundry: http://www.inktera.com/store/title/fa9ee1d1-3b1c-4e9c-b8ce-138ac7f472eb
24 Symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=2275200
You can find Kelli at:
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionpress.com/author/kelli-wilkins/
Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview and more discussion of heroines.