Welcome to the forty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction, short story author and poet Kerry Quinn. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hi Kerry. Welcome. 🙂 Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Kerry: The funny thing is that many people would assume that I was a writer after speaking to me for the first time. My knee-jerk reaction was always, “Oh no! I’m not a writer!” I really thought that I wasn’t talented enough. In actuality, I worked at advertising agencies in account management, but would often end up writing copy.
Morgen: I say I’m not because it’s not what pays my mortgage but I write so why not? What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Kerry: After my agency’s office closure, I started a blog, LovingFUNemployment.blogspot.com, to spread my positive message about finding the silver lining during a bleak time. A few friends and some of the ex-employed urged me to write a book. I realized that I was up for the challenge. That’s when I officially became, and embraced the idea of being, a writer.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Kerry: I published my eBook, “FUNemployed: Finding the Upside in the Downturn” in May 2011. I wrote the book, edited it (along with the help of a fellow author and a professional proof-reader), developed the cover concept, photographed the cover, uploaded it to Smashwords and Amazon, wrote the press release, wrote two ads for Google and am contacting journalists and bloggers to spread the word. In short, I do 100% of the marketing. I feel like a one-woman-book-generating-and-selling-band!
Morgen: And you are. 🙂 This is probably a silly question then but do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kerry: I don’t have an agent. I sent about 40 queries and did have a top 5 non-fiction agent hip pocket me.
Morgen: Oh wow.
Kerry: The majority of the responses that I got were, “The concept is interesting and I really like it. We debated internally about this book quite a bit, but in the end we determined that it is not right for our list.” I was discouraged at first, especially because I was looking for external validation that I should write this book. It took me awhile to recover, but I decided to listen to my own FUNemployed advice and started writing. I think having an agent is helpful for new writers because they can show you the ropes and help you learn the facets of publishing. I’ve had to navigate the path mostly on my own. It takes an intrepid Lewis or Clark-like stamina but it’s worth it if you have the stomach for it.
Morgen: If you don’t give up. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Kerry: My book is only available as an eBook. The process was fairly easy. Luckily my proof-reader does a lot of work with eBook authors and was able to format my document for me as well. There are a lot of details about formatting that would’ve made my head explode if I tried to do it myself. I uploaded my cover and Word document to Smashwords. It took 27 hours in the upload queue and then they do an immediate format check. If it passes (which mine did!) it is then more carefully reviewed with results following about a week later. At that point, you’re live on their site and they begin to send it to iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Sony and Diesel. That can take up to four weeks. I also uploaded it to Amazon and it was live within three days.
Morgen: That sounds pretty good (dare I say easy?).
Kerry: The irony is that I don’t have an e-reading device. Unfortunately, I’ve never bought an eBook. My hope is that I will sell enough books to buy an iPad or Kindle so I can come full circle.
Morgen: I have a generic one but rarely use it (I don’t travel much) but am thinking of getting a Kindle to test stuff but fortunately my first reader/editor has one so we’re covered. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Kerry: When I was writing the eBook, I was writing 5-6 days of the week for as little as 2 hours and as much as 6 hour at a time. Lately, I’ve been working on publicity so I’m not writing everyday. I miss it!
Morgen: I don’t do as much as I want to so I do but I’ve got http://nanowrimo.org coming up in November (and their http://www.campnanowrimo.org in August which I may or may not do). What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Kerry: I don’t believe it writer’s block.
Morgen: A lot of authors don’t. I’m half-way. If I get stuck on something I put it to one side and find it much easier to deal with it when I come back to it. I’d recommend anyone struggling to stop half-way through a sentence then pick up where you left off a day, a week or a month later.
Kerry: I’d make myself write every day, no matter what. If I was having a slow brain day then I’d start by reading and editing what I’d worked on the day before to get me moving. That would work.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kerry: Absolutely. I write when I’m angry, upset, sad or elated. What starts as a feeling can sometimes morph into some great short stories. Sometimes they’re just rants or rainbow and unicorn poems. I wrote a great sonnet titled “Ode to My Drycleaner.” If you guessed that it’s a rant, you’d be correct. It was a hit on Facebook. On the other hand, rainbows and unicorns will never see the light of day!
Morgen: That’ll sadden the fantasy writers out there. 😦 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Kerry: The great part of writing is the flexibility. I can write for as long as I want. I always start at the same time every day and if I want to go for four hours then I can do so. The bad part is that the eBook was on my mind all the time. If I got inspiration at 2am, I opened my computer. If I was working at an office, that wouldn’t happen (as much).
Morgen: That doesn’t sound bad to me but then I’m often going to bed at 1am/2am (and getting up at 6am/7am), I know, not healthy. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Kerry: That people actually like it.
Morgen: Ahh. I lot of writers have doubts of their work and are rewarded when they’re brave and put it out there. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kerry: Outline your story so that you are working toward a destination then write as much as you can. If you stray from your outline, that’s okay. Just like you plot your road trip based on a specific destination, sometimes you change the route with short cuts and detours along the way.
Morgen: And what do you like to read?
Kerry: I like reading fun, light-hearted books. I’m prone to comedy. I think my book is a good reflection of what I like to read… taking a tough subject and making it entertaining.
Morgen: Me too although I like crime too (which is just as well as an agent told me recently that I’m a crime writer and should write crime). Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Kerry: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Some-Instructions-Writing-Life/dp/0385480016. I actually read this after epublishing my own book. I learned about it from a successful TV writer (although it has nothing to do with TV). It’s a must-read for writers because it addresses everything that we go through…writer’s block, the rejection, feeling like your work is trash and offers a sense of comradery as well as solutions. I haven’t finished it…but so far I give it an A+ and can’t imagine that changing once I’m done.
Morgen: Not heard of it, so thank you. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Kerry: United States. I haven’t considered it as a hindrance so I assume I’ve always thought it was an asset.
Morgen: And I guess it’s not proved you wrong yet. 🙂 Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Kerry: I just joined a bunch of writer’s groups on LinkedIn. eBookNewser is a site that offers the latest stories in epublishing and they did a story on LinkedIn groups. I used that as my guide and have found some good information from my fellow writers.
Morgen: LinkedIn’s great isn’t it (although I skim read the emails more now that I did at the beginning as I get so many of them which I suppose means that so many people have something to say). Where can we find out about you and your work?
Kerry: I have a blog called http://LovingFUNemployment.blogspot.com and my eBook “FUNemployed: Finding the Upside in the Downturn” is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Diesel, Kobo, Smashwords and iBookstore.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Kerry: Content is king. We all want to be entertained, learn and feel connected. I think the method in which content is delivered has changed a lot and will continue to do so. People who can deliver compelling stories (aka writers), regardless of genre, will always have a career.
Morgen: Fingers crossed. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Kerry: Please buy my book. I’m kidding. Not really.
Morgen: Oh go on, do. 🙂
Kerry: Even if you’ve never been unemployed, you will enjoy the humor.
Morgen: I’ve been made redundant twice but been very fortunate either going temping or straight into another job. I was unemployed for a couple of weeks in my late teens (or it may have been early twenties) – the only time I signed on at the Job Centre – but then I found temping and did that more than a ‘proper job’ (and miss it but the structure of a routine does prove useful with fitting everything else in).
Kerry: Or pass it on to a loved one who has been affected by the downturn. Too desperate? Ok. I’ll stop now. Thanks for indulging me!
Morgen: You’re so welcome. If you can’t plug your ‘products’ in an interview when can you? (answers on a postcard please)
Kerry Quinn is a Connecticut native, ex-New Yorker and current Angeleno. Upon graduation from the University of Michigan, she began her career in advertising and has since worked on behalf of Fortune 500 companies at world-renowned advertising agencies in New York and Los Angeles. She began her blog, FUNemployed and Loving It, http://lovingfunemployment.blogspot.com, in 2010. FUNemployed: Finding the Upside in the Downturn was published in May 2011 by Smashwords. It sells for $7.99 at Sony, BN.com, Kobo, iBookstore, BookieJar, Diesel, Smashwords and Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/FUNemployed-Finding-Upside-Downturn-ebook/dp/B004ZQRFT4
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