An Interview With Author Karen McQuestion Reveals a Bit of a Cinderella Story

Ebook publishing is a hotly debated subject these days with rhetoric pouring in from all sides. But that aside, the stories and the authors who write them remain the key. One author who has quietly found her charmed path along this heated trail is Karen McQuestion. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing for Boxocto her wonderful novel A Scattered Life. She has other work as well including essays that have appeared in Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Christian Science Monitor and several an-

thologies. In addition to A Scattered Life, she is the author of three other novels, one children's book and one collection of humorous essays. But here’s the Cinderella part: She originally self-published A Scattered Life as an e-book for Amazon's Kindle. Then within a few weeks, the novel caught the attention of a L.A. based production company and became the first self-published Kindle book to be optioned for film. And on August 23rd, two of her titles, Easily Amused and A Scattered Life will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Today please welcome Karen who has graciously consented to answer a few questions and share her thoughts about her inspiring journey.

Karen, thank you so much for stopping by this morning. A few things I’m curious about . . .

If you were entering the ebook market today, would your approach be any different with regard to, say, pricing, marketing, tagging etc?
I was a knucklehead when I first started out. I can’t tell you what my reasoning was, but I priced my first two books at $1.49 and $1.79. They did sell, but I soon learned that those are odd amounts in the ebook world, and rounded both up to $1.99. If I was starting out today, I think I’d be tempted to price my books low for the first few months to get the ball rolling, and then increase them to $2.99 to take advantage of the 70% Amazon royalty that kicks in at that price.

I stumbled onto the importance of using the keywords and tagging allowed in the Amazon system early in the process. Each book is allowed umpteen tags and up to twenty keywords, so why not use them all for maximum search optimization? That’s my philosophy anyway.

My soft sell approach to marketing online has worked well for me. If I had to do it over again, I’d do it the same.

Also, there’s a lot of (often confusing) cyber talk these days about the unwarranted gold rush fever ebookdom has inspired and dire warnings about its negative impact on the world of traditional publishing abound. According to some this comes at the expense of good fiction. Among other things, they cite the dreadful mountain of ebook slush and the prevalence of piracy. Your experience and your success seem to run counter to these notions. Were you ever concerned about any of this controversy when you initiated the process of uploading your books? Are you now?

I think you give me way too much credit! When I first started uploading books in July 2009, I wasn’t speculating about the future of ebooks. My view was much smaller and more immediate. I wondered if anyone would even buy and read my books. At the time I entered the market, there was no Nook or iPad and most people, when I brought up the subject, said, “What’s a Kindle?” I had no idea this would get to be as big as it has. Without realizing it, my timing was perfect.

As to whether or not I’m concerned about the influx of ebooks, many of them not ready for prime time, the answer is no. Any book that’s out there is already competing with millions of titles. Now there’s more and a lot of them aren’t of the highest caliber? In the scheme of things, this is a small problem. I’d say the remedy is to write the best book I can and hope it compares well.

I so agree with that, writing the best book possible! Can you tell us, what are you working on now?

I have two projects in the works. The one I’ll complete first is an adult fiction. It’s a road trip novel with four characters thrown together under unlikely circumstances. When I’m finished with that, I’d like to return to another manuscript, a young adult novel. I tried working on both at the same time, but found it difficult, so the second one will have to wait its turn.

And one last bonus question: What are you reading now?

I’m reading Regarding Ducks and Universes by Neve Maslakovic. I met her when I went to the Book Expo in New York this past May and we hit it off. When I came home and read her bio, I discovered that she had her Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time because I would have been intimidated.

Her writing is so good and I’m really enjoying the book. I’d call it smart science fiction--very character driven. My dad was a big science fiction fan and I grew up in a house with bookcases full of Bradbury and Asimov and all the greats. I can see influences from those authors in this book, but it also reminds me a little of Time and Again by Jack Finney, one of my all time favorite books.

Thank you again for stopping by and for sharing all this great information. For more about Karen, visit her website


Joni Rodgers said…
Thanks for a great Q&A, Bobbi, and Karen, thanks for stopping by. I love hearing a voice of reason and artistic integrity above the "how I sold a million blah blah blah."

Popular posts from this blog

Harlequin Intrigue vs. Harlequin Romantic Suspense