Author K.L. Brady has stopped by today for the Soul Of The Band Blog Tour with a guest post!
After querying my book to literary agents all over the country and getting rejection after rejection after rejection, doubting myself and my writing ability, listening to people tell me, “You need to put this book in a drawer and start the next one,” I had a come-to-Jesus moment and I had to decide who was I writing for. Was I writing for the publishing industry? Was I writing for other authors? Or was I writing because I loved writing and had a story to share?
I realized I was writing because I love writing and telling stories and making people laugh. I do feel that was God’s plan for me. So, darn the book deal. I decided to publish my book myself. And if ONE reader’s day was brightened or if they were moved by this story, that would mean I was fulfilling my purpose and God’s purpose for my writing, and that has been my focus ever since. My first novel, first self published by yours truly, was acquired by Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal--my first published in 2011 and the second in 2012.
I didn't have as much luck with my young adult novels. An editor first suggested that I try YA and I thought why not? I have tons of stories teens could relate to. My first one, Worst Impressions, was a hilarious retelling of Pride & Prejudice with urban (or really suburban) teens. My only real reason for writing the book is that I love Jane Austen, particularly Pride & Prejudice (one of my favorite books EVER), and I wanted to introduce teens to her in a way that they wouldn't think she was a fuddy duddy old English lady who wrote stories they couldn't relate to. P&P is a very human story filled with situations and emotions people still experience today to some degree--even urban teens. My agent sent that out to some publishing houses and it didn't get picked up so I knew what to do--I published them on my own. So far, it's been getting a lot of great reviews. Jane Austen "snobs" (of which I consider myself one) are usually the harshest critics but it wasn't meant for them. It's meant for teens who've never read P&P in hopes that they will find interest. It's available in paperback and is currently free on all ebook formats. It will be a 3-book series.
Since I was so "successful" with Worst Impressions another story came to me and I decided to write it as a tribute to my mom and aunt, both of whom have passed away. Based on true events but fictionalized to protect the innocent and the guilty :), Soul of the Band deals with a topic that is often ignored in the African-American community--mental illness. We're kind of like Vegas in that what happens in the family, stays in the family. I wanted to address not only the issue of mental illness, but how teens can and do cope with and overcome the ill effects in their lives. The story is meant to entertain, help teens laugh through their pain, and also to tell a compelling, real, story especially for those who have adversities to overcome in their lives. What now looks like a mountain to climb will become a molehill as you grow and slowly put your past behind you. It doesn't have to define your present or dictate your future--you can make the choice, at any point, to change course.
If I could give writers just ONE single piece of advice it would be this: Write your truth! Don't write for trends or to get "sold," because readers can be finicky beings. They may love a genre one minute and despise it the next (can we say chick lit)? But if you write stories that matter to you and that express some version of yourself, you will connect with an audience because honesty in literature never goes out of style. If you can add some humor, even better.
Since I can give more than one piece of advice here is my last: Just write! Stop worrying about outlines and editing and finding a publishing company who will put you on Oprah. No, write your book! The hardest thing about writing your first book will be finishing. No question. After that, editing will suck too. But whatever you do, make sure you have a finished product FIRST! :)
If you'd like to get in touch with me to find out more about my novels, please visit my website at www.authorklbrady.com. My YA novels can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My adult novels The Bum Magnet & Got a Right to Be Wrong (both hilarious chick lit titles for 18+) can be found wherever books are sold. Also please visit me on Facebook at KL-Brady and on Twitter @KarlaB27. I always respond to readers inquiries and stalk my book titles on Twitter, so if you mention me, I'll find you.
Thanks so much for having me!