Kathy Meis is a writer, editor, and an award-winning journalist. She says her greatest area of strength as a writer is her ability to take complex ideas and simplify them for a general audience.Curiously, I do just the opposite. That may explain my sales.
“As a journalist, ghostwriter and public speaker for more than twenty years, I’ve written articles, speeches and books on a wide variety of subjects such as green technologies, finance, scientific controversies, politics, the media, publishing, economics, etc. For a content nerd like myself, it has been a great gig. I get to research and write about so many different topics. It has kept my professional writing life very interesting,” she says.
Her dream is to finish the work of fiction she started a few years ago. “It’s about a stoic trying to navigate and find peace in today’s reactionary world. As the founder of a publishing technology startup, however, I don’t have much time to for creative writing. Currently, I spend most of my time blogging and writing content to promote my business, a quandary with which I’m sure many indie authors can relate. Not having time is a challenge for most writers, and I’m no exception. I need to prioritize my life to dedicate a small chunk of time each week to work on my creative writing. By that I mean both learning the craft of fiction writing and actually doing the writing. Right now, that’s where I’d like to improve. My main problem is finding the discipline I need to make time for my creative writing life.”
Kathy says ghostwriting can be a fairly lucrative way for writers to fund personal writing projects. “As a ghostwriter, you can get paid up front before the release of the book. I was able to juggle two book projects last year while building my startup. It was challenging to do both, but really helped me financially. Talented ghostwriters are in demand these days as more and more people seek to have the ‘badge of authority’ that a published book provides. My clients tell me one of the main challenges of being an indie author is learning everything on your own. From setting up a website, to learning social media, to writing, editing and promoting, indies have do it themselves or do time-consuming research to find quality resources to help them. This takes time, money and true grit. It makes the life of an indie writer challenging, especially the first time around. I’ve experience the same thing as founder of a startup. Every day, I have to learn something new. On my best days, this is exciting. On my worst days, it’s overwhelming. Luckily, we live in a connected world where resources and learning experiences can be shared and discussed. It makes the worst days in an indie writer’s journey much more tolerable. I highly recommend to anyone new to the indie world to reach out to other writers via social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as communities like Indies Unlimited. Indie means independent, but it should never mean isolated.”
She loves interacting with people who value storytelling and the world of ideas. “As I mentioned early, right now I’m most interested in connecting readers with my blog at Serendipite Studios. Like author bloggers, the key is simply to engage and add value to meaningful conversations. I encourage writers to read my posts. They focus on the art of book promotion in the Digital Age. Trying to ‘sell’ books to readers will not help you build the type of reader loyalty that fosters community and the type of long-term support you need to have an actual career in writing. Instead, focus on sharing your why for writing, sharing your talents and your work, and helping others in your community. This is a much more pleasant and satisfying type of engagement for both author and reader.
Kathy works with both indie and traditionally published authors. “Both paths have pros and cons. It is the courageous act of writing and sharing stories that attracts me to authors. I also enjoy seeing these two communities learn from each other. In this time of great upheaval in the publishing industry it makes sense for authors to help each other, no matter what path they follow to publication. I was recently at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Publishing Conference in New York City. It was a fascinating mix of indie and traditional publishers from all over the world. There were Big Six publishers along side speakers like Brian Felsen of BookBaby, a company creating affordable publishing and distribution models for indie authors. Go on You Tube and search Brian’s name. You’ll find a treasure trove of insights for indie authors. I think in the future, we’ll not only see more of this mixing of traditional and indie, but we’ll see more indie authors becoming authorities on the business side of publishing in the Digital Age. Indies are forging all kinds of fascinating new publishing models, both on the business and editorial side. Interestingly, that entrepreneurial, think-outside-the-box mentality of the indies was a major theme at O’Reilly’s conference this year.”
Her advice to aspiring writers? “To those of you aspiring to make a living as an indie writer, I offer you this advice. Understand why you write and what your goals are as an author. Then set out to achieve those goals. For those who wish to make a living as an author, they must proceed with eyes wide open. The journey can be exciting, but the road is unforgiving. In an increasingly crowded marketplace not only does your writing need to be of the highest quality, but you have to understand who your audience is and how to reach them. Great books can get easily lost in today’s noisy book marketplace. If you want to make a living as a writer, you must be prepared to take on the role as your own publisher. That is, think of writing as your business. The opportunity has never been greater for authors willing to struggle up the learning curve and put in the required hard work. If you know your ‘why’ and have set your goals, you’ll find what you need to succeed.”
Kathy Meis is the founder of Serendipite Studios, a publishing technology startup located in Charleston, South Carolina. The company creates eTools that provide a revolutionary user experience and boost compensation for those who create and enhance quality journalism and literature. You can tour Pappus, which allows authors to blog directly from their books, at http://www.serendipitestudios.com.