Q & A with K. L. Brady, Author of The Bum Magnet
K. L. Brady has been a member of TheNextBigWriter.com since March 2009. Her first novel The BUM MAGNET is aK. L. tried unsuccessfully to find an agent and decided to self-publish. Shortly after its release, The BUM MAGNET was discovered by an executive editor from Simon & Schuster and it will be-released in March 2011 under their Pocket Star imprint.
K. L. Brady tells us about her book and her journey and proves that there is more than one way to crack the publishing market.
Tell us a bit about The BUM MAGNET.
The BUM MAGNET is about a woman who is approaching a major life milestone - her fortieth birthday. She has just broken up with a boyfriend and she reads an article that makes her realize it's time to take stock of her life and assess why she keeps picking the same kind of man over and over and over again. But no sooner than she decides she'll have nothing more to do with men, they start coming out of the woodwork. So, she puts herself in a position where she's got to navigate this minefield of men while trying to work on herself at the same time. The story follows her along this journey, and she's got a great, self-deprecating sense of humor that makes it a very enjoyable ride.
The story came to me in an epiphany as I was reading a self-help article about dieting. And I laughed to myself because I thought, "How many of these dang articles have I read?" They give you 12 steps to follow to lose 112 pounds, and the first thing I do in my mind is negotiate. "Well, I don't have to walk two miles a day, maybe just two blocks" or "I can eat vegetables three times a day, but I'm going to eat them with fried chicken." Yet, I still expect to lose 112 pounds.
So, I thought I'd write a story about a woman who attracts players and knows it's a bad pattern in her life. But when she happens upon this self-help article about emotional baggage and toxic men, she goes through these same "negotiating" motions with the article, "Oh I can give up dating, but I don't have to give up sex and men." Over time her resolve strengthens, but it takes a lot of hard lessons for her to get there.
What was the inspiration for the Bum Magnet?
I had an Oprah "Aha" moment one day during the summer of 2008. I was coming up on my fortieth birthday, feeling like I'd reached some level of success in my life but my work didn't fulfill me. I was watching an episode of Oprah when she had Eckhart Tolle on discussing his book AWAKENING YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE when it hit me that I wasn't living my best life or fulfilling my life's purpose. What good was putting everything in my heart in journals and diaries where no one could see them? I also got hung up on the fact that I didn't have a degree in English so I couldn't be a writer, right? Wrong. I got over myself, pushed the negative thoughts aside, and just wrote from my heart. The result is a book that has really resonated with women of all races, ethnicities, and social backgrounds. The character is very relatable.
Ironically, the character reads a self-help article in a magazine (as most women do) that sets her on a journey to stop making bad relationship choices. The magazine is published by her favorite talk show host. Coincidence? I think not. It's a quiet Ode to Oprah.
The Bum Magnet was recently picked up by Simon & Schuster. What was your path to publication?
My path to publication actually began on the self publishing route. After I finished writing The BUM MAGNET, I tried to go the traditional route, certain I could find a literary agent. I was so wrong. After a few months of querying, I decided that I didn't want to let the publishing industry dictate my future. I didn't want to query for another six months to a year and let my book collect dust. So, I decided to self publish. I hired a cover designer, got a manuscript review from a former editor at Simon & Schuster, set up printing through Lightning Source and Createspace, and put it out there myself.
You self-published The BUM MAGNET first. What did it take to market the book on your own? What was the biggest challenge?
Marketing The BUM MAGNET was a daily grind--a huge challenge. When I put the book out over a year ago, self-publishing had much more of a stigma than it does today. It was hard to get people to try out my work. So, I did a little bit of everything--from reaching out to book clubs, to setting up my website and blogs, to posting my book information on every established site that would allow my information, to attending book fairs, to asking for reviews from readers and book clubs. I was up at all hours of the night and into the morning most days. Marketing is cumulative though. And as the word of mouth spreads, putting the groundwork in place can help get the viral marketing going. I think the ultimate pay-off was getting the book on Kindle. Kindle is great for marketing as well as distribution.
What's the difference between marketing a self-published book versus one that has been published by a major publisher?
For me, there will not be much of a difference in terms of my marketing efforts, in that I plan to put forth the same effort that I did when self published. On the whole, I would say there are positives and negatives. The most obvious positives are that a major publisher can get your book into channels, such as Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, etc., that self publishers cannot do on their own. I've also found that retailers are more likely to expend resources setting up book signings for authors with publishers (major or indie) than they are for self published authors, so you get access to retailers that you might not otherwise have.
The biggest advantage is the broad distribution. A self publisher cannot get their books sold widely into the distribution channels like major publishers can. They've been in business for years and they pretty much have distribution locked down.
The negatives are that, things like the book cover, cover copy, etc., are largely out of your control. You can voice your opinion, of course, but the publisher gets the ultimate veto power once you sell your rights.
Are you glad you went the self-published route initially?
I am SO glad that I self-published and if I had to do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, I would change one thing--I'd start my marketing much earlier. Besides that, no, I wouldn't change a thing. Because I self-published an executive editor from a pretty prominent publishing house "discovered" my book and expressed interest. With her interest, I got a literary agent and deal. If I had listened to all the naysayers who said chick lit doesn't sell anymore and let my book collect dust in a drawer, look at the opportunities I'd have missed. Plus, I've learned things about this business in a few months that an author who goes the traditional route from the jump may not learn for years. If you have the talent and drive, if you believe in your work and can't find representation, don't let your work fester. Put it out there and let your audience decide how good you are. I'm ever so thankful to my readers and reviewers because those reviews really help you get noticed.
How has TheNextBigWriter helped with the writing and publishing process?
TheNextBigWriter has been a tremendous help with my writing and publishing process. And even though I have a book deal, I still use the site as I always did to get feedback from readers. If I became a NY Times Bestseller, I'd still be here. I love the camaraderie and the authors here give such fantastic feedback. It has truly been a godsend in terms of helping me learn to accept and incorporate criticism as a writer and becoming a more discerning reader as a reviewer. There are so many talented people on the site, and I refer people here whenever I can.
What's next? Is there another book on the way?
I just finished workshopping my book MIZZ UNDERSTANDINGZ on the TheNextBigWriter (formerly title LIZ UNDERSTANDINGS). It's a YA Urban variation on Pride and Prejudice and I believe an older version is still up. My agent has it out on submission as we speak. We're still hoping for a nibble.
I'm currently workshopping the sequel to the The BUM MAGNET, which is called GOT A RIGHT TO BE WRONG. About 25 percent of the book is up now.
After the sequel is done, I have another YA novel called SOUL OF THE BAND that I'm working on. It's about a music-loving African-American teen who, through a few twists of unfortunate circumstance, becomes the sole black member of an all-white marching band and helps broaden the perspective of everyone around her. Then it's on to a romantic comedy/suspense novel series in which the main character is a female, African-American FBI agent who works in counterintelligence, partially based on my former life in the government. I'm really looking forward to that one.
So, many books to write, so little time.
Learn more about The BUM MAGNET at www.authorklbrady.com.