Like most explosions of fanatical fervor, I am turning on my own masters now to bite the hand that feeds me. Yes, I’ve tricked my own publisher, marketer and my writing bestie into the dungeon! No no, you fools, put away the extra manacles, they’re all the same person. Let’s have a very warm welcome– as in red-hot– for Katharina Gerlach.
Q: Confess woman! Why do you persist in trying so many things at once. Different genres, translation, audiobooks, cover design. Some among the common folks are calling you strange names, such as “Renaissance Woman”, whatever that means. We cannot have this heterodoxy! What are you first and foremost, a writer or something else?
A: An ignorant universal dilettante, that’s what I am. I even had to look up “heterodoxy”. All joking aside, I’m first and foremost a mother and caregiver. My three kids, my husband and the rest of my extended family will always take first place. But right after them, writing is my passion, and I want as much diversity in my daily routine as possible. I love the way the stories from my head drop onto paper one word after the other or how an idea for a cover comes to life bit by bit.
I cannot stop. I guess I’ll write for as long as my fingers can type, my voice can dictate, and my eyes can see enough to re-read what I created.
Q: Very well, but why all this unseemly experimentation? Science fiction stories, fantasy stories, time-travel, tales for the young and not-so-young. Why can you not seem to settle down? Tell the truth now– is this the secret to your sinful productivity?
A: I blame it all on my parents. Even when we were quite young, we learned to examine and be interested in everything. When I learned to read, I swallowed whole shelves of books, from fairy tales over graphic novels to nonfiction. Whatever I could lay my hands on got read. So over the years, a great big bulk of interesting but useless facts have accumulated in my head. They’re looking for ways to creep into my stories and I can’t help but use them. Learning is fun. Using what I learned is even more fun. I think I’d find it extremely hard to restrict myself to one genre. But what’ll always be part of my stories, regardless of genre or reading age, is the delight of discovery, the otherness of the ordinary, or the fun of knowledge.
Q: We must know more about the circumstances in which you can write so often and so well. My spies inform me you have… I can barely say it… CHILDREN in your house! Are you taking coffee intravenously, or how do you manage the time to write under such trying conditions?
A: I don’t drink coffee at all if I can help it. Luckily, the kids are old enough to go to school and I’ve got a very understanding and supportive husband. The minute the kids leave the house, I drop everything and start writing. Naturally that means all the household chores wait for me after lunch, but by now I’ve got a system that works quite well. We’re not living in the tidiest and cleanest house of the world, but it’s sufficiently neat, and that’s enough for us.
Q: But will you never be SATISFIED, woman! I see here new covers for some of your recent titles. Purge your heresy– why can you not leave well enough alone? You have even dared to redesign my own covers (and I shall admit, they are quite the snazzy improvement). But no matter! You shall confess what drives you to this particular sin.
A: Like everyone, I keep learning, and that sometimes means admitting when something’s not working as it should. I redesigned the cover for “Juma’s Rain” because the first cover showed too much naked skin for US customers (or so I was informed, Germans seem less bothered by it) and because it didn’t appeal to the audience I had in mind when I wrote the book.
The redesign of your “Shards of Light” covers
was necessary to tie the books together with a common theme (the moon and the Hope-logo) while still showing them as independent novels. It will set them apart from Judgement’s Tale, The Plane of Dreams, and The Book of tales.
The good thing about Indie publishing is that I can easily change and improve my
books even after they’ve been sent into the world. Indies like me are much more flexible than big publishing houses.
Q: And now we come to the heart of your apostasy, your shameful insistence on marketing. It would be bad enough writing all these stories each year, if you simply published them and dropped the link into the Great Hole of Amazon as is appropriate and holy. But no! You push, you prod, you… you MARKET your books. And with success, so I hear! Tell all, spare none of the gory details, this court can withstand the shock I assure you.
A: I’m not even half as successful as I’d like to be, and I know little enough about
marketing. I’m slowly getting better though. Every year sees a little improvement in sales numbers and consistency. I found that it is crucial to choose the right categories and keywords for the books I publish. Also, the cover and the blurb are the most important marketing instruments an Indie author has. If done right, they’ll get readers to look at your work, your reading sample. If no one knows your book is there or can’t be bothered to look at your writing, you could be the next James Joyce or the next J.K. Rowling but wouldn’t sell a single book.
Marketing isn’t bad. If used correctly, in a non-spammy and honest way, it helps to connect the readers that would like my books with stories they might/will enjoy. That’s all there is to marketing (and believe me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds). Everything else is just a choice of tools you can use to reach those readers.
Ähem, regarding choice… could you unshackle me now? There’s another blank page waiting for me and two students I’m coaching and I’ve got to wash the dishes, vacuum the floors and find some vegetarian recipes for my youngest daughter’s confirmation and the next release needs a blurb and the release after that needs to be revised and
:: … mumbling to herself, she ambles off as soon as the chains fall away ::