I recently had the privilege to interview K.M. Weiland, successful author of several books, including Outlining Your Novel, one of my more cherished books on how to write. With a clear and concise approach to writing and on being a writer, her no-nonsense advice on how to navigate the process from idea to publication will enlighten anyone interested in the writing process.
You can read my interview below and learn more about K.M. Weiland, her books, and how to connect with her on social media.
Interview with K.M. Weiland, Author
- In one sentence tell readers who are you as a writer, and did you always want to be a writer, or did your passion for writing evolve over time?
I write because stories are my “language” and because my earliest memory is of myself making up a story.
- What is your take on writing contests, free and otherwise, and do they help a writer get noticed?
Contests can definitely be a fun way to gain credentials—not to mention prize money—and also a great way to gain useful feedback from judges. However, just as with publishing itself, contests are ultimately a bit of a shot in the dark. Competition is always stiff, and there’s no guarantee any major notice will follow most victories. In short, contests can be a great way to supplement other publishing activities (querying, building a readership, etc.).
- What is the most effective way to build readership engagement?
In the early days of learning how to market, I hit social media hard. If it was joinable, I joined. These days, I focus most of my energy on Facebook and Twitter, with a little G+ thrown in on the side.
My goal has always been to engage with readers, first and foremost. I post links to my blog post and new books, but I try to balance that with non-promotional posts, such as writing quotes, #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhens, and brief writing tips. On the interactive side of the coin, my Writing Question of the Day (#WQOTD on Twitter) has proven enduringly popular.
I focus almost all of my online efforts on building my non-fiction writing how-to platform, which gives me the advantage of being able to engage readers with content that can directly benefit them. I don’t have an active platform for my fiction; I just fit it in around the edges of my non-fic platform since there is definitely a large crossover in readers.
Scheduling my social media interaction is tremendously important. Otherwise, as we all know, it can quickly suck away our writing time. I do my main “media run” early in the morning, then pop in to briefly check FB and Twitter after lunch, mid-afternoon, and after supper. I never leave social media sites up while I’m trying to work, although I do often check my email to keep up with important updates.
- You have published over a dozen books, many fiction and many on how to write. What is the average length of time it takes from first draft to publication, and what is your advice about revision?
Novels generally take me two years, from outline to the end of the first draft—then two to three years more to edit. Non-fiction is a little harder to calculate, since I do most of the writing piecemeal on my blog, then put it together into the books.
Writers are always dragging themselves through painful revisions, because, deep down, we sense something is wrong with the story. But we’re just running off gut instinct. An understanding of story structure helps us see our stories, where they’re working, and where they’re not.
- What is your advice to writers who are getting started, young or old or in-between?
Write for the love of it, first and foremost. As Anne Lamott says, “Being published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is.” Write the stories of your heart, not the stories you think the market wants. Write the story you’d want to read if you were one of your own readers.
About K.M. Weiland
K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.