Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in travel, lifestyle, parenting and family issues, and alternative education. She writes articles, website copy, ebooks and the occasional award winning short story. Her freelance writing has appeared in a range of publications both online and off, including Life Info Magazine, Transitions Abroad, Brave New Traveler, Natural Parenting Group, and Copia Magazine.
She also works as a freelance copy editor and book reviewer, and loves helping other freelance writers and authors by providing editing services and book marketing opportunities over at her website KarenBanes.com.
What inspires you to write?
There’s a quote attributed to William Faulkner “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
I try to follow Faulkner’s example. I write every day, whether I feel like it or not. I always end up getting lost in the process and not wanting to stop, no matter how reluctant my brain was to get started. Writing regularly is just a case of getting into a habit.
Having said that, if I’m ever feeling really uninspired, I read instead of writing. I read a great example of the type of writing I’m trying to produce, or a good book about writing. That usually does the trick.
The two freelance writing books I have out right now were inspired by a blog I ran for three years. I took all the questions and comments I got from readers and subscribers and tried to answer them, then pull them together into an ebook. It ended up being two short ebooks because I found some of what I wanted to say addressed new and aspiring writers and some was for more experienced writers.
Tell us about your writing process.
I mainly write non-fiction so I start with a mind map and try and get everything that could be related to my topic on paper. Then I pull out the themes I’m going to cover in this particular book and create a list of chapters, and outline each chapter.
The amount of research required for nonfiction varies, of course, depending on the topic and how well I already know it.
When I get an idea for a new book I start researching and end up with a pile of books and magazines with sticky notes in, and printouts with highlights all over them. That’s just my physical research. I’ll also have ebooks on my Kindle with notes and highlights all over them, and maybe some articles downloaded to my computer.
Pulling it all together is challenging and I know the first draft will be full of all the information I want to impart but all in the wrong order. That’s what second and third drafts are for. Fourth and fifth drafts are for copy editing, proofing and polishing.
What advice would you give other writers?
Buy my books about freelance writing! I love sharing my experiences of the writing life and giving other writers shortcuts and tools that it took me years to find. That’s why I bundled my writing advice into two books full of practical advice about writing, and I’m working on a third which is more about enjoying the writing life and moving your career forward.
Of course, other writers don’t have to read my books, but I’d strongly advise they do read a lot, and read two things in particular: books about the type of writing they want to do, and great examples of the type of writing they want to do.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish my short ebooks about freelance writing for Kindle initially. They’ll be out in all other electronic formats soon, along with another short ebook about freelance writing that I’m working on. There’s no real market in traditional publishing for short non-fiction ebooks.
I currently have three other full-length nonfiction books at various stages of planning, writing and editing. They will be available both as ebooks and print books. Just a year ago I was looking for traditional publishing contracts for one of those books but I’ve changed my mind. They’ll probably be self-published too.
I enjoy the process of self-publishing, and I have a marketing background and a degree in Public Relations, so marketing my books doesn’t worry me at all. I like to be in control and I like to keep the profits. Traditional publishing is a long, slow process, compared to self-publishing, and for most writers advances are so low you can go broke waiting for publication, and then waiting for royalty checks to come in.
You still meet people who look down on self-publishers or assume self-published books are low quality. To me, this just indicates they’re completely out of touch with the industry.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think any stigma attached to self-publishing will completely fall away over the next few years. I believe the big traditional publishers will struggle to keep up with the faster pace that self-publishers and smaller independent publishers can set. I certainly see the rise of smaller independent publishers and author services companies that can help authors who don’t want to be publishers get their books to market. Print-on-demand technology will get better and better due to pure demand.
I predict the rise and rise of ebooks, but I hope it won’t mean the total demise of the print book. I think brick and mortar book stores will become rarer but not obsolete. I predict that the market for print books will become more of a gift market. You still can’t wrap up an ebook and gift vouchers just aren’t the same.
I also think we’ll continue to see a situation where there are a few authors (whether self-published or traditionally) earning a lot of money and a lot of authors (whether self-published or traditionally) earning very little. Most working authors need to supplement their income with freelance writing, speaking, teaching, coaching, and other income streams. That’s just life as an author, and we’d better all get used to it.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?