About NJS Kaye:
A former Communications professor and journalist, NJS Kaye took her twin boys on 20+ flights before their first birthday. Her experiences with Hollywood actors, Ivy League academics, the United Nations, and underfoot Lego have trained her in graceful escape and diplomacy.
What inspires you to write?
Items May Have Shifted was inspired by my own twin boys, after I realized I had taken them on more than 20 flights before their first birthday!
I’ve worked as a professor, journalist, scriptwriter, copywriter, editor, library assistant, and both behind and in front of cameras. I’ve always been a creative person with an active imagination (for example, right now I’m imagining that my five year old twin boys cleaned up their playroom and are asleep on time). I got my first professional writing job in high school, and also my first film production job. I’ve always loved wedding concepts to communication and words to ideas, or at least encouraging them to have a dirty weekend together.
I have several non-fiction books in the works, and what they have in common is a combination of humor, common sense, self-deprecation, and academic research. My goal is a class with sass, I guess!
[Don’t tell anybody, but I also write romance and erotica under another name.]
Tell us about your writing process.
Believe it or not, I often come up with a title first! I probably should have been in advertising, because part of me loves copywriting, and that melding of creative and business approaches. Usually a title inspires a kind of blurb, and then basically a table of contents that is thematically linked (by query, topic, or sometimes something literary or referential/allusory).
I write down a lot of questions that I want to answer. And what I BELIEVE I already know about it. And then I start researching.
I kill many many trees printing journal articles and highlighting them, then look for more citations and hence more trees to kill. I keep research for each chapter or topic in accordion files, building a bibliography as I go.
One thing I hate about writing non-fiction ebooks is the difficulty with citations. Most programs and platforms don’t really support endnotes properly, or the formatting screws them up. So I have to use in text parenthetical citations when I’m writing, and then go back and manually create notes from those at the very end. If I edit, cut and paste or move stuff around, it can be painful. I use Vellum to format, which I find very easy.
I’ve got ADD, which is a blessing and a curse for a writer. I have lots of ideas and lots of projects on the go, but I have to force myself to not get distracted by tinkering with cover designs or research rabbit holes. My brain is a bit like Wikipedia sometimes—it will jump from one topic to another through neural links and interest. I’m excited about alternating longer books like this one with short directives that are fun and fact-filled. I plan to publish one non-fiction “booklet” every 2 months, and a longer, more research-heavy book every 3-4 months.
To attempt to keep myself organized, I make a lot of Excel spreadsheets and Word tables. I’m trying to use Trello. I also have a big dry erase calendar on the wall with lots of color-coded notes on research, writing, and production for different types of publications. I guess we will see in a few months how it’s going! I’m curious about some programs such as Scrivener, so I may play with that at some point.
What advice would you give other writers?
Listen to your own instincts. Go back and cut out words and phrases that are unnecessary. Keep it simple but let your attitude shine through.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I actually won a writing contest for a local newspaper in high school, and was a freelance journalist for 20 years. When I was about 25 I got the fiction bug, and completed four romances. Those got me an agent in New York and the interest of some editors, but the books ultimately didn’t sell. Then I got sidetracked by graduate school and academic publishing in journals and edited books, and did some copywriting as well. I started a few projects when my twins were babies, but was unable to keep my attention on them. So I guess you could say this is my “first book” but not my first publication, and I’ve been publishing for 25 years.
About a year ago I wrote a proper book proposal, but discovered that my agent was retiring. My hunt for a new agent was fruitless, and I shelved the project for a while. Then I had a good conversation with a close friend who is a best-selling “traditionally published author,” who wants to make a move towards self-publishing some back titles when the rights revert back to her. I realized that self-publishing might be the best way to get this book to readers.
As I was writing it, I was doing a lot of research on self-publishing, the business model, strategies, rankings and keywords, SEO, social media presence, everything. When I was last trying to get into publishing, “self-publishing” was just vanity presses or people snail mailing diskettes!
I’m lucky to have some fabulous people in my life who help me with distracting my kids and spit-balling solutions to design and production issues. But I’ve done almost everything myself. Other than the research and writing (obviously), I’ve built websites, designed covers, formatted for different platforms, jumped on new social media accounts, created press releases and sell sheets, contacted Mommy bloggers and family travel bloggers, handed out promotional cards, connected with related retailers and book buyers. I like all the business and marketing stuff, but I found that actually writing the book was getting in the way of getting it ready for market!
From that conversation with my friend about self-publishing to the launch of this first book has been four months, which is kind of astonishing considering everything I’ve learned and done.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s changed so much since the last time I was seriously writing “for fun.” I love the freedom and plethora of options now. There are more genres, more niches, more platforms, more lengths, more everything. Unfortunately, that means there is more competition, more BS, and more work to get anywhere.
Right now I am writing to appease my own curiosity and creative needs. Luckily my children don’t rely on this narcissistic martydom. But neither is writing my only job (I also run my husband’s medical consulting company) and parent young twin boys.
I hope to see indie/self-publishing and “traditional” publishing support each other more and be more cooperative in the future. I would also love to see the signal to noise ratio decrease a bit. As an author and a reader, it can be confusing.
What genres do you write?: Non fiction, fiction (romance)
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.